VividBog 4 – The Key to Synergy
Today I will be discussing the core design of my current game making project, Vivid! First, please take a moment to analyze this image.
Keep it in mind, I’ll talk about it in a second. First we need to state what Vivid is actually about. Vivid is a 2D side-scrolling platformer. You move and you jump. But the biggest thing to it is the ability to change Color. Red, yellow, or blue.
What color Vivid currently has control over dictates what she can or can’t interact with. If she’s red, she can touch red objects but can’t touch blue ones. She cannot freely change color either. Instead you must find a way via Colored Blocks and stomping on them while holding jump to turn to that color. Or jumping off Enemies of a particular color.
Now let’s go back to the image knowing all of this. Suddenly the meaning of it changes based on what color she is! If she were red, jumping over the pit of spikes would be a breeze. However if she were to hop on that blue block, there would be very little space to land on. Of course, you could just land on the red blocks to avoid this. Now what about those blue enemies above?
That’s where the next key element of Vivid comes into play; combat. Color not only affects your interactions but your own Weapons. Which one you pull out when you hit attack depends on your color and follow certain patterns.
These weapons are a Red Sword, Yellow Bow, and Blue Ax. Each carries with it a different roll. The bow is long range but horizontal. The ax is good for targets above or below and not much else. The sword is easy to maneuver but short ranged. All of them have specific uses, advantages, and weaknesses. To make things more interesting there’s also SCAB (Same Color Attack Bonus) which inflicts double the damage to enemies with matching colors.
Yet again, looking at the image changes knowing this. Those enemies above you aren’t the best targets for a Red Sword let alone the strictly horizontal Yellow Bow. But that Blue Ax can hit vertically before those enemies try to become a threat, taking them out faster with SCAB. But be careful – SCAB also applies to Vivid!
You have choices to make: will you make platforming easier by being red but have a tougher time taking out the enemies? Or will you make platforming trickier while making the enemies easier to get rid of? There’s also another choice; skip the enemies entirely. There’s no penalty to avoiding confrontation. However you do miss out on another element.
Stars. A collectible you can find floating around. You can also find them hiding inside most Colored Blocks. More importantly you can knock them out of enemies… if you hit them with a weapon that matches or shares a color with them. Even if you did manage to hit those enemies with the sword, you’d gain little in return. That Ax on the other hand would knock out some stars for you to collect.
What are these little things for? They actually have multiple uses that build up over time as you grab them. First they add to your Score which is used to rank you at the end of a level. That leads to better prizes earned if you’re effective at hunting for stars. They also build up a meter on your weapon that quickly Upgrades them. That weapon will do greater damage and have greater effectiveness, such as the Bow being able to shoot multiple arrows in a spread out effect. But like SCAB there is a risk; using an upgraded weapon when damaged will degrade it by a level.
Then there’s Color Boost. It is an energy meter that is fueled by these stars that in turn fuels Power Pins. Like the weapons before, they are restricted to a specific color. Unlike the weapons you have more freedom to them and can equip them to a different color before starting a level.
Perhaps this level is tough, so you’ll make all slots hold a Heal pin. Or you’re trying to get a good time so you’ll use a Speed Pin. Maybe you need multiple pins for different uses or to get you out of a particular section a little easier. Weapons have a specific utility in mind while the Power Pins give the player a way to plan ahead.
Everything that I wrote, every last mechanic that was described here shares a common element. It’s all tied together and relates to one another in that first image. Color. Any action you do in this game is affected by a color you choose to use. You are constantly seeking out other methods to change color to take advantage of the situations presented to you.
I’m low on health, how can I heal? If a Heal Pin is equipped, find a way to change to the color for it to use it. Don’t have enough energy? You could find enemies with the same color to nab some stars. Need more? Go looking around by changing to a blocks color to reach areas you haven’t been to for stars. Trying not to risk damage? Change to a different color from nearby enemies to take less. Can’t? Use that weapon to take out the enemies faster using SCAB.
Whether it be combat, platforming, exploring, surviving, speed running, or puzzles, this game ties it all with color. Synergy is the key to Vivid’s design for you are at all times considering your color. You’ll be tasked with switching between multiple ones to solve puzzles or perhaps limited to only one to access another path.
For the final time, we gaze at the first image introduced. Despite its simple structure there are already several possibilities that could happen in it. The choice for how it plays out being up to the player. They could change red, or change blue. And if the player begins to learn and master the game, they can create whole new solutions. They could turn blue and attack with the ax before landing and changing red!
This is the philosophy my game lives by. The synergy of red, yellow, and blue.