Global Game Jam 2012, Day 3

The last day of the Game Jam was a bit more of a rough ride due to the crunch for time, and our group ran into some problems. Although the art assets were finished, loading them into the game itself proved to be a problem due to some naming confusion. Also, various programming delays caused a setback in the schedule – while many other games in the Jam were created using an engine of some sort, primOrdial was programmed from scratch as a Javascript web game, so creating the engine took up the whole 2nd day. Add this to a late start and it was virtually impossible (no pun intended) to finish everything the game was supposed to do. The music did get finished, but it would have been a bit futile to put it in the game at that point. We did get a really simple build working (for a while), but, mostly, we intend to finish the game after the Jam.

The water proved to be a difficult task to simulate. When a comet would hit the planet, a crater would form, or a bulge would rise up, a certain amount of water would be displaced and these changes would be propagated across the entire globe. Richard agreed that the optimal way would be particle effects, but it would be possible to “fudge” it by simply using static slices that moved up and down. The calculations would be processor-intensive, so the whole thing would be done in the cloud and then sent back to the user. In an ultimate version of the game, the entire planet could be procedurally generated and simulated, but then it would stop being arcadey and become incredibly complicated.

Some more ideas about the game’s structure were thrown around during that time, as what it was originally designed to be was a full “life simulation” (except that you control the planet, not the life). The player goes through different “stages”, each with a different objective to complete.

  1. Create life
  2. Grow plant-life
  3. Grow animal life
  4. Grow humans
  5. Protect civilization

Of course, the player would have to contend with space-borne obstacles such as meteors and the like.

As for the player character, I just wanted it to be a tremendous, superintelligent robot. That would open up some great multiplayer opportunities when someone else tries to wreck your carefully-maintained planet. The voiceovers will be funny, in a deadpan way. And, of course, if central command gave you orders to do insane things for the purpose of observation, you wouldn’t really be able to disagree.