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About Otto's Odyssey - Gameplay, Part II

Posted on Friday, September 7, 2012 | 10 Comments

I turned 27 on Wednesday!  Overall, it was a pretty decent birthday.  I had been expecting a new power supply in the mail and it arrived that day, but after an hour or two of disassembling my computer I found out that it didn't fit.  According to the description and reviews, it was supposed to.  Some people even claimed to have no problems fitting it in the exact same computer model as mine!  Clearly, whoever wrote those reviews were lying through their teeth.  I don't even think my case can be modified to make the PSU fit because the motherboard is in the way.  I'm currently looking at another PSU that I know for sure will fit based off the physical dimensions listed on the description, but it's just disappointing to have to wait for another PSU to be shipped because I have a new video card sitting here waiting to be plugged into my computer!  Well anyway, I figured today I will talk some more about my gameplay ideas for Otto's Odyssey.

One of the things I was asked to do during my capstone project for college was to make a "wish list" of things I would want to put in my game if I had all the time in the world to work on it.  This isn't a complete list, but it's still pretty comprehensive for one semester's worth of work.  I actually have all this written down in a Word document, so I'm just going to copy and paste it here.

Otto’s Odyssey Gameplay Wish List

This wish list is a compilation of all the game mechanics, player functionalities, weapons, powerups, and other miscellaneous gameplay elements that I would put in this game if I had all the time in the world to work on it.

Description of Gameplay at Most Basic Level
This game is an action-adventure side-scroller, meaning the camera is at a side-view angle and the player moves the on-screen character left or right.  Your goal is to venture deep into the underground tunnels of Terrenes and discover what has happened to the populace.  On your travels, you will encounter monsters, doors, secret passages, moveable and destructible objects, puzzles, ladders and ropes, weapons, powerups, fluffmoles, and more.  Monsters will attack you, but you can also attack them.  Some areas of the game can only be accessed after acquiring certain items.  This will be used mostly to control the player’s progress in the game, but also to block off secret areas.

Before acquiring any powerups or weapons, your basic functionality is limited to the following: walk left or right, jump in place, jump left or right, run left or right, run and jump, crouch in place, sneak left or right while crouched (makes no noise), aim gun up, aim gun at both top 45s, aim gun downward while in midair, aim gun at both bottom 45s while in midair, climb (up ladders or ropes), move blocks (just walk into them... some blocks can only be moved after obtaining certain powerups), and fire your gun in any of the directions you can aim it.

Further functionality is acquired by obtaining weapons and powerups hidden throughout the game world.

Possibilities for Weapons and Powerups
Force Field – generates a powerful force field that softens attacks and can deflect projectiles.  It only lasts for a second or so and has a short cooldown (5 sec?).  If timed right, you can deflect projectiles back at enemies to damage them.  *Programming note* -- check the location of the projectile in relationship to Otto at the time the force field is activated to determine whether or not the deflection should activate (only a small range of values should count).

Proximity Mine – this give Otto the ability to plant a proximity mine in the ground.  Proximity mines take a couple seconds to arm and then will detonate when anything gets near them, including Otto.

Flame Thrower – Otto can shoot a jet of flames with this weapon.  Flames can burn wood and debris to clear passages.  Certain enemies are immune to this weapon (robots) while others can only be damaged by it (ice monsters).

Rail Gun – the rail gun fires a metal slug in a straight line and can pass through multiple enemies and destructible objects.  It has about a 3-second cooldown, but its destructive power is well worth it.

Time Ray – the time ray works a lot like the ice beam in Metroid.  An enemy struck by the time ray will freeze in place for a certain period of time.  If a frozen enemy is hit again by the time ray, it will reset the cooldown for the enemy to be able to move again.  Frozen enemies can be damaged normally and can not damage the player.  This means that they may be used as platforms while they are frozen.

Armor Upgrade – this is a generic armor upgrade and there may be multiple armor upgrades.  It changes the appearance of Otto and reduces damage taken by a certain percentage.  I find that one of the most attractive things in a game is the loot, especially loot that makes your player look different.

Underwater Upgrade – this powerup allows you to move freely while submerged in water.

It may seem odd to have a section on doors, but since it needs to be addressed somewhere, I decided this would be a good spot.  Most doors can be opened by shooting them, just like in Metroid.  I prefer this over proximity-based doors, which can be a nuisance because sometimes a monster may knock you back into the previous room.  Some rooms may have proximity-based doors in them, but those doors will not lead to separate rooms (each time you enter a room, it is reset).  Some doors will need to be opened with certain weapons.  Some doors will have levers, locks, or switches that unlock them.  In these cases, only Otto’s companion fluffmole can reach the unlocking mechanism.  Some doors, most notably boss room doors, will remain locked until you kill all the enemies in the room.  Finally, some doors may be impossible to open, thus requiring another way around.

Ladders and Ropes
Since this is another odd little section, I thought I’d put it with Doors.  Ladders and ropes allow the player to move up and down.  They can look like many different things, including electrical cords.  Some might even be broken or half-gone.

