Berlin Indie Game Jam 2011

Finally, BIGJam again!

Last weekend my internship in Rotterdam ended, and not a moment to soon, since another epic event was just awaiting me in Berlin: This year’s BIGJam! A nice café, a couple of frantic 3 hour jams, drinks, good food and lot of awesome independent game developers, what more could you want?

And noooow I present you: The prototypes!

Jam #1 (3h): Space Jump

The first 3h jam started on Friday with the topics “zero gravity” and “acrobatics”. Since I was alone by then and sadly devoid of my trusty Bamboo, my secret third topic was “abstract”. And it seems that “acrobatics” got lost somewhere along the way…

What I wanted to do was a game where one player controls the, well, player with the keyboard, and the other one controls the level with the mouse. This concept usually suffers from the player controlling the level being to powerful – which is why I just made it co-op. It became quite simplified along the way, and the result is Space Jump: One player controls the white circle, and the other can draw lines with the mouse to prevent the white circle from crashing into red circles or leaving the field.

Play it here:

Jam #2 (3h): Savior Cat

Saturday I was no longer alone: I had invited my ex-coworker Dominik, and we teamed up with an artist I met on friday: Tanja T-Rex. On our way to adventures and great prototypes we stumbled over the next topics: “free” / “cat”. Never turning down a challenge, onwards we went!

The result was another multiplayer game: Both of you are Savior Cats, freeing your brethren from the evil clutches of scientists who wanted to conduct their mad experiments on them! You couldn’t decide on which window is the safer one though – and now each Savior Cat tries to save as many cats as possible and throws them out of their own window.

Gameplay-wise it resembles a multiplayer-snake with a twist: You pick up cats by touching them, and then they follow you – but if another player (or scientist) touches a cat you carry, this cat and all of the following ones will now follow him! Play safe and only get a few cats to your window at a time, or be greedy and take the risk that somebody takes them from you because you cannot move them out of the way in time.

It is pretty fun and chaotic, the only thing preventing me from declaring it a complete success is that time ran out when we wanted to insert a crucial detail: The windows. Yeah, so far this game is without a goal.

Try it here anyway:

Jam #3 (3h): Valley of Sweet Death

After the immense success of our last prototype we stayed together, and being in good spirits we went on to the next jam. This time it was “delicious” and the totally fitting “suicide”. Wait, what?

Many ideas were formed and discarded, and after a while we settled on one. And mind you, that is the most political correct one that my team found (I’m totally innocent): A food cannon over a valley shooting at participants of a sort-of eating contest. Chocolate and sweets make you fat, but apples, motion in general and jumping in particular is good for you and therefore to be avoided.

Definitely not the favorite of what we made, but it is playable and works. I like the concept of needing to move to win, but losing what you need to win by moving.

Eat away: Valley of Sweet Death (Jam Version)

Jam #4 (5h): Ghost Huntress

5 hours? Madness! Since you can do sooo much in 5 hours, we decided to be really indecisive: It took us well over an hour to find our cover and game idea for the “be inspired by a cover” jam. Finally we arrived at the cover Ghost, and resolved to take one of my old prototypes named “Ghost Hunter” to the next level.

Ghost Huntress features a silent and invisible (and probably female, “GhostHunter” was already taken in my workspace) protagonist specialised in ghost hunting, saving children from the growing spectral infestation taking place in an orphanage. The twist: You don’t see the ghosts! But the children do – and they will run away from them, and surely being eaten (actually just frightened, but we didn’t come around doing the sprites for that) if the ghosts aren’t captured. You have to deduce the ghost’s position by watching the children closely before you can catch the ghost with your trap.

A simple concept which proved to be fun! And there’s much we can add: Flickering candles which will expose the ghosts for the blink of an eye, detectors showing how near they are, walls which they cannot pass and other cool stuff. And yeah: We actually might.

Until then, don’t get scared while playing the: Ghost Huntress (Jam Version)

So long, and thanks for…

…all the jam! Contrary to last year, I am very content with my results this time: A nice prototype all alone, and three amazing ones done with fellow programmer Dominik (a long time coworker) and Tanja T-Rex (who I met at the jam) as artist. Many thanks to our organizer jstckr for his work – and thanks to everybody who attended and made the BIGJam the awesome thing it was!

Looking forward to the next one!

