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Stop That Hero!’s Past Life as a Prototype

“Stop That Hero!” has been in development in some form since last August. Back then it was a 3-day prototype created during the 18th Ludum Dare 48-hour game development competition. The theme was “Enemies as Weapons,” and I liked the idea of a reverse Super Mario Bros in which the player was sending Goombas and Koopa Troopas at a computer-controlled hero who was traversing the level with the help of artificial intelligence.

At the time, I had just finished reading a good beginner’s book on game AI. My previous AI needs and capabilities were very basic. If I needed an entity to move, it was moving in a straight line, randomly, or directly towards its target. The environment was usually ignored because the best I could do to avoid obstacles was hope that some random movement would help.

Since Ludum Dare #18 was going to be my first time trying to implement relatively advanced AI techniques, I didn’t want to also learn how to create a platformer game engine, so I decided to make a top-down overhead view for the game since it was easier. I didn’t have to learn jumping physics and deal with figuring out how to get a hero to know when to jump over obstacles and when to avoid hazards.

I did a quick paper prototype of the game as I envisioned it at the time. The hero would spawn and start walking towards treasure chests and eventually the castle. The player would create minions to fight back.

More prototyping

The layout and user interface quickly came together, too.

UI layoutMock Up

And then I was off to try to implement this game in which the player uses the hero’s enemies as weapons. Pathfinding and targeting were my two main AI concerns, and I admit that I had difficulty getting things working correctly within that weekend.

Even though I missed the original 48-hour deadline, by the end of a third day, I had a working game to submit to the 72-hour Ludum Dare Jam which was going on at the same time as the main competition. I was pretty proud of what was my most ambitious game to date. My favorite moment near the end was realizing that I was not just play testing it but actually playing the game!

Stop That Hero! is finished

I took a break in September, but during that month, I kept thinking about creating an updated, commercial version of “Stop That Hero!” I wondered if it should be the game I work on next or how long I should expect to work on it, but then I heard about a new challenge from the Ludum Dare site: create a game and sell at least one copy in the month of October.

I took three days to make this prototype. I easily could spend a month rewriting it, making it better, and sell one copy, right?

I’ll write about the results of the October Challenge in a follow-up post. In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to know more about the “Stop That Hero!” prototype, leave a comment below! Also, please click on the “Like” button below to share this post with your Facebook friends.

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