Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Game 03 - Card Game: uh...

I actually think I've done as much I'd like on this game now.
I've made a few changes since last time, most notably the addition of answer cards which each player presents at the same time to each other player after everyone has made their objects (sort of like Dixit). This new approach should prevent people from unfairly influencing eachother too much and it should streamline the points process as a whole. Last time we were a bit unsure about who should guess first etc etc but hopefully this new method should fix that. The downside to this new method is that now everyone has 8 of their own answer cards as well as their 7 shapes and object card and I just worry that people will get mixed up and things'll get lost etc. I'll still be on the lookout for a simpler solution.

The answer cards look like this:
Each player has a set of these cards (cut out and each set is numbered on the back) and presents the card they think corresponds to the shape their opponent has made.
When printing, the answer cards should be half the size of the object cards.

I still need to test things and perhaps I'll still have more than I thought to do on this game so I'll jeep the blog updated.
Honestly I'd quite like to get back into Game Maker again.
I have a few projects I want to work on including a co-op gravity game similar to the recently released 'Ibb & Obb' and inspired by the anime 'Patema Inverted' and the side-scroller sections from the game 'Super Mario Galaxy'.
Another game I'd like to work on would be a Metal Slug style game with perhaps a bit of Cave Story.
I'll make that other card game at some point too.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Game 03 - Card Game: I'm extending the time limit

I tested the game today with some friends and the feedback was very good. I more or less confirmed the changes I thought I should make. The game is still quite difficult but this isn't too big of a problem; people need to do badly sometimes. The problem is whether a blunder will completely ruin a game for someone or not. The solution to this problem (if it does become problematic) will be within the scoring (which is easy to change).
I didn't really test the scoring today but I got the feeling that 3 people is right on the limit of enough/not enough people to keep the game fair and interesting (with this points system). Although we weren't scoring today, the game was still pretty enjoyable. So I reiterate; the feedback was very good.

Since testing today I've polished a few details. The cards now look like this:
Much more efficient use of space and paper

It'll be interesting to see whether the experimental green 'concepts?' work or not.

Actually I'll have to include a version without the colors for people with imbalanced ink ratios in their printer (or color-blindness). I worry that people will find it difficult to read the text (which is obviously very important). Unless I decide to use shape categories, the colors are just aesthetic.

Oh, I made another set of shapes too (another 21 shapes) because I wasn't sure how many people I was going to test my game with today.
I didn't use my graphics tablet to make these, unlike the previous shapes, but I quite like the wobbly outlines. It gives the shapes character and distinguishes them from the other set of shapes.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Game 03 - Card Game: A few revisions

I made the object cards, printed them out and tested the game with them.
I split the cards into Animal cards and Vehicle cards. The other players will know what type of card each player has. I realized that every object that might have ever existed was too large of a range of potential objects so this helps to limit the number a bit.
After testing I realized that a more convenient card layout would be this one:

Red could be Animal,
Blue = Vehicle
Green = Household object (eg. Lamp or Clock)
Yellow = Place?

Pictionary style


Went a little over the time limit on this first one.
The shapes were quite difficult.



 Aeroplane (Airplane)

I went way over the time limit with these shapes. Is the time limit too short? No time limit?

I've only really tested the game with myself so far but I have a few revisions to make already:

- The first thing to note is that you can see through the cards. I'll have to print on thicker card next time.

- The game is currently too based on randomness. It is still predominantly up to the cards and shapes to decide whether your object is obvious or not. Potential solutions:
    - 1. Limit the categories even more.
    - 2. Make sure (or have a high chance) that each player consistently has a varied selection of shapes. To do this I could:
        - 1. Give each player more than 7 shapes each.
        - 2. Design the shapes very carefully so that they have lots of uses.
        - 3. Have shape categories too. i.e. For the 'Animal' card there can 'Animal' shapes too which are generally more body, head, facial feature, limb shaped.
- Another smallish problem is that it is currently easy to cheat the shapes you get by feeling for which one you want. Solutions:
    - 1. Embrace this and always allow the players to chose which shapes they want but rotate the chooser after each shape is chosen to keep it fair still. May help with the randomness problem too.
    - 2. Rather than feeling the shapes, deal each player 7 cards which correlate to specific shapes.

