free your darlings

Section of the course as seen by the player playing the red snail.

Section of the course as seen by the player playing the red snail.

Published: 2022-08-24

Snail racing

Slow pace strategy game

Games such as Wordfeud can be a great low key way of keeping in touch with friends and family. No talking or messaging, just making a move now and then trying to figure out what the other party is thinking. In turn based games as Wordfeud it can be a bit frustrating when your opponent is slow to respond to your move, or even gives up without saying anything. It is not as fun to win because the opponent have been auto resigned as it is to show off one's brilliance in a fair fight. What if the game could slowly progress in the background regardless of player interaction? Not making a move in Snail racing is also making a move since the snails follow a predefined route. The route can be changed at any time, but if it is not changed the snail is still part of the race. Because the snails move very slowly, there will be plenty of time to rethink the strategy and change route to counter other players' moves.

The snails move very slowly, it might take a few days to reach the finish line. The first one to cross wins the game. In the intersections the snails can change track to get a better position in the race. The full path have to be decided from start but can be changed at any time. Players have to calculate the fastest route to the finish but also consider what items to collect and how to use them. The items on your hand can be placed in any of the empty containers on the course for your snail or a competitor to run into. I used snails to highlight that this is not an action game. Think of it more like the card game Uno but with an element of timing your moves. Maybe even a bit of poker since bluffing is possible too.

A level designer and testers will decide what items, power ups and spells, will finally be included in the game. Here are some ideas to start with:

- Secretly see player's selected path
- See through upcoming secret boxes
- Teleport (catch up)
- See other players hand
- Double current speed
- Reverse snail direction
- Mirror other player’s spell
- Duck other players spell
- Steal item from other player
- Decide other player's path

Even if the tracks for this game would be easy to randomly generate, I think that a set of ready made, fine-tuned and well tested courses would be the best. That way players can learn courses and try different tactics as the psychology of the game gets more important.


Snail racing

Even if development can in many ways be simplified for a non action game like this there is still a lot to do. A lot of focus should go to functionality surrounding the game play. Functionality like invites, friend management and notifications. And as I mentioned before, level design and testing will be crucial.

5% Done
  • Present the idea (this article)
  • Design
  • Sounds and music
  • Game engine
  • Game back-end
  • Game design
  • Testing
  • Notifications
  • Invite functionality
  • Friends and games management
  • Invites, friends and games back-end
  • Release app

I base this estimate on technologies that I know and current developer, designer etc rates in Sweden.

  • Design $7 000
  • Sounds and music $5 000
  • Game engine $7 000
  • Game back-end $5 500
  • Level design $10 000
  • Testing $5 000
  • Notifications functionality $2 500
  • Invite functionality $3 000
  • Friends and games management $2 500
  • Invites, friends and games back-end $4 500
  • Release app $1 500
  • Total $53 500