Finally!!! After 72 hours of work (plus a few hours of sleep afterwards!),
I would like to present to you, Second Hand: Frankie’s Revenge
Finally!!! After 72 hours of work (plus a few hours of sleep afterwards!),
I would like to present to you, Second Hand: Frankie’s Revenge
Previous Update: Dapper Penguin Studio – Day #1
Welcome to another update from the team at Dapper Penguin Studio.
Before we get started on what we’ve achieved over the last 24 hours, I’d like to remind you, that I am constantly tweeting about our development, the challenges we face, and also answering questions and offering advice via my own personal Twitter Account. Got a question I’m not quite sure of? Don’t worry, I’ll put it to the team here, and they’ll draw on their combined experience of over 35 years of Game Development knowledge, from Indie to AAA development, to give you the best advice we can!
Now, with that all out of the way, let’s get down to business. (To defeat, the Huns!)
After my participation in LD32 (my first!) I experienced the pain of having limited time to work on making some cool mechanics, art and audio, only to realize at the last minute that I didn’t have time for basic functionality like a menu, pause screen and music and sound options. Since I would like to be able to use these things myself in the next jam I decided to make a template package that’s publicly available for everyone to use, and since in between making jam games I work at Unity as part of the online content team (we make the tutorials for the Unity learn site) we decided to publish it as an Official Unity Thing™.
See below for a download link and a list of functionality built in. The package has a read me file inside with setup instructions and I’ve done a live training for our live training series which walks through setup and also how the scripts work.
-Placeholder title image and title text
– Options Button
– Quit Button
– Fade to black (or any color assigned to FadeImage) when transitioning out of main menu to main scene
-Sound Effects Volume
-Sound Effects Volume
– Resume Button
– Quit Button
– Change or loop music clips when starting game
-Music pre-routed to Audio Mixer, connected to UI
-Can be used either with single scene or multi-scene games.
In celebration of the announcement of Fallout 4 i’m hosting a jam on Gamejolt for Fallout inspired games. Make a game that is inspired by the Fallout series or takes place in a post-nuclear disaster world. It starts on June 15 and runs for 21 days. Anyone who wants to participate is welcome! Click Here for details and rules.
Avast, countryfolk! Come here and hear the tale of how Freehold Games and I outsmarted the Trojans with a marvelous wooden horse. Come play Trojan Horse Simulator: The Art of Subterfuge! (link to game page)
Who Are You?!
I’m Epeius, son of Panopeus, born 1281 BCE, and I built the Trojan Horse. So when Freehold Games summoned me from the distant past to help them recreate the daring stratagem for Ludum Dare, naturally I agreed.
Who is Freehold Games, you ask? I’ll introduce you to them, as I’m trained in the arts of rhetoric as well as horse building. There’s Jason Grinblat, who did the design and writing. Brian Bucklew was the programmer. Nick DeCapua did the art, and Brandon Tanner wrote the music that scores this dramatic recreation. You can check out their other games at freeholdgames.com.
The Horse: Majestic, Unconventional, Weaponous
So how did Freehold Games decide on the Trojan Horse? Well, they brainstormed other ideas first. Talk of exploding sheep was bandied about, Brian suggested a sentient machine gun that self-identified as ‘unconventional’, Jason liked the idea of a staff the glitched the level when you hit things. All fine ideas, surely. But let’s be real. The Trojan Horse is THE unconventional weapon, birthing the art of subterfuge and changing the landscape of war forever.
Nick suggested a game where you control a bunch of Greek soldiers inside the Trojan Horse. That’s when the team reached out to me. With a bit more discussion, the team decided that it would be hilarious (and quite historically accurate) if you controlled the soldiers as they rushed toward the front and back of the horse, trying to push it toward Troy. Now, it’s a common misconception that the Trojans actually found the abandoned horse and pulled it into Troy themselves. Nonsense. My brave, cunning countrymen, those Greeks who hid within the horse, did the pushing. The Trojans looked on in awe as the autonomous wooden beast rolled toward the gates of the city. Only when it was too late did they realize they’d been had. History.
Drawing the Horse: A Serendipitous Affair
Brian and Jason loaded up their game development tool of choice, Unity. The idea was to draw a horse, add some wheel joints, put some soldiers inside, and use Unity’s 2D physics engine to let the player push the horse around via the soldiers. I should clarify, here. You control ALL the soldiers. At once. They’re sort of like a sentient liquid mass. In fact, for a while, the game was called An Unconventional Horse Filled with Liquid Greek. But we ended up going with something more dignified.
