No self respecting course on Game Programming would be able to flex it's advertisal might without a module encompassing group work and all the wonderful, interesting dynamics that go with it. And Hull is no exception. Enter Pandemic, a project devised by the module lecturer and given to the class who were split into two groups. We were given some leeway with what was going on, but the basic story is that you have bacteria in a petri-dish that you have to find a vaccine for by solving puzzles alá mini-game deliverance.
Contrary to all sort of laboratory logic, the bacteria that you're working on are actually live and in the process of splitting and mutating, so there's pressure on the player to solve the puzzles as quick as he can, because, again contrary to all sort of laboratory logic, the petri dish that you've currently used won't be able to stand the pressure if the dish fills with bacteria, and thus it'll probably crack and kill everyone or something. But then games don't have to make sense, that's why they're games.
This particular one had to encompass the following:
- Bacteria had to split, mutate, and collide with each other and the petri-dish
- There had to be three puzzles - the first one had to be a number guessing game. We were generously given free reign with the other two
- The user can zoom in/out to any level that's reasonable
- The game should track what bacteria the user has completed etc. Uncompleted bacteria could return in later levels or mutate
- The game should be able to support multiple bacteria in the dish at once. These bacteria can also combine and form new bacteria
- Bacteria should be procedurally generated, as in no pre-rendered models
- The game should incorporate networking, such as saving high scores, and downloading bacteria from the net etc.
- Users should be able to make their own bacteria which they could play against, or upload for others to play
- A shooting mode to be implemented, where the user could use a laser to destroy bacteria and give themselves more time
- After the initial hand-in, there would be a port to the GameCube
The Finished Version
It was quite a big ask, especially considering the other projects we had on at the time (the multiplayer football simulation, the AI Pacman controller, and the underwater scene). For this particular project I was in charge of the networking side and all that that entailed. I'd love to regale you with tales of the experience, but I won't, for the same reason why there's no images or movies under this project heading. I've already worked up a companion website, where you can read about the project, the developers, and download the source code and reports etc. You can head over to the Pandemic accompanying website and get all your hearts desires there. If your heart desires to read about this project that is.