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Turtle War Intro
Turtle War Prairie
Turtle War Port
Turtle War Map

Turtle War

Game Design Project for Uni

One of our first year game design units at uni didn't presume programming experience and was more focused on design concepts, so our work was done in Kodu (software by Microsoft intended for use in schools). After demonstrating our knowledge of design by making small Kodu games throughout the year our final project was to make a full game, with more marks being available the more complex we made our game.

My tutor encouraged me to go all out with this assignment so I just went wild trying to make the most extravagant game possible that pushed Kodu to its limits. The result was Turtle War, an open world RPG with permadeath and randomly generated characters assigned to you on each death.

Let me tell you - Kodu was not meant for this at all. I had to make use of so many clever exploits I discovered by tweaking and re-purposing just about all of its features. For example, Kodu has strict memory limits enforced which I exhausted after designing a single segment of my world. To get around this I shrunk everything down to the smallest size possible; you can't tell while playing because the camera zooms in as far as it can.

I went totally overboard adding enemies, quests, biomes... just about anything I could to the game. I admit, I was showing off a bit by the end. Kodu was screaming for help.

Key take-aways:

  • I did a lot with a little, and worked out how to implement a lot of complex systems within a simple tool

  • Delved into open world design, with varied locations designed around a specific theme

  • The variety continues into the quest design - there's many different quest types (e.g. escort quests and boss fights) and there are meaningful rewards for completing them (e.g. unlocking NPCs who can heal or upgrade your character)

  • Each world zone has its own story. All the story and dialogue was written by me. I incorporated my sense of humour into the writing (just look at the map, with locations like Port Wine and Electro City). I even managed to work some twists in despite the simplicity of the plot, for instance in the starting area you complete a series of fetch quests which are designed to eventually annoy the player, ahead of the reveal that the items were being gathered to make a tribute to those slain in the war. And in Electro City you find the city eerily empty and discover that the reason for that is because the AI you're doing quests for has taken over the city - defeating it at the end of that storyline frees everybody.

  • The game has different endings depending on which story quests you complete

  • I developed an awareness of the influence the permadeath and roguelike systems would need to have on the game structure e.g. implemented repeatable quests to ensure there's always XP to earn, and ways to reroll and upgrade your character

Click the button below to download the design documentation I made for Turtle War as well as the Kodu file for the game itself. It requires Kodu to play and the program has been updated many times in the years since so I'm not sure if it's still compatible or not.

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