Results for tag "makegamessa"

5 Articles

Making Dark Magic At Global Game Jam 14 :D

This year I took part in my very first Global Game Jam. Like the name suggests, it’s a game jam that sweeps across the globe as quickly as light sweeps across timezones, with hot-blooded creative powerhouses everywhere bending their mind towards the same theme, creating love, magic, and games right around the world, around the world, around the world, around the world. #daftpunk

The Joburg #GGJ14 #GGJSouthAfrica was held at the Microsoft Joburg office – thanks Microsoft SA for their continual support of MGSA! Not only do they host our MakegamesSA monthly meetups, they also take care of us on our special needs occasions too, like this epic weekend.

It Starts

The event kicked off with some fluffingly inspirational keynote videos by indie figures such as Richard Lemarchand (Uncharted series), Kaho Abe and Jenova Chen (Thatgamecompany, my idol and heroes who made Flow, Flower, Journey). Then they jumped into the theme reveal, which was at different times in different time zones, so we were asked not to talk about them on social media until Hawaii (last timezone on earth) has had their reveal.

The theme was a mad one! So hipster! So meta! So psychological!

Three and a Half artists

After the theme reveal, we were let loose onto each other, free to discuss our ideas and poach/be poached into teams who want to work together. It was a frenzied piranha fest of people trying to get to know each other, of trying to find skills that you don’t have, and of pitching ideas/personalities at the speed of pitching machines. At this point, the 48 hour clock started, and the jam was away in earnest, without a team, without an idea, without a plan, and that didn’t bother anybody one bit.

Eventually, myself, Jonathan, and Hendré got together, three artists (Jonathan is technical art, Hendre is 3D art, and I’m… A generalist :P) cos we agreed with each others’ ideas during our mass brainstorm. We had a few throwaways, these are the ones I can remember:

  • Everyone you see has a dog’s head, because you’re a dog. When you become a cow, everyone will have a cow’s head, etc. We see the world as we are.
  • You come across an obstacle and cannot continue. You pick up a hooker and take her home, but afterwards you feel empty inside, so an obstacle becomes empty and you can progress. We see the world as we are.

In the end, this was the idea that captured all of our imaginations:

You’re a strange blind creature, and sees the world only occasionally through echo location – sonar pings. You explore your dark world, seeing occasionally, and have to avoid giant creatures to survive, while eating smaller ones to grow bigger, eventually conquering the subterranean food chain.

And that’s when Gian Luca joined us, as the only full programmer on the team. Thank goodness, we were gonna be going into this with just three arty types (though Jonathan was pretty good with code, honestly). And then there were four.

Fast Forward

I’ll post later about the adventures we had during the jam, it was bloody fantastic, to say the least, and a life changing experience. The first night I went home to sleep on the idea, and from Saturday 7am till the Sunday, I only slept 1 hour. But it was worth every can of oversized Monster and Rockstar I consumed.

Vital stats for #GGJ14 Joburg:

  • 65 jammers in all who registered
  • 14 games produced (3 were boardgames)
  • 1 all-girl team (colour me sexist, but I’m calling it special as I see it :P)
  • 7 round tables
  • Ok I can’t think of anymore numbers :)

And the outcome from our team is Echo: A Journey Within, Without.

You can download the game or play it online (poor performance as we obviously didn’t have time to optimise) right here

#GGJ14 was an incredible experience, and I’m so happy to have shared it with all of my incredible team! I’ll be writing more about the actual #GGJ14 experiences – there were many *superb* moments, and I loved the way our team worked and I would LOVE to show you how the game came together – the experience of learning was more than half the point of it all :)

 

Parting note:

There are bugs in the game, and the mechanic’s not fully resolved, but for the two day’s work it turned out to be a brilliant tech demo, ready to become a better game, which is what we will aim to do for Echo in the future. Rawr! Game Jam Forever! 😀

rAge 2013: 15 made in SA games showing!

rage_mgsa_2013

Every year, I think to myself I don’t need to go to rAge to gawk at the same AAA titles that you can see on Youtube and everywhere else. Every year I end up going because of one thing or another – if it wasn’t me judging the amazing Cosplay for Legion Ink for two years in a row, it was being a booth babe for Otaku Magazine, or organising booth babes for Asus, or whatever. rAge has become an ubiquitous landmark in the geek calendar, and for good reason.

This year’s rAge is gonna be a real special one! Well, every year’s rAge turns out to be special for, but this one will end up taking the proverbial cake. I just know it. I feel it in my bones. Why?

For starters, my game that I’ve been working on Bear Chuck will be playable and on display! And even better, I share the honor with 14 other made-in-SA games! 15 games!! FIFTEEN in total! Even as part of makeGamesSA for the last year, I never realised how quickly we’ve grown.