First, Brian quickly drafted up the horse.
Not as beautiful as my original, but hey, programmer art. Serendipitously, this horse shape turned out to be perfect for two reasons. One, the raised head and tail give the player the option to concentrate the soldiers in a small space and exert pressure on the roof of the horse, effectively jumping it.
Two, the raised head and tail also act as guard rails for soldiers that get flung on top of the horse.
In the real maneuver, soldiers were indeed flung out of the hole I inexplicably left at the top of the horse. But they soldiered on, as true Greeks do.
Procedural Terrain and Exploding Horses
At this point the physics were working, but the flat terrain did a poor job at simulating the rocky approach to the gates of Troy. We couldn’t have the player just roll on through, with no challenge whatsoever. So we introduced procedural terrain, and made the horse explode into pieces if it hit the ground too hard, unless it landed on its wheels.
We fiddled for a while with the parameters: horse durability, terrain peaks and troughs, frequency of the deadly “Trojan” pits, etc. Finally, we settled on something we liked.
The Trojan Horse – Opus no. 13 Part 1 – The Dawn of the Horse (The Coming Storm)
Around this time, brilliant composer-man Brandon Tanner was preparing a score of epic proportions. Some say the juxtaposition of the uber-dramatic score with the silly graphics and gameplay produce a humorous effect. To those people I say: HEY, THIS IS NO LAUGHING MATTER. THIS IS WAR, AND SUBTERFUGE, AND HORSES. In addition to the main theme, Brandon also wrote an appropriately epic overture to accompany the text prologue, which is also very serious.
The Trojans Are a Suspicious Lot
Everything up to this point was well and good, but we were missing the key element that made the whole endeavor so brilliant. The Trojans were quite suspicious of this horse, after all, and it was only their wonder at this magical contraption that kept their minds distracted from what was really happening. And what was really happening? That’s right: subterfuge. Occasionally, due to the imperfect design of the horse (hey, I was on a tight schedule, too), Greek soldiers were flung on to the top of the horse or to the ground. Naturally, this made the Trojans suspicious. It was up to the other soldiers inside to jiggle the horse so that the clumsy dum-dums on top fell back in. Now for the soldiers who fell to the ground… Well, most of them fell into the gaping pits. Some survived in the hill valleys, and it was up to the other soldiers to crush them under the wheels of the horse, lest they arouse more suspicion. A grim task, indeed, but necessary, and necessary to simulate in Trojan Horse Simulator: The Art of Subterfuge.
To simulate this danger, the team introduced a suspicion meter that incremented by 10 for every second a Greek soldier is exposed outside of the horse. Get to 1000 suspicion, and the Trojans discover your ruse. Now you must balance forceful thrusting of the horse to navigate tough terrain with gentle management of the soldiers to keep suspicion low. And when one inevitably gets free, you must crush. Crush.
We adjusted the length of the trek to the gates of Troy until we were happy with the game’s difficulty. We wanted to keep it difficult to reward the victors. And difficult it is! But with practice, you can really manipulate the horse to an astonishing degree, making most terrain possible to beat (even terrain that initially looks impossible).
One bonus note about the art. Our original artist couldn’t join us, so Nick DeCapua bravely took up the mantle. And a fine job he did in only one evening, imparting a sense of sun-baked mountainous terrain and giving us the hewn wooden we see today. I’ll say, it looks mighty like the one I built with my own hands all those years ago (mine was better, though).
And that, my friends, is how the art of subterfuge was born, and how our team recreated the experience of that fateful morning. It was our first weekend-long game jam, and all things considered, we think it came together nicely. Of course, as my father Panopeus was fond of saying in ancient Greece, “if only there was more time to think of ways to deceive your enemies, and to spend on your game jam.” He was wise. Unfortunately, he was crushed to death during the horse stampede of 1260 B.C.E.
So saddle up, jump inside, and teach those Trojans a lesson about ogling a magic horse.
Just a highlight video of progress from yesterday.. less than a day left until completion:
I’m still programming, so Jenni is checking out the Ludum Dare streams on Twitch & saying hi .. she made the cow & found the moo fx for our submission!
