My Life

Game Hauler Version 2 (Part 3 / ?)

Welcome to Part 3 in my new series describing my ÔÇťHaulerÔÇŁ prototype. Links to the web and PC version are at the bottom of this post. (And you can read Part 2 here, if you havenÔÇÖt).

Note: This is a repost (originally appeared on Gamasutra).

Prototype 2 (build#

The two main issues brought up in the previous version (aside from the obvious like art and sound) were both related to gameplay.

The first issue was that the tails were too long. This version doesn’t overly address this, but it does try to solve the second issue (which helps mitigate the first). The second issue? There was no gameplay.

Effectively all the player did was drive around and try to make the other player crash while a crude hit counter incremented.

This version adds some gameplay via:

  • Points. Players score points by collecting powerups. These powerups appear randomly on the screen.
  • Health. Players now have a health meter. They want to accrue points while minimizing the loss of health.
  • Game Over. Once one player takes enough damage for their health to reach zero the game restarts but with the point total kept. This way players can challenge one another to matches, with an overall score also accumulating.

The Point system evolved a bit between the previous build and this. I initially tracked only wins. At first the player who killed the other player got a ‘win’. This count persisted between matches so that players were effectively competing for win counts. Then I added the first phase of the scoring system and the player who had the most points at the end of a round got the win (regardless of who died first — though the player who survived did get a point bonus).
After this I realized I probably didn’t need the win count (at least not on the in-game interface) and removed it in favor of just showing the score.

Why Did I Add A Score System?

The moment a point system exists, the player has a motivation to actually do anything. A comment on my blog regarding the previous version of Hauler aptly noted that the best strategy was to stay still. Not playing gave the player the highest likelihood of surviving!
Clearly I did not want this game to focus on do-nothing gameplay. So a point system was a reasonable first step towards expanding gameplay.

Other Improvements

Start Menu

There is now a start menu. It doesn’t do much… all the buttons just bring the player into the game. But hey! It’s a start :)
This was added in preparation for later sprints. Both as an experiment with out-of-game menu code and to start me thinking about how the start menu should look. Over the next few builds it undergoes a fair bit of revision.

Active Ability

Some powerups do not give the player points but instead grant the player an ability (jump or speed). When the player collects these, they can then press the spacebar to consume the powerup and activate the ability.
I added this to encourage some variant gameplay (even though these two abilities are not overly impressive, nor do they help — activating them makes it harder for the player!) In a later version I intend to expand on this (though as of this writing — and being several versions ahead — I have yet to make this a priority for any sprint.)


Gameplay is still not strong. The powerup point system provides some measure of incentive to play, but it’s not fun enough. There’s nothing clever going on here, nor any reason for a person to play the game other than as a very brief and forgettable activity.

In the next sprint I add a new gameplay layer that will eventually become the driving force between the game (i.e., why I call it Hauler). That implementation is still flawed in many ways, which you’ll see when I post the next entry in the series, but I feel it is a marked improvement over this build.

Play It

Play on the web: Version
Download a PC version: [wpdm_file id=5]


If you play the prototype and have some thoughts regarding it, let me know via the comments and we can discuss them (or I can incorporate the discussion into a later post).

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

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