In no particular order (except of course the first one), here are the 15 made-in-SA games that you can come to check out and play at rAge 2013:

 

Bear Chuck

My page with playable build

Broforce

Offcial page with playable build

Desktop Dungeons

Official page with playable build

Viscera Cleanup Detail

Official page with playable build

zX: Hyperblast

Official page with playable build

Silhouette

Official page with playable build

Pixel Boy

Official site

A Day in the Woods

Official site

Death Laser

System Crash

Official site

Toxic Bunny

Official site

Wang Commander

MakegamesSA thread

Cadence

Official site with playable build

Blazin’ Aces

Official site

Death Smashers

Developers official site

rAge 2013 is going to be amazing! Come say hi and join us for a few games! 😀

Bear Chuck BEAR-SIZED update!

I’ve been working pretty hard on my game Bear Chuck to get it read y for rAge 2013, and I’ve got me a stable build! 😀

I’m gonna just leave this gameplay video to do the talking:

With a brief log of updates:

  • Super improved AI – it actually BEAT ME. More than once.
  • A new menu worthy of the Bear Chuck name.
  • A Brand spanking new gameplay video starring Bears!
  • Settled on the new name Bear Chuck! Just too adorable :)
  • Updated the animation and upgraded the AI a bit more
  • Added a few more effects
  • The combo system now works! Chains will add exponentially more attacks to the other side – e.g. a match of 4 will be an attack of 2, and match 5 will attack 3. Each chain adds a multiplier to your attack – so at combo 2, the attack will be multiplied by 2. E.g.: First match of 4 creates attack 2. Then another match of 4 is the result of a chain reaction – and that attach will be multiplied by the combo factor of 2 for an attack of 4 (2 x 2).

Get the playable build on the Bear Chuck page! 😀

Mechanical Proto Juice [My AMaze 2013 Short Talk]

I gave a brief Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 seconds each) talk at this year’s AMaze Indie Game Festival about effectively using Juice in Prototypes to communicate Mechanics, and was met with surprisingly positive response from everybody from Vlambeer‘s Rami to Nigeria’s SJ to Poland’s Sos, to our own Cape Townian heroes Danny Day and Evan, Ruan, and co of Freelives

It was a really humbling experience, even if it were only 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Here’s an even shorter Vine of it (big thanks to Simon Bachelier for making this and getting me to use Vine!):

I’ll post the full video of the talk when it’s available, depending on the AMaze organisers.

The full PDF can be downloaded here.

 

And here’s the full talk, without the 6 minutes, 40 seconds limit :)
(Kindly excuse the formatting, web code is not my strong suite and this was a wrangled template… >_<)

 

An introduction, I'm Steven Tu and I'm exactly one year into learning game dev since last year's AMaze festival. I've since then made about 6 prototypes and learned much, I hope this will help aspiring new game makers.

 

This talk is all about conveying mechanics in Prototypes by effectively using Juice.Because we're aiming to make a game (as opposed to a book or a movie or an artbook or a music album), the mechanics are the hardest part to test and refine, so we should be focusing on mechanics.

 

This popular talk "Juice it or Lose it" by Martin Jonasson & Petri Purho is super important for any game makers. If you haven't seen it, it's on YouTube and is basically set material for learning to make games. They defined juice and said adding juiciness makes your game better 100% of the time, guaranteed.

 

But prototypes and games are different! Prototypes are made to test concepts by rapid iterations. Thus, adding juiciness DOESN'T always make your game better 100% of the time! Repeat! Prototypes are not the same as games!

 

This notion came to me while I was making my own game Fling Fight. I had made it quite juicy - it was animated, things flashed, explosions were cool, there were awesome screenshakes, and blocks flew around spinning. It was juicy. Yet when I tested, player were constantly confused and asked "How do you win?" and "What're the scary Xs?" and other seemingly trivial questions. I had made the wrong kind of juice and did not help the players play my game, and thus had failed.

 

It might sound obvious, but we, as indie game makers, have to realise that we have chips in the denomination of time. Working on your game is betting your time on various aspects. If you bet wrong, you'll run out of chips. We can bet Time on things, we can bet More Time on things, but we should never spend More Time Than You Can Afford. So we must be careful where we bet our time and maximise their effectiveness!

 

A game progresses from its start as a bad prototype to a good prototype, then from a bad game to a good game. As you add juiciness to a game, there is a Zone Of Wasteful Juice. Adding more and more juice to your prototype is simply wasteful, as you get no real returns from adding that juice. What returns are those? The ability to test and refine your game further - mechanically!

