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!

Ritual Breaker: A GGJ Game For Four Druids And Two Traitors

It’s been a few years since the GGJ whose theme was “deception” – a theme that we, back then, utterly and completely ignored. The only way to make up for that (I assume) is to use the theme in another GGJ! So here, after 6 years, my honor as a jammer is finally restored. I proudly present our game:

logo

Six druids have come together to perform
the yearly Super Important Ritual.
But unbeknownst to them, two traitors
have infiltrated their ranks!

Complete the rituals, but watch out for
those which fail – and who participated!

Watch your fellow players!
Identify the traitors!
(Potentially) Save the world!

A deceptive platforming game for four druids
and two traitors with XBox360 Controllers.

GGJ Page with Windows build

Ritual Breaker (Global Game Jam 2016)

Credits:

  • Elise Terranova: Art, Game Design, Hat Design
  • Heiko Weible: Programming, Game Design
  • Tobias Wehrum: Programming, Game Design, Sound Design

Used assets:

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

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:

Global Game Jam 2012, or: Keep rollin’ in Super Snake Wheel

At the end of every January, people all around the world gather to make awesome games in an absurdly short time. Developing a game in 48 hours is nothing short of insane, and I don’t think it comes to anyones surprise that this appeals a lot to me. And here I proudly present our result this year:

Super Snake Wheel

“We can’t stop here! This is bat country!”
Well, Mr. Snake might have been a bit drunk when he and his companion Mr. Gecko ignored all the warnings and set out to their adventure. Being one of the few snakes who can form a tire out of himself, he’s now rolling down the hill while Mr. Gecko defends him from birds, barely keeping his balance! Take control of this duo of odd heroes in this quirky adventure for one casual and one hardcore player!

Play the updated version online at Kongregate!

Check out the original GGJ build!

And of course credit where credit is due, and these amazing guys deserve a lot:

  • Game Design: Matthias Niebergall
  • Art: Kirill Krysov
  • Programming: Dominik Hübner and myself
  • Music taken from the wonderful Kevin MacLeod
  • A big thanks to all the people organizing the jam, globally and locally here in Berlin. You’ve done a great job!

By the way, we even satisfied a diversifier (an achievement for the developers) this year: “Collaborative Casual/Hardcore (Two players: one casual, one hardcore): Collaborative play for two, but one player has more to do than the other (or the difficulty level is different between them).” I am sure you will agree after you’ve tried both the casual Mr. Snake and the slightly more hardcore Mr. Gecko: The former just has to jump and duck, while the later has to balance on the snake, jump at the right times and use the mouse to shoot at birds!

Lessons learned

Even though this is not my first jam, it seems that every single one has some valuable lessons to teach. These are mine this time:

  • Even though it’s an a very small timeframe, make a rough project plan with milestones so you won’t lose focus.
  • Every milestone should be playable (player interaction and a goal), especially the first one – which should ideally be ready when you go to sleep the first time. It does wonders to your motivation!
  • Programmers, make a task list. It keeps you focused.
  • You cannot say if something is fun until you can test it. Halfway through the project I felt like giving up because nothing seemed to be coming together, and 12 hours later we had this amazingly fun prototype! So even if it seems like the game won’t be any good, at least implement the first playable prototype.
  • If your code is based on a pixel oriented framework like Flashpunk, don’t mix in vector based stuff like MovieClips. It just leads to a whole load of implementation overhead.
  • If you want to pull an all-nighter, at least sleep the first night. Otherwise you might fall asleep the second night which will surely lead to you missing the deadline.

This year the GGJ was certainly not easy and at times tedious and exhausting, but the result totally makes up for that. I daresay that it is one of my best prototypes so far! I am very happy that I have participated, and I’d like to thank everybody who made the weekend as amazing as it was!

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.)

http://blog.dragonlab.de/2010/02/global-game-jam-2010

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