Yet another (very colorful) Mini Game Jam

Yesterday we organized Yet another Mini Game Jam in Berlin, and well – it was nothing short of awesome. 8 jammers, 5 of them the first time at one of our Jams, and everybody learnt something and enjoyed themselves. We even had (gasp!) working prototypes at the end: Raising the bar to 8-10 hours the best thing that could happen to us. It’s so much less stressful and easier to get something done that you can actually play. The ever friendly and helpful staff of the wonderful Café Osswald made the combination complete.

The first theme choosing resulted in a tie between “Catharsis”, “Side-effect” and “Colors”, with the latter winning the following vote.

This time I teamed up with Robert Bergner, a student who actually came from Magdeburg for our jam, with whom I also worked together this years Global Game Jam. And this is what we made, in about 9 hours including idea finding, plus a few minutes bugfixing afterwards:

Working Title: “Colorful”

“You” are the red-blue-yellow colorbuckets in the middle of the screen. You can steer freely with WASD. The other circles are the enemies – they can only walk on their color, and they will try go straight to you as far as possible. Your buckets have 10 shot each, and they get refilled if you touch their color. By clicking on the buckets and dragging in the direction of enemies, you can fire color projectiles at them, mixing their color or recoloring them. It works like this:

If you shoot a primary color enemy (red, blue, yellow) with one of your color projectiles, they mix:

If shoot a secondary color enemy (green, magenta, orange – highlighted by their white border) they simply get replaced:

Enemies which change color try to get to the next patch of their new color as fast as possible.

This way you can control the enemies – which is as far as we’ve come in our prototype at the jam. What we’ll add in later:

  • Your goal: One of the color patches is the Collector Zone – you get points for luring enemies there. After a few enemies, the Collector Zone switches to another patch.
  • A time limit
  • Hit points: The enemies hurt you if they hit you, or maybe they even try to shoot at you!
  • Better algorithms for the color patch distribution

So, here’s the jam prototype! Please comment if you find a bug or have some kind of suggestion!

edit: The newest prototype in development is accessible here!

For this EGP, don’t get lost in a Wordmaze

This month’s EGP theme was ASCII, so to no one’s surprise: Here’s a game about words! More specifically about forming words out of letters which just happen to lie about.

The basic principle is as follows:

You are currently at the bigger “R”. Some letters have a black background – you previously wandered over these. Others are forming words, but you have yet to walk over them: these are green. You can drag and drop letters to form words. Red letters aren’t dragable, but as you can see above, can be used to form words: The N, E and D were red letters before. Minimum length for a word is 4 letters.

There are two modes: One in which you try to get as much points as possible until you run out of space or time, and another one in which you aim for a target. Everything else can be found out in the game by pointing at the [?] in the upper right corner of every playscreen – or by just playing it.

Apropos “playing it”: Click here for the current version! (This more complete version was edited after the EGP deadline. For the old egp version, click here.)

Please post some of your highscores here! Oh, and comments too! Which configuration(s) do you like best? Any criticism, feedback, suggestions?

Due to illness I didn’t have enough time to add sound effects and to fix some bugs. I’ve left the EGP version intact (see the link in brackets above), but also wanted to adress what I listed before, so I uploaded the new version – which is, of course, a) slightly over 7 days and b) touched in March too.

Oh, and: Hello! :)

Yet another Beat’em up: BashZone

As some of you might know, I’m studying International Media and Computing, which includes a course called “Media Programming” – and for all I know, it might also be named “Game Programming”, because that’s we what did there. I like my studies more and more!

This monday was the presentation of the games we made over the last two months. Ours is a Beat’em up. It’s rather generic due to time constraints (after all this wasn’t the only project we had to make in the last months) and the absense of a game designer, but I learned a lot about 3d programming and XNA while developing, and it’s fun to play anyway!

You should easily figure out the buttons on the gamepad.

Keyboard layout for player 1:

  • Left/Right: Move
  • Up: Jump
  • Down: Drop through plattform
  • J: Punch
  • K: Kick
  • L: Block
  • Backspace: Back
  • Space: Start

And for Player 2:

  • D/G: Move
  • R: Jump
  • F: Drop through plattform
  • Q: Punch
  • W: Kick
  • E: Block

Download BashZone! :)

You’ll need a Shader 2.0 compatible graphics card and the XNA Framework 3.1 to play it. XBOX 360 Gamepads are fully optional, but it plays way better with than without!

Mini-Jams in Berlin

So… what is it?

