Whistle Your Way Through A Cave in: Hyper Bat Simulator 2018!

A few weeks ago was the end of January, and many game developers know what that means: It’s time for yet another Global Game Jam! The GGJ is a world-wide event with hundreds of locations where people meet for 48 hours of rapid game development.

This year’s theme was “Waves”, and I found myself with a team that I’ve never worked with before – which is always challenging, but also fun! The development went nearly without any hitches and I’m really content with our result:

In the game, you are a bat flying through a cave looking through the bat pups so you can go hunting. The cave is dark and the pups are tiny, so you use your echolocation to see and hope the pups answer. You steer with the gamepad – but to use the echolocation, you have to whistle into a microphone! (Like the title suggests, this is definitely the latest in bat simulation technology.)

Here’s a video of our presentation after the GGJ (starts at 0:29):

Global Game Jam Berlin 2017 Presentations – Bat Simulator 2018

 

And a small trailer video Emily and Caroline made:

Hyper Bat Simulator 2018

 

The game and its source code is available at its Global Game Jam entry page.

Before I talk a little more about the development, here’s the team:

We also used some assets:

Okay, on to the development! This time (and very atypical for me), the concept was rather simple. A single player game with no really hard development challenges – well, that leaves more room for polish, and sounds just right for 48 hours!

This was also one of the few times where the game design didn’t change much over the course of the weekend. Everything just worked. In the end, we actually finished the game with all the features we wanted! We even removed some features we already implemented because they made the game less accessible and weren’t as much fun as we had imagined: Dizzyness when the bat crashed into a wall, and not being able to call out to children when there’s a wall in the way. We also wanted to add monsters that follow sound, but in the end the game turned out to be plenty fun without the added complications, so we decided not to go that route.

The microphone implementation was incredibly easy, more so because this isn’t my first microphone controlled game. I just had to sample the input volume and detects peaks.

First I wanted to do the echolocation waves via shaders, but that that would’ve taken some time. Then I remembered something I learnt about in a Pluralsight video tutorial just a few weeks ago: Light Cookies, which allow you to put shadow masks on Unity3D lights. The final echolocation waves are just multiple spotlights with a circular light cookie mask shining from above, and the angle gets progressively bigger. That way it “runs” across obstacles and scales walls and stalagmites instead of just looking like it’s two-dimensional shape projected from above. The effect is a bit hard to describe, but you can see it quite often in the videos linked above.

I am really happy with our result! Thanks a lot to my team for being the best team – and to the location organizers and the Global Game Jam team who made it possible for us to jam without worrying too much about such mundane things as work space or food!

Starship Command Center Pro, The Trial Version of a Global Game Jam 2015 Game

Somewhere in space, a lone starship discovers that the theme for this year’s Global Game Jam was “What do we do now?”. It also discovers that a very cool game was made for three players. And that there something is wrong with its Operating System.

Starship Command Center Pro

Starship Control Center Pro

Deep in space, nobody hears you scream
when the trial version of your OS runs out.

Not that screaming would do much.
Instead, you and your two friends now need to
figure out what the randomized buttons of the
free version of your system do.

Together, operate thrusters, cannons,
shields and a mining magnet, collect
gold and buy a proper license!

A cooperative and confusing space adventure
for three players with gamepads.

Download for Windows
GGJ page

Starship Command Center Pro (Global Game Jam 2015)

 

Credits:

  • Brian Davis: Idea, Game Design, Music and Sound Design
  • Mikko Lepistö: Art
  • Tobias Müller: Programming
  • Tobias Wehrum: Lead Programming

With sounds assets by Ricky SituCST 201 KaWilson and Jim Rogers.

The theme is used twice in our game – once in the game mechanic with players having to talk to each other what do to next because they need to work together, and secondly in the story: The trial version of our control system has ended and the result is a chaotic and unknown button layout, what do we do now?

We even satisfied a diversifier (sort of an achievements for the developers) this time: Noise Generator, “The mechanic of the game is based on players having to stay in constant communication with each other.”

Fun fact: Originally we wanted to do the controls Spaceteam-like with custom controls on multiple smartphones – buttons, sliders, rotatable knobs. It took us over a day to get it to connect and run smoothly between Android and PC, only to find out that using controls on a touch screen while looking at another monitor felt awful and (apart from buttons) was nearly unusable. So after that day of work, around 5 in the morning, I spent 30 minutes to program replacement gamepad controls. It worked perfectly and felt good.

Super Fruit Punch (Global Game Jam 2014)

With the current Global Game Jam right around the corner and only just about 11 1/2 months late, here is the project that we did for the last Global Game Jam: Super Fruit Punch!

Super Fruit Punch (Global Game Jam 2014)

You can find a download at the game’s GGJ page.

Credits:
– Game Design: Thomas Bedenk, Norbert Haacks
– Programming: Tobias Wehrum, Benjamin Schug, Richard Wepner, Martin Heller
– Art & Animation: Kirill Krysov
– Music & Sound: Lesley Dean

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

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:

SwapSwatch

Many moons ago, when the earth was still young and Astrid and Pete still lived in Berlin, Heiko, Kelsey and me formed a jam team with them – a team whose epic adventures will be told throughout the centuries. We also made a silly little jam game for a theme long forgotten:

SwapSwatch

You’re trying to collect all the colors!
Sadly you can’t suck colors yourself.

Cuttlefishs to the resue! Don the right cuttlefish
to fill your color reservoir in the respective zone.
Also do the reasonable thing: Let him spit ink at your opponent!

But beware of the police clouds, giving fines to everyone
who is in the wrong color zone with a cuttlefish.

A super serious game for two players
on keyboard or XBox360 controllers!

Download for Windows!

SwapSwatch: Cuttlefish Color Collector

I have no idea what we were thinking. Don’t ask. I regret nothing.

Credits

Predator vs Predator – A Stealth Duel Game for Two Monitors

A few months ago, a Mini Game Jam. The theme was “hiding”, and the artist Leith Gow and I made a stealth duel game for two players – on two monitors.

Predator vs Predator

Lurk in the shadows.
Lie in wait. Ready your laser.

Feint. Grab the points.
Be aggressive.

A Stealth Duel Game for 2 players with
XBox360 controllers and 2 monitors.

Download it for Windows!

Predator vs Predator Gameplay

Credits

Programming: Tobias Wehrum
Art: Leith Gow
Music: Kevin MacLeod
Sound: Moritz Ufer, Marcus Lee
Font: Guy Buhry

Two monitors made possible by SoftTH.

Blood Trial (Alpha Release)

The theme for the Global Game Jam 2013 was the sound of a heartbeat. After briefly pondering making a game about friendship, love and the joys of life, our thoughts drifted off a bit and we made something, uh, a little bit different. Enter Blood Trial.

Blood Trial (Alpha Release)

You are participating in an
ancient ritual to appease the blood god.

Rip out other warriors hearts and sacrifice them
at the top of the temple while they’re still beating!

Keep the favor of the thirsty god and he’ll reward you generously!

Super Smash Bros. meets Mortal Kombat in
this fighting game for up to 4 players.

Download the current version for Windows

Global Game Jam entry

I’ll make a proper post about the jam and the game later (with video and all that), but I thought that it couldn’t hurt to have a link on my blog in the meantime.

Credits

Programming:

Art:

Game Design, Producing and being all around awesome: