Sparse is a 2D platformer.
Sparse is a game about building machines.
Well, will be a game about building machines; I'm still working on that.
Of course, there's more planned than just building: survival. The game takes place on a barren planet after the mysterious crash of a large spaceship. In order to achieve anything, you have to brave attacking robots and asphyxiation while scavenging debris from the crash. It's not entirely unlike Terraria or Starbound, in that regard.
There's one more goal I have for the game: it should be possible to play it through, from start to finish, without consulting anything outside the game for instruction. I personally think this is the most important objective--it seems to be unique from what I've seen, and it also sets a complexity cap on builds: the most complicated builds have to be understandable from a non-functioning in-game example and a couple paragraphs of text, which I hope will contribute to the overall flavor of the game.
But, enough nebulous plans, for now.
Currently the game isn't much more than a tech demo; it's like the version of Minecraft before 0.30 classic that we all remember (at least, I think that's a fair assessment.) Several basic blocks are in place. The game world (procedurally generated) is divided into sectors, but only one is accessible. There's definitions for items and ways to interact with the interfaces that store them. There are several rudimentary user interface controls that I've put to use in a basic main menu and a neat storage chest. There's also a whole bunch of groundwork behind all of this: the whole game state can be serialized and saved to file, there's a Flash-like graphical system behind the scenes, and the game states do suspiciously clever things when I need them to.
Right now I'm working on a more robust way of managing content--both assets like images, fonts, music, etc, but also definitions for blocks, items, and extensions to blocks and items in order to
- Let me examine/edit these things at runtime.
- Save those changes from runtime.
- Make it easy to add more content.
- Let other people add their own. (however, this is far less important)
This is something I want to do before investing a lot of time into the content, as changing the pipeline later on is only going to be more painful, and the more barriers I can remove from making good content means that the content I make will be better.
After finishing that and remaking the small amount of content that I have, I'm probably going to rethink some parts of the UI code for similar effect: the easier it is to make good UIs, the better I'll make them. With that done, I plan on extending the save/load system in order to allow travel to more sectors than the initial one. Beyond that, I figure microplanning is futile, and anyway, it's mostly a grab-bag of things that need to be done.
Wow, I'm not used to writing about the things I make. This is like my third draft and I'm still not very happy with it. I guess it's a function of practice.
You can get access to the current Alpha build of Sparse by emailing me: contrabassgames on gmail.