I figured it's time to start a develog of my current project, an as-yet-untitled physics-based gymnastics/acrobatics/parkour type game. It's generally a re-imagining of an old freeware game I created called "gymnast".
The core idea is a very direct control over your gymnast character, similar to something like Ski Stunt Simulator or QWOP. In this case, the game is best played with a modern gamepad with 2 analog sticks.
The left stick decides the shoulder angle, and the right stick decides the hip angle. You can also use the left/right triggers to "pull in" either the arms, or the legs, respectively.
With just these controls you have an amazing amount of different things you can do with the gymnast.
When designing games I find it pretty useful to try to express the "core pillars" of a game, which help make sure that you have a clear idea of the game, and what's important (and also not!) to the design. This should help make other design decisions easier because you can bounce options off of the game pillars and see which one makes more sense as it pertains to the pillars. So here is my first pass at the pillars to this game:
1. Realistic Physics
2. Any Solution Is The Right One
3. Exciting But Friendly Tone
As you might imagine from the physics-based control scheme, the game is very difficult at first, as you need to learn how to move the gymnast's body in order to swing, generate momentum, and release, fly through the air, and catch the next bar. But with the commitment to realistic physics also comes great expressivity. Most levels should have any number of valid ways to complete them, and even the 'same' line from two different players can look quite different due to the 'style' of how they move the gymnast.
The current idea is that the game will have a lot of small levels, which generally consist of starting hanging from 1 bar, and then having to leap and traverse from bar to bar, eventually completing the level by grabbing the "target" bar at the end of the level, or sometimes landing on a target landing mat, etc. These levels will track not only whether you've completed them or not, but also your best (fastest) time, and also your highest score (based on tricks and combos). So hopefully players will get a lot of replay value out of each level given that you can try to optimize for speed or score after the main task of just completing it.
I have some other ideas for different content types as well, but I'll save that for another devlog.
Please note that the current graphics of the game are completely placeholder. The physics are simulated in 2D, but the eventual graphics will be 3D. I'm imagining a look somewhat similar to the Trials HD games, where the gameplay is confined to a 2D plane, but the visuals are attractive 3D.