Archive for May, 2007

TAGD Got Gladstoned

Monday, May 21st, 2007

Click for a bigger and more readable versionThe Truth About Game Development got mentioned in Darren Gladstone’s column in the new Games For Windows -magazine (click the image to read the article). Or maybe mentioned is a too lame of a word, it’s more like the column was mainly about TAGD. It’s almost like a review, expect it’s not. Anyway I found it to be a pretty funny description of the game. And I really liked the part in the end were he wrote that:

Now, I’d hardly say that The Truth About Game Development is a realistic depiction of how a game publisher works - killing peons and all - but it does get me thinking. A lot goes into game design that gamers and game magazine editors don’t see. It can’t be all black and white.

I’m glad the game got him thinking. Many thanks to Darius Kazemi (who nowadays runs the Orbus Gameworks), for scanning the article and thus letting me know that it existed in the first place.

Argblargs and 3 New Experimental Flashgames

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Martin of prototyprally has released three new experimental flash games as a part of Argblargs.com. Argblargs.com is the final project of Martin and 5 other guys for their school. It’s a web based multiplayer game, where you create your own avatar and fight other players, explore places and earn experience points. It’s bit like Kingdom Of Loathing, but with more multiplayer elements and slicker graphics. I’m really impressed with all the work they’ve done for the website. There are all these cool little details that really amaze me, like the cool victory dance your avatar does after it wins a combat, or the small animation in the background of the website.

As a part of this MMORPGeish website there are 5 mini games that you can play in order to get more experience points. Four of these are by Martin and three of them are previously unpublished games. You don’t have to register to the website in order to play Martin’s newest games, but I really recommend it, even if just to see the amazing avatar editor.

Well here’s a brief description of the new games.

Master Soup
You play as a ninja-chef and you job is to slice all the ingredients that are dropping from the top of the screen. Slicing is done by pressing the mouse button down and then moving the cursor in a line and trying to hit as many objects as possible. There is a clever score multiplier that keep rising if you slice more than one object at a time and make sure that only sliced ingredients fall in to the soap. The controls are very intuitive and the game is very easy to pick up. It’s almost too easy at the beginning, but it gets harder as the game progresses.

Master Soup is the most thematic game of the bunch. And what a wonderful theme it is. I’m so jealous that Martin got to make a ninja game. I’ve always wanted to do that.

Flashbombs
A color-matching-bomb game. The mechanics of this game are pretty hard to describe and it took me a little a while to figure out how the game worked. The idea of the game is that you click on bomb to light the fuse and after few seconds the bomb explodes. The explosion will ignite the fuses of other bombs of the same color that are touching the one that exploded. And when they explode they will ignite the fuses of the bombs of same color that are touching them, and so on and so on. Idea is to create really big combos.

You can move the bombs around by dragging the circle with the star, but you really have a very limited way of manipulating the bombs. Which is a bit frustrating, but that’s where the most of the excitement comes from. When you’ve managed to do a 8 combo and there some bombs of the same color left and you try desperately to get them to touch each other. And you know that bomb will explode in few seconds. The game is really fun, but unlike Master Soup it’s pretty hard to figure out how to play the game.

Dingding
Dingding is the most traditional game of the three games. It’s a color matching game where you have to empty the screen of the bubbles. You can remove bubbles in sets of two and up to god knows how many. The controlling is done by dragging bubbles so that the touch bubbles of the same color, and you can continue doing so until you run out of bubbles of the same color to touch. Or until you release the mouse button. This enables you to remove only very few bubbles when wanting to do so, but also gives you the change to create really long combos. The dragging action with mouse (and also the animations) make the game feel very dynamic and alive, when compared to a standard matching games.

While at the beginning the game felt like a novel twist on the old concept, pretty much after the first level it turned out to be very enjoyable and fresh game. It’s probably the one I ended up playing the most (I’m a sucker for a good matching game).

So even if you’re not interested in their MMORPGeish website I really recommend you check out Martin’s newest games. They are among the best that he has done. And my congrulations goes to the whole team, they did an amazing job with the website.

Btw. I’m Gummikana on the site.

Postmortem: Druid Soccer

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

I can’t believe it’s been already five months since my last postmortem. I’ve been skipping my responsibilities is because my postmortems have tendencies to become these huge 3000+ words long monsters. I’ll try to write this one in a more compact way, so it’s easier to read and to write.

