@venture: Retro Procedural FPS

It is time to write a bit about my Secret Project I’ve been hinting at elsewhere. I am working on a retro-style procedurally generated first-person shooter. It’s being created in Game Maker, since that’s what I’ve been using all semester and I’m pretty comfortable with it.

Retro Style: I grew up in a time when TRON’s visuals were considered ridiculously awesome and every kid I knew dreamed of the day when we might play games that looked like that on our PCs. Audio tape storage and other really retro technology was already obsolete by the time I got my first computers, but editing batch files and making DOS Boot Disks was a way of life for the PC gamer of the time. I had to work for my games, and those games had graphics that were designed for, and required you to make use of, your imagination. So graphically @venture is going to be a tribute to the games of that era.

Plus, retro-style means I can spend more time on the programming side instead of worrying about making things look pretty.

Procedurally Generated: I’ve wanted to create a roguelike of my own ever since I started playing the DOS version of Rogue and various variants in the mid-90s. At the time I was also into a game called Warhammer Quest, which is like a multiplayer boardgame roguelike. Until recently, I hadn’t considered Game Maker as a possibility for such a project. Working on Steam City Chronicles changed my mind.

Although there haven’t been a whole lot of Game Maker roguelikes, there are a few out there already. But there’s never been a procedural FPS made in GM before as far as I know.

First Person Shooter: (For those who don’t know what a first-person shooter is, it’s a game shown from the point of view of the protagonist, where most of the gameplay involves shooting things.)

It was the Yoyo Games First-Person Shooter tutorial that gave me the idea for a procedural FPS. The way the walls are laid out in the 2D view reminded me of the “overhead” standard roguelike perspective (as well as the fact that in GM, “3D” is still generated from a completely 2D room). It occured to me that instead of laying out the rooms manually I could figure out / borrow some algorithms and get GM to lay out the rooms for me. It’ll obviously take a bit of work to make it function, but so far it seems feasable.

The whole thing is going to be highly experimental. I don’t know exactly how much like a roguelike, how much like a FPS, how much like a traditional RPG, or how much like a traditional adventure game it’s going to be yet. I don’t know whether I’m going to stick to a vaguely D&Dish / Tolkienish theme like so many roguelikes, or go for some kind of steampunky-fantasy theme, or go for a more “self aware retro” feel where the character knows he’s in a computer, or go all out sci fi and set it in a giant spacecraft, abandoned space colony, or post-apocalyptic London.

I’m definitely aiming to have:

  • full features of original Rogue environments: algorithmically created walls, rooms, passageways, and doors
  • Mouselook + WASD shooter controls
  • a HUD stolen- er, inspired by the Ultima Underworld series
  • pixillated goblins with serviceable AI
  • a proper inventory
  • actual Data Structures to handle the behind-the-scenes stuff.
  • procedural environment features (simple trees / mushrooms generated from algorithms, for example)
  • switching from 3D to 2D and back again for a “magic map” (the documentation has a warning that this doesn’t work, but we’ll see)
  • proper menus and everything
  • light and fog effects, since GM has options for that

I may also have, depending on time and what seems to be working:

  • more early 90s-looking than early 80s-looking graphics
  • prefabricated rooms loaded from text files (that’s Vaults in Angband jargon, but I got the idea from WQ originally)
  • a “card dealing” mechanic to deal out the vaults like cards just like in WQ, but mixing in algorithmically created rooms as well.
  • procedural puzzles (but it’s doubtful unless I get the vault dealer to work)
  • shops and/or workshops (if I go for the Steampunk-Fantasy theme)
  • water terrain (like the Underworld games)
  • sloping floors and walls
  • tunneling through earth and destructible walls as a major gameplay feature (like Dungeon Keeper & Dwarf Fortress)
  • submitted the “final” prototype at the end of summer to Yoyo Games website as a “work in progress”

What I have working right now definitely isn’t worth putting screenshots up yet, but hopefully as soon as next week I’ll start posting them.

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