Prototyping the Concept—Gameplay
I was hiking with friends in Alaska on a multi-use trail (we were on foot, but there were also people on off-road vehicles), when we suddenly encountered a black bear about 30 feet in front of us.
We followed the correct protocols and slowly backed away. While anxiously waiting for the bear to leave, I heard the faint sound of an ATV in the distance coming towards us on the trail. In that heightened emotional state, my immediate thought was "$#%@#, the bear commandeered an ATV and is coming for us". I became infatuated with that mental image of a 500 lb beast hurling towards me at 60 mph on a metal death machine.
I Couldn't Bear It
I have always wanted to create a release a complete video game, and the concept was right in front me. I am a professional software developer, so naturally I prioritize the programming and gameplay. What is the first step in materializing this concept? What is the simplest problem I can solve right away? It all starts with a wheel.
I am an avid Linux user who loves open-source software, which led me to choose Godot and C# to target a 2D sidescroller. I read through the docs, experimented a lot, and ultimately implemented my own "Wheel" mechanics against arbitrary polygons. It looks and feels like one wheel of an ATV—one problem solved, one concept materialized. And once you have one wheel, why not two? Why not put a "Bear" on this "ATV"? Why not add a camera and checkpoints?
v0.0.4-alpha: Checkpoints, Camera, Animation
"Implying Video Games Are for Fun"
Mechanics aren't everything. What makes this concept of a bear on an ATV so infatuating? What makes good video games fun? Two of my favorite games come to mind: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Katamari Damacy. Sonic sprints through levels are high speeds, shoots off ramps, gets flung aprings and powerups. And Katamari? There's something satisfying about menacing a virtual society in such a silly way.
v0.0.8-alpha: Speedboosts, Food, Enemies
Bears need a lot of calories a day. A lot. Why not have have food be the in-game point system? Why not run over enemies to kill them? Or swat at them with your big bear paws? Why not have speed boosts to really shoot you off a ramp or loop? None of these concepts are perfect, and will probably get updated in this game's development cycle. But each iterative development starts to paint a more complete picture. I haven't made a single serious sprite or graphic yet, but I can see these concepts in action. I can see what works, what is fun, what is ultimately possible.
Just Getting Started
I am brand new to game development, and I am having a lot of fun. But there is a lot of work to do. I will continue to prototype out this concept iteratively, slowly materializing this concept.