A prototype screenshot

A prototype screenshot

Introduction to Project Pain

So our first game is an idea that I've had for a long time. It was going to be a game about a new virus that has taken a hold of a city and you play a newly hired head doctor that has to deal with this new outbreak that only seems to get stronger and smarter as the days go by.

So this idea is a hybrid of:

  • A Real Time Strategy in the form that you're making real time decisions on ordering your followers where they should be and what they should be doing.
  • Puzzle Game in the fact that you're removing blocks and there is an element of strategy to it to where and when.
  • A Tower Defense like element of pressure from a stream of objectives to overcome.

Tons of screen activity

Let's go through what this game will consist of so far.

Main Board

There are a lot of things going on in that screenshot. In the middle of the screen you have the game board that represents the viruses that are currently in the patient you're looking at.  To remove a virus the player just clicks on it, and all adjacent virii that share the same color are also removed. All of the removed gaps are collasped by the blocks above it and new blocks are randomly generated to fill in any spaces on the board.


To the right of the game board, you'll see a patient status screen. There is a number next to a block. This number represents the stocks - I need a better word for that - of that virus type that has to be eliminated before the patient is cured. When the player removes a chain of 8 or more blocks next to each other the corisponding stock for that color goes down by 1. A paitent with zero stocks is considered "cured".

A picture of the main board

A picture of the main board

Super Viruses

You'll see some uniquely shaped/colored blocks. Those represent the super viruses. These require special techniques to get rid of. (Of course we can't have things be straight forward to the player now can we?)

The gray one is called a SINKER. The player cannot directly remove it by clicking on it (yet). What the player has to do is let that sinker block reach the bottom of the screen, and it will roll off on it's own. The more sinkers that are on the screen the less space the player has to set up chains to clear stocks.

The triangle is called the STEALER. If you happen to chain enough viruses together (currently at 8 or more) to be able to clear a stock and a STEALER is apart of it you will not get credit for clearing a stock. The blocks adjacent to the STEALER (and the virus itself) will just vanish. So the player has to be careful where they remove blocks to build their chain because one stealer can throw all of that work away.

I have 5 other types of super viruses planned out (not implemented yet) and the maximum that any patient could be infected a type of them is 3.

Patient Health

Above the main screen is the Patients Health. Over time the health bar drains. Of course when this reaches zero, the patient is dead. The patient gains a little bit of health whenever you remove a stock of viruses, the rate at which that bar drains is setup so that the patient WILL die in 3 minutes. So while players can delay the inevitable they will need to clear stocks in a reasonable amount of time to cure the patient.

Patients do get a little bit of their health back the longer the chain of blocks that the player eliminates.

Patient Crash

To the left of the block board is a vertical blue bar. This represents a CRASH METER. This meter takes 20 seconds to deplete. In that time, the player must have cleared a chain of at least 8 or more blocks or the patient CRASHES and immediately looses 20% of their health. Each consecutive crash adds on an additional 15% health loss.

Patient Stream

The very top of the screenshot is the PATIENT STREAM. This is where the game is similiar to a tower defense game. Up here it will show how many patients are coming in, and what kinds of viruses they have.

Shows the library, patient beds and waiting room

Hospital Rooms and Nurses

To the lower right of the screen shot represents what is currently happening in the hospital. The player has control over 3 other unique nurses/doctors with their own special abilities. The other doctors are controlled by AI, but the player can tell them which room to be in. Doctors that aren't assigned to a room reside in the library where they will do research special abilities to the player.

As you can see there are 4 rooms, with a doctor and patient in each one. The player can switch to another room by either clicking on the room's panel or by pressing the 1,2,3,4 keys on their keyboard.

Each AI doctor will have their AI tuned to be able to handle certain types of super viruses better than others. One may be adapt at taking care of SINKERS, but is terrible at dealing with STEALERS. It will be up to the player to determine which doctor to assign to a patient for the best results.

Below the hospital rooms is the waiting room area. This is where all of the extra patients stay when there is no open bed available. Patients that are here spread their super viruses around, and their stocks slow increase over time. So when you finally do serve these people they will be much harder to take care of.

Will it all work?

There are a lot of elements in this game that I'm not sure if they're going to work well or not. Hence the reason for this very crude looking prototype to test gameplay elements to see if they are actually FUN or not.

I do know that all of these ideas won't work.

I've had musings of eliminating the library researching aspect, even the multiple doctors aspect. Yet, I worry that by removing to many things wouldn't make the game unique. I guess we will see, and we shall continue to keep you people aware of what is happening in development.

About the Author

Jelani Harris is a man that enjoys playing games almost as much as he does making them. When he's not eliminating his digital opponents he spends his spare time writing short stories, creating websites, watching dirty old-school kung-fu movies, and working on his time machine.

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