Whenever I come up with a new game idea I like to create a quick prototype of it in Game Maker to see how much potential it has. In creating prototypes I typically come across a number of design problems that I didn’t see when I had the initial idea. It is typically these design problems that will cause me to abandon or continue working on the game.
One prototype that I’ve been playing around with lately is for a game tentatively titled “RGB”. The game is about a pixel in a computer display that has gained sentience and goes around restoring the dead/stuck pixels in the display to life.
The original idea was that it would be a puzzle platformer where you play as a flashing pixel that, upon colliding with other pixels, will cycle them from red to green to blue, and then back to red. The goal of each level is to make all of the pixels the same color.
Upon finishing this first prototype I found two big problems:
1. It is difficult to precisely hit one pixel when you can move freely.
2. All puzzles I could think of were easy to solve using brute force methods.
So, to solve these problems I decided to give up on making it a platformer, and allowed the player to move up, down, left, and right, snapped to the game’s grid. (Like an old JRPG) This also helps reinforce the idea that the player is a pixel in a display because they cannot move on a sub-pixel level.
The new prototype solves the control issues of the old one, and opens up a lot of new possibilities for puzzles. While it is still difficult to create puzzles for the game that cannot be brute forced, I have created a few, and am confident that I will be able to create many more.