My gift to Afrika Burn 2016: Drawing your #spiritcritter

I had an absolutely magical time at AfrikaBurn 2016.

As one of the 11 guiding principles of AfrikaBurn is Gifting, everyone attending should bring along something to gift to people, free of expectations of getting something back. It could be anything – bring something, give something, a skill, objects, anything. It is your form of self-expression, as long as you gift responsibly, anything goes.

About two weeks before the burn, I decided to go. With such a short timeframe, I didn’t have a clue what to gift, and after some brainstorming, this idea came to me – I would draw people their spirit animals. But not “spirit animals” – because then most people would say “dog” or “cat” or “horse” or “lion”. I wanted to gift them their very own creature. Like a Pokemon. Like Pokemon cards!

So I guillotined a bunch of cards, doodled this board, and off I went to the burn to meet people and gift them their spirit pokemon 🙂

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The gifting experience was simply incredible. I didn’t do nearly as many cards as I wanted to at the burn, I VASTLY underestimated my ability to meet people and draw these things quickly. I bought 500 blank cards with. I drew 30 by the end of the burn. And totally forgot to take photos of a bunch of them D:

Chatting to people about what they wanted their spirit creature to be was incredibly amazing. It gave a glimpse into their mind and their life, the part that might otherwise not have come out through small talk and pleasantries, and for that privilege I’m superbly grateful. I feel as if I got more out of my gift than I gave.

Throughout the burn, I learned that asking people “what is your spirit pokemon?” very easily resulted in answers like “Charizard!” and “Pikachu!”. So after the burn I rephrased the concept to Spirit Critter, and now I collect these babies daily in my dedicated #spiritcritter tumblr.

spiritcritter

For the longest time I had wanted an ongoing project that would hold my attention. Previously I did daily pokepeopledoodles for a while, but then I eventually got bored of translating pokemon into human form. This, translating real people into pokemon, is *so* much more interesting and meaningful, so this is going to be an ongoing thing for me.

Hope to meet you and your spirit critter someday!

Here are some of them: Catch more of them on the #spiritcritter tumblr!

Dubai: Selected as Cardboard Edison Award Finalist!

Last year in November, I made a game for a 24 hour game design contest on BGG, it was called Burjs, the word “burj” meaning “tower” in Arabic, like the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai.

The game was spawned off of a previous game I had made called Cartel, whose central concept revolved around these 2D cards forming 3D isometric buildings.

While Cartel was cool, and was featured at AMAZE, our Indie game festival in Johannesburg, it wasn’t focussed on its core premise. As such, I felt, it suffered from an identity crisis. I sought to address that with this new design, by focussing strictly on the aspect of building. Simplicity is best!

Many iterations later, it’s now called Dubai for simplicity, and I liked it so much I entered it into the first Cardboard Edison Award. I had to make an awkward game introduction video 🙂

And Dubai was selected as one of 10 finalists out of 100+ entries! 😀

Much to my delight and surprise! 🙂

Right now I’m doing some final tweaks and balances to the game rules and structure to ensure that it’s as good as it can get before sending the final prototype (oxymoron!) off to Cardboard Edison for final judging. As that’s done I’ll put the latest files on.

For now, you can read more about the game, its evolution, and find the latest Print & Play files here on BGG 🙂

 

A great big shoutout to everyone who’s helped playtest this little guy, and given feedback. Trust me you’ll all get credit when the game has some kind of credit page 🙂

So so happy and flattered and all sorts of good vibes! 😀

 

BOOOST! A Retro Escape SHMUP for Ludum Dare #LD34

Ludum Dare 34 done! Always a fantastic game jam with the most awesome community.

The theme this time was two-way tie between Growing and Two Buttons, and to make a long story short, I tried at first to do both with an idea that was seriously too much for me for 48 hours, and abandoned it to start another game about 14 hours into the 48.

The result was BOOOST, a two-button game of escaping, shooting, but mostly escaping. While shooting. You’ll see!

The game was favourably reviewed, and was rated 72 overall in the solo compo, so that’s pretty rad! 🙂

Play BOOOST Enhanced version on itch.io!

 

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rAge 2015: No More Boxes!, Arduino & NagJam

Twoplus Games went to rAge 2015, and it was fantastic!

There were 14 local developers at the home_coded section at rAge this year, everyone showing off their awesome talent and games.

