Palagpat Coding

Fun with JavaScript, HTML5 game design, and the occasional outbreak of seriousness

js13kGames: Kickoff

Sunday, August 19, 2012

js13kGames logo This past Monday marked the beginning of a cool new 1-month competition called js13kGames, where the aim is to use open web technologies (i.e. JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3 — no plugins) to build an online game. I've had a couple of ideas simmering on the back burners of my brain for the past few months, as I've been working on my Let's Make a Canvas Library blog series, and I've decided to take this contest as an opportunity to grab one of those ideas and front-burner it for the next 4 weeks. Should be a fun exercise, and when the month's over, I hope to have something neat to show for it.

Design Brainstorming

So the original kernel of my idea was to make a simple puzzle game in the Match-3 vein, something like Bejewelled maybe, but to somehow change the dynamic. The trick is, the genre is pretty crowded with innovations, so it's a little hard to come up with something that's never been done before. A less-than-innovative game could be saved with awesome artwork or music, but sadly, my artistic skills aren't quite at the level where they could redeem an otherwise-boring game, so that's not really an option.

About the same time I started trying to think of clever Match-3 game hooks, I needed to create some fake game assets for my AssetCache demo page. I hit upon the fake game name "Black & Baloo" for a title screen, and kinda liked it:

Blak & Bloo title screen prototype

The name started out as just a simple play on words, sparked by something in my gray matter about a bear named Baloo in an old favorite story, and was never intended to be any more than a throwaway for that TangleJS tutorial page. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could use it as the hook I was needing!

What if, I thought, I based my game around the interactions of two player characters, named Black and Baloo respectively? (I've since decided to change the names to Blak and Bloo, since the pun still works that way, and it's a little more unique). The idea of collaborative / competitive Match-3 hasn't been explored very well, I don't think, so there's a novelty factor. Plus, the two-player mechanic provides some interesting technical challenges for me to overcome, which I'll probably talk about soon.

Once I'd hit upon this core idea, my ideas began to take shape. Next time, I'll talk about another one of the game mechanics I'll be playing with to make the game (and the development process) more interesting. It's gonna be a fun month!

You have been reading js13kGames: Kickoff, part of the random geekery that is Palagpat Coding: the personal blog of Rylee Corradini. If you'd like to leave me feedback, you can usually find me lurking on Twitter, where I intermittently share and comment on similar topics.