#GGJ15 Post-Mortem

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So last weekend I had the pleasure of helping run the Lincoln site for Global Game Jam 2015. I worked with Kieran and we made a really odd game called “Big God, What Do?” which is about a tribal god and his little villagers. Here’s the little blurb taken directly from our submission on the GGJ website:

“Big God, What Do?” cry the tribes-people of a small, jungle village. The idol in the center of town stirs to life and an ethereal voice echoes around the near vicinity: “Okay, guys, you need to bring me some pigs and throw them in the fire.”

BGWD? is an experimental multiplayer game where one player assumes the role of an ever-present deity whose belief is slowly dwindling. This player has to yell orders to his followers in game through the shrine in the middle of the map, then the other players must go forth and collect the items he needs. There is a catch, however: the villagers can only hear their god when they are very close to the shrine, and the things that the god needs are constantly changing.

The game was really fun to make, it was quite a challenge to get audio streaming across a network clearly – the final result was still rather choppy which was a shame. Unfortunately we could only get the game working on local area networks, so the game only really worked in the computer labs.

FinalScreenBGWD

I learnt how to 3D model using a free package called Wings3D, I’ve never done 3D modelling before so I was very interested in trying it out. I don’t think I did an awful job either; apparently I went against a tonne of 3D modelling conventions, but I was bound to make some mistakes on the first attempt!

I think that after a few hours I had a reasonably good-looking low-poly art style going. I actually really love how the game looks, and I definitely want to use this kind of style again in the near future!

Oh… and I also managed to get a photo of me and Kieran where he’s not pulling a silly face:

KieranAndMe

It was very refreshing to work with Kieran on something other than Hashtag Dungeon. Working on a project for too long without a break can get kind of stale; I think this jam was exactly what I needed to remind myself that I love making games and that I can work on whatever I want, whenever I want.

It was definitely a great jam and I had a tonne of fun! Roll on the next game jam I’m hosting in March!

#LD30 ‘Going Postal’ Post-Mortem

You can play ‘Going Postal’ on your PC or on an android phone or tablet for free if you go to our Ludum Dare entry page! (I’d recommend the android version as it feels really nice to spin the planet with your finger!)

After a long week of making sure that Alex gets on with her final year coursework, building Minecraft server transport networks and making new enemies for Hashtag Dungeon; I thought it’d be nice to take part in Ludum Dare 30 with a few friends.

For those who don’t know, Ludum Dare is a big, weekend long game jam where loads of people from around the world come together and make games and then show them to one another in order to be judged. It’s pretty awesome and this is the second time I’ve managed to find time to do one.

I called up my friends Mark Boyde-Shaw and Amelia George to see if they wanted to join me in making a game, they accepted and joined me at my house for a weekend of excellent game development work!

After waiting up till 2am on Saturday for the theme to be revealed (the theme was ‘Connected Worlds’) the three of us spent a good hour or so discussing possible ideas. These ranged from a horror game where you slowly bring more ghosts into a house by destroying wards, to a crazy planet destroying simulator. Eventually we all agreed on an interesting idea and swiftly moved to our respective beds to sleep.

Morning came and the three of us reconvened in the living room to start work. Mark had been very busy overnight working on a possible storyline for our game, the elevator pitch for the game (entitled ‘Going Postal’) is as follows:

You are a mailman on a small planet with a few houses on it. You deliver mail to houses in order to connect the people who live there together. You can however, choose to deliver mail to the wrong house in order to cause absolute chaos within the small community.

Amelia got to work immediately on making art assets for the game. I went to work on programming the main part of the game with the little help of some placeholder programmer artwork (yes, I do the art for #Dungeon and no, I don’t care that this art is terrible in comparison):

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I went into the game jam feeling pretty lazy and I wasn’t really looking to have very pretty code… so in the end I may or may not have put almost all the code into one giant script attached to the planet. This caused a few major problems later on in the evening but for the most part everything worked out fine so I am not too bothered about it. Game jam code is always disgusting.

