Critical Hit 2015: Speedmaking (3 games in 30 minutes)

One of our creative exercises, lead by Jorge Lopes Ramos, was to make 3 games in 10 minutes each with a set of utensils. As if making a game in such a short time was not hard enough, he added another restriction: We could not give direct instructions to the group who would play our game afterwards. Instead, we should come up with a more creative way to instruct them.

With 16 participants making 3 games in groups of 4, we had a lot of different approaches.

Connector

Here’s a thing that I did at my last Mini Jam. I originally had this idea for the last Ludum Dare (theme: Entire Game on One Screen) and since I dropped out of that, I did it now.

Connector

Rotate the center and the bubbles coming in to connect same-colored bubbles.

Survive with as many points as possible!

Play in the Webplayer or on Android.

Credits:

An EyeTracker Perspective Experiment

A month ago at the last Berlin Mini Game Jam, I set out to experiment and get acquainted with the Tobii EyeX which can track where your eyes are – and more importantly, where exactly you look on the screen. The obvious thing would be to use that gaze tracking, but out of ideas and inspired by Amazon Fire Dynamic Perspective, I tried to use the actual eye tracking to make the monitor behave like a window into a real-life scene.

An EyeTracker Perspective Experiment

EyeTracker Perspective Experiment

Download for Windows!

My goal was to create the illusion of actual 3D, but maybe due to my scene not being very exciting that turned out rather boring. It looked a bit more interesting once I dropped the “real-life window” idea and made it more a “choose your perspective with head movement” control by exaggerating the movement. By then, I had only half an hour left and no gameplay, so I did the obvious: I added polka and bouncing balls that shoot where you look! Maybe it could have been an interesting horror game with good assets and actual gameplay – although for an immersive perspective horror game, I would probably rather use an Oculus Rift.

And man, it’s hard to come up with good ideas for this device. While eye tracking is widely established for user testing, it’s rather new when it comes to being used in games themselves. I certainly don’t make it easier for myself with my rules for experiments with new technology:

  1. The new technology must be used for a part of the core gameplay.
  2. The benefits (e.g. immersion, precision, ease of use, unique aspects) of using the new technology over traditional technology must outweigh the disadvantages for the intended purpose.

Eye trackers seems to be more suited for passive or highly situative supporting roles – targeting, for example, seems to be easier and more precisely done with a joystick or a mouse for most purposes. But by now, I have a really cool idea that I want to experiment with next time. Can’t wait until I get a new laptop with USB3 so I can try my hand at eye tracking again!

Credits:

Red Ball, Blue Ball

This jam, I didn’t even really want I’d participate and instead just sit around and talk to people, but two hours in I was like “Everyone around me is busy, so let’s make something too!”. I only had 6 hours left and no concept, but it’s not like that ever stopped me…

Red Ball, Blue Ball

Bounce your ball back and forth!
Build walls at the right moment!
Claim the star once and for all!

(You’ll need two XBox 360 controllers.)

Controls:
Left/Right Stick: Play your diamonds.
Left or Right Back Button: Place a wall. (Has a cooldown.)

Play in your browser!

Download for Windows!

Red Ball, Blue Ball

Credits:

 

Aubjects, or: The last game I’ll ever make in 2013

For every month of 2013, I’ve released (at least!) one game – except December. Luckily, there’s still a few minutes left, so I present to you my digital web/desktop/Android adaptation of a board game we once made at my university!

Aubjects

Your job is to locate six mysterious Aubjects
on a foreign planet – via triangulation.
To make it more exciting, you decided to have a contest!

Enclose exactly one Aubject to score.
For every additional enemy probe you get one bonus point.

Become the Master Triangulator in:
Aubjects, a game of skill for two players.

Play it right in your browser!

Download it for:
Windows
Android

Aubjects Gameplay

Credits:

This game is based on a board game made at the HTW Berlin, designed by:

  • Tobias Müller
  • Anthea Neums
  • Nathanael Siering
  • Tobias Wehrum
  • Florian Wokurka

Hammertennis: ChainJam 4 Players Edition

A few weeks ago, I participated in the ChainJam. It was about making 4 player local multiplayer games, each lasting only one minute – and then we’d take all of them and string them randomly together, playing one after another and keeping the score throughout the game. It’s pretty well explained here!

Since my previous tries to remake my beloved Hammertennis as a Unity game failed, I used the ChainJam as an excuse to experiment some more. After a day of coding (and a little revision later to make it able to work as a stand-alone), I got this:

Hammertennis: ChainJam 4 Players Edition

Try to keep balls in your territory to score points!

Playable with gamepads or multiple keyboards.

Play it online here!

So – am I content with it? Gameplay-wise, I am not – it keeps the uncontrollability that was fun in the original Hammertennis, but because it’s so cramped and you now have 4 players instead of two, the interaction feels more meaningless. I learned to use RageSpline and Farseer though, and I am quite happy with the visual look I achieved. I think it’s a huge step forward from my usual programmer art. So – no, the game isn’t that great, but I think it’ll help me a lot when I try to make the next revision in the Hammertennis prototype series!

