In a shameless effort to avoid actual work, I’ve dusted off an old prototype for an iPhone game. It’s a quick little physics/rhythm/platform-y thing — can we use ‘Canabalt-like’ as a genre? — designed around a one-button interaction mechanic.
In other words, you tap. The idea grew out of my frustration with Levelheaded, an experiment into how short you could make a game and still have it be worth playing. It was basically a polished, iOS-ported version of my Global Game Jam game Jarhead from a few years ago. I might have gone a wee bit overboard with the rapid-play idea — games of Levelheaded take anywhere from two to fifteen seconds — but it was a fun little experiment. Unfortunately, it tried to cram in several non-obvious mechanics and a reasonably complex little simulation into those few seconds; obviously, it did a terrible job of communicating how it should be played, almost no one spent enough time with the game to really understand the mechanics. My bad.
Reverse Polarity is my attempt to return to the rapid play idea, but with greatly simplified mechanics and interaction. In fact, there’s exactly one mechanic (you’re attracted/repelled by things in the world) and one interaction (tapping swaps between attraction and repulsion). You can see where the name comes from (also, I was re-watching old SG-1 episodes at the time). Runs of Reverse Polarity tend to take under two minutes; the longer and faster you run, the more difficult it gets to continue. For the most part, gameplay is going to be mind-bogglingly shallow, with the focus on leaderboard-style competition. I’m tracking all kinds of stats for each run (e.g. speed, distance, air time, tap efficiency, &c), each of which will have its own distinct leaderboard. Mastered the art of building up crazy-fast speed? Ok — how about maximizing air time, or minimizing the number of times you reverse polarity?
Mmm, Game Center porn.
This whole not-owning-a-retina-display-device thing is getting ridiculous — this needs to be an iPhone game, instead of iPad-only. Poor little iPhone 3G — I love you, but you’re hopelessly out of date. Anyone got a newish iPod touch I could borrow for a few days?