For Game Makers Tool Kit 2020, Veronica and I decided to make the game together. The theme came out as 'Out of Control' and we ideated about all our options. Veronica came up with the idea of a stage coach during the Otago gold rush. This would give it a local flavour and a topic we already knew about.

The goal was to have a stage coach with no brakes getting progressively faster and harder to control to fit the theme. I knew the physics was going to be important to get right so I started experimenting with it. I ended up with a box for the horses and another for the coach connected by a spring. To have a penalty for crashing we decided to make the wheels fall off if they were damaged. After experimenting with different values, what felt right was to have squares at each of the wheels and when there was a collision they had an increase in mass.

Racing along the landscape at high speed meant that there was a lot of art required. Veronica hand drew the map, with the road starting and ending on the same horizontal plane so it would loop. With some photoshop magic the seam is hidden and the map loops so the game could be about a minute long. Even so, there were a lot of rocks and trees to grind out. This is where drawing digitally on an iPad could have saved some time. The wheels are three similar frames which turned out really nicely looking like they are rolling. David created all the music for it which fitted the theme and period nicely.

All the time spent working out the physics meant that finishing up ended up being a bit of a rush. Once you got up to speed the spring would pull back and slam the horses into the coach causing it to spin out. Adjusting the values helped this a bit but it is still quite likely to have this occur during the game. Many art assets ended up on the cutting room floor with the wheels fallen off and luggage being created but not implemented. Another frustration was once the background became a physics object it became offset to the center of mass. This meant that the end zone did not line up and I ran out of time to get it right so just removed the boundary from the end so you could get in.

The final build uploaded with seconds to spare which was a bit too intense. Still, it was great to work together on a game and we both learnt a lot. The art really stands out which came out in most of the feedback. "Nice job on the hand-drawn artwork! I loved the horse's tails". I just wish the coding had gone better to be worthy of it.

Lessons Learnt

Physics is hard.
Get partially done art in early to validate the process and catch any issues.