Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pollinator, Flower Defence: Post-Project Reflection

It's been too long since I talked about my game for the Abertay Game Development Society: Pollinator, Flower Defence. The game was in a demo-able state for the last month and a half, seeing as we brought a build to the GDS showcase at the end of April. However, it wasn't running properly outside of the editor - we were having huge problems with the animated sprites scaling to gigantic proportions.

I'm glad to say this has now been fixed (albeit with a slightly hacky fix) and we now have a web version of the game available for everyone to try out! The game is located on my dropbox for now, since it's still just a prototype. If we continue work on it, we may try hosting it somewhere more permanent.

The Premise

For those who haven't been following this project: Pollinator, Flower Defence is a tower defence game in which you play as a group of bees defending their hive from attacking ants and beetles. It twists the genre slightly since you can freely move your bees from flower to flower - however they cannot attack while being moved and do not generate pollen or seeds while being moved. Additionally, players can build two separate "parts" for each tower - the flower (blocks movement, provides place for bee) and the bee itself (attacks, can be moved between flowers, generates resources from flower).


Developing this game was not without it's problems. First was simply the lack of time to devote to the project. We had a very small team (one programmer, one designer, one artist) and we all had our other coursework to work on. Additionally, two of the team members were going through Dare applications as well. Because of this, many of our grand plans couldn't be implemented - but luckily we recognized this from the very beginning and planned for modular development where we started with a minimum playable game and added more features time permitting.

On the technical side of things, I had more trouble than I was expecting using the Orthello 2D framework. It does everything I needed it to do, but sometimes it doesn't do it in the most intuitive fashion. We also had some serious issues with it's animated sprites resizing themselves to giants, which ultimately was fixed using rather hacky Update() size changes - not my best work, but a quick and dirty fix that did the job.

Design wise, the project did suffer from the lack of additional features. The two resource design (pollen and seeds) would have been interesting if there were more things to spend said resources on. As it is, it's actually quite boring because basically you just want to spend all your resources as fast as possible and there's no interesting choices between building flowers vs. building bees since their resources are de-coupled. The seed/pollen mechanic may also have been more fun if we'd gotten in the pollination feature - bees would carry pollen between flowers when moved, and only then produce seeds (or increase rate of production, at least).

There are also a few informational parts of the game we just didn't have time for, such as a how to play screen or tutorial, prices for the bees/flowers, and a credits screen. These are fairly easy to make and may be added in the near future.

Future Plans

Ultimately, this was a great initial project for the team. While we do hope to come back to the game and improve it (I really love a lot of the mechanics and interesting enemies Roy had designed that didn't make it in), I'm not really sure we'll have time for this. I have so many awesome projects in the pipeline now that this may be the last we see of Pollinator. This game will always have a special place in my heart because its first incarnation was the first video game I ever created. But I think it may be time to close this chapter and look forward to new and exciting things.

If any updates do make it in, I'll definitely write about them here! For now, farewell my buzzy bees. It was great fun!

You can play Pollinator, Flower Defence here:

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