Over the course of the day, Mark wrote out all the possible letters we wanted to have in the game and the outcomes of each of them. He then printed them off and cut them out in order to arrange them into a cohesive story. PHYSICAL PROTOTYPING FTW!

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Once we had an order of letters that we all agreed upon, I set about adding them into the game. It was a very time consuming part of the jam which went on for several hours. Each letter had several recipients who each had different writing styles, letter artwork and house locations around the planet – some of them also had special events tied to them.

It was around this time we also started replacing my horrific excuse for placeholder art with Amelia’s glorious artwork – the tiny microplanet town of Dreamsdale was born:

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Mark and I worked on giving each of the characters a believable and unique personality. There were a total of eight characters living on the planet in the end:

  • King Harold IV – The pompous king who is loud, bold and brash. He lives in the palace.
  • Queen Anne III – The wife of Harold who we based around Mrs. Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances. She also lives in the palace.
  • Daisy ‘Sugarplum’ Dumpling – The baker who has the personality of a particularly annoying american teenage girl. She lives in the cute gingerbread house.
  • Sergeant R Murphy – A war veteran who has seen his share of horrors in a ‘Great War’ – he is a no-nonsense soldier who doesn’t like to express his feelings. He lives in the fortified bunker.
  • Mr Frank Fisher – The town fisherman who lives on a small boat in the only lake on the planet. He is a kind natured man who likes poetry and the outdoors.
  • Mr Boris Bletchley – The manager of Dreamsdale’s waste disposal and energy plant. He is a perverted old man who smells horrible – but he’s trying to turn over a new leaf.
  • Dr Eugene Egbert – The geeky scientist who moved to the planet in order to study the local area. He doesn’t really get other people. His letters are all typed in the same manner as Terezi Pyrope from Homestuck (A, I, and E replaced by 4, 1, and 3, respectively). He lives in a hi-tech tree house.
  • Sister Jane Jazzpunk – A nun who is also a talented musician. She is always looking for more people to donate to the church and spread the word of her god. She lives in the church.

Of course we didn’t manage to get everything we wanted to into the game. We wanted it so that if you sent letter to the wrong houses then the world would change slightly in appearance. We also didn’t manage to add all the ending cutscenes we wanted. The options on the letters were also not particularly clear to players, and could have used some work.

Luckily we also managed to get in touch with our friend Will Bryce, who frequently writes music for our games. He managed to come up with a cute little tune to play in the background of the game. Adding music and sound really brought the game to another level of juiciness.

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All in all the game jam went well, we took it easy and had plenty of rest breaks. We didn’t want to burn ourselves out doing a full 24 hours straight and I think it really was beneficial because the end result was far less buggy than I’d expected. The feedback we’ve had on the Ludum Dare website has been incredibly encouraging. I look forward to seeing our final scores!

You can play ‘Going Postal’ on your PC or on an android phone or tablet for free if you go to our Ludum Dare entry page! (I’d recommend the android version as it feels really nice to spin the planet with your finger!)

#1GAM January Post-Mortem

So my game “The Food Chain” has been published and I like to think that its gone down pretty well. We did a few play-tests of it in the university’s computer labs and everyone seemed to really enjoy playing it. I even had my lecturers playing it (one of them said that they think it could be quite addictive) along with the students.

Playtesting

If you want to play my game with friends you’ll need to set up a LAN network – you can also get a feel for it by playing it yourself on two screens (but that’s hardly very fun…). Here is a link to the game in action: Play “The Food Chain” Here!

Some cool things I learnt:

  •  Oliver is a gaming troll and he intentionally would get bitten in order to lure the shark towards where other people were hiding their fish. (Not gonna lie… clever tactic – but a little mean.)
  • Unity networking isn’t too hard – but I’m still only able to run things on a  LAN network… which is a real shame. But i’ll definitely look into getting it working over the internet as soon as I have a spare couple of days.
  • My laptop is a trooper and can run a good few copies of the same game at once for testing.
  • SCRUM development methods go out of the window when it’s just me working on a project. Whoops.
  • Amelia and Kirt are both awesome 3D Modellers – and I really want to work with them in the future!
  • It’s surprisingly cheap to get some assets from the Unity Store… and they can be really good quality.

