Design Proprosal

Problem Overview
The internet is home to countless browser based games.  As such, it is difficult to create a truly unique browser based game.   
Many browser based games have abused the conventions of platformers.  A platformer can be described as a game in which the player character moves side to side and advances towards the goal principally by running, and jumping; a good example is Super Mario Bros.  Unfortunately, many browser based games employ only the basic elements of running and jumping, which stale after playing many such similar games.  To stand out from the crowd, the proposed game will have to employ unique mechanics in addition to basic platforming elements.    
As future developers, we need practice in making fun, creative games, and the online game market provides an excellent environment to gain both skill and reputation.  Currently, we are inexperienced with most programming languages and the process of game creation.  Our inexperience constitutes as an additional problem when attempting to create an unique game.  

Design Constraints
The major limiting constraint is time; the lack of which is only compounded by the small number of personnel, and their lack of experience with C#.  The project must be completed in just 10 weeks, with only 7 weeks remaining.  During those 7 weeks, only around 14-20 total man-hours can reasonably be committed to working on the project.    Also, some time must be devoted to simply learning the programming environment of C#.  Many other elements of game creation are likewise unknown to us, and these unknown elements may present additional problems and constraints that cannot now be accurately predicted.

Pre-Existing Solutions 
A few select independent games have managed to rise above the crowded platformer market. One such game is Braid[1]Braid is a platformer where the player not only uses the standard platforming conventions to navigate areas, but also uses a time manipulation mechanic to solve puzzles. Braid stands out as an industry darling because it functioned excellently as a platformer, but also incorporated a mechanic that hadn’t been seen in a 2D platformer before. Granted, Braid  isn’t a browser based game, but the same principle of incorporating an unique mechanic into a platformer still applies.
There are many solutions to our lack of experience.  Microsoft provides a groundwork engine for game creation in C# and XNA.  C# and XNA will give the program structure and provide some basic functionality.  While we do not know how to use this programming language and environment, the internet’s wealth of tutorials and advice will help remedy our lack of knowledge.  The internet and other C# users also give a solution for one problem particular to our design which otherwise would be quite difficult to create.    Finally, students and faculty here at Drexel can give us valuable advice and help us resolve difficult problems.  
In addition, the inspiration for particle control came from an interesting online experiment called “liquid particles”[2]. This experiment allows the user to control a large amount of onscreen  particles  through the use of their mouse. Ideally, this idea will be applied to the proposed game, to allow for the payer to gain direct control over the particles for puzzles and boss fight purposes. For standard particle control and use outside of puzzles and certain boss sequences, particles will act independently of the player until the player performs actions that use the particles. For processing the particles, we will use “Particles 3d”[3] which is code supplied by Microsoft for creating and manipulating particles in a virtual environment. 

Design Goal 
The goal is to become more skilled in using C# and XNA games studio, and to become better game developers through developing the proposed game. To create the game, we will have to learn C# through XNA . We will have to learn how to incorporate art and level and character designs into the game. The backgrounds, characters and entire aesthetic of the game should be clearly linked to concept art created for the game. During the process, we will have to be able to develop the game under the pressure of imposing deadlines as defined by our schedule. We will have to be able to create classes and extend the classes to enemies, the particles, and the levels themselves.
The other goal is to make a fun, creative game.  Utilizing particles, our game can overcome the monotony and stagnation found in so many browser based games. To the best of our knowledge, no platformer has attempted to use particles as a core element of gameplay. We will also design creative puzzles and boss encounters to keep gameplay from becoming repetitive. 

Project Deliverables 
At the end of ten weeks, the group will present a working platformer featuring control over particles.  Players will be able to navigate through a level featuring platforming, enemies, and an ending puzzle and boss segment.  The game will process dozens of particles, which the player will use to interact with the game’s virtual environment.  The player will use predefined particle motions during normal level segments, and use precision control during boss and puzzle segments.  The aesthetics of the game will reflect the concept art and have a general geometrical theme.    

Project Schedule 
What we need to have done by these weeks:

Week 3 – 
Class implementation – learn the basic environment, how to create classes, and start coding.  Get some version control software to share code.
Week 4 – 
Character moving around – basic controls and approximate physics.  Ideally also a sprite with a running and jumping animation to go along with the character.
Particles displayed on screen – learn how to manipulate the particles class of XNA.
Week 5 – 
Music status – discern whether or not using They Might Be Giant’s song “Particle Man” is possible.
A prototype level created – character can jump from platform to platform and detect collisions.
Particles tracking mouse – precision control working.
Week 6 – 
Level creator – a system to easily create levels.
Particles done/character special moves – particles are connected to certain character actions and follow some predefined motions.
Week 7 – 
Enemies  - can interact with character, implemented into levels.
Challenges – puzzle using precise collision control implemented
Gameplay testing – is it fun? Gather gameplay testers.
Week 8 – 
Better Backgrounds
More quality assurance
Challenges – boss using a combination of regular actions and precise collision control.
Week 9 – 
Fix bugs.  
Final testing
Write report.

Project Budget
It is unforeseen that the project will require funding beyond acquisition of music files.  For potential music files and unforeseen software requirements, the projected budget is $50.  At this point, all group members involved have the required software of Microsoft Visual Studios, laptops, and graphics software.  

[1] “Braid,”, Oct  18, 2011.
[2] Puhe Daniel, “Liquid Particles,”, March 03, 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Overall, a well designed and written blog. A few items:

    1. Missing week 2 blog (-2)

    2. No Gantt chart for schedule (-2)

    3. Schedule missing demo / presentation activity (-1)

    grade = 95