Tumble Fortress

August 7th, 2012
















Those images up there are from my newest project, Tumble Fortress. It’s another member for my collection of physics-enabled defense games, sharing quite a number of traits with Rise of the Colony. The biggest difference is that this time there’s no grid used for blocks, with physics only enabled for fragments. Physics is always on, even for the various warriors you can train (who can keep firing their bows even while bouncing around). This makes physics a critical part of the gameplay, instead of being the sideshow eyecandy that it’s typically amounted to in my past games. The goal in each level is to save princess Bau Bau from getting eaten by monsters. To do that you’ll need to build a whole lot of walls, towers and warriors. Finding the most stable geometry and picking the blocks with the right properties for the situation will take some thinking. Lines of fire and unit composition will also play a big role. Despite the cartoony graphics, I expect this one will have greater depth than any defense game I’ve made to date.

And yes, that cartoony style is something of a new thing for me. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I have to say I really like it. It’s really expressive, colorful, and delightfully easy to produce. I’m actually using my usual 3D render approach for all the characters and monsters, just because I know 3D so much better than vector animation. Basically I’m just creating various planar shapes and then animating them with basic skeletons. The rigging is incredibly simple compared to what I’ve done before, allowing me to do a variety of different creature types in a reasonable amount of time.

So, what exactly happened to Age of Inventors? Well, it still exists on the backburner, though I’m not entirely sure whether it’ll remain in its current form. There are aspects of it I like, but the invention system feels hollow to me. Each invention is just a collection of four different kinds of points, which then make customers more likely to buy them. There is some potential for skill and challenge in optimizing those invention stats; in taking note of the needs of customers and trying to match them. But it feels arbitrary. There’s not much logical correlation between the thematic portrayal of a component and its effect on the invention’s rather vague properties. No doubt that could be improved, but in the end the inventions still lack a real function. You don’t really do anything with them; they’re just inventory values that make imaginary money. Maybe business sims are not really my genre after all. It’s entirely possible that I’ll end up militarizing this game, changing the theme to maybe tanks or spaceships or submarines. Blowing up bad guys is just such a deliciously clear function for an invention to have. It’s a bit sad to go down that road though. I was quite enthused for a while about making my first non-violent game. Maybe I’ll find a way to make it work after all once I’m done with Tumble Fortress.

– Peace and tumbling fortresses



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