A short history of Snexagon
Hi, and welcome to the SNEXAGON devlog!
At time of writing, I've been working on Snexagon for a month and a bit. I first posted about it on Twitter right at the end of May. I currently plan to launch it around end of August, but today I'm opening up the Itch page, and writing my first devlog! Hurrah!
Current status of the game - Most of the core tech is done, and so far the ever so unreliable litmus test that is Twitter reception has been pretty good, to say the least.
Anyway, as a first blog post, I figured it'd be worth sharing how the game came about.
Snexagon is quite a different beast from anything I've made before, and there's a very good reason for that. I'd decided to set myself a challenge - the game needed to look like one created by a different developer.
I browsed the #gamedev hashtag on twitter for a few minutes, until I saw a game full of nice square placeholder assets. The simple geometry of it all struck me as interesting. I'd decided the made up game dev who'd be building my game wasn't so much into drawing as me, and simple shapes were a good way of getting around this. After turning my back on circles and squares, I settled on hexagons as an interesting shape for the game's art to be directed by. The fact hexagons can be tiled in a unique way seemed interesting for the possible gameplay!
Thinking of game ideas was hard, so I once again put myself into the mind of this fictional developer. One of the hints I often see given to newer devs is to "just make pong with a twist", or some other old simple game. Good advice for starting out that I'd recommend to many people!
Alan Hazelden, developer of Cosmic Express, made a number of simple Snake variants in his earlier days, one of which was unexpectedly successful
At this point I had a hexagonal grid in front of me, and cycled through retro games I could force onto this grid. Among the ideas that didn't make the cut were 6 sided pong, and hexagonal Pac-Man. Eventually, Snake looked like it would be nice.
It took a couple of evenings to make a prototype, but there was a clear problem quite early on. Being on a hexagonal grid meant that every cell was adjacent to 6 other cells, as opposed to the 4 you'd have in regular Snake. This made the game significantly easier. Something needed to be added, something to take up a lot more room.
Given how much I loved the use of multitasking in Smalltalk, it's really no surprise that I eventually settled on a system where snakes could split up, and had to be controlled simultaneously. Shortly after making this choice, I remembered all the air traffic control style games, and figured such a forward planning mechanic lent itself quite well to the current system, as the game did already feel like it was about planning ahead to avoid collisions, much like its air traffic controlling brethren.
All those ideas thrown together, I had a neat little prototype by the end of the week. It looked simple, but stylish. Here's a gif of what it looked like at the time.
If you've seen any recent gifs of Snexagon, you might notice here one of the core weaknesses of the game - social media posts about it are very repetitive, as visually it's hard to notice most of the changes I make. That's a post for another day though.
And on that note, thanks for reading! If you're interested in the game, follow me on Twitter for updates on the game, and feel free to hit me up if you ever want to chat about it!
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