Results for tag "prototyping"

2 Articles

7 Games in 7 Days in 30 Games in 30 Days

We’ve just completed the 30 Games in 30 Days Challenge with Gamelogic’s Grids in Gamemaker Studio! 😀

Grids is a superb plugin system for game devs that lets you very easily and quickly create things that make use of, well, grids. Gamelogic had started with a Unity version of Grids, with which they first ran a 30 Games in 30 Days Challenge to show how easy it was to use, and in the previous month, they ran the challenge with their new implementation of Grids for Gamemaker: Studio.

Twoplus Games were approached to make some of those games, which we were very excited to do. We took on 7 games in 7 days, for a nice, round week of solid prototyping jamming. It was super fun! The App Factory was also involved and made some great stuff.

The best of the batch

The ultimate goal of any game jam is to explore ideas quickly and quickly find out what works or doesn’t work. Quickly 🙂 Did I mention quickly? 🙂 It is specifically with this in mind  that we’ve made our seven games in Grids Gamemaker. And here they are – in order from our most to least favourite! (Because we are critical of our own work :P)

 

Tetrifender (tentatively re-titled Krigsskibe)

Play it here!

Tetrominos are fascinating. Mathematically, one block is the same as another. But join them up and you’re inevitably left with gaps. Tetromino games are always about packing the most into the smallest space, which is kind of what Krigsskibe is about – but with a twist.

Enemy ships are invading, and your defences are your blocks. Create a square of 2×2 blocks and you get a turret that fires back. But the turrets also take one hit to dismantle as opposed to the four hits the blocks could have defended your base with.

It’s a game of juggling economy, positioning and reaction. Really a lot of fun! Definitely one we want to take further.

 

Pixel Perfect (tentatively re-titled Make This)

Play Make This now!

Another exploration of the world of Tetrominos, Make This is as simple as it is devious. Place tetrominos in the grid to make the target shape, which will be automatically removed once it is formed. The challenge comes in making the best use of the “garbage” left behind each time, as space gets tighter and tighter, and you inevitably run out of space to place your tetrominos. Relaxing, thoughtful, a bit zen, and a bit creative. I enjoyed this one 🙂

 

Convader

Play Convader now!

For those who’re geek enough to recognise Conway’s Game of Life,  Convader is a game that tries to use the famous mathematic life-simulation (click on that link for a full explanation of it) in a game. It’s really basic at the moment, but in future I do plan to take the concept much, much further. For now, it’s a fun little toy.

 

Add Down

Play Add Down now!

Add down is like a crossword puzzle, but with numbers. And addition. Dragging a number to a neighbouring block adds the values, and drops the 1 if it goes to two places. (For example 7 + 6 = 13, which would be 3). Your goal is to make as many numbers as you can before you can’t make anymore!

 

Hex Raid

Play Hex Raid now!

Hex Raid is a visual experiment – using hex tiles to simulate 3D space, you play the role of an intrepid magical raider of this shapeshifting tomb, and must collect as many coins as you can before the time runs out. The time is extended by each coin you collect, so go go go! However you can only move up one step, so whenever you feel stuck, you can use the power of the mystical coin to shift the land beneath your feet! Whoa!

 

Cave Lander

Play Cave Lander now!

Cave Lander is an experiment in procedural level generation, and a take on the classic Lander formula. Fly around the cave to reach your destination before your fuel runs out… Remember that gravity hurts, and to refuel before you run out!

 

Hexavity

Play Hexavity now!

Hexagon Gravity. An experiment in gravity in a grid… Shift the gravity in one of the six hex directions, watch them hexes fall into place, and make matches when anything falls in a row of 3 or more!

Now for an impromptu lesson in game design – This game suffers from what’s known as lack of agency – the player has one of six choices to make (five if you don’t count the direction you’re already going in), and not one of those choices are really predictable of success. It’s next to impossible to tell which hexes will land where after a shift, so… it’s not a lot of fun.

But it only took a day, and that’s the point of prototyping! Only in testing can one quickly find out what works and doesn’t work with an idea. In this case, the shifting hexes were pretty to look at and interact with, but the condition of play less so. We’ve learned this in a day, and that’s what counts most!

 

And there you have it – our seven games within the bigger project of Game Logic’s 30 Games in 30 Days Challenge. A great big congratulations to everyone involved, Gamelogic for the call to arms, The App Factory for also making some damn fine games, Liam Twose for the #30DayDev concept!

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!

 

css.php