A Shocktopus History – Part 1
With the upcoming Steam release of The Electric Shocktopus, it seems like a nice time to reflect on the long, winding history of this game. For before we could get to B,
we had to start at A:
In July 2012 – I released Agent Higgs, my first iOS game. It was a relatively quick dev cycle, just a few months, and I was looking for my next project. And I decided to leap in head-first and make the Quantum Mechanics game I always wanted to. I even posted a sneak peek! But… after prototyping it, I had to shelve the game. I was having too much trouble mixing the content into a fun, educational game. (It remains my white whale to this day.) Something that’s inherently chance-based doesn’t necessarily make for good puzzles, while at the same time quantum mechanics (with no precise positions or momenta, say) resists an easy visual representation. I decided I needed to save it for later.
I then turned to prototyping an evolution simulator, and you can play around with the prototype of that here. Stick creatures walking along, evolving and getting better with each generation. I wanted to turn it into a game, but again, had to shelve it after testing out several prototypes that didn’t click with me. A simulation was straightforward, but building a game around something like evolution, where the whole point is that it happens on its own, free of some outside influence… (and taking a long time to see changes, to boot)… didn’t make for an easy game.
So I was looking for a winner. Looking for a game concept I knew I could deliver on. And in January 2013, I had it! Electromagnetism!
It fit the bill. For starters, it was visual – you can draw the field lines right on the screen and show how individual particles move around. It was useful – lots of people learn about electricity, which means it wasn’t too esoteric of a topic. And most importantly, it made for fun gameplay. You, the character, are an electric charge, running around a world of fields. You get to repel and leap high into the air, fling yourself through fields, and curve around magnetic fields. A game of both thought and skill.
I present to you that game:
Ah. Well, then. The first version of the game, with possible trademark issues… and maybe, just maybe in need of some polish?
But the core parts of the game were there, if a bit blocky:
You, the character (a toad, clearly), on the left side. Black platforms to jump around. And the blue and green electric charges, creating those arrow-less field lines. The game worked, roughly. And even at this stage, I was having a blast playing around with it. Navigating an electric field was, dare I say, fun. A few weeks into development, and the heart of the game was there in early 2013. But it was far from finished…
(Tune in next week to learn what happened to Magnetoad)