For a long time I’ve wanted to create a game with a fire-breathing Dragon. I’d always imagined it would be a big, hulking monster that would stomp around a scrolling level laying waste to anything that came close to it. The more I thought about the idea the more I struggled to think of anything that would work as a decent challenge.
The trouble with hulking great fire-breathing monsters is that they are pretty much invincible. At least that’s where the fun lies. The fact that you can torch anything to the ground ought to be a lot of fun.
I guess there are some mechanics that would work in such a game; time limited destruction, for example, but I really didn’t want that. I generally don’t like games where you are pitched against the clock.
So I stepped back a little and thought of the game as a shoot ’em up (naturally !).
I sketched out some level ideas and realised that for my Dragon I wanted to have the fireballs tumbling down the screen. This I think is more aesthetically pleasing and also serves to reinforce the single finger / thumb control that I aim for in my games.
I started off having this floating, fire-breathing Dragon drifting across the screen. I played with it for a while to try and get a feel for what might be a fun thing to do with such a character.
Note: I generally don’t think in terms of challenges more in terms of what is fun. For me it is always fun to shoot > kill > explode so I aimed for that first off.
Naturally adversaries wouldn’t necessarily explode when hit by a fireball so I adapted the sprite sheet for the knights to include one where they are engulfed in flames.
So the game starts to take shape with the Dragon at the top of this ledge protecting “something” that the knights are clearly after. Just to mix it up a bit I also hurl spears and swords at the player to give him something else to think about.
Finally I introduce the overall aim of the game – collect and defend your treasure.
I have random treasure items bouncing down from the heavens that the Dragon (player) must collect. The advancing knights scaling the rockface are intent on stealing from the treasure chests so it is a constant battle to ensure that your treasure levels are high. Once you have enough treasure (indicated by the gold progress bar – not in the current screen shot) you progress to the next stage.
Something that I’ve done deliberately in this game is to hand over some of the artwork to a static PNG file that forms the CSS backgroundImage of the game screen. Ordinarily I might have been tempted to draw each treasure chest and the treasure icon separately and then animate them. But this just seemed like another 4 un-necessary drawImage calls. As it is I only ever call the function around a dozen times with each pass. This gives me a fairly acceptable performance across all devices.
I hope to have the game finished in the next few days so that I can move on to something new.