The Gunslingers


"... And if the bear catches you, he smashes you. Game over." I narrated, showing our final programming project to the class. 


We had spent half a semester and countless hours scripting and play testing our 2D, twin stick shooter. It had evolved from a few dots chasing each other into an endless bullet storm through wild landscapes.

Small enemies will constantly spawn from every direction with increasing frequency, and if they catch the player they'll hold them and dramatically slow them down. The bear however, will appear after almost a minute and forever relentlessly chase the player. 

"Is there any way to kill the bear?" someone asked after seeing the bullets bounce harmlessly off the beast.  

"Sort of..." I replied, stalling until the required amount of timed had passed and the game finally started spawning bombs, "The trick is the lure him onto a bomb and shoot it."  

I ran towards the black circle with a fuse, careful not to hit it with a bullet prematurely. I held my fire and ran passed it, the bear hot on my tail. I waited until his snarling chin was inches from the bomb and hit it with a few well placed shots, sending it and the bear and several nearby trees up in orange and yellow particles.  

Someone cheered. It was probably me. 

I walked back and picked up the dozen or so bags of money that the bear dropped and my weapons automatically upgraded.  

"Is that the end of the game?"  

No, after 20 seconds a new bear will spawn and the new level will begin. Each level procedurally generates a different combination of trees, rocks, and crystals, with various sizes and densities. 

There are 7 levels that cycle through, each time slightly increasing the amount of obstacles and decreasing the spaces between them. At about level 43 the trees are so close together that its impossible to squeeze through and the enemies spawn faster than bullets shoot from your gun.  

With so much happening on screen the game starts to slow down and struggle, making it even harder. At that point even the smallest misstep results in the bear catching you.  

And he loves to smash you.