Make Game Series pageant

Make Game is a forum which is a sequel and successor to the now defunct superfriendshipclub. I was a sometimes member of the superfriendship club right when I was starting out making games full time. It was an interesting place to hang out, with a much different focus than most of forums for indie games that I had found at the time.

One of the best parts of it was the pageant section, which gave rise to a series of really interesting jams. At the time, I didn’t feel ready to approach the themes, they were too big for me to wrap my mind around. I thought I was ready, but of course the first theme for the ressurected pageants is blowing my mind. Please join me in participating in “Series”.

Series

The instructions from Ian Snyder:

Make a two or more small games all revolving around one central theme or idea that when taken together form one cohesive whole. Make the games good.

Zero Zero Projector

A first person permadeath arcade shooter with fog flasks.

zero zero hero

Unity Webplayer

Win / Mac / Linux Downloads

I started out 7drl this year with high hopes. Just on the tail of nightmare cooperative, I was feeling pretty confident that I could get to the end of this jam without making a pile of garbage (like I did last year), or just completely fail to make anything (like I did the prior year).

Unfortunately, I got it into my head that the correct thing to do was to make a heist game that didn’t have any combat, and which was presented as a series of disconnected vignettes. A top down 30 flights of loving. I built out some nice graphics for it, and had ideas for some of the scenes that I wanted in it. Unfortunately, once I started thinking about it in terms of a game, I let “player agency” creep in. This was the death knell for this project, because I didn’t know how to handle a heist where the player could make choices about how it was going to proceed. I kept getting mixed up between the game I wanted to make and the expectations of what a roguelike should be.

I think I will come back to this idea at some point, or at least find a use for the graphics, because look at these graphics.

20147drlfail

Two days into the 7drl, I decided to deep six that project and start on something new. I had the beginnings of a randomly generated fps, so I grabbed all that code and started actually making it into a thing. I ripped out all of the enemies that I had implemented, tore out all the graphics, and switched it so that it just generated a single empty square room. I had big plans for this dungeon generator, but moving things to the third dimension is always hard. Making it to a first person asteroids simplifies a bunch of the generation.

I then built out a few enemies. I probably picked the wrong art style for this, because it took me a few hours each to make the animations and art. I don’t know what I could have done different except just not had animations. Or maybe art is just costly always.

Finally, I hit on this idea of throwing potions around, and having the fog have different properties. I had some notes of a roguelike that would use potions as the only weapon, with about 30 ideas listed. I stripped these back to the most important and interesting three, and shoved them in the game. Up to this point the game was brutally difficult, but with the addition of the potions, it didn’t take much work to balance it into something more or less playable. Winning feels like you are exploiting the game, which is an interesting thing to have happen. I don’t know if it is good design or not, but I like that there is a secret way to win and that you have to track it down.

The Nightmare Cooperative

A new game.

Play The Nightmare Cooperative here.

I have been attempting to make a roguelike, and more specifically a broughlike for the past year or so. You can play some of my earlier attempts here and here, but I would not recommend it. They are largely directionless, I was attempting to cargo cult design my way into the correct space, without understanding what a roguelike is or what makes them interesting. There were two breakthroughs in my understanding.

Both of the breakthroughs came through making games in puzzlescript, and they both happened in the same week, on sequential days. The first was All Together. This helped me to understand what makes a grid and turn based game function. Largely, it is about positioning, and engines to manipulate that positioning in reaction to enviromental factors. This is tightly constrained in the early levels of all together, but by the last level, there are multiple solutions. In my initial idea for this game, it was a prototype for a roguelike. Having a prototype that ignores all but the most core mechanical elements of the roguelike allowed me to not get caught up in the parts of the definition that concern replayability.

All Together stopped at the point where it had only had 4 objects to work with (characters, enemies, goals and walls). With Candy Bomb I started to allow new objects to bleed in as I came up with ideas for them. It only started to explore the cross section between these objects. The breakthrough here was in having minor modifications to object definitions that had large consequences. In prior games that I have made with a large number of objects, they tend to exist very far away from each other in their definitions. In Candy Bomb, changing the number of bombs required to explode a candy is a HUGE change to the way that puzzles are solved. The fact that minor changes make such a huge difference is freeing in that you can populate the space of the game with tons of variety without too much work. This is something I have shyed away from, because there seems to be an implicit rule that games with a bulk of rules are worse than games with only a few rules. I am no longer sure.

Moving from the puzzle games to the roguelike was not the hardest problem. I knew the core mechanic that I wanted to implement. The obvious and first step was to soften up the penalty for encountering enemies in the game. A less obvious jump was something that was pointed out by smestorp.

