Dev Blog – Loop Dipole and the much better world design!

After taking a break from developing the game, I am back at it in Blender Game Engine 2.69 looping some dipoles and blasting some Chaoties! Alright, at this point the only thing to blast are some cylinders (spawned by pressing F5), but I have finally decided how to layout the game world in a fun way. That’s something.

“The good news is that the kids and I have a lot of fun just driving and flying around, even though that’s all there is to do at the moment!”

I have been batting the concept for this game around for five years or so and in 2015 I finally sat down and wrote a design document that covered all aspects of the game play. As with any project, actual testing leads to iteration and, most often, improvements upon the original design. One of the things that I quickly came to realize when building the game is that level design is an art form and making one that is fun to play on requires a lot of work to finish. Not only that, but having a large amount of physical space for the player to use doesn’t mean much if there’s not enough to actually DO in that space.

The gist of the “lore” behind Loop Dipole and the Chaoties is that the main character, Loop, is an energy being living on a cube of energy. He wants to balance the energy, by solving puzzles, and he has to fight/avoid the Chaoties along the way. Simple enough, but the devil is in the details.

The primary focus of the game is “Go fast and have getting there!”, so when it came to representing the 6 sides of Loop’s cube world, I was reluctant to use loading screens. I prototyped a rotating cube world, but it was nightmare to develop for and not worth it in the long run. So I then decided the player would use a nexus in the center of each map to travel between them and that was all fine and dandy until I discovered… maps are hard! More to the point, maps, just like race tracks in SuperTuxKart, need to offer unique visuals, locales, and game play in order to truly justify their existence. The more I tested, the more I thought about what’s important, the more I realized that not only are multiple maps outside of the scope of what I am trying to make, but they’re also a net detriment to the game play experience for the player.

Having to load into and then traverse a whole new map just to collect a certain type of energy seemed, to me, like a waste of… energy for both the player and myself as a developer.

When “going fast”, the player travels around a large open space collecting different types of energy. He uses the energy to manage his abilities and to solve the various puzzles. The puzzles are 2D games, where the player stops driving around and does “something else with his head for a bit”. I want the player to enjoy the large open area as well as the ability to fly and drive to higher levels, but I want this to be a fluid experience he does between puzzle sessions. Having to load into and then traverse a whole new map just to collect a certain type of energy seemed, to me, like a waste of… energy for both the player and myself as a developer. Not only would it break up the fluidity of driving, but it would mean that I would need to make every map either too confining (like the one I made in 2015) or so large that it would take me forever to fill it with awesome and likely drive most players to boredom. As such, I decided that Loop Dipole and the Chaoties will consist of one single, awesome level!

The level will incorporate all the “sides” I previously had envisioned, but they will instead be different vertical levels. The lowest level, which is really just there to look cool, is the chaos, while the rest of the levels ascend from red to violet. The player starts on the red level, which is also the largest flat area (noobish to get around, but also great for the slow turning “bomber” shape), and can fluidly travel anywhere he’d like from there. If he falls down in the chaos below, he can fart around there if he likes or he can press R to get back up to the red level and, you know, do something productive. Most importantly though, the entire game world will be both useful AND fun to travel around, while also allowing me to focus my efforts such that I may actually finish this game before the heat death of the universe.

Will you add more levels later?

No. Come on, man, I just said I am going to build the whole game into a single level! šŸ™‚

Seriously though, think of Loop Dipole and the Chaoties more like a… a mashup of Star Trek chess, the “bestest Hot Wheels track you ever seen!”, and Bejeweled and less like your standard 3D PC game. As for the Bejeweled reference there, for the record I don’t intend the puzzle games to be clones of existing games. The puzzles will definitely be like games we’ve all played before though, cause I ain’t no Tetris Wizard.

Here, have a look-see at some development screenshots:

And if you’d like to play around with what I’m working on, you can find the project on GitHub and you can download Blender version 2.69. Later version of Blender have some quirks/issues in the game engine, so don’t use’em with this game. Note that when I am finished the game, I will package it with Blender Player such that it will work like any other PC game for Linux or Windows (Mac too, if I had one to test with).

As always, please respect the General Public License attached to my work (and the work of others who have also contributed to this project) by providing credit for any part of my work that you use in your own stuff. Thanks! šŸ™‚

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