We got out mic & live-streaming channels up recently so hope to see ya all around more soon!
So, I finally decided what to do for this ludum dare, which has the theme “unconventional weapon“. My weapon of choice is “Democracy“, a humble tribute to Heinlein’s novel – and, of course, the Verhoeven’s movie – Starship Troopers.
Player controls an invasion operation at a distant planet, inhabited by big insects , in order to spread “democracy” through the galaxy. The player must exterminate the insects and collect the planet resources to win.
This is what looks like for now:
Wanted to show people an update for the UIC game jam team.
Here are some of the ally units we currently have planned for as weapons. Cute aren’t they?
This is Hans Piper, the one in charge of protecting the forest. You get to play as him, neat huh?
Some early HUD work that we have going on.
Into hour 9 at this point and going strong!
Hello, hello! I’m glad to announce this time Ogre Pixel will be participating in the Ludum Dare Jam! this is the first time we are participating in a Game Jam so we are very excited to start doing what we love… make a game! =D
See you around and happy ludum dare!
You can check out our Indie Games in our website: http://www.ogrepixel.com
Hey, this is our first post here and we’re incredibly excited to be entering our first game jam.
We’ve been sitting on the sidelines for too long, and finally decided our company is going to go full steam ahead with games, so why not make our first official project be the LD #32 entry?
Being a two man team, we’re going to share coding / art responsibilities. After watching films such as Super Game Jam, and Game Loading, it’s clear that there is something special about game jams and we want to be apart of every LD Jam going forward. We look forward to sharing our game with this awesome community and we look forward to playing your games too!
– Thinkr Team.
I just wrapped up my entry for the Austin Educational Game Jam. I thought you guys might dig it. This was a week long game jam and I worked with one other person who did most of the art.
In my game you play a cashier in a grocery store for monsters. You will need to scan items, bag them efficiently, count the customer money, and give them their change. It starts easy but difficulty ramps up quickly. I will be showing it at the expo tomorrow at the Palmer Events Center in Austin Texas.
Download Link: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/42191645/MonsterMart.zip
I’ve long been wanting to get this up and I’m very happy to finally present to you the diary of the making of our team’s entry Bionic Bliss!
Friday 8 Dec
After a frantic day at work, I make my way through to Free Lives HQ; the awesome new dev house that the Broforce creators have just moved into. They’ve graciously invited members of the Make Games SA community to invade the house during Ludum Dare 31. By the time I arrive, the house is already packed with friendly faces from the MGSA’s Cape Town contingent, plus a few devs who’ve gone so far as traversing the 2000 kilometers down from Johannesburg to be there. I find and high-five Richard, the man I’ll land up making a cyber-punk customer-support game with over the next three days.
By now, the theme for LD is only going to be announced in 8 hours (4AM on Saturday morning, South Africa time). Richard and I take this as an opportunity to talk about the sort of game we might like to make once the jam starts. The obvious way to do this seems to be with beer, in a jacuzzi, overlooking the distant lights of Cape Town city.
In between a bunch of silly ideas involving a hot-tub-hot-air-balloon, we set up a loose collection of attributes we’d our LD entry to have. We want to do something small; a simple idea that we can quickly complete within the first 48 hours and then polish for the last 24. We want to do something with a significant written aspect. If the concept allows, we’d like to fit in some recorded dialogue. We’re hardly out to win anything, but if our game should do well in any of the jam’s categories, we want to focus on humour.
I have a gig to play. I jump out the jacuzzi, dry myself, get dressed, grab my keytar, high-five my partner adieu and hit the road.
Saturday 9 Dec
I only make it back to Free Lives by mid-day on Saturday. By the time I arrive the house is already buzzing with the energy of 20 or so devs excitedly laying the foundations of their jams.
I discover the theme Entire Game on One Screen, which (as one of my favourite options) makes me pretty happy. Now 8 hours behind (so that our 72 hour game will in fact be made in 64), Richard and I head out into the garden with a pad of paper and an adorable pup in tow. In the next 45 minutes or so, the concept of Bionic Bliss will be born.
To try get the ball rolling, we start by listing some game genres that we’d might like to work within (or smash apart). Dating sim? Single button 4 player co-op? Service game? The ideas that come out of this last option get us so excited that we don’t bother putting forward any more suggestions. Our idea is perfectly in line with the simple rules we set up in the hot-tub the night before. What’s more, the concept has us in stitches, perfectly satisfying the absurd sense of humour Richard and I share.