Moveable and Destructible Objects
Many objects throughout the game obstruct pathways and impede the player’s progress through the depths of Terrenes.  Fortunately, there is always a way around.  Some of these objects can be moved while others can be completely destroyed – others still can be both moved and destroyed.  Small boulders, for example, can be rolled and stood upon, but will be destroyed if you shoot them.  Bigger boulders might be able to be moved, but not destroyed when shot.  Other destructible objects can be container objects that will spawn another item after being destroyed. 
Many moveable objects are part of puzzles you need to solve in order to advance to the next area.  If you move an object into a spot which it cannot be moved out of, you must leave the room and re-enter in order to reset it.  Some moveable objects move forward one block at a time.  Others continue to move until colliding with something.  Puzzles will include both moveable and destructible objects, as well as enemies.

Secret Passages
There are many areas in the game that require the player to search for them.  These hidden areas are not all easy to find.  Sometimes Otto will have to destroy ordinary blocks in order to find a secret area.  Other times, Otto can simply walk behind part of a wall to reach a hidden spot.  Some secrets will have hints, such as a differently colored block or a crack in the wall, while others will be completely indistinguishable from the rest of the room.  Some super secrets will require the player to do many difficult tasks before being granted access.  Some secrets can only be accessed by Otto’s companion fluffmole.

The fluffmoles are small creatures Otto discovered on a neighboring planet in the Terrenes solar system.  These creatures are friendly and will assist those that treat it kindly.  The main function of the fluffmole is to travel to places that Otto cannot.  Once a fluffmole is spotted, Otto can convince it to assist him (treats work well).  If convincing the fluffmole succeeds, then the player can now switch focus between Otto and the fluffmole.  While focused on the fluffmole, Otto will not move from his position.  Otto can still take damage, however, so make sure to clear the area of monsters before switching focus to the fluffmole.  The fluffmole can squeeze into tight spaces and also burrow into dirt.  If the fluffmole succeeds in finding a secret passage or area, it will usually be a mini-challenge in which the user must navigate the fluffmole through the maze without getting hit by enemies.  If hit, focus will revert back to Otto and the fluffmole will reset.  Fluffmoles are necessary in order to pull levers, press switches, or deactivate force fields that are inaccessible to Otto.

Monsters are defined as any creature.  When Otto enters a room, the room’s init function is called.  This function initializes all the objects that are in that room, including monsters.  The objects have a preset location and state, if applicable.  All monsters, except bosses and mini-bosses, will reset when Otto leaves a room.  Monsters have a predefined behavior that may or may not include reacting to the player.  The only thing monsters do is perform their predefined behavior until they are destroyed, the game ends, or the player enters another room (which technically results in the monster being destroyed).  The following is a list of possible monsters to be included in the game:

Reaper Fly – the reaper fly is a frightening creature that can be found hanging on ceilings.  It reacts to Otto on a proximity basis.  Once Otto is in range, the reaper fly will swoop from the ceiling towards Otto and then back up to the ceiling on Otto’s opposite side.  At its lowest point during attack, it should be directly in line with Otto’s bullet trajectory.  The creature can also be jumped over if timed correctly.

Plant Spook – the plant spook is an annoying creature.  On the top of its head is a flower and when it’s burrowed under the ground that’s all you can see.  Once you get close enough, it will strike.

Barf Sponge – this underwater creature is mostly harmless.  It is a stationary sponge-like creature that spews out projectiles occasionally.  These projectiles are easily avoided but will damage any creature it comes into contact with.

Threeface – the Threeface is a not-so-friendly-looking friendly creature.  The main face is meant to look intimidating in order to ward off predators.  Its purpose in the game is to provide a platform for certain puzzles, although that is not apparent to Otto at first.

Combat and the Battle System
The battle system of this game is pretty basic – just shoot stuff!  Since it’s an action-adventure game, most of it is reactionary.  There is very little strategy and almost no planning.  The way combat takes place is also simple.  Once you see a creature, you may attack it and it may attack you.  If you hit a creature with a projectile, it will take damage.  If you are hit by a creature or a projectile, you will be knocked back slightly, take damage, and be invulnerable for a second or so.  Monsters do not suffer this knockback but also do not become invulnerable.  Monsters will die once they have zero hit points or less.  The same is true for Otto.  Avoiding damage is the key to staying alive!  The true challenge of battling a monster is exploiting its AI so that it dies without damaging you.

Well, there you have it!  I hope you all find this interesting.  Next time I'm going to talk about the storyline behind the game.  Please feel free to comment, as always, especially if you want to talk about some of the gameplay ideas I've listed here!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Happy Birthday! I'm looking forward to more updates on your site

  2. Happy birthday! And good luck with your computer case problems, I know how that feels man, stupid incompatibilites

    1. Thank you! At least I know for sure the new PSU I'm looking at will definitely fit. I just have to wait a couple weeks before I have the money to order it!

  3. I do hope you get the time to make this game a reality. So far, it sounds really fun. Threeface sounds disturbing, and I can't wait to see that.

    1. Me too. It will happen in time, I just need to find a steady income so I can pay the bills. Thanks for your input!

  4. I'm ready to see this game! Sounds awesome

  5. Game sounds awesome looking forward to trying it out! Hopefully you get the income you need in order to be able to make it a reality!

    1. Thanks, I'm glad you like sounds of it. One day it will become a reality, I promise you that!


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