10,000 Ninjas: Pirate Edition – Post-mortem

Posted by aBethke on Thursday Mar 31, 2011 Under Game Development

Reposted from: www.goldengeargames.com

10,000 ninjas was my 2nd entry for the CASUAL ADDICTION game development competition hosted by the Experimental Gameplay Project. By the end of the project I was pretty happy with what I had put together taking into account that once again I ran out of time. (Lesson to Learn: Scope projects better for EGP competitions)
With this design I spent more effort trying to design features that would be casually addictive, as opposed to Cells. Ultimately I think this game ended up being a bit better received by the public than Cells was even though I think Cells is the better game between the two.

Core Mechanic: When I started I wanted to make something that would be very easy to pick up so I decided to go with the basic concept of point/click to kill. I will definitely admit the fact that I had just picked up a touch screen computer influenced aspects of the design. At the time we had thought we were going to be using the touch screen a lot more to exhibit games over the summer, which didnt end up happening, but it was still interesting to design a game more for a touch screen interface than mouse. Beyond that the game was really just supposed to be a small project that was easy for users to play and allowed them to rain mayhem and destruction upon ninjas dressed as pirates.

Session vs Persistent Kill Counts: One of the decisions that I had made was to add separate counters for a users total kill count vs their session kill count. The idea here was that the game would inherently coax them into playing more by creating a competition using the two different kill counts. This in relation with the UI I chose to display the kill counts was supposed to, in a playful manner utilizing the levels on the bar, increase the replayability.

Unlocking Powers: Another feature I added to try to increase the replay factor was that powers can be permanently unlocked depending on a users persistent kill count. Each time the user played they would have to get a certain number of kills before they could start using the cut scene attacks. Over multiple play session their persistent kill count would build up and unlock the powers so they had them right at the beginning of the game. The permanent power unlock feature was supposed to serve two purposes: 1) Entice the user to play the game multiple times; 2) Give them a goal to work towards while replaying the game.

Visual Style: When I was doing the initial character and power designs for this game I wanted to pick a style that I actually had the ability to draw as well as have something that had some weirdness to it in hopes of catching the user’s attention. To this end I went with the block style characters, made the enemies ninjas dressed as pirates fighting a ninja, and finally added the cut scene super attacks to really take some aspects of the game over the top.

Conclusions: Two things that I think ultimately worked against the final product was the cluster kill combos and the game balance. To put it bluntly the game balance was off; I should have spent more time focused on tweaking when/how the enemies spawn and this definitely detracted from the game. The cluster kill combo was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ features. The concept was that as you kill stuff your rage bar fills up. Hit max rage and anything that gets near you when you attack will also get attacked as you leap from enemy to enemy. Unfortunately this really broke up the flow of the game in a bad way, rage almost never runs out which just made it worse and if you were fighting bombers it basically ensured you were going to die.

Play it now: 10,000 Ninjas: Pirate Edition

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