The view from above
Another challenge that developed with my two player adventure game is how to display the screen. Do I designate and focus on a primary player, stay centered at all times or keep the map size down to where everything can be displayed on a screen at the same time? Reducing the area to match the screen size has the extreme downside of removing much of the exploration factor in the game play. You can’t be curious about whats just beyond the edge because it’s all presented to you upon entering the area. Focusing on a primary player makes sense with games where the titular character takes the lead, such as with the Super Mario Bros. or more recently, Cuphead (though my son has taken to calling it Cuphead & Mugman since he’s mainly seen it played on 2 Player mode). For my game, I decided that keeping the camera centered to both players would be best. However, this approach also experienced a drawback.
When the players are moving in the same direction, this works fine as the camera simply follows in that direction and all is well in the world. If the players are fighting monsters in different directions or need to work together to activate two triggers in different areas of the screen, however, the camera would freeze dead center and the players would hit the edge or immediately move out of the field of vision. Wanting both a centered camera and method to encourage exploration, I decided that the camera should not only stay centered between the players but also move up and down based on the proximity of the players to each other.
As you can see, this allows the players to have enough independence and control to not feel limited — while accommodating for curiosity and exploration. As the players finish their individual directions and move closer to each other, the camera slowly zooms back in.
With the base mechanics for the game established, it is time to ramp up the world building.