Game Design
stories, tips, follies,
...and making some $$$ along the way!

About to release a new game - Zodiac Reactor

Posted by: Sam Horton on May 19, 2009 at 10:11 PM

This game was supposed to be next in line after Oroboros back in 2007, but as often happens, life takes us on a different route. I wound up putting Zodiac Reactor on the back burner to make room for several other projects.

Last week I decided that it was just too close to being finished for it to sit there collecting dust, so I've been working non-stop in an effort to wrap things up. It's pretty much finished, but I need to hunt for bugs a bit more before releasing it.

Creating Stars Would be Fun
Zodiac Reactor is basically a skill game where you try to collect elemental particles to fuel this star generator that is floating somewhere out in space. When you collect enough of each element, the reactor spits out a star and the universe is happy!

The arrow keys are the main controls you use to play, and each one corresponds to a particular element. Your job is to sync the reactor up with the same colored element at precisely the right time. If you miss, things will get hot and eventually you'll break it. The gameplay gets really fast-paced along the way, and will wind up giving your brain a decent workout. To keep things interesting, I included a mode called terminal velocity that maxes out all stats...It's crazy fast!

Concept and Artwork
I used a mix of Lightwave 3D and Flash to create all the art for this game. I'm pretty useless when it comes to pen and paper drawing, so working in 3D is fantastic. All the lighting and shading can be easily tweaked, and the possibilities are just endless if you have the patience. For this game I wanted a sleek and futuristic look with a lot of glowing sh!t...particle fx, magic runes that light up, etc.

What's your Sign?
Incorporating the Zodiac signs into a game about stars seemed to be a good fit. I decided to arrange each one based on the element it represents, and then make a belt of interlocking tiles that light up as you progress through the game. When all of the tiles are lit up, you win—At least in normal mode. There are a few survival game-modes as well, which is where things really get interesting in my opinion.

Music and Sound FX
In another life, I used to play the guitar, and for some reason, on this game I felt the urge to bust it out of its case and whip up a track. It's a pretty light-hearted song, with just enough synth to cover up my woeful strumming. I also made an ambient loop for the intro screen, which is nice and calm. For years I've been using FL Studio to make loops and sound effects, and highly recommend it if you're interested in getting a great piece of audio software without killing your wallet.

High Scores
Back when I released Oroboros, I built a custom high scores page that wound up being the second most visited page on my site, so I decided to make an even nicer leaderboard page for Zodiac Reactor! It has a comment system that you can post to directly from the game, and a bunch of other cool features. Hopefully it won't crush my server, but that's a problem I'm definitely willing to deal with!

I'm still thinking about how I want to go about releasing this game. I think it's my best one yet, so I'd rather not be too hasty. If any portal owners are reading this, I'm probably going to offer non-exclusive deals, but I'm open to any ideas as long as they are reasonable. If you want to get in touch, you can send me a message here.

Thanks for reading this long winded post. Be sure to keep an eye on the site over the next few days. Zodiac Reactor will be ready for beta testing soon!

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By: Sam Horton | May 19, 2009 at 10:11 PM | | Leave a comment

Big Fish Games - Drastically Reduces Prices

Posted by: Sam Horton on May 15, 2009 at 9:05 PM


Big Fish Games just announced today that they are dropping their prices from $19.99 to just $6.99 for every game on their entire site!

Definitely worth checking out if you want some quality games on the cheap!

My all-time favorite game at Big Fish, hands down, is StarDrone. It's got to be the most unique take on pinball ever invented, and I can't think of one reason not to buy it if it only costs $6.99!

Support this game!


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By: Sam Horton | May 15, 2009 at 9:05 PM | | Leave a comment