Working Towards A Playable Prototype

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The last few days have been quite delightful. After spending months creating assets and learning a few things about marketing, I am finally working on a playable prototype of Evergreen (which is its placeholder name at the moment). These assets, Block Lighting Engine 2D and Terrainify 2D, will play a huge part in this game and back then I decided to build them first to find out if I had what it took for this game. There’s actually a third asset named Block Water 2D that is functional, but not a complete asset yet. More on that here. The game will be a 2D survival game with a storyline and a heavy focus on technological advancements. If you want to know more about the game, feel free to visit its project page.

The first prototype for Evergreen, featuring the little robot guy from the Unity Standard Assets as placeholder.

The design phase is anything but finished. There are many major subjects that still need to be tackled. I personally like building a very small playable prototype first to explore the feel of the game as soon as possible. If it doesn’t feel good at all, it’s a lot easier to go back to the drawing board or to start from scratch. If you have already built half the game, well, you have a problem. Below is the very first prototype with all user interfaces enabled and a very much placeholder player sprite in action:

Because both assets were required to be shippable, it already looks quite advanced. But looks can deceive. The only thing I’ve done so far for the actual game is a simple player put together with an inventory system. Below is a small inventory test where I move items across inventories, split item stacks and swap slot items, together with a placeable chest:

One other thing I felt like experimenting with is being able to drop and pick up items. I went ahead and adjusted the base item system I designed in Terrainify 2D to support this and I quickly started to crave an item magnet that would attract items in the player’s vicinity. This will probably be something that the player can unlock later in the game but it turned out pretty nice!

The next prototype however will test the core mechanics and will be a lot more substantial. This will also be the point where I’ll start hosting playtesting sessions and let it grow together with the feedback I get from the community. Another advantage I have found in my current prototype is the ability to shape the game in a huge number of different ways. Because the incorporated assets have their own standalone user interfaces, I can adjust anything I want whenever I want at runtime. This allows for fun prototyping! One moment you’re on grassy flatlands and the next you have enormous mountains or very spiky land. Maybe the entire world is now stone? Maybe nothing is stone instead or everything is simply comprised of coal. How about 80% of the world being cave systems? You get the idea, and this is just the terrain asset. I’ll definitely make a video for that in the next post!

Ideas for a story are already in place and I have thought of a solid progression system. Unfortunately, before I can share these ideas and plans I want to spend many more hours figuring out and/or revising certain things so I can stand behind everything that I share. What I probably will do is open up a public Trello development board once the game’s foundation is more robust. This board will provide an overview of features to come, features I’m working on at the moment and finished features. For now, I’m going back to designing the game. Stay tuned for future posts!