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What is a prototype? The smallest atom of Probability 0

Started by droqen, January 28, 2022, 01:52:52 AM

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When I think back to Probability 0, I think of the entire game. It has three game-modes, fifteen enemies organized into three tiers (easy, hard, and secret enemies which only appear after 1000km or something), stars, punches, hitboxes, a skill tree (pictured below), four or five boss-type enemies, a menu, and more.

Probability 0's skill tree


I've wanted to port or remake Probability 0 for a while, but the task seemed daunting, impossible. How could any one person make so many individual elements? I have some recent experience with developing a game one tiny piece at a time:

31 unmarked games was made in 31 pieces across 31 days, a month-long 31-game jam of sorts. In that project, though, the lines of development are extremely clear, perhaps even uninspiringly so. It doesn't feel like an impossible artifact with all its layers stored inside and beneath each other -- 31 unmarked games feels like thirty-one separate things, glued together. This is by design.

one of the 31 unmarked games


I started to build a little minimal Probability 0 clone in Godot, and though I always describe Probability 0 as a game about navigating and not taking fall damage -- I will insist to anyone that the fall damage is central, essential, crucial to its design -- still it's taken me this much time to realize what that really means.

Probability 0 started as this prototype which you can see recreated below in Godot: it is a platformer with a floaty jump, a down-scrolling camera that applies pressure, an utterly random field of tiles either solid or not. Nothing more.

Probability 0 minimal prototype


This is a thing I could play forever. I'm not sure what to call one of these "somethings I could play forever", but the word prototype comes to mind. Dungeon Bounce is another one of these things: an infinite, eternal playable. It stands on its own and I'm loathe to call it a prototype as in not-a-whole-game but it's true that it's not a whole game.

It's more.


A prototype, a playable, a sim... whatever you call it, it's a compelling little seed from which a million games might flourish. This is what I mean when I say it's more. It's not a game; it's the birthplace of an infinite number of them.


P.S. I realized this while watching a little video about alchemy in Noita, basically a super subtle subsystem that seems almost irrelevant to playing the actual game: certain liquids interact to turn into other liquids. It looks exactly like 'powder game' did way back in the day, that ancient simulated-pixels toy. It made me realize that even though in the final game it seems very unimportant, you can still see the tracks of the design inspiration. Noita wasn't made in a day... it was a powder game clone that slowly grew in natural ways, day after day, month after month, until arriving at where it is now. It evolved.