Engine of War

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Michael Todd, the brain behind Engine of War, kindly took the time to answer this month's interview questions.


Q: How would you describe Engine of War’s gameplay?

A: Engine of War is an action / building game, combining the fast paced action of a top-down shooter with the slower building style gameplay of making your own circuits.

You are a combat pilot, driving an engine of war. Throughout the game, you can alter the circuits of your vehicle and be able to do cool new things. You shoot monsters to survive each level. However, you can enter the circuit screen and upgrade or change the weapons, engine or shield generator that you may have equipped. But you can do more then just upgrade, you can build an entire electric circuit, maybe one that alerts you when your health is below a certain point, or maybe it adapts your shield frequencies so that the enemy weapons just bounce off. Whatever you do, it affects your character in the game. You didn't route enough power to the engines? Then you can't move as fast as you'd like. Fed a lot of power to the weapons? Then you the damage you create will be double.


Q: What exactly is customizable in your game and how? Did you estimate the possible number of combinations for all the items that can be bought and used?

A: The number of combinations is huge, incalculable. You can have up to forty circuit parts at a time, out of sixty three types. The most complex circuit I have ever made was a basic AI system that picked out a clear spot on the map for me to teleport to.


Q: How does the puzzle mode work?

A: The puzzle mode has six levels that can only be beaten by building a certain circuit. This lead to slower gameplay when compared to the main game, but it gives the player more one-on-one time with the circuits. You can also win cool titles by beating the puzzles.


Q: How did you create the “Buy Game” and “Website” internet link buttons?

A: I learned it from the Aum, of course!


Q: What are the most useful game development tools, in your opinion?

A: I used Photoshop, WED, SED, MED, Audacity and Wordpad. I have shortcuts to Paint and Wordpad in my start menu list.


Q: How does the “Enter Key” system work?

A: I have used a .txt file to store / reload the information, as well as key_pressed(str). I have also used a function that is called on_anykey to check which keys are pressed and call the proper function only once.


Q: How did you create the 60 minutes trial system?

A: I used a .dll and altered the registry for some of it; I'm afraid I can't tell you the other bit (my publisher would kill me... no, really, it's in the contract). The problem with using anything in the game folder is that a reinstall kills it, so the registry editing is required in some basic form. Maybe Aum could do a thing on making a 60-minute demo timer? (Well, the lite-C fairy has delivered the code in time for this month's "Plug and play" article - George's note)


Q: Do you have some tips for the beginners out there?

A: Work hard and make sure you have a good idea before spending more then a month on it. Finish a game that you know has a good core idea.

Plan the needed amount of work, and then double it to get the real figure. Work at the game for another month after you think it is done.


Make sure you have a good support system. Working hard won't work if you don't eat healthy, or never give yourself time to read or don't get enough sleep. Your brain will shrivel up and you won't be able to work anymore. Google video "Will Wright" and "Game Design". Watch all the hours of good game design theory. Not the "spore" stuff, watch that on your own time :).


Thank you a lot, Michael.