An alternative Red Dwarf mobile game

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    I know we’ve been fortunate enough to finally get a Red Dwarf game with RDXI, but if you could choose the elements of a new mobile game, what would they be?

    I’ve started a fan project for my own amusement with the aim that it will be:

    – More of a “proper” adventure game than a series of minigames or episodes
    – Focusing on the adventure & exploration side rather than just being a combat-driven game (although combat will feature)
    – Feature scenarios and gags from the earlier RD seasons too (and ideally some fan idea scenarios)
    – Be more retro in style (for practical reasons and in keeping with the ‘wonky set’ aesthetic)

    Obviously I don’t have a licence for a RD game, nor any expectation of getting one, so it’s unlikely to ever see the light of day. I’m doing it because I love the material and to keep me occupied.

    So far I’ve got the map and Starbug coded, where the idea is you can fly around the galaxy landing on different planets, finding new things etc. It’s a simple top-down affair that looks like this. Asteroids with the asteroids, really.

    I’m also mostly there with a turn-based ship battle sequence, but this is intended to be a fun aside rather than the main focus of the game. Keep in mind that it’s all fairly basic – nothing like the polished, professional RDXI game.

    I’ve also got a rather poorly animated character section working using a pixel-art sprite and a nice backdrop I found on the internet. Obviously I will not be including this (“nice work” if the creator of the image is reading this), but I am just playing around with ideas at the moment.

    One of my main challenges for including all of the locations and scenarios will be artwork – it’s not my forte – so although it would be nice to have lots of Beneath a Steel Sky type backdrops, it’s not something I’m capable of producing, so I will have to work around this. This might mean something top-down and tile-based, I’m not sure yet.

    That aside, if anyone has suggestions of what the main game could be like – e.g. a bit like ABC with dialogue handled like XYZ – I’d be really interested to hear them.

    Once again, although I’m committed to the project it’s just a fun hobby I can work on in my free time and a way for me to have fun with Red Dwarf – don’t expect me to be able to deliver on your ideas or to be distributing a game that will upset Grant Naylor Productions (or UKTV). If it takes shape over the months and years enough that it is worth releasing it would be great to discuss that with them, but for the foreseeable future it will remain a daft hobby.




    The problem with mobile games is that due to the nature of the format, the gameplay is bound to have little to no depth. Rarely if at all do I actually consider a mobile game to be actually fun.



    I don’t think that’s inevitable – developers tend to make their mobile games as accessible as possible because they recognise it’s a more casual market than for console or PC games. This usually means simple, easily understood mechanics and all-too-often a focus on extracting money from gamers with timers, unlockables etc.

    Deep games do exist and work well on mobile – you can get Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on your phone – but even big titles like that don’t tend to do that well sales-wise, so it’s not seen as financially viable to port them, let alone create them from scratch. I don’t need to worry about sales or whether it will appeal to more than 10 people because I’m not doing it as a job, only for the love of it.

    I don’t know how many copies of the RDXI game they’ve shifted but I can see it’s between 5,000-10,000 on Google Play. That’s not making any professional developers rich (it possibly wouldn’t even cover the months of development overheads if UKTV wasn’t footing the bill), so we’re lucky to have got a game at all, and it’s impressive they continue to support it and add content.

    Whilst I’m trying to make my game accessible in terms of its UI, I don’t really have any interest in creating or playing shallow, trivial games. I enjoy deep RPGs and adventure games, like Mass Effect or (going back to the era I’m targeting aesthetically) Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, so that’s what I would be aiming to achieve (within realistic limits). I can’t generate thousands of beautifully-drawn backdrops and sprites, or incorporate voice acting, but I think I can put down thousands of lines of script and generate a limited range of graphical assets to go with them. It may take me a *long* time, but time and patience I got.

    I want to pair the sense of exploration and progression you would get with an RPG, whilst covering / nodding to as much Red Dwarf material as possible. Even if I do have to change the bulb.



    The easy way out with this sort of thing is to make it combat-driven – developing experience, building stats, bigger and harder enemies, boss battles – tried and tested RPG progression. But I’d like to go a different route if I can, because I think Red Dwarf is more interesting than that, and I don’t think wiping stuff out is the best way to get across the humour and interesting ideas that are in RD. It’s a bit of a puzzle, hence wondering if any indie games could serve as inspiration for a model of doing stuff.



    As an answer to the question no-one asked, a quick update on the game. Direction has changed somewhat and it’s now a point and click adventure in the mould of the old LucasArts games. Speech looks a bit funny due to the lower fps on the vid vs. the game, which runs at 60fps.

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