Project fluff brainstorm thing

The more I go back and listen to Spyro remixes (my go-to music to listen to these days when I don’t have anything in particular in mind) the more I realise that there are honestly few games that have the status of Spyro in my mind. There are games I think were awesomely made, games that had a good story/characters, games I thought had good gameplay… Spyro the Dragon could be cited for having interesting environments and overall good game design (and good music, if you like Stewart Copeland :p), but honestly, if you did a little digging you could probably hunt up any number of games that were better at that, even a couple from the same era. So what is it that makes me remember this game? Nostalgia? No, not exactly.

It’s a legend. It’s a modern fairytale.

I could never put my finger on exactly why at the time the next two games disappointed me in some vague way, even though I thought there was nothing wrong with them as games and the things that had been done in them to try to improve on the first game were more or less improvements. It was because the vibe of “legendness” had been lost.

Now of course, The LEGEND of Spyro was a thing that happened, at least getting it right that Spyro was supposed to be a goddamn LEGEND smack dab in the title. It wasn’t bad. It had a pretty all right story to tell for its setting being firmly mired in ever-so-dark-and-dramatic-high-fantasy-rehashland. But for all its surprising quality… from a story perspective, it was honestly kind of unnecessary.

I’ve thought kinda facetiously about how if I had like a million dollars what I might do is just go buy the rights to Spyro and put him in the public domain. Just encourage everyone to make new spyro games, make him a real world traveller, elevate him to the likes of robin hood
Honestly can you imagine if there was just this place that went and bought the rights to old video game series when it was clear they were going downhill and not going to improve any more and just released them into the public domain instead of some random company that doesn’t care buying them

The problem is that the system is not designed in order to give people rights if they just ask, it’s designed to give the appearance of fairness while masking inner industry machinations that can only be described as ugly, and even a massive video game liberation effort would probably not succeed at liberating anything because nobody has any fucking idea who the “rights” actually belong to.

In a cruel twist of irony, due to a system that is supposed to encourage the creation of original content, the only condoned way to pay tribute to your favourite works is to cram the world with another shameless rehash of existing works. Commentary and expansion masquerade as new and never-seen-before ideas while true innovation and uniqueness is seen as weird.

Thankfully, the goal of Project Fluff was never to be original.

Game design

The basic layout draws from the handheld Spyro games (the isometric 16-bit ones). Everything is rendered in a 2d tiled way, but possibly with like, a stretch transform used to create different perspectives for the landscape when it’s rotated. The tiles will be made in svg so scaling/transforming them probably won’t be too big a deal. Hmm dealing with collision-type stuff would become complicated quick with that though, maybe just allow the landscape to be rotated to look around but the character can’t move until you exit back to the normal angle.

A big problem with a 2d isometric platformer is that you can’t tell the depth of a platform. This has a very easy solution: just make the blocks for each terrain type slightly different colours depending on altitude so that when stacked the height of each platform is obvious. This kind of requires there not be too many different terrain types with different colour shifts for their altitude scales next to each other, or that colours shifts be chosen carefully so that for every terrain type it’s always intuitive which way is up.

There are a lot of different locales. Each one has some name like “Nebulus” or “Benthos” and a vague theme (here, clouds and ocean-bottom respectively). Locales connect to other locales; some locales have a hub-like function to them, with a number of connections.

Maps for each locale are random. Basically maps are made out of terrain blocks kind of randomly, but with certain rules for a given landscape type. Forest might be more of a flat open maze, mountain might have a lot of different platforms, “mountain snow” happens on mountain, “forest snow” happens on forest but there can’t be just one isolated snow patch, etc. The whole map may be slightly tinted in a colour scheme specific to the locale though that creates complications for the altitude-colour thing.

Maps will regenerate each time you visit a locale, but in case there was something on a map you might have missed/not have been able to do yet, maps can be saved to the save file and revisited later from some neat little place related to their given locale. Probably a place at the locale entrance or maybe in the locale listing place or both.

