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Time to get Bloober and the Gnarl finished for the Atari 2600 (batari Basic game)

Random Terrain


It seems like I have crawled out of the fog enough to get a game finished. I was starting to get there with Seaweed Assault, but there were still things about bB I wasn't clear about. Now that I've spent more time working on example programs, trying to help random people, and getting help from better programmers, I think I'm ready to get some games finished. (I have bits of code that are ready to use in various games that I didn't have before.)






Bloober and the Gnarl was a game I started working on in 2008:




(I actually started working on a maze game called Bloober in the early to mid 1990s on my Amiga 500. Of course, I never finished it.)




Habits of the Gnarl


The player controls Bloober who is trapped in a random-ish maze that is patrolled by a creature called the Gnarl. If the Gnarl sees Bloober, the Gnarl will get angry, turn red, and chase Bloober at high speed until Bloober can escape his gaze or he gets touched by the Gnarl. (The player can press the fire button to make Bloober move faster.) That's all I had before I moved on to other works in progress.




First Step: New Random-ish Mazes


The first step for getting the 2011 version of Bloober and the Gnarl finished is to create bigger, better random-ish mazes and that part seems to be done:




Not that many people have tried it, but of the people who have, nobody has posted any problems yet.




The Return of Eyesight and Anger


The next step is to look at my old Bloober and the Gnarl code and give the Gnarl his eyesight and anger back, while hopefully improving on the code. Once the Gnarl can see again, I'll probably fix it so the more times the Gnarl sees the player, the angrier he'll get. His normal speed will increase a little each time (up to a point). After the first time the Gnarl sees Bloober, he'll actively start looking for Bloober and his search will get more intense every time he sees Bloober after that.




Why is Bloober There?


After the Gnarl is working properly and the scanline count still isn't going over 262, I'll need to figure out what the mission is. Why is Bloober in a maze with the Gnarl? Although it's fun to avoid the Gnarl and speed up to get away from him when he's chasing Bloober, I'm still not clear about what your main mission is.




Limitations and Ideas


I'll be using player1colors and no_blank_lines, so missile1 and missile0 will be gone. I'll only have the ball to use and it will be the color of the playfield.


My original idea is one that most people would probably have. Have the ball randomly pop up in the maze and Bloober would have to eat the objects to keep his strength up or he'd have to collect enough objects to open a door and go to the next maze. Both ideas seem like they'd be a little boring and monotonous.


What else could be done with the ball? The player could block the Gnarl's path temporarily with the ball, similar to Lock 'N' Chase, but the fire button is already used to make Bloober move faster. I guess I could have the player double click, but it's not that interesting of an idea anyway.


The ball could be used to trap or stun the Gnarl temporarily. Or maybe the ball could be used to simply damage the Gnarl in some way (if you weaken the Gnarl enough, a door would open and Bloober could move to the next maze).




I Think We Have a Winner!


I kind of like that last idea. The ball could be a bomb or bubble gum with a timer. I'll probably go with bubble gum. The player would double click the fire button to drop the gum and after a few seconds it will pop (there would be a popping bubble sound effect while the ball quickly increases in size, then quickly shrinks to nothing). If the bubble pops on the Gnarl, his strength would drop. Do that 3 or 4 times and the door would open and Bloober could leave and go to the next maze.


If it turns out that it's very hard to get the timing right so the gum will pop on the Gnarl, I might make the Gnarl slow down a bit if he travels over the gum (since it's sticky). Maybe Bloober would also slow down when traveling over the gum. Maybe gum popping on Bloober would damage his health too.






OK, this is what I have so far:


  • The Gnarl will turn red and chase Bloober if he sees him.
  • Each time after the Gnarl sees Bloober, he gets angrier, speeds up a little, and his hunt for Bloober intensifies. (The speed and intensity would have a limit, though.)
  • If Bloober is touched by the Gnarl, Bloober loses a bit of energy (health bar decreases).
  • The player can hold down the fire button to outrun the Gnarl, but Bloober's heath bar will decrease.
  • Bloober's health bar will slowly increase when the fire button is not held down.
  • The player can double click to make Bloober drop a piece of bubble gum (it will pop after a few seconds).
  • Only one piece of bubble gum can be on the screen. The player won't be able to drop another piece until the current piece of bubble gum has popped.
  • Bubble gum might slow down the Gnarl a bit when traveling over it.
  • If the bubble gum pops on the Gnarl, his energy will drop. (I'm thinking that his health bar will be made of dots. Once all the dots are gone, Bloober can continue to the next maze.)
  • Bloober might be slowed down and damaged by bubble gum too.

So the player would have the the fun of trying to avoid the Gnarl while also trying to anticipate where he might go (so the gum can be dropped in the right spot). The player would be trying to chase and avoid the Gnarl at the same time. Seems like a game I might want to play.






I still need to figure out some things about the story:


  • If the Gnarl is defeated, why is he back in the next maze? Is there a race of Gnarls and each one lives in his own maze?
  • Why is Bloober stuck in the mazes?
  • Can Bloober ever leave the mazes? Is there an ending to the game or does the player keep going until Bloober runs out of energy or the player gets bored?
  • Should I wait until DPC+ stuff is out of beta testing so I can have more sprites instead of being stuck with only a ball?





Random Terrain



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