Production Notes: Phage Wars 2
I just launched my latest game called Phage Wars 2, the sequel to Phage Wars. The game consists of genetically modifying a virus and competing against other viruses for total domination. The game is centered around fast paced strategy where you must take over as many cells as possible to eradicate all foreign life forms.
If you are unfamiliar with the original Phage Wars, here is a little bit of back story. When I was in college, I had to do a senior project before I graduated. After a doing a fair amount of research on what style game I wanted I came across this game called Galcon for the iPhone (also on the Mac). I loved the gameplay and found that I wanted to make something similar in Flash. I had previously built an AI engine from another project in college so I was already halfway there. The cellular life forms idea came from my professor wanting to see a game centered on microscopic life. Needless to say I got an “A” on the project and ended up collaborating with Armor as a sponsor for the game.
Phage Wars 1 was a huge technical challenge for me, as I really wanted to pit hundreds of viruses against each other. I ended up optimizing the game so much that I could get 500 viruses on screen and still have it run within a decent frame rate. I also found that the power of Flash 10 helped a little bit as well, which is why the original had such a large disclaimer for requiring Flash 10.
When I was tasked with Phage Wars 2, I wanted to do something different with the UI as well. Phage Wars 1 had hardly any UI, so I figured the sequel should have a lot. I also didn’t want to do the typical game menus that you see in every game either. Instead I wanted to create a testing environment where you run an experiment and see a bunch of data afterwards, kind of like a science lab. Going with that theme, I always remembered looking at the equipment scientists use and how old most of their computers were archaic and built on legacy software. I tried to replicate that as much as possible, harking back to the old Mac OS 6 and 7 for reference. I was lucky enough to collaborate with John on the UI, so that really helped a lot.
I also wanted to create new elements of gameplay that I wanted in the original, but never implemented. These are the new cell types and the Genome Sequencer. The sequencer came about from hearing Carlie talk about her biology classes and how the Genome is usually represented as a chart. This ended up being the perfect way to upgrade your virus over the course of the game. Using Gene Proteins to upgrade your virus, rather than the typical point based system.
Phage Wars 2 plays out more like a science experiment, than a typical game. I’ve added enough geeky things in it that I hope play to some internal geek in us all.