Bus Run: Alien Armageddon – Screenshot and Evaluation

For this assignment we were tasked with producing a concept and a prototype for a casual game. I set out on this task by coming up with a concept that involved a School Bus and an ‘Alien’ Cactus. The premise of the game was supposed to be a survival side scrolling game, where the player had to manoeuvre their avatar around the level in a Trials HD kind of fashion. Being that it was to be produced in Adobe Flash, I had to roll back the perspective to 2D to accommodate further.

PrototypeScreenshot

The Problem

When it came down to mid-development, approximately after the time I had successfully got the avatar to animate correctly, I began to question to mechanics of the game. You see, I was continually checking that the game was running as closely to its original premise as possible and this is when I stumbled onto a major issue. I discovered that the game had a logic flaw that would’ve doomed the player to certain failure, eventually.

In terms of gameplay, the player would effectively be predetermined to fail after a certain time. The problem with this is that the player had no offensive capabilities to get past said AI, so this would have meant that with the health system that was also intended to be implemented; the player was doomed to never make it past the first level.

From here I tried to negate the problem. I attempted to hypothesize ways around this issue without compromising the main premise. I initially was intending on making the bus leap over the AI, as they are situated in the ground but I couldn’t personally allow the logic gap of a bus miraculously leaping in the air to be permitted as it didn’t make any sense in terms of the original narrative concept.

I then thought of having the AI fall downwards onto the player, and this seemed like a viable option. However, the playable avatar was directly programmed to go to a certain constant speed to negate the navigational properties of the avatar going too fast. So eventually, the same fate would befall the original concept.

This is when I decided to back track the game and reduce some of the properties within it. I removed the AI and Health system and simply added a Time Score to mould the game in a slightly different direction. The game then turned into a Time Trials simulator, playing on the homage to Trials HD, as it was the closest game concept that could relatively work with the original concept.

Overall, I’m ‘satisfied’ with the final result. I wouldn’t say I’m generally content with the final product, having an idea that you’ve been working on for months be made redundant because of poor planning and foresight. As a learning experience this has certainly opened my eyes to how quickly ideas can and have to change to be moulded rapidly to fit into a deadline. If I could do this again, I’d certainly change the perspective of the game to a top down racer, for better AI interaction and to actually make it a relatively playable game.

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