Spinning Tops

I had prototyped a spinner based game earlier in November (I think) and it was very fun to play against my brother, but I couldn’t get to develop it because of the constantly emerging university deadlines. Finally uni’s over which means I’m free… at last until the exams come.

The game is supposed to be an action/fighting game where 2 or more spinning tops fight to the death. It was mainly inspired by the cheap plastic Chipicao spinners I used to collect as a kid (good times…), and they were in turn based on beyblade. There are a couple of Beyblade video games for different consoles already and they new ones keep coming out. Unfortunately it isn’t a ground-breaking idea, people have been making tops for millennia, but there aren’t great many (enough) spinning top games either (especially for PC), plus I really want to make this one.

It is a seemingly simple scenario – there is an arena or terrain (usually bowl shaped) and 2 or more spinning tops. Gravity moves the tops as low as it can (i.e. towards a local minimum) and rigid body physics sends them flying when they touch. Although simply watching this simulation (over and over) becomes more boring by the second, it peaks the interest when you try to predict the outcome and reason about the underlying system, especially if you have the choice of what top(s) to use. Adding the ability to control one of the tops to a certain degree while it still obeys the laws of physics adds even more fun to the equation as now players are no longer mere spectators. Being able to defy and exaggerate those laws on occasions (or more importantly your opponent’s ability to do so) adds a pinch of unpredictability. To cut it short, just the core concept of it sounds enough to keep players engaged.

Anyways, I’ve been playing with this yesterday and since the first prototype was a complete mess (merely a proof of concept), I had to start from scratch. There are many ideas that will go in the mix (and probably more that will drop out), here are a few of them:

  • Tops are flat 2D images which rotate on the screen and bump into each other.
  • Each top has the following primary stats – WEIGHT, JAGGEDNESS, RADIUS, BALANCE. These are directly calculated based on the image. The more pixels, the more weight, the less of a circle it is the more jaggedness, the more off-center the mass is the less balance… you get the picture.
  • In addition tops will have secondary stats some of which are based on the primary ones – MAX-RPM, PUSH-BACK, ENERGY. Stats are a really boring part of the mechanics so I’ll skip the explanations… :)
  • Special abilities possibly based on the colors from the image
  • Arenas are 2D color images with a depth mask. The depth mask determines the incline and can also be used for lighting (and possibly displace mapping).
  • It is a 2D game (no need for a 3rd dimension) but with a couple of cheap tricks can be given 3D-ish look :)
  • Competitive multilayer on a single machine or over the network.

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