After years of wanting to make my own pin, two years ago I finally committed and I made this:
Hyperdrive took around 4 months to build from start to finish (apart from coding which I continue to add things to). A big part of the reason why it was such a quick build was that the layout was based heavily on TNA. I wanted to start with a layout that I know is fun to play, then put my own spin on it.
I talk about every step of the build process in this post on the Aussie Arcade forums if anybody is interested to find out more about this build: https://www.aussiearcade.com/showthread.php/97020-Homebrew-TNA-inspired-build-(first-time-build)
While I was making that game, I had a constant flow of ideas on what I should do on the next one. I'm sure anybody else who has made a homebrew knows this feeling. This time I want to step up my game with better art, wireform ramps, and sculptures. Hyperdrive was sort of a practice attempt to see if I could make a pin. With this one I'm going to take my time and really do the best job I can.
The theme for this pin will be 'Kraken'. I liked the freedom of using an original theme last time and while it means I'll have a lot more work to do in terms of media (can't just dump movie clips on the screen or the playfield), it means I can do whatever I want.
The idea behind the theme is you're the captain of a ship and you hunt mythical sea creatures. I like it when a pin takes me on a journey, and this one will take that literally. When you start the game, you set sail on the open seas. The shots you make steer your ship in different directions. Every encounter you have with creatures or other ships along the way changes the journey you're on. The plan is to be able to upgrade your ship's weapons, crew, etc. as you progress through the locations on a big open map.
The end goal of this journey is to hunt down and defeat the mythical kraken. The weapons, ship upgrades, and crew you collect over the journey will play a massive role in the end battle.
This idea is based on the video game 'FTL'. If you haven't played it, the idea is you control a crew on a spaceship and you're on the run from a rebel flagship. The goal is to make it back to your base, then you battle the flagship. Along the way you choose different paths, encounter different enemies and can upgrade your ship and crew in different ways. This means every game is different. Half of your crew may die in one playthrough, then the next time you might be lucky to upgrade to a powerful weapon early on. What makes me keep going back to FTL is the idea that I don't quite know what's going to happen along the way and each game can be quite different.
I want a similar experience with Kraken - each game has a similar journey, but the path you take and encounters along the way can completely change the later part of the game. If you fly through the modes and avoid conflict, you'll have less weapons and crew to deal with the kraken. If you work hard to get the most out of every encounter along the way, the battle with the kraken will be easier. That's the goal - whether I can code something like this is another story.
As you can see, this is an ambitious project (at least for me). Multiple branching paths to take and different ship upgrades means I have a lot of coding and media work to do. While I really enjoyed creating pixel animations on the RGB DMD in my last pin, I feel I need an LCD for this one to display the map and objectives as clearly as possible. I feel it's going to be a lot harder making animations and art look good on an LCD, so we'll see how I go.
The music I created for my last pin was based on a style called synthwave (I was heavily influenced by TNA). It was fun and easy to create after a few YouTube tutorials and really fit the theme. For Kraken, I'm thinking a big and epic journey needs music to match. I'd love to hear suggestions on what type of music you think fits with the theme. I'm thinking big guitar riffs mixed with orchestral parts like a movie soundtrack.
I've ordered parts and while I wait (I'm in Australia, so everything is slow to get here) I thought I'd whip a cabinet together. I pulled off the lockbar and leg bracket from my other pin to measure up the new one.
I found other people's homebrew threads really helpful when I built my first pin, so I'll try and share as much detail as I can along the way to hopefully help somebody else out.
Keen to hear what people think of the theme or any ideas on what should happen in the modes!