Hack the Grid in NetRush: An 8 hour prototype

A few weeks ago, we had the September Mini Game Jam of our Berlin Game Developers Meet-Up. This time, the topic was “hack” with the alternative topic “share”. After an hour of brainstorming, dismissed concepts and talking to a lot of people (especially Iwan), I arrived at the concept for NetRush.

Each of the two players has a cursor with which they can navigate through the grid of nodes. Green nodes are free: Free for you to be invaded, that is. You get points if you hold them at the end of the round – if you’re not dead. The first one to gain a total score of 100 wins. You have multiple stats which you can assign freely:

  • “Speed Up” lets you capture nodes faster
  • “Spread” gives you a chance to capture neighboring nodes for free
  • “Success” defines your chance of invading a node
  • “Shield” is your health – it takes damage for you, and if it falls under zero, you’re dead

A more visual explaination is available here:

Play the game online here:

Berlin Indie Game Jam 2011

Finally, BIGJam again!

Last weekend my internship in Rotterdam ended, and not a moment to soon, since another epic event was just awaiting me in Berlin: This year’s BIGJam! A nice café, a couple of frantic 3 hour jams, drinks, good food and lot of awesome independent game developers, what more could you want?

And noooow I present you: The prototypes!

Jam #1 (3h): Space Jump

The first 3h jam started on Friday with the topics “zero gravity” and “acrobatics”. Since I was alone by then and sadly devoid of my trusty Bamboo, my secret third topic was “abstract”. And it seems that “acrobatics” got lost somewhere along the way…

What I wanted to do was a game where one player controls the, well, player with the keyboard, and the other one controls the level with the mouse. This concept usually suffers from the player controlling the level being to powerful – which is why I just made it co-op. It became quite simplified along the way, and the result is Space Jump: One player controls the white circle, and the other can draw lines with the mouse to prevent the white circle from crashing into red circles or leaving the field.

Play it here:

Jam #2 (3h): Savior Cat

Saturday I was no longer alone: I had invited my ex-coworker Dominik, and we teamed up with an artist I met on friday: Tanja T-Rex. On our way to adventures and great prototypes we stumbled over the next topics: “free” / “cat”. Never turning down a challenge, onwards we went!

The result was another multiplayer game: Both of you are Savior Cats, freeing your brethren from the evil clutches of scientists who wanted to conduct their mad experiments on them! You couldn’t decide on which window is the safer one though – and now each Savior Cat tries to save as many cats as possible and throws them out of their own window.

Gameplay-wise it resembles a multiplayer-snake with a twist: You pick up cats by touching them, and then they follow you – but if another player (or scientist) touches a cat you carry, this cat and all of the following ones will now follow him! Play safe and only get a few cats to your window at a time, or be greedy and take the risk that somebody takes them from you because you cannot move them out of the way in time.

It is pretty fun and chaotic, the only thing preventing me from declaring it a complete success is that time ran out when we wanted to insert a crucial detail: The windows. Yeah, so far this game is without a goal.

Try it here anyway:

Jam #3 (3h): Valley of Sweet Death

After the immense success of our last prototype we stayed together, and being in good spirits we went on to the next jam. This time it was “delicious” and the totally fitting “suicide”. Wait, what?

Many ideas were formed and discarded, and after a while we settled on one. And mind you, that is the most political correct one that my team found (I’m totally innocent): A food cannon over a valley shooting at participants of a sort-of eating contest. Chocolate and sweets make you fat, but apples, motion in general and jumping in particular is good for you and therefore to be avoided.

Definitely not the favorite of what we made, but it is playable and works. I like the concept of needing to move to win, but losing what you need to win by moving.

Eat away: Valley of Sweet Death (Jam Version)

Jam #4 (5h): Ghost Huntress

5 hours? Madness! Since you can do sooo much in 5 hours, we decided to be really indecisive: It took us well over an hour to find our cover and game idea for the “be inspired by a cover” jam. Finally we arrived at the cover Ghost, and resolved to take one of my old prototypes named “Ghost Hunter” to the next level.

Ghost Huntress features a silent and invisible (and probably female, “GhostHunter” was already taken in my workspace) protagonist specialised in ghost hunting, saving children from the growing spectral infestation taking place in an orphanage. The twist: You don’t see the ghosts! But the children do – and they will run away from them, and surely being eaten (actually just frightened, but we didn’t come around doing the sprites for that) if the ghosts aren’t captured. You have to deduce the ghost’s position by watching the children closely before you can catch the ghost with your trap.

A simple concept which proved to be fun! And there’s much we can add: Flickering candles which will expose the ghosts for the blink of an eye, detectors showing how near they are, walls which they cannot pass and other cool stuff. And yeah: We actually might.

Until then, don’t get scared while playing the: Ghost Huntress (Jam Version)

So long, and thanks for…

…all the jam! Contrary to last year, I am very content with my results this time: A nice prototype all alone, and three amazing ones done with fellow programmer Dominik (a long time coworker) and Tanja T-Rex (who I met at the jam) as artist. Many thanks to our organizer jstckr for his work – and thanks to everybody who attended and made the BIGJam the awesome thing it was!

Looking forward to the next one!

Yet another Beat’em up: BashZone

As some of you might know, I’m studying International Media and Computing, which includes a course called “Media Programming” – and for all I know, it might also be named “Game Programming”, because that’s we what did there. I like my studies more and more!

This monday was the presentation of the games we made over the last two months. Ours is a Beat’em up. It’s rather generic due to time constraints (after all this wasn’t the only project we had to make in the last months) and the absense of a game designer, but I learned a lot about 3d programming and XNA while developing, and it’s fun to play anyway!

You should easily figure out the buttons on the gamepad.

Keyboard layout for player 1:

  • Left/Right: Move
  • Up: Jump
  • Down: Drop through plattform
  • J: Punch
  • K: Kick
  • L: Block
  • Backspace: Back
  • Space: Start

And for Player 2:

  • D/G: Move
  • R: Jump
  • F: Drop through plattform
  • Q: Punch
  • W: Kick
  • E: Block

Download BashZone! :)

You’ll need a Shader 2.0 compatible graphics card and the XNA Framework 3.1 to play it. XBOX 360 Gamepads are fully optional, but it plays way better with than without!

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.)


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!