Together We Defend, A Cooperative Crowd Game Prototype

I’ve made prototypes for local multiplayer games with 10+ people before – some very successfully, some less so, but always with great pleasure. There is something magical about a crowd of people all playing the same game together. You don’t just need to design good mechanics though – the game should balance well with a few or with a lot of people, which is also hard to test because you always need a crowd. Another problem is input: While yelling with varying volume in Screamy Bird is tremendously fun, it is a bit limited control-wise. Unless your crowd is very small, giving everyone a gamepad is not an option. But these days, most people have a smartphone with a web browser, and luckily, platforms like AirConsole and HappyFunTimes make using these as controllers extremly easy!

My goal was to make a game where people have to cooperate and that scales well with different amounts of players. To ensure cooperation, the game would feature two radically asymmetric roles: the Shooter, which can attack but dies to a single hit, and the Defender, which has no offensive capabilities, but whose shield can absorb any amount of damage. In the center of the games are the Cores which the players have to defend. Enemies come in from all around the screen and try to destroy the players and the Cores, whatever is nearest. The enemies’ projectiles are heat-seeking – they will always hit something, so without the Defenders, the Core and the Shooters will be destroyed rather sooner than later; but without the Shooters, the defenders could not destroy a single enemy.

This was a jam game done in about 12 hours and everyone around me was busy, so I there was no way I could balance it properly. I solved that dilemma by assuming the role of the game master: I would sit at the keyboard and spawn enemies.

Apart from troublesome connection problems, the game worked rather well for a jam game and the crowd loved it. Here is a video of the presentation:

Together We Defend, A Cooperative Crowd Game Prototype

The video was filmed by Iwan Gabovitch and the sound effects are from the fabulous Universal Sound Effects which I can very much recommend.

Connection problems aside, I am very content with how the mechanics worked out and I think there is a lot of potential there. I will probably revisit this prototype some day and make a proper game out of it.

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:

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

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

Beer Pong HD for Android

I’m currently in the process of posting all the games and prototypes that I made years ago and never published. This post (and the next one) are special though – because the games were published, just not by me. I made those games for other companies.

The first one is Beer Pong HD for Android. Back in the days when I worked in the Netherlands as part of my studies, I made its first version (further on, other developers expanded it) with Unity for Codeglue.

It seems the original promo video is not available anymore. Here is the best video that I found (made by Androida.it). I suggest you jump to 4:16 for gameplay:

Beer pong HD per Android

What is still available is the video how the AI finds out which ball throws end up inside a cup. I didn’t just want to calculate how to hit the middle of the cup because that might look too artificial, but I still wanted to be able to predict whether a throw hits, even if multiple jumps on the table or cup’s edges are involved. Here is a video of the AI “training” and finding out which throws hit:

This is how the AI in Beer Pong HD works

(And the best part is that it takes some time and is automatic. Time for a cup of coffee – or an office sword fight. I like being a programmer.)

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.

Retcon: A Multi-Round Game Which Records & Replays Your Moves

Over two years ago, a theme in university was action recording/replaying, and instead of doing a boring text editing app to demonstrate this, I made a game. Introducing:

Each round your previous actions are replayed,
but your and your enemy’s actions will change the
outcomes of previous moves by placing new tokens.

You can play the game in your browser or download the Android APK.

Retcon: A Multi-Round Game Which Records & Replays Your Moves

I think the concept is quite intriguing, but the current execution is flawed. Currently, the tokens of the current starting player start first which leads to fluctuating patterns. Also, no matter how experienced you are in the game, you still cannot beat new players who grasp the concept by a significant score and even you pull of a cool move that should get you in the lead, it often doesn’t really matter much.

What I really like though is being the starting player in a round can both be an advantage and a disadvantage: You will move first and can force the second player to defend a certain position, but in certain situations you might need to defend an important position before the other player moves to attack there – and then the other player obviously will place somewhere else.

Anyway, long story short: I might make another game based on the recording/replaying multi-round concept in the future and I sure hope that one will be a lot more fun. More years of experience have to be good for something, right?

Retcon was made by me, with assets by:

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:

Aubjects, or: The last game I’ll ever make in 2013

For every month of 2013, I’ve released (at least!) one game – except December. Luckily, there’s still a few minutes left, so I present to you my digital web/desktop/Android adaptation of a board game we once made at my university!

Aubjects

Your job is to locate six mysterious Aubjects
on a foreign planet – via triangulation.
To make it more exciting, you decided to have a contest!

Enclose exactly one Aubject to score.
For every additional enemy probe you get one bonus point.

Become the Master Triangulator in:
Aubjects, a game of skill for two players.

Play it right in your browser!

Download it for:
Windows
Android

Aubjects Gameplay

Credits:

This game is based on a board game made at the HTW Berlin, designed by:

  • Tobias Müller
  • Anthea Neums
  • Nathanael Siering
  • Tobias Wehrum
  • Florian Wokurka