Phobocore – new game release

Here’s a new game I’ve been developing on-and-off for a few months now. I’ve become pretty busy at “The Day Job” recently, and due to commuting time I haven’t found time to add all the features I’d like. I thought rather than sit on this game for many more months, I’d just release it as is. It’s polished enough to play … but you’ll need a friend (if you live in Melbourne … I’m happy to drop round and play it with you :) ).

Phobocore is a two-player hotseat game, where the aim is to capture all the planets onscreen by shooting them. It’s sort of a cross between Asteroids and Risk/Galcon, with a respectful nod to open field overhead shooters like Robotron, Bezerk or Gauntlet.

Phobocore screenshot

Download Phobocore (v.09 for Windows & Linux) [10.3 mb]

The experience of creating this game has been quite enlightening so far. It really got me thinking about aspects of game design I hadn’t thought deeply about. I threw around lots of ideas relating to ‘resources’ and ‘defenses’, particularly thinking about how RTSs like Starcraft require balance in play style between defense building, offensive maneuvers and resource gathering. Good players must multitask and proiritize to get the upperhand on their opponents. Key questions like “Should captured/neutral/enemy planets be solid objects or unhindering ?” occupied more than one dinner time conversation, bearing out all the ways these would changed the game. I had great fun testing the effect of different game rules, and how these changed the dynamics of the gameplay (with huge thanks to my long-suffering girlfriend for playtesting. The next best thing to writing an AI player :) ). If you are keen to fiddle with these game rules yourself, you can throw various flags in the phobocore.py sourcecode to test how these variations change the play style required to win.

I also spent considerable time tweaking things like fire rates and the “planets-held to ammo recharge rate” ratio to try and make the game somewhat fun. It works pretty well for players that are equally matched, but much like Galcon, once one player gets an edge, it can be hard to recover and things are over pretty quickly.

Big features I’d love to add in the future: an AI compurer player for single player mode, and maybe network play. I need to work on the collision detection, improve the graphics, add background music, and add a help screen / tutorial screen and slap on a license (probably GPL for code and Creative Commons for audiovisual assests).

Have fun & feedback is, as always, welcome !

Here’s the README.txt

┏━┓╻ ╻┏━┓┏┓ ┏━┓┏━╸┏━┓┏━┓┏━╸
┣━┛┣━┫┃ ┃┣┻┓┃ ┃┃  ┃ ┃┣┳┛┣╸
╹  ╹ ╹┗━┛┗━┛┗━┛┗━╸┗━┛╹┗╸┗━╸
Copyright Andrew Perry, 2008, 2009.

A two player hotseat game of screen domination.
It's pink vs. blue.
Boys vs. girls.

┃: GAMEPLAY :┃

Phobocore is a a simultaneous two player game. The goal is to capture
 as many planets as possible.
* You capture planets by shooting them - eventually they will turn to
  your colour.
* If you shoot a planet enough, it becomes locked to your colour -
  these planets cannot be re-captured by the enemy.
* The more planets you capture, the faster your ammo refills (orange
  bar). The more locked planets you hold, the more powerful your
  bullets become.
* You can fly through neural (white) or enemy planets. You cannot fly
  through your own planets.
* Shooting the enemy freezes them momentarily, however they also
  absorb your bullets for their own ammo store.
* Powerups occasionally appear - these give you more ammo, and can
  provide the vital edge you need to capture more planets than your
  opponent.
* The red bar goes up the more planets you lock. Once you have locked
  30 % of the planets on screen, you win.

┃: CONTROLS :┃

Player 1 (pink, left ammo bar): W,A,S,D and space
Player 2 (blue, right ammo bar): Arrow keys and right-CTRL

┃: OPTIONS :┃

Commandline options:

-f          run the game in full screen mode

┃:   TIPS   :┃

Early on, every bullet counts. Fire accurately and efficiently.

It may seem frustrating at first, since you can't shoot very fast.
Early in the game, aim to quickly but efficiently capture as many
planets as possible, and pick up powerups if you can. Don't waste
ammo locking too many planets early in the game - it's more about
quantity not quality at this stage. As you capture more planets,
your fire rate will go up.

Once you have a reasonable fire rate established, start focusing
on locking planets too. This will increase your bullet power,
meaning you can also capture/lock planets faster.

Take opportunities to steal any weak planets owned by your opponent
(the smaller ones) with a quick circular spray of bullets - this
will seriously impact on your opponents fire rate, frustrating
their efforts to capture/steal/lock more planets.

Try not to fence yourself in. Keep in mind that planets you capture
become blockades for you, but become open space for your opponent.
Rather than spraying a whole 360 degree circle of bullets to capture
all the planets in your vicinity, try doing 270 degree sweeps,
leaving yourself a exit small hole of neutral or enemy planets.

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