Pocket Pet Rogue - Part 0 - Planning

by Bastet on May 05, 2022

I asked what you want, got answers from you and now ye shall receive. You wanted some gamedev and i have this idea of a virtual pet RPG mix-up on mind for long enough to write it down and bring it do fruition. No clue yet if and how i market the final project, if this leads to something playable and fun i might start a Kickstarter, if not at least we all learnt something. I hope. ^^'

Either way all design documents and code will end up on Github. If you want to make a version of the game yourself you should be able to. And in the end i would be a very happy kitty if people started modding the living hell out of Pocket Pet Rogue.

So what's the idea?

Remember the virtual pet craze from the 90s? Everyone and his dog made a Tamagotchi clone and almost everyone had one or toyed around with some clone on their PC.

Now can you imagine such a virtual pet not only eating, sleeping and eventually dying but going on adventures and amassing treasures in the meantime? You decide their equipment and where they go, you see them slashing trough the hordes, leveling up, getting loot and better equipment and discovering new places to go.

So this being a hardware project too it asks for some low energy microcontroller, some buttons and a display. We need to carefully select these to fit a low power handheld. Players shouldn't need to recharge their device every day.

But first we need at least some coarse design document of the general idea for the game so that we know what controls we need, what display size, what kind of speaker, how much game data to expect and maybe how to store them. Like an ATMega32 could be enough for a simpler game but when we have more complex game logic and hence data we could either need some external storage like a serial EEPROM or a bigger micro.

Now that we have some design documents, even if it's just some scribbles on a napkin as they say, we can check some micros and displays and their power consumption. It is this stage where we should have at least a faint idea about what power input we want to have. If we can live with a bigger case we could go with two AAA cells and have power for days, or the venerable CR2032 for a flatter design or go the full route with a rechargeable lithium pack and the accompanying charge controller IC. Also a good time to think about in what we want to code this game. I prefer an, let's say, advanced Arduino way with Platform.IO but any other option is on the table as long as it produces no large bloat, we can easily reach the hardware and it uses free software so that everyone can follow along.

After that we can finally start with something practical, build a prototype on breadboard and write some initial code before moving on to CAD tools for a prototype PCB. If we are very lucky and the stars align just right we only need one, but trust me, we will find some error that needs bodgewire on the prototype and a fix on the beta board later which will surely have its own problems that we need to fix.

Designing a case would be another step and thanks to rapid prototyping at home, also know as the 3D printer on the sideboard, we can play around with different ideas for relative cheap.

At last the phase where we can start the process of implementing the game, playtest these parts and check if they work together with the rest, get others to play our little game and get their feedback. Rinse and repeat until done.

So for now the plan for a developer army of one should be clear:

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