Sneakball: A Fast-Paced Action Game about Stealing – for 4 Players on 2 Gamepads

Another month, another Berlin Mini Game Jam. I’ll post the result from the November one later, but for now – here’s the game for the December edition for the theme “stealing things”:


Pick up data packets. Protect them from your enemies.
Route them to your base. Steal the ones the enemies have.
Sabotage their routing paths. And most of all: Be swift.

Sneakball Tutorial

Sneakball is played in 2 teams of 2 players each – and each team only has one gamepad, with one stick for each character. Coordination is key, and the game is more strategic than it looks like at first glance. You can pick up the white data packets by colliding with them. If you pick one up, it’ll have your color for a second and is immune from being stolen before it turns white again. Let the balls touch your satellites (the two things emerging from the base) to score.



Global Game Jam 2012, or: Keep rollin’ in Super Snake Wheel

At the end of every January, people all around the world gather to make awesome games in an absurdly short time. Developing a game in 48 hours is nothing short of insane, and I don’t think it comes to anyones surprise that this appeals a lot to me. And here I proudly present our result this year:

Super Snake Wheel

“We can’t stop here! This is bat country!”
Well, Mr. Snake might have been a bit drunk when he and his companion Mr. Gecko ignored all the warnings and set out to their adventure. Being one of the few snakes who can form a tire out of himself, he’s now rolling down the hill while Mr. Gecko defends him from birds, barely keeping his balance! Take control of this duo of odd heroes in this quirky adventure for one casual and one hardcore player!

Play the updated version online at Kongregate!

Check out the original GGJ build!

And of course credit where credit is due, and these amazing guys deserve a lot:

  • Game Design: Matthias Niebergall
  • Art: Kirill Krysov
  • Programming: Dominik Hübner and myself
  • Music taken from the wonderful Kevin MacLeod
  • A big thanks to all the people organizing the jam, globally and locally here in Berlin. You’ve done a great job!

By the way, we even satisfied a diversifier (an achievement for the developers) this year: “Collaborative Casual/Hardcore (Two players: one casual, one hardcore): Collaborative play for two, but one player has more to do than the other (or the difficulty level is different between them).” I am sure you will agree after you’ve tried both the casual Mr. Snake and the slightly more hardcore Mr. Gecko: The former just has to jump and duck, while the later has to balance on the snake, jump at the right times and use the mouse to shoot at birds!

Lessons learned

Even though this is not my first jam, it seems that every single one has some valuable lessons to teach. These are mine this time:

  • Even though it’s an a very small timeframe, make a rough project plan with milestones so you won’t lose focus.
  • Every milestone should be playable (player interaction and a goal), especially the first one – which should ideally be ready when you go to sleep the first time. It does wonders to your motivation!
  • Programmers, make a task list. It keeps you focused.
  • You cannot say if something is fun until you can test it. Halfway through the project I felt like giving up because nothing seemed to be coming together, and 12 hours later we had this amazingly fun prototype! So even if it seems like the game won’t be any good, at least implement the first playable prototype.
  • If your code is based on a pixel oriented framework like Flashpunk, don’t mix in vector based stuff like MovieClips. It just leads to a whole load of implementation overhead.
  • If you want to pull an all-nighter, at least sleep the first night. Otherwise you might fall asleep the second night which will surely lead to you missing the deadline.

This year the GGJ was certainly not easy and at times tedious and exhausting, but the result totally makes up for that. I daresay that it is one of my best prototypes so far! I am very happy that I have participated, and I’d like to thank everybody who made the weekend as amazing as it was!

Gradient: How Not To Be Seen

Another month, another Berlin Mini Game Jam. This time the topics were “adaptation” and “conflicting goals”. I took the former one, and made a stealth game:

You are the circle, trying to blend in with your environment as much as possible by changing your grey value. Perfect white or black heals you if you have the same color. Stay alive as long as possible!

The game began as local multiplayer at the jam, and over the next days I added a singleplayer mode, Kongregate scores, more polish, and of course sound and music which are made by Moritz Ufer.

The core gameplay was actually finished and the prototype playable after 5 hours, so I had 3 hours for polishing – nice. Best prototype I made at a jam all alone so far!

Play the game here: