In Development: Unnamed Driller Game

Hello there.

Since early January, I'm slowly working on a game inspired by Motherload (game page). The core aspect of the original game was to dig further and further, digging stuff to sell in exchange of money for fuel and upgrades until you hit rock bottom. A classic improve and retry kind of game that was (IMHO) one of the flagship genre of Flash games of this era (Hedgehog Launch, anyone?).

So I started by having at least a similar working gameplay loop with fuel, upgrades and a basic world gen, making up sprites and SFXes* when needed. And here is how it looks:

GIF capture of a new game start, a few tiles dug around and a tank refill bought at the repair station

*Or borrowing samples out of OpenGameArt or FreeSounds and reworking them, this is also another good way to exercise my SFX design skills.

To be fair, I didn't play the original game a lot, only a little. The idea of making a game like Motherload comes from a friend who loved the game, so this is mostly as far as I know about the original game barring a spoiler. I wonder how much I'll overlap its features and how much I'll hopefully) make it original.

Screenshot of the upgrade menu and the current repair/upgrade station
(For the curious ones, the font used here is MaruMonica (link).)

Regarding the future, I intend to explore my options in terms of gameplay expansion (objects, upgrades, etc...). As I'm not a game designer, I'm still struggling to find ideas I could work out well or even the balancing itself, but I'll take my time, one task at a time.

For now, I'm working on polishing a little bit the current state of the game before releasing something like a proof-of-concept or a micro-demo showing the base gameplay loop, I only need to fix a few limitations and add some SFX where they're lacking.

playdate-20230201-215730
If you dig deep enough, you'll see more valuable ore depots in the stone, harder to dig, but thankfull there are upgrades to help with.

I have no fixed goals yet, so this project will lives on moving forward at a slow yet steady place, I'll see where it'll go (or when I'll get bored/burnt out of it).

18 Likes

Looks really nice, seems pretty far along! Looking forward to giving it a try.

I hadn’t heard of Motherload — but I was immediately reminded of this other digger style game when I saw this, called “Domekeeper” (Dome Keeper on Steam). That one has the threat of enemies on the surface to mix things up — worth checking out if you want some additional inspiration!

Thanks for the good words! I actually played Domekeeper's demo during last Summer Game Fest, I didn't realize it had a similar gameplay aspect, thanks for the reminder! It looked like an excellent game but a bit too stressful for my own tastes (I don't really like timers or time-based deadlines in games that much hah).

I was also suggested Steamworld Dig as a source of inspiration too on the Fediverse. I guess I'll shop around and have a few playing sessions in the near future.

This also really reminds me of Terraria, which is pretty awesome. https://www.terraria.org/ This project looks cool, will definitely be following along!

Very exciting stuff - I absolutely love games like this!

My favorite game in this style was an old XNA game called Miner Dig Deep. It was recently rereleased on Steam. If you are looking for other examples to checkout, here's a Pico8 game in the same vein: Dig Deeper - Global Game Jam '21 and a prototype Pico8 game I made last year: Untitled Mining Game - v0.4.1 (last update: Feb 20)

Hope to see your project continue & look forward to seeing what you come up with :smiley:

Thanks for the references, I'll check that out!

To be honest, I actually started a similar project on Pico-8 years ago for a certain yearly "jam" but I never went far with it for multiple reasons. Glad to see MBoffin did something that ended up looking good with the concept!
motherlode_1

I guess you can recognize the current driller's look stemming from that screenshot. I traced over it and then cleaned it up as I scaled the game from 8x8 sprites to 24x24.

Other than that, it's been a slow week, I mostly reworte the asset pipeline to also handle SFX conversion from raw sources like I'm doing with sprites. It allows me to spend less time in the console trying to convert the SFX to the best quality-size tradeoff, specially when I'm generating multiple SFXes at once. I'm currently using FFMPEG but I'll see in the future if I'll check out that ADPCM converting tool to see if I get a better quality for the same size.

I'm starting to draw the third tier of tiles (a deeper stone?), shifted the tier layer generations and the ground layer gets stone tiles peppered all over the map while I'm planning stuff to rework the world generation. I don't have a pretty tileset done for the new tier yet, I'm using an old version of the stone one which was busier and didn't work as well as the current one.

I also drew a tileset for the world delimiting walls as I programmed world boundaries, limiting the world's navigable space and clipping the background drawing to limit overdraw as much as possible.
playdate-20230204-162605

I need to think later of planning a rework on how the background, world tiles and particle are drawn. The wavy background is a big hack as using stencil with negative coordinates gave me wonky results, the world map doesn't really need to use sprites to display itself and the particles are world space and using them in a sprite layer as big as the screen doesn't really help me reducing the screen's dirtied data region.

2 Likes

Finally someone strated working on "I dig it" iOS game clone :+1:
This type of gameplay suits playdate very well

I'm working on a few stuff, but here's some visual eyecandy with the latest build having a first version of the game HUD. I don't know if I'm going to keep icons that big, maybe downscale to 32x32? The current drill icon is a direct Blender-to-PlayDate render, the dithering is directly done on Blender's side to have a better control on the final look. It's very tedious to balance the colors to have the proper details standing though, I need to figure that out.

I may rework the fuel tank to fit into the right HUD or give it its own "structure", I'm not sure. The HUD font is currently [Haeccity(Haeccity: a pixel font by dtw42 on DeviantArt).

Gameplay wise, I'm trying to pinpoint a good control scheme for the next feature I want to implement : digging with explosives. I'd like to have normal 'nades/dynamite and a sticky variant to start with, it'll help having a way to dig upwards. I thought at one point to use the crank to aim but given that I thought first to use it to select items, I wasn't sure I'd just not confuse the player with that. The procedure would look like this:

  1. Pop the crank out to go into item selection mode
  2. Spin the crank until you get the desired explosive
  3. Press A to go into the throw mode
  4. Aim with the crank (or up/down for accessibility)
  5. A to launch, B to exit the mode.

That sounds sound and a plan, but I was thinking of some alternative methods like pressing Down+A (down + propel button) to use as an extra action like the slip in Megaman 3 and later. Not sure on the proper course.

(Also that'll be a fun exercise to have a circle vs tilemap routine for explosion. Not sure about launching rays à-la Minecraft)

This type of gameplay suits playdate very well

Thanks Whitebrim! I'm hoping I'll make a game whose playthrough last a few sessions, hope I'll make it fun!

EDIT : Hello there. I'm not a person who sticks to the same project for a while. I keep hopping from a project to another, sorry in advance for all people hyped for the game to move along. I'm currently back for more and to kick myself back in track by adding some kind of minigame to populate a bit the game's space: treasure chests. A small lockpick minigame with money as a possible reward!

Here's a mockup and a WIP asset. The idea is having to align the cursor on a specific angle ranger before the timer runs out for a few rounds to open up the chest. Every fail decreases your attempts by one and possibly the resulting loot (not yet determined)
image

chest

6 Likes