The Development Process
Megalith

Druid Soccer was published 1st of January 2007, but I started working on it already in October 2006. The game started out as a Mario-esque platformer game. I had some random ideas I wanted to test out, so I cracked together a quick prototype where I could test these things out. While testing out my Mario physics I happened to discover that balancing and bouncing a huge box on top of the player character was actually really fun. So I thought to myself, that if this balancing a box thing is fun, it would be twice as fun if there where two players. And thus Druid Soccer was born.

Well actually it wasn’t called Druid Soccer. The game lacked a theme. I tested the early prototype with my friends and got a very good response from them. Everybody enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until December 2006 that I started working on the game again. And it was then when I decided that I’d skin the game as a druid soccer.

What Went Right

1. Building the toy first
A blue-square-prototype of the game really helped me balance out and tweak little things in the game. And also I got to test the game with my friends and get some initial feedback on the idea. Something I rarely get to do with my prototypes. The game would have never been made if I hadn’t tested the early version with my friends. That’s the price you got pay for creating a two player game. The playtesting takes a lot more time and people, than it does in a single player game.

2. The simple but deep gameplay
Even though the game has a very simple idea and controls, the game has surprisingly deep gameplay. Because of the physics there are all these small cool little tricks that you learn to do. Ways to get the bolder out of your opponents grip, how to throw the boulder from the middle of the playground, etc…

3. The right theme
I think I managed to pick a pretty decent theme for the game. At least for some people it’s been the theme that got stuck in their head. I was also lucky enough to happen to stumble upon some really create Celtic Creative Commons music: The Dongas Tribe.

What Went Wrong

Even though I had lots of fun testing the game with my friends, the feedback that I got from the game wasn’t overly positive. I was actually little surprised by the feedback I got after the game’s release. Here’s why I think the game didn’t go over as well as I had hoped.
A druid

1. Two player game
I think the fact that the game has to be played by two players on the same keyboard, was one of the biggest reasons why the game got so little attention. The game has a single player mode where you play against the computer, but the AI is crappy, and it’s not the same experience to play it against the AI than to play it against your friend.

2. No Juiciness
The second reason I think is the fact the game has a serious lack of juiciness. There are no sound effects or particle effects or stuff like that. There’s very little animation and there’s actually no real award for making a goal. And also somebody pointed out that the game lacked my trademark, which is the big bonuses that drop from the top of the screen (as in Cacodemon and Pluto). I had too much trust in the original prototype, so I thought that game would be enjoyable even with out all that juiciness.

3. Too many nasty bugs
Unfortunately in the final release of the game, there are game stopping bugs. The physics model wasn’t stable enough with the fact that the players were teleported to their goal areas when they made a goal. I didn’t realize this in time, so the game had a bunch of really nasty bugs.

Conclusion

Overall the game is one that has a lot of potential, but I’m afraid that the single player version of the game doesn’t bring that out. The two player game on a same keyboard is always a hazzle to get working, but when you do it’s always fun. Druid Soccer is one of those games that I’d love to redo, so it would get the polish it deserves.

Daydreaming in the Oval Office

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

It’s hard for me to believe that this is already my ninth (or tenth if you count the Divorce) done-in-under-week game. Well without further ado here’s the game.

Daydreaming in the Oval Office

Screenshot of Daydreaming in the Oval Office Screenshot of Daydreaming in the Oval Office Screenshot of Daydreaming in the Oval Office

Download
Ovaloffice.zip (3,6 Mb) (Release 1)

Instructions
You’re mr. Bush and you’re daydreaming in the oval office. Trying to collect imaginary pieces of evidence about the Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Use arrow keys to move George around. Try to keep the beach ball off the floor and try to collect the pieces of evidence.

Esc - Will quit the game.
Alt + enter - Will toggle fullscreen.

Credits
Game Design, Code & Gfx: Petri Purho ( petri.purho (at) gmail.com )
Music: Grand Old Rag, performed by Billy Murray (recorded 06 February 1906). The song is in public domain.

Also the score screen background was based on this photo by Thomas Hawk. The photograp was under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 -license.
Also the following public domain photographs where used: 20061011-5 p101106pm-133jpg-772v.jpg by Paul Morse, OvalFloor.jpg and United_States_Bill_of_Rights.jpg.

Thanks
Physics model is based on Markus Ilmola’s tutorials.
Inspiration source: This youtube -video and Experimental Gameplay Project.
Dadreaming in the Oval Office uses: SDL, SDL_Image, SDL_Mixer and SDL_RotoZoom