And lo: January turns to February and game number is about to rear its ugly head! Working alongside first-year games computing student Alex Saye, we are developing a game named:

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I’ll post up more information about this delightful little game as soon as we have something to show!

#1GAM Update – Blood In The Water

So the game now has a death state for the poor little fish. They have a health variable that drops drastically when the shark takes a chunk out of them, when it drops below 50% the fish begins to bleed into the water… it’s at that point the fish is pretty much screwed. Suddenly the theme from JAWS kicks in and the fish runs for its life from the pursuing shark – who is hot on its bloody trail.

Blood Trails

I’m pretty happy with both the feedback you get when attacking and being damaged now too: sounds and masks both give the player a satisfaction from chomping down on the fish. It is a great deal of fun both to play as the hunter and the prey and for completely different reasons (the thrill of the chase and the fear of being caught respectively).

I really love the way that the shark moves and how it appears through the dense underwater fog – it looks very similar to videos of real sharks I’ve seen on documentaries in the past!

Amelia has also been working hard on making a replacement for the place holder prey model – its starting to look really promising! Here is a picture she sent me earlier of the adorable little thing (ignore the untextured eyes…):

Little FishI’m looking forward to doing a LAN game of this with a good ten or twenty of the little blighters all hiding from the shark! Here’s hoping that I can get the rest of the game polished up and ready before the end of the month!

#1GAM First Game Update

So I decided to be completely insane and use the short time I have to make this months #1GAM game a mulitplayer game. This might not seem like a big thing… but I’ve never really do any networking before in my life, so its been a real uphill struggle getting it all working properly!

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Luckily my friend Martin pointed me in the direction of a really nice little tutorial for networking in Unity3D. So now I’ve got a decent-ish LAN multiplayer game that can have a hefty amount of players attached to it!

The idea behind my game (based on the theme from the first meet-up) is a deadly match of hide-and-seek between a rather hungry shark and some very tasty little fish. One player assumes the role of the enormous shark, their job is to hunt down and eat the other players in the underwater environment around them. The other players who assume the roles of the little fish can hide the plant-life, caves and rocks around the level.

Evil Sharky!

The game works quite well at the moment, I’ve got a great deal of things I want to tweak before I call it completed. I went to the university’s computer labs yesterday and we managed to get about five people all playing the game at once which was pretty cool. I got a really nice quote from one of the second-years who had a go:

Scariest six minutes of my life – I kept seeing you swimming past my hiding spot.

The best thing about that was I hadn’t even added in the death mechanic to the game yet! Since we play-tested it I’ve added a health variable to the little fish in the scene and when it gets too low the fish starts to leave a blood trail in the water – leaving them open for easy-hunting!

If you want to play a current build of the game… it’ll be at this link here.

(Special thanks to my friends Amelia and Kirt who are working on 3D Models for the game!)

#1GAM Lincoln Meet-Up Number 1

So today we had our first official meet-up of students who are thinking about doing #1GAM at The University Of Lincoln. We started off with a quick listen to @McFunkypants’s keynote and then proceeded to have a chat about how things were going to go down!

We each took turns writing down themes and putting them into a hat in order to give ourselves some inspiration – this then devolved into me pulling them out and reading them aloud. We settled on the idea of using one of the themes as a ‘main theme’ and then each choosing one of the others as a complimentary one. The main theme we chose was “Underwater” so I’m looking forward to some really nice looking games coming out of it!

Since we only have a little while to work on our January games (having left it a little late…) the majority of the group seemed to be thinking about making something reasonably simple to get them into the swing of things. Next month’s meeting is on the first, so we should get a really nice bunch of games made for February.

Advanced Games Studies Work (Great Balls Of Fire!)

After a little bit of coding and fiddling with rigid bodies and triggers – I’ve added in some rather nice-looking fireballs to Team 1’s game. They react nicely with the world and damage the slimes on collision… I can’t help but think it makes the slimes far less threatening – but that’s fine right now.

Here is a quick video showing off the implementation of fireball projectile weapons: