wefiends

Dandy Kickstarter Up!

DANDY KICKSTARTER IS LIVE!

Trapped in ancient alchemical ruins, the last remaining candy alchemist must find his way to freedom in this 2D shoot ‘em up.

We’ve been working on Dandy for a while now and we’re really excited about where it’s at.

CHECK OUT GAMEPLAY FOOTAGE

Or the start of our making of series:

DISSECTING DANDY

Changed the name of the blog to Wefiends, that way if I ever wanna do a dev blog for future games we can.

This is another illustration for our teaser trailer. It’s surprising how small my visual library is when it comes to action compositions. I’ll need to work on that. Kickstarter is getting closer and closer, and when it comes I think we might start doing dev streams daily at http://www.twitch.tv/wefiends

When I start thinking about designing a new game, usually the first thing I write down are the verbs of agency—what actions does the player take to interact within the game?

Dandy is a schmup. That means dodging and shooting. Defining the simplest means by which a player interacts with the game allows me to easily explore it’s design space.

Once I have these verbs defined, everything else is just an archeological dig guided by my themes and premises. The reason I do things this way is so that the interactivity in the game can express abstract ideas.

For example, a big problem I had with the original Dandy was that it didn’t really matter what you did. If you sat still and hit the shoot button over and over or you just weaved through the waves of enemies, you’d still make progress but be completely unattached from the experience.

For Dandy, I wanted to convey that all actions have consequences. When I sit down to design enemies, I can use this idea as a starting point. Sometimes I’ll come up with a solution that others have come up with before, but with an understanding for how and why they fit in Dandy.

Enemies now have to carry consequences for the player’s actions. Having those player actions defined opened the floodgate for enemy designs; Chargers only move when you shoot, Movelings shoot when you move, Idlelings shoot when you stop moving. With all these things defined, and an understanding of why they are there, I can just fill in the gaps and keep the most interesting “discoveries” in the game for players to experience.

It’s easy to view this design process as contrived or over complicating something simple. I think that by understanding every aspect of my game, and why I’m making the decisions I am, I can guide the project easily without questioning if something belongs. I can also avoid hodgepodging the works of the people that designed games before me.

This probably should’ve been the first post on here, but I guess third is close enough.

I was watching the steam dev days videos on youtube, this one in particular about marketing. When the devs on the panel were put on the spot to describe their game in a sentence, they all did really well. But posed with the same question, I’m actually not sure what I’d answer.

What is Dandy?

Depending on who you are or where you’re coming from I think I’d answer that question very differently. If you’re a gamer the answer is sort of easy because genre names and game comparisons are inherently easy to describe, “Dandy is a horizontal schmup done as a rogue-like” or “Dandy is a slowed down, pensive Gradius." But that’s just categorization.

Games are really unique in that the player has direct interaction. So maybe they should be described by the interactions the player makes, "Dandy is a game where you kill monsters by solving puzzles.” I think that gets closer but it’s also kind of confusing. Dandy isn’t a puzzle game. Once you’ve learned how an enemy can be killed, the game becomes about efficiency and understanding how the game uses your own input to challenge you.

There’s also the entire narrative side of things, which I tend to think of as secondary. “You’re a candy wizard fighting hordes of monsters to discover new ingredients,” doesn’t even scratch the surface of what Dandy is, but maybe that’s because it was designed with the narrative/art playing a very secondary role.

Maybe the reason it’s so difficult to describe is because the flavor of the game isn’t that referential to the real world. What the hell is a “Candy Wizard” and why does he shoot beams of energy from a candy cane. Why is he floating through the sky on a lollipop? It could also be because the game isn’t remotely done. Could what Dandy is, not even exist yet despite the games design being substantially planned.

I’m not entirely sure what the answer is in short form. “Dandy is a game where you’re your own worst enemy” has emerged as a big theme in the gameplay so maybe that’s the best answer. It describes how the players input directly affects the monsters and obstacles in the game. How small decisions can make or break your success.

I’ve always thought about Dandy as a game about addiction in a really abstract way. When we pitched it as an iOS game to Adult Swim a few years ago addiction was in the narrative. It was tied into the gameplay as well. You’d grow weary and insane if your supply of candy collectibles ran low. It was kind of dark, but for some reason I feel like this design actually still carries a bit of that and maybe more effectively.

As people play the game, maybe they’ll have the answer. I’m sure someone will describe it and it’ll feel painfully obvious. I’m sure I’ll make another post when that day comes.