CSE Game Design Lab

Innovation in game design

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General Platformer – Idea and Introduction

Posted by on June 5th, 2011 · Uncategorized

The platforming genre of video games has been around for a long time and has a long history. There are many famous video game series that started out as 2D side scrolling platformers. Super Mario, Sonic, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Castlevania, Megaman, Metroid… and the list just goes on.

The core mechanics of running and jumping through a level to reach a goal remain the same for all platformers. On the 2D screen, the player controls their character by running and jumping on the different platforms. However, each title is different and unique in many ways and this gives each game a unique ‘feel’. Mario feels ‘bouncy’ while Sonic feels ‘fast’.

There are many things that make two platformers different. Yet, they still maintain the core mechanics that make them platformers and not any other type of video game.

The abstract idea of the general platformer is to create a system that is general enough that any existing title can be emulated by adjusting a set of parameters that are available to the user. Combining all the different parameters from all the existing platformer titles should produce a set of parameters that are common amongst all the titles. Super Mario World and Sonic and Knuckles would then become certain configurations of these parameters. As long as the set of common parameters is complete, any platformer will become a configuration of these parameters.

The user will be able to change the movement of the player’s character, select and import graphics for the game, control the movement of the camera, control the levels, create new enemies, create objects in the level, configure how the player interacts with those enemies and objects and anything else that makes platformers different from one another.

Using the system, it then becomes possible to ‘invent’ or ‘discover’ a new ‘feels’ by adjusting and experimenting with the parameters. This then reduces the need to re-invent the wheel each time someone wants to make a new platformer, as the core game itself is already there. The user then only needs to define the parts of the game that make it unique. The system could
then be used to prototype certain elements of a game, test level designs and its interactions with the player. It would be possible to save and load configurations from a file, so they may be shared.

An existing system that does something similar is M.U.G.E.N, which generalises 2D fighting games and is worth checking out.

The initial scope for this project will be much smaller to start with, focusing only on the basic movements and animations. As this project progresses further, I will post additional updates. 🙂

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