What is Rules of Robots?
Rules of Robots is a top-down arena brawler game where you fight against your friends and foes. However, the levels you are playing are made by YOU! (and other players).You can create your own maps and rules to tailor the combat to your preference, be it skill-based shooter combat, tricky puzzles, or completely unserious/unfair games just for the laughs.
The game started as a 3-week student project back in 2017. This is also where all 3 of us developers met as students and worked on the same project together. A few years later we decided to sign up for the Norwegian Game Awards. The game won the “Most Innovative Game” award, and we got offered to join an accelerator programme for students wanting to start their own game dev company. We knew that an opportunity like this does not come often, so we decided to form our indie company Sharp Raccoon in 2020 and have since august 2021 worked full time on the game.
The game is being developed in Unreal Engine 4.25 and is using Azure PlayFab to host servers. (The servers might not be open at all times since we are still in an early development stage in case you want to try it out). We also acquired a DevKit for Nintendo Switch to test for consoles.
The core gameplay is simple - pick up a controller, gather your friends and try to beat each other. You can play the game online or with up to 4 people on the same PC. The player controls their own robot that can move around and rotate, as well as shoot and dash. The maps they play on however can vary each session. Along with some default game modes, the game offers a game mode editor which lets the players create their own maps and custom rules for combat. These game modes can also be shared online for other people to play.
The ruleset editor
(Current stage of the ruleset editor which is likely to change for more customization)
In the original game idea, the game was built around the mechanic of having bullets bounce once they hit a wall, to create a different combat experience. However we could never agree on how many times the bullets should bounce, the speed of the bullet and the players ammo among certain variables. What we ended up doing was exposing all these variables to the player at the beginning of each round, so they could decide instead. Even though this was only a small feature of the game, it was the possibility to change these rules that really got players engaged when doing game test sessions.
The level editor
(Level editor where you can create your own map with various interactive items)
We decided to add a level editor to the game early in the development phase, after discovering that players enjoy having variety in the game early on. Building blocks such as teleporters, boost pads and booby traps let the player create their own twist of the game for increased replayability. There are around 20 items to use at the moment, but we plan to add many more in due time.
The possibility to quickly test out new items as well as rules is important to us, so we try to make everything as modular as possible. For the level editor, as well as some other systems, we take advantage of data tables. When we add a new item we simply need to fill in some simple values, and the system will automatically integrate the changes to the game such as adding a new UI automatically. We can also turn on and off items at will, and choose to not make it accessible to other players when doing game testing. This is especially useful when we have some content that is still under development and not ready to be used in-game.
Another great feature we use is the Editor Utility Widget. This lets us create a custom panel inside the Unreal editor targeted for this specific project. The tool has some neat settings that allow us to work faster, by eliminating repetitive tasks and creating shortcuts.
At this point we have all the most important functionality in the game, so from now on we can focus on designing good gameplay. We want to improve the level editor as well as adding more items to build with. The rule editor will also get an upgrade to make even more customized gameplay. When it comes to art, some of you might have seen an asset or two from the asset store in the trailer O.o. We use some of them to speed up prototyping and for us to test out various styles. we will at some point create all the assets from scratch with a clear and consistent style that fits the game, as well as making the gameplay understandable.
At last, we will try to post more stuff from now on. For future posts we will look more into the details of the level editor, the rulesets, future playtests and whatever else we might feel like sharing!
Thank you for visiting our page. If you are interested in this project feel free to join our discord server: Discord.gg. And if you want to try the game head over to Rulesofrobots.com. It's free!
Sincerely, The Raccoons!