js13k 2022 – dev journal – day 1

August 13 – Day 1

Last week I talked with pal QuietGecko about the challenge and told him this year I’d follow his directions (similar to 2020 where I tried to delegate the design of the game and just do the tech). Gecko had some ideas about genetic algorithms applied to bacteria pools so you would see their evolution based on a limited control (adding ingredients, etc). It’s not very clear how this can be fun, honestly. I also let him know about my idea of doing some kind of virtual pet because I want Gaby to play around with it (and I also want to have something to take care of in the dead times at work). I think maybe I could have two entries, a smaller one with myself leading design and code, and another one just coding.

Today, early in the morning, I discovered that this year’s theme is DEATH. Talked briefly with Gecko and he doesn’t seem to have any clear idea right now.

Today was also kind of a busy “parent” morning, or was it? I did manage to work a bit on NovaMundi and even do some live coding streaming efforts (which ended up somewhat depressing rage-quitting after seeing the “1 viewer” count (myself, I guess) for far too long).

Back to js13k, that means I missed the kick-off streaming where they (I think) shared some mini-frameworks that we could use for the challenge, it might be worth looking into them although one of the ideas I have for this year is not to focus on squeezing the last possible byte (maybe even aiming for uncompressed 13KB!). We shall see.

Throughout the day I was thinking about possible ideas, trying to avoid the endless loop of “Must think of a cool idea that is not too pretentious” -> “somebody surely thought of this already”. In the end, I think I have something that clicks with the theme and also ties back to my original ideas. I don’t care much how original it will be (and you probably shouldn’t that can drive you crazy).

RIP (source)

So, remember how the original Tamagotchi could DIE if you didn’t take good care of them? My idea is to take a lot of the format of the classic virtual pets, but transform it into a fast-paced arcade game where you must prevent its death; imagine time is running at 30x, and you have to respond to the needs of the pet quickly or risk him getting sick and dying.

The main interaction will be picking what to feed the pet based on four available and shifting options; some of these may increase happiness but reduce health, and some others may stuff the pet a lot so you should only use them when the pet is empty or it will lose health. The food, happiness, and health bars will decrease steadily, and faster as the pet ages.

There will also be potential minigames you have to play with your pet when you reach certain life thresholds.

Following up with last year’s Distant Friends, the idea would be to keep the visual style in some way; cute characters using vector graphics, following the line all the way to 2019’s Backpack Monsters. The next steps will be taking a look at these libraries to decide if I should instead circle back to mine, organize it a bit and work using it. I think one of the main challenges is going to be providing some nice-looking animations (with a super low, jumpy frame rate).

Since Gaby loves foxes, I guess I’ll focus on having a single fox pet. At least initially. And of course, there will be a “normal” pet mode without the hectic action. 🙂

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