There is a fine balance to made between giving the player enough variety to be creative and have a good chance of being successful but vague enough that different players with the same shapes and object would have different solutions.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Game 03 - Card Game: 2 card games

I have 2 ideas that I want to explore here. 

The first one is very simple.
 The Rules currently:
 It's a 'kids' game for at least 3 players where you are given 7 random shapes (less if there are more than 3 players)  cut from this template ->

 Each person then chooses a card with an object written on it and does NOT show it to anyone else.

Everyone then has 20 seconds to make their object using EXACTLY 3 of their 7 shapes.

After these 20 seconds are up everyone other than the person who made the object (starting with the person on the object makers left) takes ONE guess at what the object is. Whoever guesses correctly gets 1 point and the object maker gets 1 point for everyone who guesses their object correctly.

continue guessing objects for everyone in the group. Once everyone's object has been guessed and points have all been added together, everyone puts the shapes they used into the shape pile and the process continues for a previously decided number of rounds.

When all the rounds are over and all the points have been added up, the winner is the person with the most points.

The second card game is far less fleshed out.
So I'll work on it some more and make a post tomorrow or something.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Game 03 - Card Game: Research and Idea Development

I've been playing 'Gods Will Be Watching' a fair amount since it was released yesterday and I love it. It was made with Game Maker: Studio too. I loved the original Ludum Dare entry as well. It's given me a few ideas about potential uses in a physical card game perhaps similar to One Night Ultimate Werewolf.
I'll be going back to my 'this is a cool mechanic, lets explore that' strategy for creating games next week. I've made little progress with this weeks game so far. That being said, I've had a pretty busy week and I am out of my comfort zone with card games so maybe I'll go back on my previous comment at some point =P

Today I made some quick generic(ish) cards today in Adobe Flash (took about an hour), printed and cut them out to see if they'd give me any ideas about interesting uses for them.

            1.                                  2.                                  3.                                   4.
The first two are inspired by trading and battling card games such as Yugioh, Magic:The Gathering or Pokemon. Generally each card represents a 'creature' which with offensive and/or defensive uses, and 'support' cards which are generally used to temporally change the rules of play, power up a 'creature' card,  or give the player some kind of miscellaneous bonus which, when used in conjunction with other cards, varies in usefulness.
A lot of the strategy of these games comes prior to the 'battling' part; trading and putting together a deck of cards or two.
The rest of the strategy comes from the combining of various cards and card positions whilst taking into account random variables such as what card you'll get next (although you can often push the odds in your favor) and adapting to your opponents strategy.

The second set of cards have more or less only writing on them. Similar to that of Cards against Humanity or Pictionary. The writing could be questions, answers, actions to perform by a player or players, information or perhaps something else.

I like the idea of the cards containing information available only to one or a few of the players. Tension in media always comes from someone (usually the viewer/player but sometimes one of the characters) having more information (or thinking they have more information) than somebody else. for example in the book and film, The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas:
When the Bruno and Shmuel enter the concentration camp dressed in 'stripped pyjamas' to look for Shmuels' dad, the viewer is fully aware of the danger to the two boys and Shmuel is partially aware whereas Bruno is completely oblivious. This economy of information creates one of the most suspenseful scenes in modern cinema and I assume it was even more powerful in the book.

These two cards could be used in a kind of pattern linking game. Perhaps the colors, shapes, quantity of colors and quantity of shapes are all linked to other things. The cards themselves remind me of a card game (I can't remember the name) I was introduced to at Games Brittania (a games festival held in the millennium gallery in Sheffield a few weeks back) where each card has a bunch of images on it, all cards share exactly one image in common with another card and every card is different. The aim of the game is to identify which image each card shares with the next card before your opponent.

4. The last two cards are similar to the third set of cards but the shapes are arranged in such a way that they vaguely represent objects or patterns. 
Eg. The top one looks a bit like a plug socket and the bottom one looks a bit like a lamp.
I kept the different colors just because I'm sure I could add some kind of extra depth to the game with it. 

