image Jetpacks and Feedback: The S.W.A.P. Journey image GCC #45 – Virtual Reality // Exploration

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GCC #44 – Couch Co-op // Free-For-All

** The GCC is Chaos Theory tradition, where each fortnight we pitch a game concept to each other restricted by a particular theme and genre. **

It seems the only games we have time for at the moment are couch co-op or local competitive multiplayer games, but we have been loving Samurai Gunn, Towerfall and Gang Beasts to death. Here’s some of our own ideas.

Genre: Couch Co-op
Theme: Free-for-all


Elevator Pitch
Battle Trains is an aggressive multiplayer arena for up to 4 local players. It centres on fierce, frenetic gameplay with a set of controls that are difficult to master, and is best played competitively with friends where you can competitively scream abuse at the screen and each other.

A top-down (alternatively slightly skewed top-down perspective in 3D, but would require experimentation) tile-based arena where up to 4 players (locally) take control of a train on a series of handmade tracks (levels). Their train automatically moves at a constant pace, and their objective is to destroy other players using their ability to boost, shoot a single-charge cannonball-like weapon (which travels in a linear path until exiting the arena), or by using alternative weapons or dead-ends found around the level. Boosting into a player destroys them, and boosting into a player from the front will calculate who boosted last to determine the melee winner.
When a player destroys an enemy, a small cart is added to the rear of their train, and they have to deliver this to one of the 4 delivery nodes located on the map in order to score points (the cart is added to the players train regardless of the kill location). When a player is destroyed by another, they lose all of their current carts. The delivery nodes also act as spawn points for recently destroyed enemies and teleportation points if driven into (allowing players to throw competitive players off their trail, as the teleportation is randomized).
Throughout the map there are nodes that are able to divert and charge portions of the track (instantaneously) which can be activated by slapping these switches using your conductor. Each train is ridden by a highly animate conductor (a simple humanoid without legs or a visible face) who conveys game state information and is used to activate map nodes by either slapping left or right. Both the train carriage and the conductor are highly customizable through gameplay unlocks.
Movement in the game is handled with the left stick which indicates which direction you wish to turn in an upcoming corner, if none is specified, you crash and stall before a direction is randomly chosen (at a T intersection only). The A button is used for boosting (which can be used frequently with a small recharge timer), RT / X are used in combination with the right stick for shooting your projectile, and LB / RB are used to slap either side of your train (also with a small recharge timer).
The arena occupies the entire screen, and will most likely be divided into 32×18 tiles. The arena tiles would be prefabricated and loaded into a simple level editor with width / height parameters (to allow for non-1×1 tiles). There are different environmental tiles that can be trigged with a smack or by being hit by a player shot, causing damage to the track for a limited time and destroying enemies. The UI can be brought up for all players, by any player at any time, which will display score information around each player’s train head.

The game is a loose derivative of the classic Snake, designed wholeheartedly for social competitive play. As each kill is added to the length of your train, you become an easier target for other players, making it harder for you to earn points. This provides an inherent risk vs. reward mechanic where players can chain together multiple kills before cashing in at a delivery node or take a safer route to acquire score in smaller numbers.
The gameplay is meant to be incredibly quick, and the control system comprehensive but unforgiving (tight corners and weapon aiming are intentionally difficult). Players will be dying frequently but not punished for it on a lives-based scale – instead of pure killing skill, it is a combination of both wreaking havoc on other players and strategically navigating each map to deliver kills at the correct time that describes the winning player.

– James

About James
I’m deeply passionate about the promoting and developing the social, educational, and creative potential of games. Through my work at Chaos Theory, I have only just started a journey to doing exactly that.
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