Lava Sword Dev Diary

by Matt Hackett, 2012 Feb 24
Lava Sword environment #2

So I’m working on a new game tentatively titled Lava Sword. The goals of the game are pretty specific: we want an arcade-style action game optimized for mobile browsers. I’ve been thinking about Jeff Vogel’s recent blog about how indie game devs should be looking at some of their favorite games for inspiration, so I decided to revisit some of mine.


A few of my favorite arcade-style games when growing up include Golden Axe, Altered Beast and Magic Sword. (As one of the few gamers into Turbo Duo back in the day, there’s also some Legendary Axe influence, but that’s pretty obscure!) These are mostly story-based fighting games with tight controls and complex battles. That’s really not good for mobile!

Is there another approach I could take? Essentially I want to capture the spirit of these games on a mobile device. Beyond the advanced controller input, I thought about what else makes these games what they are. Big sprites is one. Vibrant, open, scrolling environments is another. Really, the simplest version of these games would consist of just moving around the environment and attacking. Hell, mobile can do that. So I got to work.


First pass: rectangles!

That’s’s the first screenshot, taken as early as there was anything to to take a screenshot of. As you can see, the game starts very simple. On a plain green background, I represent the player with a blue rectangle and monsters with red rectangles. Gold and other treasures are represented by yellow rectangles. This is the prototyping stage of game development where your game should begin to be fun. If you can’t find something entertaining at this stage, you shouldn’t move on to the next stage. You should focus on making it fun.


After finding the fun, I started working on some basic graphics. Nothing too complicated like animations and stuff; I’m not ready for that yet. For the time being, I mostly wanted to see about getting parralax scrolling into the mix, because if I run into some brick wall along the way, the game’s basically a no-go. (…though mostly I just love parralax scrolling and couldn’t resist.) I also wanted to make sure I wouldn’t hit an inspirational brick wall, and graphics really help with that.

Lava Sword environment #1

It would be cool if eventually there were many environments, but this is adequate for now. And that’s all I’ve got so far! So what’s next for Lava Sword? Let’s take a look at the ol’ TODO list:

Lots more graphics are in the works too! None of them has been “final” so far (especially the warrior, he needs a new approach). Here’s where I’m currently at:

More Lava Sword graphics coming

More to come

If you find this kind of stuff interesting, you should subscribe to our blog and/or follow us on Twitter, because I’ll be posting another Lava Sword dev diary again soon (maybe with video). Thanks for reading!

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