Cybercafe of Broken Dreams

23 Nov 2021

Alley concept

I found an old notebook with C-Dogs sketches during a move, and thought it would be fun to share, given that I’ve moved on from the project.

C-Dogs was one of my favourite games, so when I got into game dev, it was one of the games I wanted to remake and improve upon. I started collecting ideas and sketches about what a sequel to C-Dogs would have.

Isometric concept Clay model Rotoscoping

The game would have new enemy designs, in a sci-fi, cyberpunk theme. C-Dogs had a great variety of campaigns (zombies, terrorists, orcs, bug-eyed monsters) but thematically it was all over the place. Returning it to a pure sci-fi theme meant cyborgs and robots, heavily-armoured mechs and mech suits. The fast-moving xenomorphs and zombies from C-Dogs were fun but in the new game, they would be replaced with fast-moving and sleek robots with sharp blades for melee weapons.

Mech Blade bot Blade bot

Gun design would be an important consideration; as C-Dogs is a shooting game, the guns are pretty important, and should be fun and satisfying to use. C-Dogs had an eclectic arsenal, with standard shotguns and machine guns, to sci-fi powerguns, gaming favourites like flamers, and well… the less said about the browny gun, the better. Not so in the new game, which would be filled with futuristic, high powered fish guns and pew-pew hand cannons. The MC’s - who is definitely a cyborg - weapon of choice would be an unassuming SMG, but packed with high-velocity rounds that would shred non-military opponents like cloth. Basically I took lots of notes while watching Ghost in the Shell.

Gun concepts

Making plausible guns is one thing but making them legible in a top-down game - where the guns are tiny - would need a different approach. They should have strong silhouettes, so they are recognisable even when they’re a handful of pixels in size. Turns out you can do quite a lot with pixels.

Tiny guns

The game would also have a coherent storyline. In addition to some frankly silly world-building, the campaign would be highly non-linear: the MC would be thrust into a world with multiple factions and sub-factions, each with their hidden agendas, and depending on which factions the MC is currently working for, the storyline will take different branches, with some levels being playable as a different side with different objectives. For example, work for a certain faction and you would play a level by destroying an objective. Work for a different faction and you would play the same level but guarding that objective.

Level 1 Level 1 objectives Factions Faction missions Final level Final level

Alas that’s the end of the story. C-Dogs SDL was certainly fun to work on but it is mostly an enhancement, with no sequels on the horizon. A lot of time has passed since these ideas, many of them were tried by other games, some quite successfully. I’d still like to see some of the unused ideas tried, perhaps in a future game I make. For example the idea of revisiting a level but played from a different perspective still seems cool. For example, Starcraft 2 has a reversed campaign mod which looks fun as heck. Perhaps it’s not something practical for a large set-piece-design-driven organisation with siloed teams, to make a single level play well in different ways, but for a small team it can still be a neat way to reuse levels.

Anyway that’s enough from me. C-Dogs SDL isn’t quite dead - there’s a small update coming up soon 😉 - but you can also follow me on my future game dev adventures on my blog or Happy gaming as always! 🎉

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