[abandoned] Hub War

This is a game I started with two other guys in the MiniJam we had on September 2011, at the C-Base.  It’s been more than a year already.

The theme, if I remember correctly, was “Hacking”.  After a bit of brainstorming with a designer I was teaming up with, we couldn’t come up with any good idea.  Back at the time, I had, back in my mind, to write some sort of programmable Galcon clone.  My first contact with that genre had been a KDE game called Konquest.  It was quite addictive back in the time, although it had two problems.  One, that you couldn’t see the ships in transit.  Two, that each turn you have to manually type the amount of ships that you want to send from each planet to each planet, which was quite tedious.  I already had developed some favourite strategies while playing the game, but playing it always involved huge amounts of tedious typing.

Some years later, Galcon came out from a Ludum Dare.  That game has evolved into a quite successful franchise.  It addressed those issues, and the game play is fast and fun.  I was still toying with the idea of making it more automated.  The game I was envisioning would have the same basic mechanics, albeit with a slightly slower pace, but you would “program” your planets.  It would be more like a turn-based game instead of realtime, where the player would create some basic rules for the planets (in the form of “when you have X ships, send half of them to planet B”), and once the scripts were in place, the player could press the “play” button and see the game running on its own.  At any time, he would be able to stop the game, change any script he needed to adapt to a new situation, and press “continue”.  The basic idea would be to keep the strategic gameplay but have the computer do the work.

Unfortunately, this was quite an ambitious idea.  I have learnt over the many jams I’ve attended to, that the concept of “I will start this project here and then work on it over the coming weeks” is usually a bad idea, as good as it may sound on paper.  Most of my failed projects are caused by my resistance to learn that lesson.  You should have a playable prototype at the end of the jam.

So, being the theme “Hacking”, we could change the setting.  Instead of planetary conquest, the map would be a series of computers connected through a network, and the player would hack the enemy’s computers from the ones he controlled.

Another mistake was to do that in Javascript, attempting to write all the code from scratch, instead of using some engine or some basic code I could build on.  I wasn’t very fluent on Javascript back then (and I haven’t improved much since, to be honest).  The result was that I spent the whole jam trying to implement the very basics, and wasting a lot of time chasing bugs due to weird stuff that I never knew if it was the browser’s fault or what.  The version of the game that we had at the end of the jam didn’t even have the basic gameplay implemented, and there were some rendering artifacts still pending fixing.  I told myself that I would work on it after the jam, but I never found the motivation nor the time for it.

Today, more than a year later and having lost all interest, I’m deciding to get rid of it by posting the game in my “Abandoned projects” section.  If I had to do it again, I would try to find some open source implementation of the basic game that I could hack and insert my changes, like I did with Copypastris, instead of wasting time implementing the basics myself and never getting to see a basic game running.  I also feel sorry for having dived into some crazy idea of mine, instead of making a bigger effort to come up with something that would have been more inclusive to my teammates.

The prototype is still barely playable.  The blue circles represent computers that you control, the red are the enemy’s computers.  The enemy doesn’t move or do anything at all, there is no AI implemented.  You can click on one of your computers and then click on one of the neighbouring computers to send “data packets” to it and hack it.  If your attack is higher than the number in the destination machine, you hack it and it becomes yours.  The goal is to control all the computers in the network.  The green triangle is the “play” button, which you have to press to start the action.  If it’s not visible, you’re in “programming” mode, where you are giving those instructions.  Oh, and also, the instructions don’t remain, they disappear after they have been executed.  Right, exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do.

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