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.)
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:
At the HTW Berlin, the International Media and Informatics master has room for up to two bigger interdisciplinary projects. It probably doesn’t surprise anybody that I chose to work with the game design course on both occasions. I’ll make a blog post about the second project later, but for now our trip down memory lane brings us to: Heart of Decay, a 3D person shooter with a skill system, but sadly we never really got that far. Here is a gameplay video of the slice we were working on:
At the November Mini Game Jam (for which we had over 100 participants, wow!) I made my first experiments ever with the MaKey MaKey, an Arduino-based kit that measures when a circuit is closed – even through very high resistance like a chain of people holding hands. My game is less about hand-holding though, and more about poking your opponent’s hand with a pen-lance. Enter Electric Finger Jousting!
Take your pen-lance! Get ready, and… fight!
Poke the other player before they poke you!
But beware, don’t touch them before
you hear “fight”, or it’ll be a foul…
Electric Finger Jousting
Electric Finger Jousting Berlin Mini Jam Game
It’s not all fun and sunshine though: The game is a rather repetitive. I hoped to get a fencing kind of game, but it is really hard to balance the distance so it’s neither too easy to hit nor unreachable. Moving while touching the copper wire (which ensures that the right distance is being kept) isn’t easy, so you aren’t very flexible. That leads to very short distance jabs that are nearly impossible to react to and each round was pretty short. Despite that, fun was definitely had while developing and playtesting!
PS: When you do something like this, have water nearby to regularly dip everything into which will make circuit contact for a very short time. Water improves the conductivity so much.
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:
Snake meets platformer physics!
A short puzzle game combining two
well-known concepts to form a unique hybrid.
“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!
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.
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:
The new technology must be used for a part of the core gameplay.
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!
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.
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?
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.