We took along three games: No More Boxes, Beat Attack and Invader Crush, because we couldn’t decide on one. We made a cool Arduino game selector gadget:

(The Arduino game setup. Thanks to IGN Africa for the photo)

 

Most of the time we spent playing No More Boxes!

 

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We shared a space with Paul, creator of Clutchfighter:

(Steven Tu and Paul Campbell Potgieter, photo courtesy of IGN Africa)

 

NagJam

 

Just before rAge, NAG put out a challenge – create a game in 72 hours (with the theme “Don’t Touch That”), and show it off at rAge. We made a game for it – Royal Smash Royale, a four-player arena where players have a hammer and must smash a horde of pesky critters – but watch out – every once in a while King Roy declares one of the species protected, and you mustn’t touch them, or you’ll incur the ire of the Royal Turrets of Protection Policing!

The game was SO GOOD (but not too good) that it won 4th place where a 4th place wasn’t planned initially. NAG created a spot just for this game, and for that we are eternally grateful (and bemused)!

 

Coverage

 

Here are the bits of coverage that we’ve seen so far on our appearance at rAge, thanks to the press for playing our games with us 😀

 

In all, rAge 2015 was a fantastica experience. A great big thanks to NAG for organising, and for everyone in MakegamesSA for pulling together and making it happen as a collective!

Loved my Ludum Dare #33 – PokEscape

TL;DR: Had an amazing Ludum Dare, one week to go for rating LD33 games, so go play my game (available as web, windows, osx, linux):

Play PokEscape now!

 

PokEscape_04_combined

 

Interpretive Dance

 

Last Ludum Dare, I went in with pre-conceived notions of what I was going to make, and I felt it would have been better if I didn’t. This time, I went in with a blank canvas. Hell, I didn’t even look at the theme list to prepare myself.

The theme was You Are the Monster – a theme quite a few jammers bemoaned because it’s quite close to a theme a few LDs back – You Are the Villain. I wasn’t around back then (darn kids, right?), but I vaguely had the feeling it was done before. I didn’t care though, brainstorm commenced, there were a few decent ones, but when our chatter made me laugh out loud, I knew I had to do it;

You’re a monster. You’re a pocket monster (pokemon). You’re the lamest pokemon ever. You’re Magikarp. No, you’re so lame, you’re Magicrap. But you want to be the best you can be. Which is Gyrados. No, Gyradeuce. The crap puns flowed. I laughed, and off I went.

 

A stealth game where you have to eat your cover

 

That was the final destination of the core mechanic brainstorm, and that turned out to be super important. There were many interpretations of that core mechanic alone – Initially the game was not going to be on a grid, and physics-based, so you would dash around the place and slide and roll, etc. A turn-based version was also considered. But eventually a real-time, grid-based system was decided upon because it was actually the most predictable in terms of building and balancing.

 

Art priorities: 1. Fast, 2. Acceptable

 

The process was fairly straightforward, I made placeholder art because I didn’t want to spend too much time on art in the beginning, and just like the previous LD, I didn’t really get a chance to update them later. I think this is pretty much going to be the norm rather than the exception. Make okay placeholder art, but don’t waste time on them initially.

I’m privileged in this regard because I’m an artist/designer primarily. But don’t worry, what advantage I have on art I make up in shortcomings on my coding side.

 

Three dee two dee

 

The one interesting thing that I feel like is worth talking about technically and art wise is the 3D/2D effect that I have, where the sprites order correctly. Anyone who knows about z-sorting knows it’s a chore, and I didn’t feel like making the game constantly read y values and re-assigning them to different layers at runtime. So I tinkered and came up with this:

3d2d

By tilting all the sprites at an angle, they overlapped correctly without having to programmatically set each sprite’s layer at runtime. The camera is a perspective camera with a limited field of vision, so it looks 2D, but is set in 3D.

I really liked how the effect came out – there’s a little 3Dness to it but still has the 2D charm that I love. And I didn’t need to make polygons 😛

 

In action

 

Initial feedback on the game was super cool 🙂 It’s currently sitting on 110 ratings, which I think is the highest I’ve had (though I can’t confirm this, don’t know how to look up past rating counts).

There’s also been a bit of coverage by some really awesome people 😀

By Indiegames.com

By Jupi

By AmyNapkins

By LarryChupacabra

 

Thanks for reading! If you have a moment, try it out for yourself?

Play PokEscape

 

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