Our take on the theme will be that the player will experience the game from the point of view of a customer-support chat-center employee, looking at their desktop. You’ll receive a series of complaints from people; it’s up to you whether you chose to help them, or mess with them to get through your boring day at work. Each caller will have a profile pic and mood bar that’s affected by your responses. We’ll have some other supporting details worked into the UI. We’ll set the game in a cyberpunk future. You’ll deal with robotic implant recipients. We’ll have multiple endings based on how you treat people. The endings will play out in the “real world”, beyond the space of the screen. There will be blood.
Some more crazy ideas are thrown around. Your boss will check in on you from via the chat window. He’ll be a dick. You can surf the net. It will be entirely made of cats. Ultimately we choose to narrow the scope of the game down only to the customer interactions and head back into the house with a simple, clear idea of the game we’re about to make.
I fire up Photoshop and start working on designing what our player’s desktop will look like. The result is pretty close to the original sketch we laid out in the garden. Characters are done with pixel art. Text is similarly chunky. I finish things off with some scan-lines and distortion for classic cyberpunk, lo-fi, sci-fi goodness.
Richard gets to work in Unity, building a set of tools that I’ll be able to use in putting together the customer interactions. Primarily, we need to set up something that can input lines of dialogue from our customers and from there link up to multiple response options from the player. Past that, each response needs to lead to new customer dialogue as well as have an effect on the mood bar and possibly activate specific endings.
Next Richard jumps onto working in the UI I designed, integrating this with our dialogue-tree tools. I jump onto laying out and writing our first chat; an absurd interaction with a 300 year old man and his malfunctioning junk. I do this in illustrator, complete with scribbly arrows connecting things up and colour-coded numbers indicating effect on mood. Responses options are generally helpful, bored or mean. I work in a path were you can be a dick up to a point, then help the poor guy out. Given his age, there’s also the possibility of leading the old man around in circles, getting him to keep repeating his problem as you toy with him. I read Richard what I wrote. We laugh.
I get going with the rest of the interactions, but I can feel my wits dulling as time ticks by. We call it a day at somewhere around 3 AM. I pack up and head home. Richard lands up coding till the sun rises.
Sunday 10 Dec
I get back to Free Lives at 2PM. Richard has recently jumped out of bed and proudly shows me that, since we parted, he worked in the text of our first dialogue and we now have some sort of playable experience. A good place to be in, given that we’re just short of halfway through the 72 hours we have.
Jason (the third part of Team Lazerbeam) makes it through as well. He gets to work making the game’s music with his iPad, as he hangs out in a deck chair next to the pool.
I settle back into crafting dialogue. Since I left I’ve had an epiphany; there should be a character who (rather than looking for help) wants you to joke around with them. She’ll be a cyberpunk babe, bored and looking for someone to amuse her. If you do well, she’ll ask you out on a date.
Writing the dialogue for the girl that will become Kiki Kilobyte is a turning point in the game’s development. Creating this dialogue tree, the game goes from a silly extended joke to something much more. Somehow, through Kiki’s responses to options where the player is a helpful , this game becomes a reflection on society turning us into robots. Not physical machines, but machines in mind and spirit. Model employees that do and say as they’re told while faceless corperations strips away our humanity, mind-numbing day by mind-numbing day.
I’m pretty absurdly excited about the game by this point. Music is sounding awesome, we’re making great progress on Richard’s side and Kiki (beyond brining forward some heart-felt thematic weight) has also thrown things in a new direction. There’s now the idea that the “right” response may not be right at all. We also now have two potential endings, one where you get yourself killed and one where you get taken out on a date. We factor in a potential third ending; your terminal is hacked by someone you made fun of. If the player doesn’t qualify for either of these three, we write two more endings in, one where you’re commended for being helpful or one where you loose your job. I’m not sure which of these would be better in this strange dystopian future.
We now have an outline of the 6 characters the player will engage with; the ancient senior citizen, the grammar-nazi, the distressed-mom, the cyber-babe, the juvenile brat and the aggressive “tech-neck”. I bounce between fleshing these character out in writing and working on a logo for our company. Jason has neatly dubbed your employer “Bionic Bitz”.
This in turn finally gives us a name for our game. It will be ironically called “Bionic Bliss”.