 

The more frequent an event happens the less loud it needs to be. For example, when Mario's clock counts down, all it does is... counts down. There's no fanfare. When he gets a mushroom, the game pauses slightly, and makes the power-up sound. Notifying the player that it's happened. When Mario gets to the flagpole at the end of each stage, the music, and animation, and fireworks take up significant mind and timespace, because it's meant to be significant and rewarding.

 

In QCF Studio's Desktop Dungeons, they had this cool mechanic - the player healed from exploring undiscovered blocks. Players were having trouble understanding that concept, so eventually they made orbs fly from the dungeon to the players' health bars, and players were like "ohhhhh".

 

In my game Fling Fight, when players matched blocks to clear them, two things happened - 1, they exploded, and 2, they made blocks fall on the opponent's side. But people weren't getting that mechanic, so I added orbs that flew to the other side and turned into falling block indicators.

 

In both of the previous examples, there were mechanics that were not what players expected from other comparable games. That the players didn't understand them doesn't essentially mean that they were bad! It just meant that you need to communicate them better before you can *actually* judge if they were bad.

 

This screen came from Chris Bischoff's gorgeous game Stasis. He had used a disc with text around as his mouse pointer... But people didn't get that, and it was obscuring many things and made clicking difficult. Eventually we suggested that he stick to a more conventional pointer, and he seemed to have bought it. If the circle cursor was meant for an innovative mechanic, it wasn't supporting that by being harder to understand for the average player.

 

You (yes you) have one of the most flexible and sophisticated instruments known to man - your voice. You also have a million recording devices from your phone to your computer to everything in between. You should be making sounds! Adding sounds to your prototype is one of the most effective ways to communicate various things. Foley is the art of bashing things to make sound effects. Look it up! It doesn't have to be amazing, it just has to communicate.

 

From human experience, sounds can communicate good or bad easily. Sounds that go up are usually good sounds. Example Mario's coins, power-up, and 1-up. Also Sonic's rings. Sounds that go down are usually not good. For example, Mario dying, Mario's game over. If you were at the talk I would have voiced those effects for you :) These aren't the only conventions, but they're a good start. Think about what people know when making sounds.

 

Don't waste time crafting everything. Just steal everything from online - tilable art, backgrounds, explosions, whatever. Grab them because you're prototyping and not crafting for the next IGF. Don't steal when you're going for release!

 

This is one of my favourite up-and-coming games, Super Time Force. They do something quite cool - all of the enemies' shots are red, and all of friendlies' shots are blue. Usually, this is important, but much more so in this game since it can get VERY chaotic with a single player controlling up to something like 5 time-warped characters. It helps simplify the player experience, and reduces potential for twitch-speed confusion, which sucks.

 

Your prototype doesn't need raycast shadows when a blurred sprite will do. Don't do full vector art when you're not even sure how your characters will need to move. In my game, I was in a big bind trying to write some full blown basic (sounds like an oxymoron but it's not!) AI for people to play against... But it was super daunting... Then Travis Bulford suggested something - just make the AI pick a few random things and pick one of them to do. Done! No more existential crisis AI to build! Fake everything you can!

 

When people play your game, STFU and watch! Don't explain! Everything you say prevents you from learning about what players don't "get" about your game. Your game must work without you, unless you're shipping a copy of your mind with each copy of your game! Don't deprive yourself! Learn by watching, take notes, and listen!

 

Thanks Evan for this great graph! The more you test and fail, the more you level up. Investing your time chips in polish just makes you take longer till that point of failure, and failing is what makes you try again, test again, and get better!

 

When you're prototyping, you spend time in 3 ways: 1. Making prototype 2. Testing prototype 3. Re-iterate prototype and return to 1. The faster you can get through stage 1 the faster you can return to stage 1. The smaller you can make the lap, the more laps you can do, and the more your prototype improves! Make faster failures!

 

MakegamesSA.com – Don’t Hate, Pixelate competition

A quickie:

SA’s game developers’ association makegamesSA.com (read: Indie hangout) is running a cool little comp inviting peeps make PIXEL ART out their favourite characters, and it’s looking like tons of fun!

There are some cool talents here, and lots of people learning. Have a look at just some of these great entries, both in technical flair and spirit!

Edit: Sorry, the gallery’s been obliterated in the Great Blog Crash of 2013… Please head on ahead to the entries thread to check out the good work!

 

Noone’s playing to win, because there’re no prizes besides a good communal pat on the back and the warm fuzzy feeling that you’re among people with interest. And participating means you’ll get eyeballs on your work, which means an awesome opportunity to learn how to do Pixel Art :)

It felt like just not a month ago that I started doing some pixel art for fun, it’s really cool seeing other people learning with me :)

Full entry detail thread

All entries in the competition category

 

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