Catcher – Procedural backgrounds and enemy particle spawning effects

It’s been a while since the last update. I spent the months working on interesting prototypes and experimental installations, but now I finally have time again to come back to Catcher!

Since the last time, I picked up generative art to make interesting backgrounds. After a lot of experiments, I finally settled for a background that looks similar to the old one, but more interesting and with more dashes of color – and because it’s procedural, it will always look different.

I also visited the AMAZE Indie Festival in Berlin and got lots of great feedback that I used to improve this build.

Here is the changelist:

  • New procedural background
  • Made level transitions more fluid
  • Tweaked movement and net opening/closing
  • Replaced A-F rating with stars
  • Added a score malus for death
  • Added a particle mouse cursor ingame
  • Capped player ships at screen border
  • Improved “Sector Clear” screen
  • Improved rocket visibility
  • Improved level progression
  • Improved tutorial
  • Improved feedback
  • Fixed several bugs, including net collision problems with fast-moving enemies

You can download the current versions here – and if you do, please give leave me some feedback!

A few examples of the new background:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Another thing that changed is that enemies now have appearing animations! Instead of just suddenly being there, they are generated out of particles using Particle Playground:

2015 09 13 appear01

2015 09 13 appear02

2015 09 13 appear03

2015 09 13 appear04

Next up:

  • Prototyping and testing of two new game modes
  • Experiments with limited net count
  • Improved sound effects
  • Rework the whole ingame and menu UI

KinectMagic – A Kinect Wizard Duel Game Prototype

In my studies at the HTW Berlin, I had a course called “Independent Coursework” where I could choose to work on any project relevant to my studies. I chose to work on a Kinect multiplayer game which should also be interesting to watch. Most important to me was that the game uses what the Kinect does best in my opinion: Spacial movement. I didn’t want any repetitive gestures, just a direct relationship between the players and their avatars. So, together with my fellow student Jana Leinweber I set out and developed, and a few months and a dozen iterations later we had this:

KinectMagic

Create spells! Attack! Defend! Dodge!

Tactical spellcasting meets fast reflexes in this
duel game for two wizards and a Kinect v1.

Download for Windows

KinectMagic – A Kinect Wizard Duel Game Prototype

Master’s Thesis: Evaluating the Advantages of Physical and Digital Elements in Hybrid Tabletop Games

Preface

A few weeks ago, I finished my studies at the HTW Berlin in International Media and Computing with the defense following my master’s thesis. I thought that its content might be interesting to others on the internet too, but I understand that not everyone wants to read 100+ pages. For that reason, I am now writing this “too long; didn’t read” summary. It is also a lot more informally written. If you like what you read, you are quite welcome to read the longer version too! Here are the links:

Master’s Thesis

Source Code (open source, MIT license), Screenshots, Photos, Videos etc.

You can also read this summary as a PDF, but you would miss out on the videos.

SnakeFormer: Half Snake, Half Platformer! (Post Ludum Dare Compo Edition)

A few months ago, I made my first puzzle game ever for Ludum Dare 29. It was well received (#16 in Innovation!) and players called it “clever” and “challenging”, but the difficulty curve was too steep. Now, I finally found the time to make a post-compo edition with more and easier tutorial levels to ease the beginning and a really hard one where you can test your mettle! I humbly present:

Banner

Snake meets platformer physics!

A short puzzle game combining two
well-known concepts to form a unique hybrid.

Play right here in your browser!
(And maybe rate it! Or share it with friends who might like it.)

Download for Windows, OS/X or Linux!

SnakeFormer – Half Snake, Half Platformer (Post Ludum Dare Compo Edition)

“But,” you might say, “only 9 levels?” Yeah, for now. I think it’s enough to demonstrate the concept well and especially the later levels might take some time to solve. I’m pondering releasing it on Android soon, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll search for a level designer and get more levels made. If you like it and want more of it, please leave a comment!

Credits:

Screenshots:

    

    

Screamy Bird, A Yelling Game Prototype For A Small Crowd

It seems like everyone and their dog has made a Flappy Bird clone by now, but so far I just didn’t feel inspired. That changed at this Mini Game Jam: I wanted to make a game with audio control (which I had tried before) and needed simple gameplay for it – and then I realized that a scrolling avoider-type would fit perfectly. So without further ado, this is how Flappy Bird might have played like if it was made by the GNILLEY developer:

Screamy Bird

Screamy Bird, A Yelling Game Prototype For A Small Crowd

Yell to make the bird fly up,
be silent to make it fly down.

Fun for the whole family AND the neighbors,
even if they aren’t in the same room!

Play in your browser!

Download for Windows!