Over the last two months, Christiaan Janssen and me started a little regular game jam at the moment called the Berlin Game Developers Meet-Up. Basically, we meet up, decide on a theme and then started making small prototypes about it, alone or in small teams. If you are interested in how it all started, the participiant Miguel Angel Alvarez asked us both and did a blog post about it. Here I want to tell you about what I did at the 4 jams so far, though!

Jam #1: Revenge of the Flying Spitballs

Revenge of the Flying Spitballs: Screenshot

On the first jam I grouped up with Norbert Haacks, a game designer I met at the Global Game Jam in January. He came up with the idea: A fight in the classroom, like back in our school days with spitballs and sandwiches, trying not to be seen by the wary teacher. The “flying” is covered by the aerial weaponry, and the revenge part could’ve been (if time didn’t run out for us) that when you are hit, you have limited time for payback and doing extra damage! Sadly I felt the effects of the short timespan we had, and didn’t come very far – at least not far enough for the prototype to be worth an upload. Though development in Flash was pretty fast – I just needed a bit more pre-made classes and helper.

Jam #2: Balls of Steel

Balls of Steel: Screenshot

This time, I teamed up with the programmer Dominik and artist/programmer Kyrill. (And whew, it is SUCH a huge difference if you aren’t the only programmer in the team. And I guess the experience from the first jam helped me too, but I digress… back to topic!) The theme was “indirect control”, so we thought about controlling the environment in some way. After pondering a few ideas, we went with pseudo-magnetism. You have a little labyrinth-ish level and you’ll navigate the ball through it by placing magnets at the walls and the surroundings of the field, while being cautions not to touch the flames or the mines. Time ran out before we could do another level besides the one we were testing with, but it is playable, fun and it feels like it has potential.
See for yourself:

Jam #3: Ghost Hunter

Ghost Hunter: Screenshot

For this jam, I tried to do something solo to the topic “ghosts”. The idea is that you are a ghost hunter, and are trying to catch ghosts which are invisible to you. You should have various means to detect them (think radar or distance detector), things to attract and repel them, and finally something to catch them. You probably see by reading this description that I havn’t worked out the exact mechanics – well, working alone never did any good to me. So at this jam I mostly got frustrated, chilled, made smalltalk and experimented a bit:

Jam #4: And They Called Me Mad!

For the 4th jam Dominik and me teamed up again, featuring me as artist (haha). We didn’t like the theme “several contextual actions for one button”, so we tried to make something for the theme “invasion”. We were a bit too ambitious for 4 hours: We wante to make a game where you are a mad scientist trying to take over several strongholds with self-built robots. You have several “roboter recipes” from which you can choose and a material pool from where you can put things into the assembly line to build your robots, which will then start to attack. A bit too much as aforementioned – and so this was the jam Dominik and me decided that 4 hours are definitly too short and we should try something longer.

The future

Since we all agreed that is was most certainly nice, but the 4 hours we had aren’t quite enough for us to produce something meaningful, we decided to raise the duration to 8 or 10 hours. The next jam is this Saturday, and I’m curious how it’ll turn out – I cannot come, sadly. Though: It won’t be the last! Expect more (and with more hours, better) prototypes!

Whistling a merry tune for this months EGP: Dragonflute

Finally, Dragonflute is finished! In this game, made for the Experimental Gameplay Project “ZERO BUTTONS” theme, you control this cute little fellow:
(<– Click the dragon to download the Windows release)

As the theme of this month’s EGP and the name suggest, you don’t do this my mashing franatically on your keyboard, but but by making sounds, recorded by your microphone. I hope you have one. :)

The dragon will either follow the PITCH of the sounds you make (which I prefer), be it by singing, whistling or by playing an instrument, or the VOLUME (which is fun too, though the game should then rather be called Screaming At Dragons).

I’m ambivalent how this one came out. Gameplay-wise it is not top-notch, and the pitch is often off (especially when not using an instrument), on the other side I think that it shows the key-concept rather well.

I guess I’m (heavily) over 7 days, I didn’t always work day-to-day and didn’t count the time – but since the topic “pitch recognition” wasn’t too easy and required some fiddling with calibration and configuration, not to speak about the keyless interface, the overtime is understandable I guess.

The pitch recognition itself is working fairly well – good enough for a prototype, though I would’ve hoped that it worked better with humming. Oh, well.

For this game I used C++ with my beloved SFML and FMOD as sound framework.

