flixel great, pity about the game idea

David Shaw, 8:16 am 20th August 2009
Posted under: Blog Babble

flixel appears to be really neat for whipping up sprite based Flash games. I spent a while just getting to grips with the source code, but after a while things made sense. It’s pretty similar to the flow in the structure I use for 2D games in C++, so it makes sense. Even though I’ve got a copy of the Flash IDE, the free Flex SDK works better to compile; it feels just like other compiled languages. It was pretty quick to mock up a simple Flash demo.

The problem is I’m not sure where to take it. The original idea was for a sliding maze puzzle: you need to navigate to point A to point B in a maze made out of blocks, with the catch being that once you start moving in a direction you can’t stop moving until you hit a wall. It’s pretty trivial to make that from this point, but if I just do that it’s essentially a simpler version of Duck Tiles over at the Code Zone.

The original extension and “fun part” to develop was to think of a way to generate the levels. Brainstorming this on my board, it’s pretty easy to write a puzzle solver, but thinking of a way to generate puzzles that are both solvable and interesting is a bit trickier. I shelved that for a bit because I wanted to play aound more with flixel.

Instead I put in some sliding ice blocks which you can knock around with the player. I was hoping to spark off some interesting ideas for what you could do with them. Instead it now feels like I’m going back to the original Pengo video game that sparked off the whole “Penguins on ice” inspiration.

I’m just not sure there’s enough of a spark here to keep me interested in the game. Oh, there’s plenty of interesting stuff I could lose myself into: I’d love to play around with drawing ice effects, animating sliding characters, making ice themed music and so on. But a big truism I learnt from Freeplay is that all that sort of stuff should be spent on a good idea. If a game idea doesn’t grab you when it’s just blocks and shapes, then no amount of polish will save it.

I think it’s probably best if I shelve the Project Penguin idea for now, and go move on to prototyping something else. It’s already proved to me that flixel is a good prototyping platform for pixel or sprite based games in Flash, which was sort of the point of the exercise. If I hit upon a good idea that could work with sprites, I’ll definitely use it again.

While I liked flixel, the next idea I want to prototype would work better with geometric shapes and lines and involves a fair amount of algorithms which I think is best for me to prototype in C++. I’ll be sure to use it again though, especially because I’ve got a few retro platformers I’d like to make someday.

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