As the end of October loomed, and I realized I hadn’t made my #1GAM yet. I’d been digging back through very old projects looking for something I might be able to finish, and I found this old ‘tunnelrun’ game I’d made in Python (with overkill ODE physics !).
I decided that the original code wasn’t worth salvaging, and that I’d remake it in Unity as a quick ‘roguelike’ (which is apparently anything with procedurally generated levels and permadeath these days).
I had been working on implementing cellular automata for cavern generation during the month, so I pulled that code into the project and tweaked it for purpose. I ‘wasted’ a lot of time optimising this to prevent major framerate drops as levels are progressively generated in realtime, and dealt with some annoying room & exit placement bugs. I pulled in a spacecraft prefab I made almost 12 months ago for another as-yet-unreleased game. Generated a sky-sphere using some space assets I bought on sale a while back. Fired up Audacity, got on the mic, made some breathing sounds. Made some item pickup sounds with Ableton Live. Made a simple ‘generic item’ model in Blender – I need to practise it more and at least modelling something simple will mean those neurones remain active.
I had already decided that a core mechanic would be searching for ‘oxygen’, which would deplete over time, ultimately resulting in death. I also knew that I wanted to play with visibility, and use that to indicate oxygen levels, along with breathing sounds. Then I went searching for Public Domain literature written about space or the ocean, looking for some text to use as inspiration (or wholesale steal). I ended up reading this – A Hundred Years Hence : The Expectations Of An Optimist by T. Baron Russell, 1906, (Chapter 6: UTILISING THE SEA). Russell’s vision of the future and the challenges we might face with resources and continued human expansion set the direction for this game, and everything fell into place. I knew what I needed to do with this. It still blows my mind that this was written in 1906 ! I tweaked the colour to be ocean-like, so as to intentionally make it ambiguous as to whether the setting is space or the ocean floor. I tweaked the level generation to embrace the idea of increasing scarcity, incorporated Russell’s text as short random snippets, and left the player to fill in the gaps. I think it mostly works as intended – a short experience that I hope will make players pause to think for a moment.
TLDR; Inspired by some literature, I ended up dropping all plans for combat and made some sort of art-game roguelike.