{Downieville} Devlog #3: Brainstorming & The Slingshot

Posted by Mush on Aug. 1, 2013, 12:10 p.m.

Gameplay Overview

The game is a Story driven, two dimensional, sidescrolling platformer with stealth, puzzle, investigative, and infiltrative elements.

Think Paper Mario, minus the turned-based combat. Like Paper Mario, the game features clever little puzzles that involves things like flipping switches, extinguishing lanterns, and distracting/incapacitating enemies.

…the last of which ties in to the stealth aspect of the game. You guys may remember that stealth game I blogged about here. Here's a little excerpt:


The game is a stealth-based side-scrolling platformer that requires strategy, combat, and simple puzzle solving in order to progress through the game's various levels.

Environmental factors such as light, sound, and smell affects the player's level of 'stealthiness'. For example, if the player stands near a lamp, steps on broken glass, or smokes a cigarette to increase his health, the player will become more detectable to the enemies around him. Thus, strategy and puzzle solving comes into play when the player must decide the best way to avoid being detected. In some situations, flipping a light-switch may be the best way to get passed a guard, but in another situation, killing the guard will be safer.

The game will include equipable items to help the player with different obstacles. A gun will help with shooting out lights and killing enemies, a flashlight will improve visibility and illuminate traps, a knife will allow the player to cut interactive ropes and wires, and etc.

I'm planning on keeping many of the elements from that game idea.

I am in a sort of brainstorming phase in designing the game, which is why I am posting here: to get feedback from all the talented people here!


Static Rooms or Scrolling Rooms?

My idea is to have both! (I know, a cop out). Static rooms (where the entrance is on the left and the exit is on the right of the view port) will help "contain" puzzles, making it clear what needs to be done, without worrying about enemies or traps beyond you view. Static rooms, I imagine, will also simply the stealth part of game for the same reasons. Scrolling rooms, however, add challenge, suspense, and higher levels of complexity to puzzles and stealth. I think the "you don't know what lies ahead" device is powerful in interactive media. My favorite part of playing video games and watching movies/tv is the "Holy fuck" moment when something completely unexpected happens.


I'm trying to decide on a control scheme, especially for the slingshot mechanic (see below). Right now, I'm thinking about having an equip button that puts you in "slingshot mode." Character movement will be inhibited, and the arrow keys will be used to adjust the angle and velocity of your shot. Another button will be used to shoot the slingshot. I imagine that this will be awkward to manage. I do not want to involve the mouse, as I'm planning to support other platforms.

Sneaking will require good timing (timing cues displayed on screen?) where the player will have to press two different buttons (repetitively & consecutively) with good timing in order to execute the sneak. If timing is off, you fall and make loud noise.

Platform Depth?

Most stealth games are either 3D or top-down for the same reason I want to add "depth" to the game's platforms. To simplify things, I'm thinking about limiting the player to 3 levels of depth: front, middle, and back of the platforms. This will add more strategic possibilities. For example, the player could hide in a closet that is against the back wall of the room and wait for the guard to pass, or sneak past a sleeping dog that is on the back level, while you're on the front level. To switch from level to level, I'm thinking the up and down arrows would work best, while having a designated jump button. To make sure it is clear which level the player is on, I'm thinking about putting movement along the "z-axis" on a grid.

Game Chapters?

Right now, I have 5 "chapters" or settings in my head. The game is centered around ousting the Mayor for trying to blow up the town, and it is the Hero's mission to find evidence against him.

The first chapter is at the town. This is when the player will get a feel for the Mayor and all of the townsfolk. At the beginning of the game, the Mayor seems very charming and everyone in the town is completely enamored with him. However, in this chapter you notice minor incongruities in his character (things like littering, or kicking puppies). This chapter may involve the classic "follow this person, but not too close" missions which will introduce the player to stealth. At the end of this chapter your discover (by hearing it from the Mayor himself) his plans to wipe the town out and to make it look like a natural landslide. The town is sitting on precious gold deposits that he wants to mine. This chapter seamlessly leads into the next :

The Mayor's Mansion will focus on infiltrative gameplay. Not going to spoil much here.

Other chapters include: Mountaintop explosive testing site, Mine shafts, train depot. I had an idea to have chapter set in San Francisco, but I decided that would be too ambitious.

The Slingshot

The slingshot has many uses in the game, and is an important part of the gameplay.


The simplest use for the slingshot is to shoot projectiles at enemies to stun/damage/kill them.

Example Projectiles: pebble, exlplosive, smoke device, flashing device, knives.


The slingshot can also be used to interact with different objects in the game. You can hit switches, extinguish lanterns, ignite ropes.

Example Projectiles: pebble, flaming object, water-filled object.


Lure enemies and other objects to you to get in better position to incapacitate, pickpocket, or other modes of interaction.

Example Projectiles: gold nugget, food.


Repel things to avoid being discovered or damaged.

Example Projectiles: gold nugget, stinky things, rabbid animals.

Example Scenarios

One scenario would be to use the slingshot with a sardine projectile to get your cat companion (yes it's true) to jump to a high ledge and trigger a swtich.

A more complex scenario: Let's say there is a guard dog blocking your way to the end of the room. There is also a mouse beyond the dog that is popping his head out of his little mouse hole. In the previous room, the player picked up a morsel of cheese, and figures that if he shoots the cheese near the hole, the mouse will be lured out, and your cat will chase the mouse. This in turn will cause the dog to chase/be distracted by your cat, and allow you to reach the end. The cat will escape the dog and rejoin you.

I don't want to spoil the other puzzle ideas I have :)


Rez 10 years, 10 months ago

This sounds like deus ex huckleberry finn. :o

I'm thinking about limiting the player to 3 levels of depth: front, middle, and back of the platforms. This will add more strategic possibilities. For example, the player could hide in a closet that is against the back wall of the room and wait for the guard to pass, or sneak past a sleeping dog that is on the back level, while you're on the front level.

I was totally thinking about doing something like this for a horror game. I really hope you do this, it adds a lot of depth like you said. You should work in some platforming for the stealth too, like maybe you can jump into piles of leaves in certain planes to avoid detection. Not sure how comedic you're going, but I do love me some whacky hiding places in stealth games.

The slingshot has many uses in the game, and is an important part of the gameplay. [etc.]

I adore the idea of having a slingshot as a multipurpose tool, it's whimsical without losing the gamey bits of projectiles.

This entire project sounds wonderful, keep up the excellent design. Oh, and good luck finding a programmer/programming it yourself. This idea sounds worth the effort. :)

aeron 10 years, 10 months ago

This sounds like deus ex huckleberry finn. :o
I'm hoping for this :P

The platforming depth idea is really cool. I was gonna compare it to Wario Land on Virtual Boy, or Mutant Mudds on the 3DS, but I realized you're talking about having one scene with depth, not 3 scenes at different depths. I think it's a good idea, though I'm curious. Any reason for having 3 discrete positions as opposed to fluid vertical movement on a limited plane? I can see how having discrete depths would make it easier to design certain things, but the perspective would probably let you get away with fluid depth if you wanted.

I agree with Rez, the sligshot sounds awesome especially seeing all it's potential uses. I can't wait to see what kind of puzzles come out of this game.