If you have an iPhone or iPad, check out 100 Rogues. It’s a great game. It’s also a really tough game, so it’s good for gamers who appreciate challenge and the concept of impermanence, and a little more frustrating if you like to stay with your character until his stats and inventory are maxed out. I confess I’m in the latter group, so I haven’t played much of the game.
Nonetheless, I was excited to learn that the creators of 100 Rogues were holding a monster-design contest, and the winning monster would be featured in the sequel. How awesome is that?
I submitted two monsters. I came up with the ideas early on, but I’ve been really busy, so I didn’t get around to sending them until the very last day, around 10 pm, from the airport returning from a trip. Well, 10 pm Mountain Time; I believe they’re on the east coast, so depending on when the precise deadline was, I may have missed it after all.
Both of these are mundane critters. This was intentional; I figured that wackier designs would run the risk of not really fitting in with the feel of the game. Instead, I focused on how they would behave in the game: I wanted something unique, but simple and implementable, that the player would find challenging but not annoying.
Here’s the first submission: A Dog!
I suspect the judges are rolling their eyes at this one. Someone thought a dog was original? A Dog isn’t the pinnacle of visual innovation, but it does some interesting stuff:
- By default, A Dog is sleeping. If the player, or any enemy, comes within a four-tile range of A Dog, it will wake up. (“Let sleeping dogs lie.”)
- If awake, A Dog will attack the nearest target, and will continue attacking each target, in order of proximity, until there are no targets left in the room/corridor. If it cannot see any target, it will go back to sleep.
- A Dog can be tamed by throwing food at it. (This might be tricky to implement.) When tame, it will not attack you, and instead of sleeping when all targets are defeated, it will follow you.
The idea of having a tame dog was inspired by the dog that you get in NetHack, because it was fun to have a dog in that game. Little did I realize that the meat-throwing thing is exactly how you tame dogs in NetHack. (I’d only ever had the starter dog.) So instead of being original yet throwbacky, I inadvertently cribbed an old idea. Man, I wish I’d done the research on that. Lesson learned.
Maybe my other submission will fare better? This here is Spearbill.
Spearbill is a large, angry, flightless bird. Here are its interesting-monster specs:
- It’s fast! It moves at double speed. (Again, not sure how/if this can be implemented.)
- Because of its speed and agile build, it is difficult to hit with long-range weapons. However, it is built for agility, not defense: close-range attacks will do a lot of damage. (This is the opposite of most flying enemies in 100 Rogues, which are easier to hit from a distance.)
- After killing a Spearbill, the player can occasionally salvage its beak, which makes a good throwing weapon.
Maybe there’s a fast, evasive, beak-dropping bird already in existence, too, but I’m not aware of one. Spearbill was my first idea, and I like it a little bit better.
I had a third idea that I didn’t end up submitting: a giant kitten made out of stone. Giant because you cannot get around it, kitten because it is benign and will never attack you, stone because it is invincible. It wouldn’t be a threat, just an impediment. However, I decided Giant Stone Kitten would be too frustrating if it managed to get you stuck in a corner.
Both illustrations were done using Adobe Ideas, which is another app you should get. It’s free, and it’s vector-based, which is so very cool: you draw a line with your finger, and even if it’s a little choppy, the app automatically smooths it into a vector. So cool. Its features are limited (you can’t save colors, which drives me nuts), but I love the overall experience – it feels close to pen and paper drawing.. (I plan to get Brushes soon, too, and I’m eager to see how the two apps compare.)