On any given map there may be a number of generic collectible things, and objects/obstacles/terrain quirks you can interact with. Different characters have different techniques/manoeuvres that do different things, and depending on what you have you may or may not be able to deal with the obstacle, though obstacles might be handlable by several characters. Possibly with better results for some than others!

There is not really any specific goal to the game. It’s just kind of supposed to be vaguely like an “endless spyro game”, where you get to wander, explore, navigate obstacles, and collect things basically forever. To add interest there are small objective/quest-type things you can choose to do and a lot of “secret” things you can discover by fiddling with characters’ techniques. Like for a basic example Valdhart is a carver and if you take her to fallen trees she could cut them up into usable logs and then have…. logs for things. Maybe build bridges between high platforms with them idk

I want to make the controls less tedious, for instance having the character automatically walk with the press of a button/run with a longer press. I sort of want a way for the randomly-generated game to randomly play itself—like a zero-player game—if you want to just watch what the characters do. I want actively playing the game by holding the buttons to walk/run, passively playing the game with the character doing a little bit but sometimes pressing buttons to guide them, and letting the character full-on do everything by themself with a mostly-random-but-sometimes-driven-by-a-very-basic-AI to be fluidly and seamlessly woven together, so you can play exactly as much of the game as you want to at any given moment.

Maps are modifiable, probably, with any number of things you can construct on them using the appropriate techniques. There might even be a higher-level lever editor where you can just put anything you want, though it warns you if you violate any of the rules real maps have to adhere to, like, “this character’s gliding distance is three squares, you can’t put this platform four squares away if it isn’t two altitudes lower”.

Story design

There are at least two “main” characters, Remėx and Noah. Noah is a slightly secret main character that has to be unlocked through his “storyline”. He’s a legendary hero (the joke is that all the characters are furries so… yeah).

Remėx has this goal to gather up all the characters, in order to merge with them all to become the great Simurgh. But there’s literally no pressure to do that, it’s not really even presented as the “main plot”. Noah is also trying to gather everyone up, to save them from disaster. Maybe he actually thinks Simurgh would be a disaster?? I don’t know, haha. But they can probably join forces so that their roster of recruits is combined.

Each character has a certain locale they come from, and starts out in that locale. There are two ways to select characters: through a global character menu, and through the main character’s character menu. On the global one, you can select any character, though they start out in their home locale, or wherever you last left them. On the main character’s character menu there are only the characters that particular character has recruited, though the character will swap with the main character at the spot they’re at now. If the main character is Remėx a “Syn-merge” or “X-Maera” (Cross-Maera) technique can be used to transform into a fusion character (Syn-merge creates a partial Simurgh with multiple characters, X-Maera creates a ‘remix’ character that’s simply Remėx + one other character).

Each character kinda has a teeny bit of story in the vein of Remėx’s “gather everyone up and become Simurgh” story but smaller-scoped of course. Some of them might have forms/costumes to become, find significance in locales you never knew what was up with, have dialogue when they meet other characters, comment on obstacles, etc… each character should play very differently from all the other characters and be full of interesting surprises you wouldn’t have expected from other ones, even though it’s a very template-based game.

Overall there needs to never be the feeling that you’re “finished” and now there is nothing more you could possibly do—not with a character, not with a locale, not with anything. I mean, naturally you can only make so much content, but I want to at least make your reaction “that was cool, now maybe I’ll go pick a different character” instead of “what, that’s all?” (my thoughts after finishing Spyro the Dragon). I want there to be the feeling that unless you’ve been on a really hardcore secret-finding spree and found ALL the secrets (I’d probably have my personal list of implemented secrets neatly tucked into my git repo or somewhere so you could go investigate every item on it if you wanted to), you could pretty much always come back if you weren’t totally bored of the game yet.

I want there to be this constant mysterious vibe to everything, where you really want to know what’s up with the locales and characters because it’s hinted they’ve got a story, and you can basically investigate whatever you want but you’ll only find out so much and there is always so much more you don’t even know to ask about.