My original note: roguelikes need to have ways that you can spend your way past blocks in the level… even if it is always solvable, have alternate solutions that don’t require as much thought, but you can spend a commdity (bombs or ropes in spelunky) to get past them.

I am going to fail to perfectly communicate his suggestion, but hopefully I will get close. He suggested that roguelikes need to have consumable items that allow later levels which might be impossible without the consumables to be beaten. On the early levels, you can always beat them without using consumables, but it is easier with them. This is where the ideas for the characters special moves came from. From there, having different specials for each character was an obvious jump.

I have plenty more ideas for how to expand this game, but I am trying to keep it within the 7DRL limits, so please enjoy.

All Together / Candy Bomb

all together / candy bomb

Two small puzzle games, my first ever puzzle games. Were incredibly fun to create. All together is a bit difficult, and probably the more unique of the two. Candy bomb was made for the candyjam.

all together candy bomb

2013 Year in review

Here is a list of the things I made last year.

Wave Trip

wave trip

The last of the channel 4 music games. I think I finally turned a corner on how to make arcade game with this one. It might be my first game with screen shake and score multipliers. Also user generated content. I think this might be the last phone / tablet exclusive game I make for a while.

Proteus Mac Port

I love this game. I am still working on the port a little bit. I encourage everyone to play this game.

A daily journal for Jan & Feb

Started out as a fun a day project, then tried to extend it to a fun a year project, but fell off after the second month. Was really enjoyable while I was doing it, but I am not sure if it helped me with my output at all, or my mental health. I should probably revisit, and keep metrics as I do it to see. I wish I had more copies of it to hand out, but xeroxing things is really expensive.

In D

In D

This was a cover of in c, set in a dungeon. It was shown at bit of alright 2013, and I think it went over pretty ok. It is certainly the most content I have ever produced for a game in the shortest time; ~40 unique rooms in under 7 days. I should have learned a lesson from this, but I think I might have forgotten it for the whole year. I don’t know if any documentation of this project exists, and I don’t have a currently available version for distribution.

A small rogue & T@XI

T@XI

I have now made this part of a roguelike around 10 times (including some attempts that were so unfinished that I didn’t include them on this list). I am starting to learn that starting from a formalist definiton of a game and filling it out is not a way for me to finish something. I lose interest in it way too quickly. I feel kinda bad for the guy that did a video review of T@XI.

Options

Options

I made a game for Morgan’s degree show, to be played with physical bits. I think it went alright. I am certainly learning to design for time scales. Before I made the physical version, I made a twine version to test out all the various bits and get some copy down on the page.

Sokobomb

sokobomb

I am not sure if there was any strong reason to make this other than the fact that I was trying to get a game done every month, and it was a funny name. If it wasn’t so buggy it would be pretty fun. I think it might be inspired by PYRO II, but I can’t remember if that inspiration was conscious or not. Not alot of people have played it.

Laser Lock

Was attempting to make a game that had some of the feeling of O by smestorp. I discussed some solutions to the issues with this game with him, but was never really drawn back to it, potentially due to the fact that it was tough to test on my own. There are a few more words about it here. It looks super cool, but I don’t have a screen shot of it.

Gentlemen

gentlemen

This game just kept on going. It should have been obvious during the development that this was a pc first game, due to the fact that we kept testing it with xbox controllers. We released first on android and ipad, and then ported to ouya and pc. I think it is pretty good, but I also think that it is lacking a bit in depth of its mechanics. I wish I had put in a single player mode more than anything else, because it could have helped me tune the high level input and find new ways to explore those systems. I also wish that I had played more streetfighter before making this game, so I could have included some of the systems from that. The rolling design phase on this game was really fun though, I got to keep tuning stuff for months, and it ended up at a far better place than it started.

Arcade Jam

An amazing experience, and something that drove the Roflpillar project, and also somewhat drove the creation of TBGV. I think the post that I did about it is probably more worth reading.

High Rise Hovercraft

hoverbounce

Made for the chainjam, a collection of 4 player party games. I also built a cabinet to play the games on, which ended up being reused for showing gentlemen. The core thing that I was exploring here was blocking. It is pretty fun to play, but doesn’t have a bunch of depth. I am pretty sure it is pretty similar to a minigame from a ps2 party game collection.

IKON_COLONIZE

ikon_colonize

My first experience in making online multiplayer. Attempted to make a three player version of dota. There were a bunch of learning experiences here. I wish I had prototyped this as a card game with simultaneous moves, and I think I might go back to that. You can play it, if you can find 2 other people.

Roflpillar

Probably the best thing I made last year, and you will probably never get a chance to play it. Really incredibly proud of this thing.

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