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creature racing!

a week ago i stumbled on this brilliant two-player game¬†michael brough made for the gdc pirate kart. it’s a simple abstraction of a sports game – moving their pieces on a grid, players try to push a ball into a goal. there’s hidden complexity: pieces can push other pieces, including the opponent’s pieces, and can even push whole rows of pieces, ball included.

and the way he uses randomness or chance – such an important part of many of michael’s games – is really smart: players take turns moving their pieces, but each time a player’s turn comes around she gets a random number of moves. if you knew that your opponent was going to have the same number of moves as you next turn, the outcome of any strategy would be immediately provable and the game would turn into a much more boring numbers game. also, one of the player’s three pieces is chosen as the active piece for a round – the player can switch to a different one, but this costs one “move.” and there’s risk involved, because the piece that takes over is chosen at random.

for this klik of the month i wanted to make a really really simple abstract sports game. i started on an abstract two-player wrestling game: each player had a randomly-shaped body that acted as a barrier to the other player’s randomly-shaped body, and both were trying to outmaneuver their opponent to reach a goal area. it was similar to the first screen in dys4ia – but getting it to work in game maker was kind of an ordeal. then jim showed up.

someone asked what he’d been working on, and jim replied that the week before he’d made a four-player, single button racing game. sparky looked up from his twine game and asked, “a single button for each player?” immediately, i realized i wanted to make a four-player racing game in which all players use a single button to move their creatures. we talked out the idea. you’d have to mash the keyboard to make your creature move, meaning you could overshoot and move one of your opponents’ creatures by accident when it switched. i knew how to decide the order in which the players’ creatures moved: it would switch at random.

i gave up on the wrestling game and took two more hours to make creature racing! it’s not entirely dissimilar to¬†chicanery, so while it uses the spacebar as the one button by default, i think it’d work better mapped to a dance pad or pop’n music controller. for a two-player variation, give each player two creatures.


  1. Cute! I like it.

    I’m wondering now how my game would work if you weren’t told how many moves you were going to get each turn.

    4/22/2012 at 5:31 am | permalink
  2. Mickey Mouse wrote:

    1. brough is my nemesis
    2. jims half finished sideways racing game where you have grappling hooks to pull yourself around the track was the most insane thing ever

    4/23/2012 at 11:05 am | permalink
  3. Mickey Mouse wrote:


    4/23/2012 at 11:05 am | permalink
  4. This should be an arena sport.

    4/23/2012 at 11:29 am | permalink
  5. Naomi wrote:

    Have you played Hokra? It’s a really good (as in, feels good, responsive, etc) minimalist push-balls-into-goals game, but real-time and for four players, so there’s passing. Kind of reminds me of some of what is in this post.

    4/23/2012 at 2:33 pm | permalink

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