Friday, July 12, 2013

Indie Spotlight: Tower of Guns

Indie Spotlight

You may not have an overwhelming drive to fashion an interactive experience in which you created all of the elements by hand. But I do! And there are more and more of "us" out there: game developers who aren't seeking to change the world, but to master a quad-disciplinary medium (code, art, design, sound), entertain some people, and earn enough coin not to need a proper job.

I don't want to call it a common denominator, but what you'll often find is that "we" are drawn to algorithmically-generated design. This sidesteps a major flaw in being a one-man team: it takes a lot of time to create properly balanced and thematically varied levels (or "content"), and by the time the game is mature enough to need it, our attention has wandered away to another project!

When content is generated randomly, we find ways to constrain this randomness so that we're not facing the daunting prospect of creating a full, living landscape. And so, these games (often called "roguelikes" in homage to the first and which is a term in dispute [read more at The Penny Arcade Report: "What the hell is a roguelike?"]) take place in enclosed rooms (dungeons) or, in quite the reverse, outer space.

The next step is to determine what the player can do, and, what do you know, there's room for algorithmically-generated design there, too! Randomly placed weapons! Randomly placed monsters! You get the idea.

One odd trivia bit: historically, there have been very, very few "roguelikes" that have FPS controls (think Call of Duty or Skyrim). Some, like Nosferatu rammed up against the tech limitations of the day. Others, like Dungeon Hack, are first person, but are turn-based and have a fixed perspective. Borderlands stepped closer, with its randomly-generated weapon and loot system, but it still relied on man-made maps.

I think we're primed to see an explosion of FPS roguelikes in the coming years, especially as tech limits evaporate and game engines like Unity and Unreal become more and more flexible. One of the first out of the gate is Tower of Guns. Check it out.

Randomly generated rooms. Weapons that "evolve" based on other guns you pick up (a rocket launcher + a shotgun = a fistful of rockets!). Full-on Quake-speed FPS controls. This is going to be a good one!

Check it out on its homepage, and give it your support on Steam Greenlight!

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