Strange turns along the paths of #gamedev : Bunnies!

I recently read a series of opinionated posts on the Approaching Infinity forums about a topic I never expected: BUNNIES!

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Wait, what?! Approaching Infinity is a strategic space adventure with classical roguelike gameplay, so what’s with the bunnies? Here’s how it happened:

Someone who played the game made a comment that they would like some peaceful missions, or some non-hostile creatures. This idea sat in my head for a while, until one day I discovered a bunny sprite. There it was: the perfect non-hostile monster. And I love bunnies…

Then at some point probably a month later, my daughter was playing the game, and she said “Daddy, how do I pet the bunnies?”. Of course I said, “Honey, you can’t pet them, they’re just there.” …pause while thinking… “But, if you give me 20 minutes, I can make it so that you can!”. And I did. I even gave them a cute little ‘squeak’ sound when you do. There’s actually quite a lot of handling dedicated to this one type of creature.

Then comes the icing on the bunny cake. Probably another month passed. I think it started from a twitter conversation, but the idea hit me: petting bunnies should heal you! I knew how silly this was, and I knew I would have to balance it, but I also knew I couldn’t ignore the idea once i had it. So it only heals you a little, and only on easy or normal difficulty.

On the flip side, and as a caveat to the hardcore players, if you play on hard or insane difficulty, the bunnies are hostile and breathe fire.

Just while typing this I had yet another idea about bunnies: breeding. Players of roguelike games already know of an enemy type called “breeders”. These are things like rats and worm masses that produce copies of themselves…breed. And A.I. has its share of breeder enemies: eyeballs and gnashers are probably the worst.

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But my new idea was that bunnies would ‘breed’ if two got next to each other. Obviously, this fits with nature. But it would require even more bunny-specific code. Perhaps I should stop. A.I. is at heart intended to be a ‘serious’ game. It has its humor and quirks, but I don’t want it to descend into iridiculosity…like that…

All this is meant to illustrate a point: this game, while created by one person, has influence from many sources, and that makes it a much richer experience. It also points out to me that what the game designers intend is not always how the players interpret…

Approaching Infinity is scheduled for release December 15th, 2014 , and is currently $5 off. The physical version comes complete with a detailed 60-page manual in the classical style of early 80’s games like Ultima 3 and Star Fleet 1. Free demos for both PC & Mac are available.

And if you’d like to join the discussion about bunnies, it is here.

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