The Last Pizza in Space
(aka Space Pizza)
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/16361225/SpacePizza_1.1.zip Windows Build v1.1
http://globalgamejam.org/2015/games/space-pizza Created in 48 hours for the Global Game Jam 2015
Theme: What Do We Do Now?
Everyone who participated in the Global Game Jam this year knows that the theme was crazy open-ended. "What Do We Do Now?" doesn't give really any direction. Even that being the case, true to form, a lot of interesting ideas were born from that wide open question. On our team, we came up with the concept of a four player virtual board game where every turn is everyone's turn.
Setting: Four crew members trapped on ship in space on a trip to Mars battle over the last pizza any of them will ever get to eat.
Objective: Collect 3 Pizza Cards to unlock the Pizza. Then collect the Pizza to win. Being shot drops one card and returns the player to their spawn point.
Gameplay: Every player gets to enter inputs at the same time, then they are all resolved at the same time. It sounds confusing in description, but it is simple in practice once played. For example, when a turn starts Player1 inputs Move Left, Player2 inputs Attack Up, Player3 inputs Move Down, and Player4 inputs Dodge Left. Once the last player has entered, all their actions are played out at the same time. Then a new input phase begins.
What is complicated, and what the game does not yet do a good job of making clear, is how the inputs are resolved simultaneously. Timing of when players input is critical to who wins and loses any given set of actions. Each round opens with a waiting phase, where the input indicator light is red in the top center of the screen. Any inputs entered in this phase are considered early and result in the player's input indicator to be crossed red and have their inputs moved to the back of the queue. When the light turns green, any inputs entered are consider good and the player's input indicator will receive a green check and their inputs will be queued in order of time after the light turned green. So, for example, if two players wait for the light to turn green and they both attempt to shoot each other the one who shot first will win. If however, one shoots and the other dodges, the one who dodged will dodge to safety. If one dodges and the other does not shoot, the one who dodged will do nothing and lose a turn. If a player shoots and the other moves, the one who acted first will get their action.
As it may be clear, these mechanics don't lend themselves easily to explanation via simple cues or writing. However, once understood the game is actually quite simple at its core. Since the game is quick, but turn based, it lends itself to head games in fast succession. Unfortunately the head games can not begin until the game is understood, something the current incarnation does not get across well on its own.
Iterations: The original concept did not contain the key cards and had perma death. Quickly building a prototype allowed us to play test fairly early in the jam. Those tests were functional, but we all felt they were lacking something. Though we really didn't want to keep spawning players, it was clear the game was at its best when all four characters were playing. The other issue was just players making a dash for the pizza. The key cards were a secondary objective that helps mitigate that issue and encourages more movement on the map and incentivises combat - making another player drop a card that you can take both slows their progress and enhances your own. At this point other interactive items were added to the game to further enhance gameplay opportunities. First are destructable walls - with cracks in them the break when shot. Next are explosive barrels - when shot all adjacent spaces are affected. Last, but certainly not least, are the angled mirrors - these redirect laser fire according to the incoming angle. This effect can be chained allowing for wildly swerving bank shots. All these additions came from play testing and once again show its value.
Potential Additions: Many times the idea of each player controlling more than one character was brought up. Since the game is not 'real time' but turn based, there is nothing in its basic implementation that would prevent each player from making multiple inputs for each round and having them all carried out simultaneously. The basic structure of the game would also work cooperatively. It would also allow for larger than single screen arenas as with all players working together the camera could travel with them.