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The Marker Game Recap


Just a few soldiers and goblins, hanging out and having a chat!

I've now finished my third game for One Game a Week 2019 -- time to recap how it went!


My development schedule this week was definitely high-intensity due to a bit of a late start. I really felt a sense of urgency on this past Friday when I was still writing a lot of under-the-hood type of code -- usually at that point, most of the baseline code should be finished. I just kept working and powered through -- and I have to say that I really feel like this week was pretty successful overall. It has long been a dream of mine to implement some version of The Marker Game -- and now, I finally have a working version of the battle system. At some point later this year, I can take this battle system and integrate it into a larger game with an overworld and a story and all those kinds of nice flourishes.


There were definitely a few elements of polish that I didn't end up having time to implement -- the actual battles have no background music or sound effects, which disappoints me. The game also lacks any sort of reference material for the player to consult to get an overall view of the stats for each unit -- the player will have to deduce this for themselves in the game's current iteration. I also didn't have time to really work on building terrain into the game -- which is a real shame given the work I did on the level editor and writing the code for archer line-of-sight. I'm trying to be very strict with the deadlines on these games, though, so these gameplay elements will have to wait until another day.


This game is extremely near and dear to my heart and I hope you enjoy playing it. Before I get to the game link, I wanted to remind you that I plan on releasing all of these articles and games for free because I want everyone to be able to read this content and play the games. Having said that, if you would like to support the One Game a Week project, I'd really appreciate it. When you go to play the game (link below), you can play it for free, but there's a button below the game that says "Support This Game" which gives you the option to make a small donation. If you've got a few dollars to contribute toward the creation of these games and articles, I'd be very grateful for that. Thank you very much to anyone who is able to support the project!


Here is the game link for my week 3 game: The Marker Game


I've made it available to play right in the browser via WebGL -- you should be able to just click the button that says "Run Game", and once that's loaded you can play right away.


I'll also issue a SPOILER ALERT!! for the rest of this article! I'll be talking about The Marker Game content in the rest of the article, so if you want to play the game before reading any of that material, go play it now before you read on! Game Link right here!




Things That Went Well


I did successfully implement a number of things for this game. The actual game logic for selecting a destination hexagon and having the player move there smoothly -- that works nicely and looks really good. I talked in depth about that in my last article.


In the time between that article and the completion of the game, I took some time to implement a title screen for the game and gave the player a choice of three different army configurations.


Which squad will you choose?

There are three different types of units that the player can control -- I'll give a quick breakdown of their features.


The first type of unit is the knight, which are the characters in the full suit of armor. They have very powerful attacks but have low step counts per turn. so they're slow. The second type of unit is the soldier -- those are the guys with the metal caps and orange/yellow armor. They're pretty quick on their feet, but have slightly below average attack and defense. Finally, you have the wizards -- they have long-ranged attacks, but they are relatively weak in terms of defense and health points. If a wizard can stay out of the fray, he can do a lot of damage -- but if he gets cornered, he's in big trouble.


As you can see in the image above, the player has three choices in terms of army configurations. The first option is balanced -- you get one knight, two soldiers, and one wizard. The second option is all about the close-range melee, choosing power over mobility -- you get three powerful knight units, but they're pretty slow. The third option favors quickness and range attacks -- but no heavy-hitting knights.


I also gave the player the ability to choose three different enemy armies, which were composed of three increasing difficulties. The first team is a basic unit of three goblins, who are sort of like the soldier units from before with slightly stronger attack and defense. The second team introduces skeletons -- I'd originally intended for them to have range attacks, but in my haste to finish the game, I simplified the enemy stats, so the skeletons actually have the same stats as the goblins. Finally, the third choice is the biggest test available -- four middle-tier enemies, plus a goblin chief, who is sort of like a final boss. He has much more power and health points than the other units.


I did not have a lot of time to test out the balance of these armies -- so if the final boss and his squad seem unbeatable, it may well be that they are in fact too powerful to be defeated.


Can you defeat all three enemy armies?

I think putting in a title screen and giving the player some options for their armies adds a nice layer of polish to the game and a bit of strategic complexity. I think in an ideal world, I'd allow the player to draft the makeup of their team from scratch -- but in the interest of time, I decided on a few pre-set options.


I also feel pleased about the fact that I managed to implement a very basic AI. For much of the development process, The Marker Game was actually implemented as a game to be played by 2 human players. The more I thought about it, though, the more I was disappointed with that idea. I didn't want someone to open the game and realize they'd need another person to play it with. So at the 11th hour, I implemented some basic enemy AI. They may not be brilliant, but they do at least know enough to move toward their foes and attack if possible. I'd love to spend a bit more time on the AI at some point to make things a bit more challenging. I also disabled the 2-player mode -- it would be better to give the user the option to either play agains the AI or against another human, but again this was cut due to time.



Things That Did Not Go Well


I definitely had to do some aggressive cuts in order to get this game ready to publish. The biggest thing I ended up cutting was the terrain. I was so excited about my bow-and-arrow aiming algorithm -- but unfortunately, my code did some crazy things during the pathfinding where it would reset the entire board, and I ended up not having time to sort through that and fix that problem.


I think there are a few small UI quirks here and there which kind are a bit annoying -- for example, I think you can probably break things if you try to end the turn when it's actually the enemy's turn, and you might be able to tab between units while the enemy is thinking. I didn't really have a chance to test out this UI functionality properly before releasing the game -- so I'll have to rely on the players to play the game in good faith without messing with the enemy's turn too badly.


There are some other nice polish elements I'd like to have included -- one big aspect of this game that's missing is any sort of background music or sound effects when you're actually in the battle. I'd also ideally have characters who have died to disappear from the battlefield, or at least make it so they can not be selected by the player. All of these things would be nice to have and are definitely things I'd like to work on when I return to this game at some point.


Having said all of these points, though -- I think the core functionality all works solidly, so I'm satisfied with that!



Wrapping Up Week 3


This was definitely a bit of a stressful week, and even though it's missing some polish, I'm thrilled with the final result I achieved. I think it looks pretty good visually, and it's a great baseline to expand upon at some point in the future.


I got some great responses from the community regarding this game -- I even got some traction on reddit with a short video about the level editor. My most-upvoted post by far! This post was the top post on the /r/IndieDev subreddit for a while this week. Never underestimate the value of a good video, I guess!



So that's it for OGAW 2019 Week 3! Thank you very much for following along, and if you played The Marker Game, I hope you enjoyed it!


Here is the link one more time if you'd like to try the game: The Marker Game


It was a dream come true to bring The Marker Game to life this week. Thank you for following along! Time now for me to get started on week 4.


--Kyle


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