December 30, 2005

Untitled Project Day 1 – [gizmos]

I have started working on a new "stupid flash game". You can view the most recent version of the interface at

The inspiration for this game came from a dream I had a few months ago. Aliens have landed on Earth, and are able to disguise themselves as buildings. Your job is to find the camouflaged aliens in a metropolitan sized game of hide-and-seek.

The screen is a section, or block, of a city. Each block has a number of buildings. The layout of each block is dynamically generated for each game.

The player can move north, south, east, or west to another section of the city, depending on the city layout. When the player moves, the aliens also may move. The player can identify an alien disguised as a building when one of the buildings on a block appears or disappears on subsequent visits, because otherwise the buildings should always be the same.

The aliens keep the same disguise as they move around the city. Just because a building is incongruous does not mean it is an alien, since the city blocks are random.

The game is scored by time elapsed. When the player guesses incorrectly, time is added to the score. I don't want it to be "three tries and you are out", nor do I want there to be a fixed time limit for the game.

Today I put together a simple prototype for creating the city blocks. First I wanted to collect some photographs of buildings to use as game assets. There is a good library of images at WetCanvas!, a website for artists. I found some barns, some churches, some castles, and so on.

I took some of the images into Photoshop to crop and mask them, then saved them as PNG files. Then I imported the PNGs into Flash and played with Trace Bitmap until I got a satisfactory vector drawing. I have to balance image quality with file size. I would like to have a city size of sixteen rooms, and with six unique buildings per room I will need at least 96 vector images. At a very small 5k per image, the game will be 500kb in size.

If you click on the first link above you can see my current progress. I've written some simple code to generate the city block when you press a button. Also, the buildings will hilite when you roll over them with the mouse.

I have tried to balance the layout so that at least some portion of each building is visible. It may only be a small corner, which is fine for the game; if the aliens are sometimes obscured, that means you will have to search for them even harder.

Posted by B Rickman at December 30, 2005 07:30 PM
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