For those interested, here is the source code in form of an Eclipse CDT Project: Source Code (New BSD License).

BIGJam 3 hour jam: One Fish, Two Fish

So, here is my first BIGJam 3 hour jam game/prototype/something: One Fish, Two Fish! The theme was “fish” and “attraction”.

Click the image or here to start it.

The fishies follow the cursor when they are very young (and/)or want to make a baby. If they just made one, they will evade the cursor.

It’s more a failure than a prototype (much less a game), but it was worth a try :)

Somehow it also qualifies for the current EGP (“Zero Buttons”), but since it isn’t any good I won’t sent it in.

Trivia: The fishies like to stick together and make babies, it seems. Click here for an image of some fishcest

Global Game Jam 2010, or: Zino Zini

This post is the continuation of Global Game Jam 2010, or: We don’t make games, we make AWESOME games (in 48 hours).

The Game

Our final game is about obtaining as many bubbles as you can! You can do this by just peacefully collecting them, as there are many, but soon there won’t be – and then you have to dash at other players and hit them so they drop their bubbles and you (and everyone else, hurry!) can collect them. An interesting (and deceptive) mechanic is that you can go off-screen so that you don’t show, and while hidden, wander, so you deceive players about your real position – and suddenly jump out and get them! Furthermore, you can teleport a few times to the other part of the screen, and doing this while being hidden outside of the screen is a good method to sneak up on the others! (If you have read the post before: There are no alliances anymore, and there is only one kind of ball to collect.)

So without further ado, here is it:

I suggest you download the version in the “Installation Notes” below, because there are a few bugs fixed – but well, we won’t take down our 48h-state, it is also highly playable. :)

Your graphics card needs to support Shader 3.0 to play this game, and it is optimized to be played with Xbox 360 controllers. If you don’t have them, download it anyway, it even makes fun without them!

The game is written in C#, with XNA as framework.

Oh, and by the way, here is a Zino Zini wallpaper:

The Team

And here’s our team again, for those of you who skipped the other way-too-lengthy post:

Lars Kokemohr – Programming
Me, Tobias Wehrum – Programming
Daniel Bock – Game Design and Music/Sound
Norbert Haacks – Game Design
Additionally featuring: Phillip Gronek – Q&A Tester, Fun, Red Bull

What will be added soon

  • A score screen!
  • A test for Shader 2.0 (yes, 2.0. We want to make it run on 2.0, so stay tuned if you don’t support 3.0!)

Actually, we wanted to add a bunch of other stuff, for example but not limited to: A Splash Start Screen showing our splendid logo (om.nomnom games), a start menu, a credits page, preferences (sound/music on/off), a different mode without time limit, and and and… but time ran out, and since it is playable in the current state, we will only add the things named above for sure.

PS: If you ask where there key, the monkey or the donkey is, well… that is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, and therefore hard to find. (There is none. It got lost somewhere along the way of the development process, and afterwards we felt the game is too much fun to try to press a constraint in there. Earlier the balls collecting the bubbles should’ve become monkeys, but that wouldn’t go with the fine abstract look it has now.)

100 things – finally finished: Juggler’s Duel


This month I was working on my first contest entry ever – and finally I am done! It is an entry for the Experimental Gameplay Project during this month (the theme is: “100 Things“).

My game is about a juggler who runs against his arch-enemy, the evil clown, in a juggling duel to… well, till one has 100 balls. The development took 65 hours including some part of the game design process, learning SDL.NET and the graphic creation. The music is by Deniz Akbulut.

The game written in C#, I will post a link to the source code here later on.

While I am not content with everything (the development streched over 14 days, not 7, the music is not by me, I kind of took the easy route route with the theme, just using the “100” as an arbitrary number, and as Matthew Elvey Price says in the comments, it’s rather DDR-like), overall I am actually quite happy with the outcome. This is my first project with SDL.NET, my first project with my own graphics and my second complete (mini) game in total – and considering this, it turned out quite well! I would even go as far as say that it might actually be fun to play! :-D (Go, try it!)

Screenshots – well, okay, just one:
Juggler-Screenshot (Thumbnail)

Download: Juggler v1.0 (Windows)
You might need the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5.

I would love to read a comment about how you liked (or didn’t like) the game! The Comment Section is just below.

…and for the next Experimental Gameplay Project I will be faster and the game will be more inventive. Promise!