ColorSWitch is a racing game that I develop in my spare time with the Game Maker engine (version 8, Studio and now Studio 2).
Although the concept is quite simple, I took the time to learn, try and experiment to refine it. The current version is the third and should be the last, as a functional prototype. I went from a Mode 7 representation (like on Super Nintendo) to a classic top-down view. About the universe, I traded medieval steampunk cars for little witches from the Touhou Project universe.
The main concept of the game is to change your witch’s color to match the color of the track (the character’s colors can be selected cyclically from left to right or from right to left). This keeps the witch’s speed and mana at its maximum. The game can be played by up to four players locally (split-screen). I have several gameplay mechanics ideas to add a little more juice to the concept, all based on the main gameplay: players must match their color to the track.
The first version was released on Game Maker 8. I used a group of third party script to simulate a 3D view in the third person, such as Super Nintendo Mode 7. I’ve customized it a little bit to meet my needs. Visually, I wanted a kind of SNES/Playstation rendering, with pixels well visible for the texture. I’ve added a lot of visual feedback for the color change mechanic, such as the Optim-Slow-Warn sliders, car engine and life gauge. I also wanted the HUD to be directly on the car, represented by the color of the vehicle’s wheels.
With this projec, I learned a lot, mainly in programming. I was able to keep my motivation, despite the time spent on it (since 2012) and the three changes of direction.
The second version was made on Game Maker Studio. Because of changes in the engine and me who didn’t really feel comfortable with 3D programming (I’m still new in this field), I decided to switch everything to 2D with a normal top-down view like Micro Machines. That said, the view was closer to those found in a RPG or adventure action game. I’ve added a four-player split screen mode and character selection. With this version, I have changed the universe to that of the Touhou project, because it is free to use and known all over the world. In this way, I could concentrate only on gameplay and game mechanics and not on finding characters, objects or stories that would fit the atmosphere of the game. In addition, I had access to a lot of visual material.
I had to rethink the HUD because of the UX problems caused by the new view but I didn’t find any interesting options.
The third version started on Game Maker Studio and then moved on to Game Maker Studio 2, thanks to the more efficient tile management system in this new version of the engine.
With this version, and because it’s been a long time since I started this project, I changed the camera system again to improve my workflow and solve my HUD problem created since I switched to a top-down view.
Indeed, with a three-quarter top-down view and a fixed camera, in order to have a fluid rotation of the characters, I needed to create far too many frames of animations for the 16 directions envisaged, multiplied by each type of animations (gain, loss, crash, etc.) and the number of characters. Far too much work to produce for one person on his own time. So I rotated the camera in relation to the direction of the character. In this way, the character’s sprite is always the same, head upwards, and I drastically reduce the number of assets to be produced. And besides, I could display my hud again directly on the character.
I also decided to reduce the size of a tile from 32x32px to 16x16px as well as the size of the character’s sprite in order to further reduce the production time.
This version will be the last one in 2D. Then, I’d like to do a 3D version on Unity or Unreal, with a small team to add ideas that I couldn’t add in the 2D version.