I don’t know where people could possibly play this game without bothering anybody, but it was a big success fun-wise and was well received in the presentations. My favourite part is that it’s easily playable with crowds!

(And it would probably be perfect on smartphones, haha.)

Credits:

  • Programming: Tobias Wehrum
  • Font: GemFonts

Thanks to:

  • The stars of the video! If you want to be named and/or want to have a link here, please tell me!
  • Huel Fuchsberger for helping me with the video editing!

Apologies to:

  • Anybody who was sharing a room with me while I was developing this. I’m so very, very sorry.

 

And now, because social media websites love pictures when linking, here’s a picture. You’re welcome, social media websites.

StarCoder: A Short Game Programming Workshop For Total Beginners

15 Minutes in the Shoes of a Game Programmer

For a workshop at the YOU, a youth culture fair, I was asked to make a concept for a short game programming workshop.

The requirements were:

  • The workshop should give an impression of the work of a game programmer.
  • It should take about 15 minutes and allow groups of varying size.
  • I should assume that the participants have no experience in programming at all.
  • Instructions should be kept to a minimum; the focus should be on hands-on experience.
  • The workshop should produce a quantifiable result.
  • It should be an enjoyable experience.

No easy task. Luckily, inspiration struck, and a few days later I finished the game StarCoder.

StarCoder

Move the player to the star by using
Left/Right and Space to jump.

An easy game if it weren’t for the spikes –
or if you could jump far enough, for that matter.
Luckily you can edit the source code.

There are 15 distinct solutions to win the game.
How many will you find?

Download for Windows

Source Code (License: CC BY SA)
Creative Commons License

StarCoder: A Short Introduction To Game Programming For Total Beginners

The Workshop

The workshop went extremely well. Everybody found at least 4 solutions, with some finding up to 10. The game also seems to be surprisingly fun, even (or especially?) for non-programmers! Results were often accompanied by laughter and some of the participants even asked for the program so they could try it again at home. And I remember a teacher who sat down to try it himself after I finished the workshop with his group of pupils.

If you use it yourself (which I’m totally fine with – I’d love if you drop me a message that you are using it!), this was my approach:

  • Tell your attendees that the goal of the game is to get to the star. Ask them to click in the left part and try it themselves: Arrows keys to run, Space to jump.
  • After half a minute admit that it seems rather impossible – but luckily there’s the source code on the right side which they may edit. Ask them to notify you once they have a solution.
  • Once they have the first solution, congratulate them for their achievement. Then ask them to click on “Reset” in the lower right corner and tell them that there are 14 more solutions.
  • After a few minutes (or a few solutions, depending on their speed), tell them that there’s also the “Creation” tab in the upper corner.

The ideal number of attendees seems to be 1 to 3 per computer. You might want them to write down their solutions if you want to assign a score to each group later.

So… how about you? Did you find every single one of the 15 solutions? Try it yourself first – and then check it with this handy walk-through. (No cheating though!)

And if you’re interested how hard solutions are and which are found the most and least easily, you can check out these statistics (contains spoilers!).

Credits

  • Concept, Programming and “Art”: Tobias Wehrum
  • Sounds: Moritz Ufer

Thanks to my playtesters: Moritz, Tobias, Kelvin, Sebastian, Simon, Christiaan, Lukas, Florian, Marina, Jana, Jens, Paul, Ronja and Nadine. You guys have been a huge help!

Made in cooperation with:

Hammertennis: Tennis, But With Giant Hammers Instead Of Rackets

Take Hammerfight. Add Pong. Mix and stir. Sprinkle with a little realism and Tron.

Recipe serves 2.

Hammertennis

You are playing Tennis. Well, you’re trying to play Tennis.
You’ve lost your tennis rackets, so you take hammers instead.
Also you’ve forgotten most of the rules.

Hammertennis: A fast-paced ball game for 2 players.
Supports Keyboard – or Gamepads! (You only need one stick. Choose any.)

Download the Windows executable

Hammertennis Gameplay

You get 2 points for scoring a goal, and 1 point if the opponent hits his own goal.

Normally only the hammers can hit the ball – but if the ball is red, the blue player can hit it once, and vice versa.

This is the first game I ever started with Python, featuring Pygame and pybox2d. Lovely language! It is also the first game that I ever made that uses any serious form of physics.

Both are thanks to Florian Berger, who is teaching the university course that got me started on making a Python game featuring any form of physics in the first place. Thanks a lot, it was great fun and (obviously, see above) had great results!

You can also download the source code (New BSD License) if you like! It needs Python 2.7, pygame 1.9.1 and pybox2d 2.1.

Credits: