Spark Five: Conceptualization
Welcome to Spark Five everyone. May this post find you in good health and well being. This post will be mostly about the brainstorming that went on to create Spark Five: my first ever commercial title. I started working on Spark Five way back in August of 2018. Back then, I had something entirely different in mind.
I was scouring through the internet and was trying to find something that was absent from the gaming universe. My search did end up finding a very basic concept that was not widely used in most games, indie or otherwise - the concept of dying, souls and re-incarnation. Most if not all games do have the restart option or checkpoints, but that was not what I was aiming for. Initially I had something similar to this in mind:
1. A large map with a huge human/monster population. This map would also be the primary arena for many battles much like in RPG (role-playing) games.
2. You would start as a soul/spark or simply a ball of energy that was weak and vulnerable. Unrestricted movement would allow you to explore the entire map and find bodies to possess.
3. After possessing a monster/human body you would be able to accomplish tasks and objectives which were impossible when you were in your spark form. Upon death, you would simply revert back to your spark form retaining all the achievements/level-ups that you gained while in your physical form.
4. You would then go on to find another body and repeat the cycle i.e. fighting battles, taking up jobs, completing objectives, etc.
5. Of course there would be a number of restrictions for both your forms (physical and spark), to regulate the game-play and maintain fair mechanics.
A single player game along these lines would have been really fun to play. But, the problem was execution. To pull off something like this right off the bat would be a massive task if not a silly one. So for my first game, considering that it was just me developing, I turned towards a different plan of action to bring this idea to fruition.
Instead of creating a huge game world with minimum restrictions, I decided to funnel the entire concept and focused on level based game-play. This seemed to be something within reach considering my team size, self-imposed yet circumstantial deadlines and limited experience. The base genres of the game would be stealth and adventure with a tinge of puzzle mixed into a cocktail of strategy. The game(s) that came to mind was the "Commandos" series. "Commandos is a stealth-oriented real-time tactics video game series" - as described in the wikipedia page. With this on the table, many things started falling into place.
Last but not the least was the setting. For a debut, a realistic or even a medievil/fantasy setting would open up the game to a number of potential aesthetic flaws and semantic errors. I imagined it would be better if the setting was something that was unique and abstract yet unrelatable to a certain degree for the audience. Consequently I decided to create the game on an abstract sci-fi setting. The story started to brew up in my mind which mostly revolved around a post-apocalyptic premise. Trying to find a nemesis for the game, artificial intelligence popped up. It is something that we are still working on and are most certainly aware of the ramifications of a miscalculation on our part. In the game, A.I. does take over the entire world and decide to eliminate human beings (they concluded that we are a threat to the planet, by reading our history books and wikipedia :D).
The ingredients were finally ready, and then the cooking started. After two months, Spark Five was born - a simple game with a unique concept and an abstract setting.
Following months of testing, levels were optimized, music was adjusted and difficulty settings were re-worked. A custom scenario with 10 free levels was added so that the player could practice and formulate better strategies. Finally, the game was ready for release.
So that was more or less the story of the inception and conception of Spark Five. Thank you very much for reading. Good luck and have fun.