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:

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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:

    

    

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:

A Light in the Darkness – Co-Op Online Multiplayer Game Made in ~52 hours

A few weeks ago, I participated in the Ludum Dare 30. The theme was “Connected Worlds”, and I thought “Hey, nevermind that I never made an online multiplayer game before, I should totally try to make one in 48 hours!” Unexpectedly, it actually turned out pretty great – you can read more about that in my postmortem if you’d like to. And below you can find the ~52 hour post-compo version with a few bugfixes and sound effects!

You are flame bearers, braving the darkness,
carrying letters and escorting travellers
through the eternal darkness between
the mountains to the south and
the sea kingdom to the north.

Overcome obstacles. Carry the torch on. Work together.

Go north. Ignore sounds in the dark.

And most importantly: Don’t let the flame die.

Send the link to a friend, and play it in your browser with the Unity plugin!

Download it for Windows, Linux or Mac!

Here is a video with clips of lots of people playing it on dvcolgan’s stream:

A Light in the Darkness – Co-Op Online Multiplayer Ludum Dare Game

Used Assets:

A Light in the Darkness – Postmortem for a Drop-in/Drop-out Co-Op Online Multiplayer LD Game

…but first invite a friend or two. It’s dangerous to go alone!

The rating period is slowly but surely nearing its end, and I thought it cannot hurt to write a postmortem for the game I made three weeks ago. I wish I would’ve promoted the game more (it’s my first online multiplayer game after all!) and I wish I could’ve played more games, but my master’s thesis was jealous and demanded I spent more time with it. That being said, I have a free minute now, so here goes nothing!

Hungry Crocodile: An experiment with webcam/marker-based interfaces

For the July Berlin Mini Jam, I experimented with the input interface. Turns out a cardboard contraption with fiducial markers and Unity3D + NyARToolkit on the software side makes for a fun crocodile maw control system! I didn’t finish the game (you can’t win or lose, you can’t even score), so I declared it a story-focused artgame. That’s how it works, right?

Hungry Crocodile

The crocodile is hungry and wants to eat,
but despite all the food, it can’t!

Because of explosions.

Moral of the story:
Explosions make everything better.

Play in your browser!

Download for Windows!

You’ll need these two markers: Hiro and WD (taken from here).
You’ll also need cardboard to build the maw.

(If you’re wondering why I didn’t use the standard Hiro & Kanji markers –
I just took what was lying around from earlier experiments.)

Despite being unfinished, it was a lot of fun to present:

Hungry Crocodile: An experiment with webcam/marker-based interfaces

Here’s a more detailed look at the cardboard maw:

Fiducial markers to find the positions of the upper/lower jars.
Nom nom!

Credits:

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.

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:

 

Together We Will Survive: A Cooperative Game For Two Players With Red/Red And Cyan/Cyan Glasses

A week ago, we had our February Mini Game Jam. One of the themes was “local multiplayer”, which perfectly fit the idea that I already had before arriving at the jam: Cutting up some anaglyph glasses to make red/red and cyan/cyan glasses and then make a multiplayer game where each player can only see half of the content.

Shoot all monsters of your color. Don’t let them touch you.
Your friend does the same.

Easy enough so far? Good.
Because you’ll also wear glasses in your color,
which means you can’t see your enemies at all!

A cooperative game about focus, teamwork, communication and fast reflexes –
for two players with red/red and cyan/cyan glasses and XBox360 controllers.

Play in your browser with the Unity Webplayer!
Download it for Windows!

Also, have some videos about how it works:

Together We Will Survive (Intro & Both Perspectives)

Together We Will Survive (Cyan Glasses)

Together We Will Survive (Red Glasses)

So – how does it work?

…surprisingly well! No really. But if you really don’t want to watch the first video, here’s how:

The yellow player fights the yellow monsters – he can’t interact with blue at all.

He wears red/red glasses though, and can’t see yellow at all…

…but if the blue player points his beam at one of the yellow monsters, the beam is BEHIND the monster, so it looks like this:

And now the yellow players knows where the monster is and can shoot it! All that remains now is good communication between the players and fast reflexes.

If you want to see it in action, you can watch this video.

The red/red and cyan/cyan glasses worked surprisingly well in extinguishing every single trace of yellow and cyan respectively, even in a projected image! (And in case you’re wondering, red images didn’t work, there were still faint ghost images.)

I really like how the game plays out. It’s interesting to see how people grow increasingly accustomed to playing it. Most start not talking at all and die a lot. Others focus solely on identifying the monsters for their partner and then die because they didn’t shoot their own enemies. Then, slowly, they start talking to each other: “There’s a monster here!”, “One there.”, “Move left! Left! Okay, you got it.” And later on some well-rehearsed teams start playing silently again for the most part, quickly finding the enemies their partner is pointing at.

I might visit the colored glasses mechanics again at a later jam.

Credits

Balls & Balloons

Another month, another jam, another crazy physics game. In the beginning, this one was inspired by the awesome Drei, but it quickly steered away from that and became something… uh, else. I dunno.

Balls & Balloons

You control two balloons attached to a paddle.

Use it to get balls in your colored bottle!

Or you could just remove the ones your enemy has…

(You’ll need two XBox360 controllers.)

Play in your browser!

Download for Windows!

Balls & Balloons

Credits:

  • Programming: Tobias Wehrum
  • Music: Kevin MacLeod
  • Font: Ben McGehee

Robots Love To Do People Things

Last jam, I started something I called “Remote Person Control“. This jam, I refined what I had back then:

  • The Player holds a tablet with a soundboard, showing buttons like “Left”, “Right” or “Grab”.
  • The Robot is blindfolded and has a smartphone with headphones – and when the player presses a button, the robot hears what he pressed.

It’s still no game, but a VERY fun toy! I recorded three videos to show what the current prototype can do:

Robots Love To Make Sandwiches

Robots Love To Draw Pictures

Robots Love To Play Board Games

For those interested, here is the complete soundboard:

And here are the voice samples for you to listen to! I love the last one.

Inspiration

While I like to think that I came up with the idea myself, I obviously had inspirations. Here are those I can remember:

  • Signal Delay by ChrisGaudino: A Ludum Dare prototype about remotely controlling a mars rover.
  • Octodad by Young Horses, Inc: Octodad – Loving Father. Caring Husband. Secret Octopus. A game where you pretend to be a human by doing mundane tasks, but being an octopus with an incredible awkward control scheme makes this quite hard and incredibly funny.

Credits

Thanks a lot to our artist and the robots in the videos! Our sandwich-making robot is Adam “PunyOne” Streck. If he isn’t making sandwiches, he’s making games – you can find some of them at http://justaconcept.org!