Venus Velociraptor: A Cartoon Adventure is a first-person metroidvania. Venus has crash-landed her UFO on an uncharted planet, and needs to repair her ship and escape!
I have a lot of impossible dreams and crazy ideas. Sometimes I think ‘nah, that won’t work’. Some make it as far as my little project planner in my diary. A rare few get worked on, and a tiny enclave of those get completed. Nevertheless, I’ve taken to writing these things down in the event that I might come back to them and add them to that tiny enclave.
One of these projects is Venus Velociraptor. I had the idea after releasing Soup: The Game earlier this year, which you can read about here. A lot of the design philosophies of Soup were inspired directly by Jazz Jackrabbit, one of my favourite (if deeply flawed) games; so after the release, my brain dutifully reported its findings back.
Those findings were, ‘maybe a Jazz Jackrabbit-style metroidvania would be fun?’
Anyway, that wasn’t the last bit of game development I’d do this year. I also made a little Doom map, for a project called RAMP. I intend to upload my map standalone after RAMP is ‘released’ – but if you wanted to play it now, you can download RAMP and give it a go. Mine is map 101.
The map, which was named BROOM for reasons I won’t get into now, was an impressive feat. For such a new project to join the vaunted enclave is an unusual occurrence for me. While making it, I thought back to all the so-called ‘boomer shooters’ (a name I disagree with, but can’t really think of a better one). They’re pretty good these days, and a bit more authentic than they used to be, but it’s always surprised me how – despite being modeled after shooters from the 90s – so few of them used game engines built for those sorts of games. If you’re gonna make a Doom clone, why not use the very helpful and very open-source Doom engine?
Something else that occurs to me about ‘boomer shooters’ is that they’re very often set around the same broad theme. Forces of Hell, or a similar demonic presence, have started Appearing for whatever reason, and for whatever reason you’re the only one who can run around at 300mph carrying seven guns on your back, so you’ve gotta go sort it out. It’s all very edgy, and it’s all very gory, and the gibs are ludicrous.
Which is fine – it’s what everyone expects when they go for these sorts of games. But can’t we do something a bit different? Can we have something colourful and fun instead? Maybe there’s room in the market for a new Chex Quest, or similarly low-violence adventure?
Well, maybe Venus Velociraptor would be a good fit for this.
Sticking with the Metroidvania thing – partly because I’m playing through Symphony of the Night at the moment and it’s bloody brilliant – but adding a third dimension, Venus would present a lighthearted and fun, but still challenging, 3D adventure. It’d primarily be a first-person shooter, but will incorporate elements of 3D platformers.
I also propose a few gameplay non-sequiturs, because I like nonsense. Nothing that’ll trip the player up, but will surprise them. Not sure what this will look like yet, other than the phrase ‘non-euclidean architecture’: surprisingly easy to do in GZDoom. Physics? Who needs ’em?
Venus: A space explorer and sort-of engineer, she’s managed to crash her ship on the planet Potpourri-13, and isn’t especially happy about it. Also, she’s a purple, feathery velociraptor. I’ve yet to figure out her motivations – why is she in such a hurry to leave? Does she even need a reason?
Scrapper: A brass robot to whom Venus can sell unwanted items, and who will help her repair equipment that she might find.
Trawler: I haven’t worked much out about this character yet. All I know is that they will allow Venus to partake in ‘trials’, which are very quick and challenging standalone FPS levels. (Trawler’s Trials, you see?)
Potpourri-13 is an eclectic mix of a planet. Venus can visit a variety of locations, each with their own environmental hazards. Some locations, she can’t visit until she finds a specific piece of equipment somewhere else – for example, to explore the bitterly low temperatures of Frosty Fjord, she might need something that can keep her warm.
The Central Cavern is her method of traversal from one area to the next, but if she finds enough scrap and components, she can repair things like elevators and a railway, which give her more opportunity to travel quickly. I think that an option for fast travel is important, as I find myself frequently getting lost in metroidvanias; so being able to quickly go between sections of the map would be beneficial. That said, I’d like for the player to be able to invest in it, and use it as much or as little as they want.
I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this idea, and if you think there’s any mileage to it. It’d be a pretty big project, and would require a lot of knowledge of the GZDoom engine to make these big, expansive areas work. But I reckon the end result would be a good little game!