Credits:

Defend your villages and people in: Trap 3

The October Mini Game Jam was a lot of fun – 17 attending people in total! Whoo! Out of the available themes, I picked “Trap”. After some brainstorming, I combined it with a Match 3 concept, and finally arrived at:

Trap 3

Obviously I didn’t work with an artist this time.

It draws lots of inspiration from Triple Town: You get a tile, you place it somewhere, you get the next. When 3 of them match a so-called “recipe”, they merge into something stronger:

3 adjacent “person” become “people”, and 3 adjacent “people” become a “crowd”. They bring points per turn.

And then I added monsters. Monsters come in from the side every few turns, walk a step towards their next prey every time you place something, and later in the games, the monsters get stronger. Monsters have recipes too, for example:

If a spider and a person are adjacent to each other, they “merge” into a spider. So basically: it eats them. Same with spider and people.

Now if monsters could only eat people and cost you points, there wouldn’t be much of a point in that. And here comes the trapping mechanic, which is also a recipe:

Put two green blocks down, and if a spider walks next to it, the spider and the trap transform into nothing and give you points in the process. Same with snakes, only that you first need to make the stronger snake-catching blocks and have two of those adjacent. So this here is essentially a spider trap:

If you want to see the complete list of recipes I had, you can click here or on the screenshot at the top.

So much for that. Unfortunately, I somewhere along the process I got lost and everything took a lot longer than anticipated. Most of what I described above works, but there are no points and no goal, you can’t even lose. If you feel adventurous, you can try the prototype anyway by clicking here. I’ll probably not finish it, but I think there’s something cool hidden in there, and I might make a new prototype once I find out what it is!

The Great Hunt: A Massively Multiplayer Offline game prototype for up to 10 players

June Berlin Mini Game Jam. The theme is “hunting”. My secret theme is “Massively Multiplayer Offline Game”. One man, one mission, 8 hours to go!

8 hours (plus 3 hours bugfixing) later I’ve got this:

The Great Hunt

Enough with the monsters killing off the villagers!
You are a brave hunter, and you’re getting paid to deal with these pests!

Well, you’re not the only one hired though. And only the best will get paid.

Be the last man standing, or at least finish first with 60 points!

Play here, as always directly in your browser!

 

While the game is playable and actually features up to 10 players (on 4 keyboards, no less), it fails in many other ways.

The basic idea behind the game was “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”: You need other players help to take down monsters, but the more players participate the less points you get. So when you’re standing in front of a monster with others players beside you, you’d be like “Dude, back off, if you stay here we won’t get much points anyway!”, or maybe you’d switch last second to another monster.

So much for the theory. In reality everything goes down so fast (and is so chaotic) that there isn’t much communciation or tactics. Fights also take too long and are not balanced, and there are not much real choices.

I have to admit that I’m not sure how I’d fix the game without introducing more complexity like power-ups. Anyways: It was a fun experiment, and lessons were learned. (The main lesson being that 10+ people games are possible in 8h. I guess I’ll never learn, haha. Looking forward to next jam!)

Alchemist’s Duel: An arcadey puzzle game for 2 two-people teams

“Alchemy” was the theme for the May Mini Game Jam, so I made a game about alchemists trying to reproduce a certain formula and their faithful henchman collecting ingredients for them:

Alchemist’s Duel

You are right before finishing your Magnus Opus!
Only one recipe left… Same goes for your rival though.
Send out your collector to get you the ingredients you need,
and be the first to finish your glorious work!

Play here, directly in your browser!

 

To finish, you have to fill your goal field with the right elements:

The three light blue, the yellow and the green elements are at the right place. The dark blue shouldn’t be there in the red goal field. Three fields are still unfilled. Push the blue element out, and fill all the goal fields with the right colors to win!

I need a Time Crab for my next 8h jam

At our November Mini Game Jam I teamed up with artist Alfonso Montón, forging an epic prototype for the theme “time” (and possibly “trap”):

Time Crabs

Might or might not be a screenshot

Don’t be fooled by their cute appearance! If you hesitate one moment, a Time Crab will envelop you in a Time Bubble and begin to tear you to shreds with its Time Claws*!

Fortunately you are a Time Crab. So is your opponent! May the fight begin!

Play it in your browser by clicking here!

Time Bubbles

….work like a local field of bullet time: It slows everything inside down, but you a fair bit less than everything else. You can use it in two ways: Aggressive, by throwing it at an enemy and proceeding to shoot at him while moves slooowly, or defensive to dodge bullets. The shooting mechanic makes the prototype not very playable, but I really like the bubbles – in fact I might use them in another game. (And yeah, they are like a more selective time slow ring in world 6 of Braid. I totally forgot that it even existed!)

And a Dropped Idea

I quite liked my second idea too, but there was hardly enough time for it: A cross between Tower Defense and Capture The Flag. First you set up your base with turrets and traps, and then you leave to get the enemys flag. You can detect and disarm traps, but only while you aren’t carrying the flag – so prepare a safe way out. PvP would probably be enabled (and might include Time Bubbles) and minions.

Okay, now that I think about it, it sounds a bit like a more RTS-like DotA.

*) Time Claws are not included in the prototype and will later be added as a purchasable expansion pack.