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).

Dragonflute, an EGP prototype in development

So – the EGP prototype for this month which I announced earlier is coming along quite well!

In Dragonflute you control this cute little fellow:
(<– Click the dragon to download the current Windows release)

(edit: This it the outdated development version. Click here for the release blog post.)

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).

Current status is that I don’t have any goals or gameplay yet, only the calibration and the initial control mechanic, so is a mere (but already quite fun) toy.

Next things up will be some things he can collect, and maybe some enemies.

And yeah, so far there are quite some keys which need to be pressed. This will be changed later, too, of course – I already have some great ideas for the GUI. :)

Well, try it out, make suggestions, leave feedback, have fun and stay tuned, more to come!

Catcher! – a beta post for an unreleased game

Since I’m showing my game around on the TIGForums, I thought I might as well leave a post here!

Catcher is a game about (surprise!) catching things! Especially geometric forms. (In SPACE!) With two spaceships, here depicted as circles. These two spaceships are connected by an energy line, which you will use to border your enemies and open a dimension rift by closing it – and thereby defeating anything inside! It features over two dozen unique enemies on more than 30 levels. :)

Among the various things yet to be done, the most notably one is the tutorial. I hope you can get it together alone with a description of the keys and the menu entry “Demo“:

  • X and C makes your spaceships (the blue circles) flying nearer or farther to each other
  • The mouse wheel, if you have one, does the same as X and C
  • Pointing the mouse makes your spaceships turn
  • Clicking the mouse (left or right) makes your spaceships move

The energy line breaks when
a) one of your spaceships touches an enemy or
b) the energy line crosses another part of the energy line (remember: DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS!)
If the line broke, you can restore it by holding X (so that the spaceships touch each other).

Enough babbling, more playing:

(It is Java Web Start, so no installation or unzipping needed :) )

While all and every feedback is appreciated, I especially want to know:

  • How do you think could the controls be improved?
  • What didn’t make sense to you? What wasn’t clear? What needs to be definitly in the tutorial?
  • And bonus question: Do you have any ideas regarding new enemies? (This is a bonus question because I don’t know if I will include any new enemies right now, but this will be good to know for the next version :) )
  • Ultra-special bonus question: Anyone has an idea for a better name for the game? I’m not sure I’m content with “Catcher”, it seems kind of too general.

Still missing so far:

  • Sounds/Music
  • Tutorial
  • Random Mode and Endless Mode need besser formulas
  • General polishing

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

More EGP! Furthermore BIGJam!

So again, it’s been pretty quiet here. Gotta update more often. Two news for now:

EGP: Zero Buttons

I’m working at a game/prototype for the Experimental Gameplay Project again! This time, the theme is ZERO BUTTONS, so we’ve got to use only mouse pointing/moving or alternative ways of input, like the suggested microphone.

I’ve chosen the last one as my weapon of choice, and try to make a horicontal scroller, one of these where you fly through a cave and should not touch the bottom and top – only that in my version you control the ship with either the pitch or the volume of your microphone input!

I would prefer pitch as input method, but there are some issues with determining the pitch of human humming (at least for me), and sadly I cannot whistle. Well, I will get myself a flute and check if purer notes are recognized better.

So far, the calibration screen stands and is working farely well (and is using a little bit more than zero buttons, gonna fix this later) – I will work on a basic gameplay prototype after the weekend!


And the reason why I cannot start on the weekend is the second news: I’m going to the TIGForums BIGJam! I’m very excited how my second game jam ever will turn out, and whether I will survive one of these 3-hour-jams… :)
More later on! Stay tuned and expect games!

Silence, or: The Best Is Yet To Come

For the last months it was pretty silent here. So does this mean I turned my back to game development? Actually, no – it just means I am busy with projects bigger than a 7-days-prototype.

The first project I was working on is called Catcher. It began as a university homework and evolved into the first game project I ever started to make and was really determined to finish. Sadly my laptop was stolen, and while I have the latest (playable :) ) binary, the latest code backup is a bit older. I will have to rework a bit before I can publish it – and a few things like sound, music and polish are still missing entirely.

Furthermore I am working with some friends on an as of now unnamed multiplayer-tower-defense with the working title Netwars, which had reached quite a state but wasn’t yet playable. The thief stole me a month work on that, but since I really like this project I will work hard to make up for it!

And the best thing last: I am working with some students of the Games Academy Berlin on an as yet undisclosed Facebook Flash Game. Fame and fortune, here I come! :) (I am really excited about that and look forward to present it to all of you!)

Hope this doesn’t get rejected (yet another EGP prototype): “The Job”

And here we go for another (last minute) entry for the Experimental Gameplay Project! This month: Rejection.

Well, it is more a prototype than a game, but I will call it “game” anyway, simply because it sounds better this way. :)

Anyway, in the game you will be tested if you are good enough for The Job. It is sort of an art game, and it isn’t really good. To say anything more would be a spoiler, only so much: Yes, this game has an end.

Fun facts about the game:

  • Due to time constraints, I changed the concept at least 3 times. (Which might be the reason why it’s hard to solve. Or why it isn’t any fun. Like, at all.)
  • Since this is my first plattformer, I learnt much stuff about how they are developed. Or rather, how they aren’t. And when I think about it, it doesn’t really have any platforms, although the engine would allow it. Hu.
  • None of my recruted-in-a-hurry beta testers could beat the game without help.
  • Don’t try to insert artsy messages at last minute. It simply doesn’t work.

Oh, and some useful facts:

Here’s a screenshot:

Edit: Since this prototype wasn’t any fun at all, I decided to stop wasting everyones time and took the download down. I suggest you head over to the fine other games I have here at the blog!

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: http://www.globalgamejam.org/2010/zinozini

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.)


Global Game Jam 2010, or: We don’t make games, we make AWESOME games (in 48 hours)

I’m back! Back from one of the greatest events I ever attended: The Global Game Jam 2010!

In a nutshell: The Global Game Jam is a world wide event where participants meet up in their local locations from 5pm (local time) Friday to 5pm Sunday to make games together. You meet up, brainstorm, present ideas and then teams are formed – mostly out of total strangers. It is interesting and intriguing: You have never seen the people you work with before, and now you are working with them under extreme time pressure, to rapidly prototype a new game. Skills are tested to their limit, friendships are formed, creativity is skyrocketing and sleep is a valid but completly ignorable option.

Our location was at the A MAZE. Interact Festival. The fee was only 20€, and alone all the food and beverages we got were well worth it! A big thanks to Marek Plichta, Jaro Gabski and A MAZE for organizing it! You did a terrific job!

Warming up…

So, I will give you a report how it was for me! When I first entered the room it was taking place, I knew absolutly nobody there. Most of the people were talking german, only a few english. First item on the timetable: We should give really short presentations about ourselves. And wow, there were some great things people were doing! At least five people were from the Games Academy (where I would love to be enlisted too, but I don’t have enough money). And there I was, only having done two presentable projects in total, and without that much experience… Well, I did my presentation and it went fairly well.

After watching the Keynote for this game jam…

The Global Game Jam 2010 Keynote

…we finally got the Theme Of This Year: Deception. Our local constraints were to add one of these elements as well: A key, a monkey or a donkey. Then we sat down in groups of two, developing a basic game idea we can present to the others and convince them to take part in our team – or tell others that you like their idea and you want to make it with them! I didn’t get anything complete done, though I had some vague concepts that I liked, but that wasn’t so bad because the others ideas were so interesting that I would’ve ditched my idea anyway, I guess! :D

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!