OUTLIER and JS13K

Posted on Thu Aug 18 2016 23:11:00 GMT+0200 (South Africa Standard Time)

It's been over a month since my last post on the site. That's partially due to procrastination, work... and then being horribly ill for about 2 and a half weeks.

At some point during that illness, I spent a bit of time working on a game called "OUTLIER". I can hardly remember working on it; I had a fever and was on meds that had a heavy sleep-inducing effect on me.

So imagine my surprise when I suddenly realized about a week later that I had made this in a half-catatonic state:

It's simple, but has one of the smoothest platforming systems I've ever made. And with a more complex camera system than I've ever bothered with before. I've been spending a bit of time refining the camera, since it's such an integral part of any game that has motion. Once it's done (If it's ever done) I'll do a full write-up on it.

And then JS13K started

I'd never even heard of JS13K until a couple of days ago. It's one of those types of competitions I love to join just for the sheer challenge.

The idea is that you get a month to make a game for either Desktop PCs, Mobile devices or Servers. In JavaScript.

Oh, and the final package has to be 13KB or less.

To put this in sharp and terrifying perspective... the Markdown alone for my last DarkSlashRun dev entry (#8) is 11KB. That's just text, no HTML or anything. 124 lines with whitespace. Additionally, you're not allowed to use external resources (So no storing your images on a server and loading them that way, for instance).

The rules do provide a bit of wiggle room though. The 13KB applies to the size of your final zipped package (Including JS and index.html), and you are allowed to minify your code (You also have to upload a human-readable version of the source to GitHub).

You should join. Yes you. Go, and face your fears.

Still, it's quite a feat to fit a game in that amount of space. And I'm going to give it my best shot. I'm way more familiar with C and C++ than I am with JavaScript, but I see this as a good excuse to rapidly learn the language. I've been studying Douglas Crockford's book and videos (Excellent materials), and have already come to grips with a lot of the quirks that JavaScript presents.

I've been finding that the easiest way for a programming with a background in classical languages (C, C++, Java, C#, etc) will do best by not thinking of JavaScript as being anything like those aforementioned languages. Because it isn't. The C-like syntax is, in the end, detrimental to the language. It's really its own thing, but was forced to conform back in the day thanks to Netscape.

A lot of my recent work has involved web development and app development using Angular. Frontend stuff is still my weakest point, and I'm basically using js13k as an excuse to rapidly absorb as much knowledge of JS as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.

The game I'm making (For the theme: Glitch) is my rapidfire interpretation of a bunch of games I remember playing at a young (And then not so young) age. I used to play the Shareware demo of Solar Winds a ton, Elite at some point, a bunch of adventure games, and eventually Nethack, and I decided to draw most of my inspiration from those.

The game, not to give too much away, is pretty much a simple-on-the-outside trade/exploration/conquest style game in the vein of Elite, or the Evochron series. You explore a system full of locations, grab the lucrative looking ones to get resources, trade them to get more resources, and eventually 'win' the game. I'm going to keep the entire premise of the game besides those few tidbits under wraps for now, including how I'm getting around to working the theme into the game. There is a story, there are two ways to end the game, and I'm hoping to finish it in time.

If it sounds a bit too ambitious... I'm doing this in a really simplified manner. Almost the entire game takes place in three mostly-static screens: Your ship, the trade screen, and the conquest screen. I'm not making a graphically stunning game here, more along the lines of a text game with graphics. Most of the action takes place in messages. "Drone attacks the Guardian and cuts it in half", that kind of thing.

Screenshots next week? Screenshots next week.

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