DevBlog Indie Game #5 : Change of direction

When you hit a roadblock, sometimes you need to change direction completely!

In my original game design, cards were played in sets to earn points throughout the game.

One of the factors I had not considered was keeping track of a large number of active units. This was not an issue on the programming side. I could easily track hundreds of active units at once. The real problem came in laying out the screen.

With limited screen real estate, and not wanting to scroll stacks of cards left and right, I couldn’t figure out how to fit 20 or 30 sets of cards on the screen at once.

It would have been relatively easy if the units were single cards. However, in the game I was designing, each unit could consist of up to three cards played in a set – and you needed to see each combination of cards to plan a strategy moving forward.

While it was a hard decision to make, I decided to park the idea (for now) and to work on an easier mechanic and layout for my first indie game.

The new idea

Nearly all trick-taking game mechanics rely on having more than one player.

Creating an AI to play the other hands has been done plenty of times before with mixed results.

With an AI’s ability to look ahead and to use statistics or probability, playing against a computer can sometimes be extremely challenging.

However, if the AI is too strong, the game quickly becomes frustrating. Conversely, if the strategy never changes, the AI’s actions can be easily predicted, and the game becomes boring and easy to beat.

My idea is to remove the need for an AI (or other players) and to create a singleplayer trick-taking game.

I discovered that the best way to make a game like this more challenging is to introduce puzzle goals that need to be solved from the combination of hands dealt.

By limiting available moves (in quantity or type), the game started to take shape and became even more interesting.

So now it looks like a cooperative trick-taking puzzle game seems to be just what the doctor ordered!

Graphics

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am graphically challenged. Drawing anything other than a stick figure was going to require help from professional artists.

Luckily for me, there are already plenty of card game assets available. (In fact, there or too many to choose from)

After spending $10 on the GraphicRiver website, I had my card artwork ready to go.

The code I had already written didn’t go to waste either. After a few hours, I was able to generate the first layout for my new game using GameMaker Studio 2.

There is still a long way to go – but it looks like I am finally on the right track.