Alex


Homeward
Sprinting Survival Race

Design:
Alex Kerr

Premise:

You are some creature stranded
from the rest of your tribe/pack/group/what have you. Although you have
found safety in a cave, you won't be able to survive alone. Your goals
are to a) not die of starvation, b) not be devoured by predators, and
c) reach the safety of your pack.

The Playfield and Level:

(General)

The game is presented in
a top-down perspective. Play starts at one end of the map and ends when
the player either dies or reaches the goal. The map itself can either
be a simple vertical scroll or have twists and turns if desired. (If
you want to procedurally generate maps with new patterns of twists and
turns every game, go for it!) The map should be long enough to
allow for a few minutes of play from start to finish. (However, an implementation
with many short levels of increasing difficulty may also be acceptable.)

(Obstacles)

The map may contain obstacles
such as rocks to impede player progress or be used cleverly to impede
progress of enemies. (e.g. if there is a jump function, jumping over
rocks would cause dumb beasties chasing the player to smash into said
obstacle and stop following the player.) Obstacles – if not properly
avoided – should trip the player and momentarily slow them down.

The Player:

(Movement)

The player controls aforementioned
creature. The player can move freely in 8 directions using arrow keys
or equivalent directional input. The player should accelerate in the
direction pressed up to a given top speed (see: Health and Stamina).
Inertia should not be so great that the player cannot quickly change
directions if necessary.

(Actions)

If desired, action keys
can trigger player actions such as jumping (allows player to pass over
obstacles such as rocks for a short number of frames after being triggered,
has a slight delay on re-use after “landing”) or attacking (push
away nearby actions at the cost of slowing down slightly so it cannot
be used constantly). Another possible action is a dash that allows the
player to quickly redirect their momentum in the direction specified
by the arrow keys when the dash button is pressed. (It is hard to say
which actions will be useful until the game is playable in some form,
so further experimentation is left up to the implementor.)

(Health and Stamina)

The player is concerned
with two metrics relevant to their survival: health and stamina.

Stamina is kept filled by
collecting food items that are present on the map. When stamina is kept
filled, the player benefits from a high top speed. Similarly, the player's
top speed should be fairly slow if the stamina bar is very low and moderately
fast if it is somewhere in between. If desired, health can drop very
slowly if the stamina bar is empty, but the effects of moving slowly
are probably plenty of a detriment to the player's overall expected
survival.

Health is the player's main
concern when it comes to staying alive. When the player is struck by
an enemy, they lose health. Should this value ever reach zero, the game
is over. The player should not be especially durable when confronted
with multiple direct strikes from an enemy – three or so direct hits
should probably be a serious threat to the player. However, the health
meter should start to fill up again after a second or so of evading
attacks. The caveat to the recharging feature is that every hit is a
slight detriment to how fast the bar fills back up. The player should
be able to recover fairly quickly from the first blow, but won't be
able to rely on recovery if they are frequently being hit over the course
of the game.

The Food

(What)

These are used to keep the
player's stamina meter filled. They can be stationary icons (fruit,
berries, etc.) or take the form of packs of smaller animals that try
to flee. If there are packs of smaller animals present on the map, the
player may be able to use them as a distraction to placate enemies in
pursuit by running near them rather than collecting them.

(Where)

Littered along the course
of the map. There should be enough that the player can keep their stamina
meter filled, but not so much that keeping it filled is no challenge
and the player isn't concerned about missing any.

The Enemies

(What and where)

Along the course of the
map, the player will encounter enemies that will try to chase and attack
them. Enemies present on the map may not be immediately aware of the
player's presence and only begin the chase once the player comes within
a specified distance from them to trigger their alert state. Others
may be spawned from the sides of the screen and immediately chase the
player.

(Example Behaviors)

+Basic: Run straight for
the player (or the nearest live food item). Loses interest if kept in
pursuit for too long or caused to strike too many obstacles along the
way. Simple chasers should be able to occasionally attempt a quick dash/leap
at the player, with some sort of signal (animation, sound, change in
movment, etc.) that they are about to do so to give the player a chance
to try to avoid the strike.

+Rush Down: Makes a quick
bid for the player. Interest is held if they can land a successful strike
on their first dash, but quickly lost if the player is out of range.
(These would work well coming from off screen, as well as on the map
waiting to dash as you pass by.)

+Rock Throwers: Attempt
to strike the player with projectiles, but lose interest fairly quickly
if their attempts are not successful.

+Flankers: Come in pairs
from behind, get up to speed to line up with the player, and try to
come in from both sides. Jumping or quickly pulling back would cause
them to collide and stop their advance.

(How many?)

It all depends on how difficult
they are to avoid given the behaviors implemented. There should be enough
predators in play to provide a sense of tension and to provide a decent
challenge to the player.

The Goal

The player wins if they
reach the goal at the end of the map. At this point, any additional
scoring bonuses that may need to be calculated will be added up. Example
score bonuses include a Remaining Health bonus, a “No Miss”
bonus for completing the game without taking damage, and a Time bonus
for reaching the goal quickly (can be calculated by awarding x points
for every second under a lenient “par” time to reach the end or
something similar).

Scoring

As alluded to in the previous
section, the player has the secondary goal of getting a high score.
Food items collected should award some number of points to the player.
Food items should be worth more points if the stamina meter is very
high, thus encouraging eating many food items without missing any along
the player's path. Additionally, there may be lines of “special”
food items along the way that award bonus points if the whole
chain of food is collected.