Prototype Arrow


Status Unreleased

Genre Roguelite Platformer


Role Developer

Tools GameMaker Studio 2, Aseprite

Team Size 2

A roguelite about falling through a damp, dark dungeon.

Prototype Arrow was the spiritual successor to Vertikill. It was intended to be a refined version of the Vertikill experience, with more of a platforming twist. The game would feature several zones, including the caverns, catacombs, and other unplanned areas. The player would travel down these zones, with only a bow, a few arrows, and a magic ability to “recall” back their arrows, collecting trinkets and items that would power them up to be able to take down the several massive bosses.

Prototype Arrow’s initial development was entirely focused around several showcase events. While this led to many perks, such as having a playable demo at PAX East 2018 with only a few weeks of development, it put the project in a state that prevented expansion. As I built for events, I didn’t plan out the underlying core architecture, leading to inconsistencies in the code base. This made the project hard to edit and improve, and while the game was praised for its art, mechanics, polish, and game feel, it needed a full rewrite to be expanded on.

Over the summer, I planned out the core architecture in my spare time working at MassDiGI as a Summer Innovation Program intern. Progress was slow and somewhat sporadic, eventually picking up as the school year began. Work on the project continued over the semester, leading to the development of a full framework for the game. This included elements such as a full level editor, a modular approach to game logic, and all the core gameplay systems.

Near the end of the development of the framework, Prototype Arrow won third place in the MassDiGI Pre Game Challenge Pitch Competition. While this was a massive win, it made me reconsider the future of the project. While the project remained incomplete, I had determined that I got all I wanted from it. Working on Prototype Arrow taught me a lot of important lessons about project and codebase management, and I decided it was time to shelve the project and apply those lessons to other games.

Prototype Arrow, regardless of its faults, taught me a lot about how to properly develop games to be future proof. It established that there is a fine line between too little code organization and too much, as the more organization and complexity you add to enrich systems, the more difficult it becomes to make ground-breaking changes needed to develop a game. I have been applying many of the principles I learned building Prototype Arrow to many of the projects I am currently developing, and it has proven to make the development of these projects a much smoother experience.