The Evolution and Gameplay of Twilight Golf

August 19th, 2009| Posted by Andy Korth
Categories: Development | Tags: , , ,

Twilight Golf has evolved quite a bit since it was originally envisioned back in January of 2007. (Yes, it really has been that long!). At the infancy of Howling Moon Software, we created several small gameplay demos, and one of them was a game called Gulf.

Download our original Mac prototype here:

We’ve shown the demo to groups of people before, and everyone found it quite fun, albeit a bit short. The gameplay is simple and immediately understood, but still fun. Gulf was a great opportunity for us to show off Chipmunk and develop bits and pieces of the framework to use in ScribBall. All the levels in Gulf were pretty simple. We drew them out on graph paper, typed in coordinates by hand, and scripted up the objects in Ruby.

As a prototype, it worked pretty well. The levels were all essentially one-trick ponies, and there wasn’t really any puzzle to figure out. It was mostly just a matter of aiming right to see if you could do the level in one or two hits. However, Gulf took a backseat to ScribBall, which didn’t require level design or as much artwork to polish up.

Fast forward to December 2008, when we had resurrected Gulf as “Pirate Golf“. Pirate Golf became increasingly ambitious, calling for more art, multiple gameplay modes, and a lot of complexity that wasn’t the charm of the Gulf prototype. At some point, there were plans for scrolling parallax’d levels, destructible buildings, multiple balls, powerups to catch, treasure boxes to collect, and something I can’t quite remember about shooting coins into boxes and then shooting the box through a hole. There was also a lot of concern that Pirate Golf levels were not complicated enough- that they’d be too simple for players and not really challenge them. We  had a goal of complicated levels with at least several steps. Development time per level was going to be pretty high. Combine that with some upcoming contract work for some games that win real money, and that game ended up on the back burner.

So, now that Scott and I had a few weeks between contracts and some time in our evenings to spare, we’ve taken a new look at Gulf. We focused ourselves and created a design document to prevent feature creep. This allowed us to get the same simple and fun levels of Gulf, but put together in a polished and complete game (which is where most of the work lies!) Scott has been very excited to use some lighting code he had perfected a while ago, and of course, we’ve got chipmunk all set for the iPhone.

Twilight Golf focuses on “creating a unique graphical style based on our lighting effects and simple art assets”, “small, fast, and entertaining levels that highlight a single element (usually physics-related).”, and “instinctual swipe-to-move controls without the need for on-screen buttons or complex gestures”.  The simplicity of gameplay and design made completing the project an attainable goal,but it also made the game fun. Albert Einstein could have been speaking of video games when he said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

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but it also made the game fun. Albert Einstein could have been speaking of video games when he said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
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