As Richard and I power on, we see our friends one by one each break away from their own exciting games and head home or too bed. In the end Team Lazerbeam are the last men standing. By the time I call it a day, I’m almost done with the last dialogue tree; the surprising tricky grammer-nazi. The two of us leave from our workstations to quickly draw up a list of what’s left to be finished before the end of the jam, which is now less than 24 hours away.
I find myself bursting with joy, taking the long walk down the Free Lives driveway as a watch see the first rays of light breaking through the trees above me.
Monday 11 Dec
I work from home for the first bit of the day. I’ve started working on the pixel art for our customer portraits, something I’ve eagerly looked forward to. Jason’s busy on sound effects, and sends me along to Free Lives armed with a flashdrive with most all of our audio on it.
Richard shows me the first build featuring the system booting up and coming to life. It’s looking awesome. I jump onto finishing the last dialogue tree. From there I script the voiceover we’ll need for the terminals interactions with the player as well as the dialogue for our two off-screen endings. I send these along to Jason, who (with the help of our friends Kyle, Limpho & Anja) records these scripts and starts creating a little soundscape for each.
All writing finally in the bag, I fully settle into the portraits. I’m glad I’ve left these for the end. This is not only because it means I can’t afford to spend too long on them (which I knew was a danger) but also because, having written heaps of dialogue for each of them, I can draw on some pretty well established personalities when figuring out how each of our customers should look.
10PM: everyone has a face. I’d have liked to do some shading, but we’re happy with everyone and I need to jump into Unity to start working in these profiles along with connecting up the dialogue trees. I push these over to Richard while he’s furiously racing to incorporate audio and work in all the endings. My last contributions on an art front are an off-screen (for before your terminal is switched on) and a blood splatter to get on said screen if you rub the tech-neck up the wrong way.
1AM: we have (in some form) got our game done. It’s relatively solid, but so very rough around the edges. Endings are half-baked, bits of audio are missing, mood impacts are unclear and we can’t get full screen working. Richard powers through these issues. I spend the last few hours bouncing between preparing our submission and play testing. Because of the multitude of options, this is rather a tall order and I have to play through the game over and over again. I make notes of issues; which of them call for me to head back to Unity and which of them Richard will need to magically fix alongside the mountain of things already on his to do list.
4AM: I send through a submission with a mostly finished (though patchy) Bionic Bliss. After that we realize there’s an hour set aside for submissions, so we spend this time putting a few finishing touches on this bizarre little baby we’ve brought into the world.
5AM: our submission is done and the two of us are feeling on top of The World! Somehow, in 64 hours, Richard and I have made a functional game, that’s relatively polished, funny, weird and amusing. Bionic Bliss exists and it’s something that we’re both really proud of. We head out into the garden, dogs in hand, and take a set of portraits to capture the moment.
I find myself driving home just before 8AM, the morning light falling across my face as all around me people are racing off to yet another day at work. For me, I’ll be crawling into bed, so happy it hurts, looking back on 3 of the best days of my life.
You can play Bionic Bliss here!
I wrote quite a bit on my experiences on LD31, which boiled down to these points:
Linking to my post so as to not over-spam the LD feed with wall of text, but I think it’s really worth a read, because I learned a fair bit and I think these are good things for everyone to think about as jammers!
Then, a sweet gameplay video for my game No More Boxes.
And a little look at the characters of No More Boxes
Go check out “Space Dwarves: The Search for the Asteroid’s Heart“! It’s a game of strategy and management to try to keep your dwarves alive on their attempt to harvest the core of an asteroid.
Poo Dee Pie is making huge strides. Ben and Steffen have been working like crazy to get everything up and running. You can check out the WIP version of the game here: http://gamejolt.com/games/arcade/poo-dee-pie/40903/
Steffen has taken one of my favorite elements and animated it! The mouse in the conveyer belt will move around the rollers throughout game play. The mouse will be added on later and new adjustments will come to the WIP game on game jolt. Ben is catching some Zzz’s ATM.
Steffen is still creating gorgeous art for the game. Check out some of his updates:
Who says you can’t polish a turd?
A gif of game play will be coming soon. You can follow updates on this awesome game, including first looks at the (f)art by following #PooDeePie on Twitter. Also, follow @SteffenWittig, @ThumbsBlue and @Kintinue!