An idea might be to have just a single shape or image on each card and to have the players arrange their cards (perhaps in teams) in order to try and produce recognized objects/patterns/shapes etc...

I feel like I've made progress today actually. I like the ideas about the information economy and about making shapes into other things. I'll work some more on these ideas tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Harry Lee and Stuff

I was worrying about whether my Games Art and Design course was actually going to teach DESIGN like I usually do. I started looking through some of the blogs of previous students and I found a very interesting and relevant link through Simon Balciunas' Blog about a designer called Harry Lee.
Article about Harry Lee

I'd heard of Sneaky Cards before but it'd never crossed my mind that somebody actually designed them. I suppose I always assumed they were anonymous but after reading through this article I feel an overwhelming connection to this designer, Harry Lee.
Making weekly games is beneficial in so many ways but it does incentivise not really thinking through what you're actually making. It's benefits lie in knowledge about software, playability and design but not so much 'games as art', which is the reason I wanted to make games in the first place. I think I'd forgotten that a little bit but Harry Lee has reminded me how beautiful games can be and should be. He reminds me very much of myself =]

This article is also very interesting to me currently on the basis that 'Sneaky Cards' is a card game. I was thinking about interesting ways to use cards and 'Sneaky Cards' is a prime example of how to use them in this way.
Another example that springs to mind is Cards Against Humanity. Another independently designed card game which uses a card game differently (although not to the extent nor the same merits of Sneaky Cards).
Others could include:
- Cheat
- One Night Ultimate Werewolf
- 52 Card Pickup
- Building a house of Cards
all of which use the cards in a non-traditional way or explore interesting social interactions.

It's worth focusing my attention towards more traditional card games also (for context at least) such as:
- Solitare
- Magic: The Gathering
- Poker
- Card City Nights - by Ludosity (a fantastic team of developers)

Given how much play-testing card games generally require it's fairly likely that this 'weekly game' might take 2 weeks. I may also change the 'Greed' theme of the game.

Game 03 - A Card Game About Greed

I'm expecting this game to fail and that's good.

It is rare for me to start a project with a medium such as 'Card Game', 'Pencil and Watercolor' or 'FPS' because it's almost impossible to force creativity. The best ideas are always the ones you come up with when you're just nodding off to sleep, taking a shower, waiting for a bus, or enjoying a long car journey. Nevertheless, in the creative industry, briefs like 'Make a game about dogs' or 'Draw a character for children' are all too common in my opinion. Or it's not that they're TOO common. These kinds of requests are sometimes necessary but like I said, they rarely lead to fantastic ideas or creations.
Jon Blow did a talk on this but I can't find it for the life of me. The title had something to do Creative Burnout I think.

 My Conclusion:

So I'm having starting. With the first two projects I had a set mechanic I wanted to explore and I was able to implement and experiment with it strait away. Card Games take planning but I do feel like I should already be experimenting with physical prototypes. I might do that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Design decisions and cool moves in Land Control

Design Decisions:
  - The destroying land completely thing is to force an endgame eventually. Destroying land is optional however so perhaps I should balance the characters so there is more insentive to destroy land. Or, I could add another insentive to destroying land...

- The decision to keep the bar charged when a player dies is intentional. This is based of the assumption that the dieing player has more of their charge bar charged upon death, giving them a slight advantage when they re-spawn to keep the game close and interesting.

I actually thought of a way better solution just now:
When a player dies, only the dead player and the dead players land should re-spawn. This way, the killing player has less land than the deceased player to navigate, giving the deceased player an advantage. This solution ALSO incentivises the idea of destroying the opponents land. This was something I've been wanting to incentivise more because it gives the players side goals. The point of the game was to focus on controlling land too, so double points.
I might go and implement this now...

- the laser beam is available at 8 charge bars. In that time, the opponent can fire 8 shots, which is a change of 16 walls above the opponent.
If the laser is fired accurately and strategically though, it can take out > 16 walls although average not-optimized shot is ~8 walls. Therefor, the weapons are balanced but the laser beam has a higher risk/reward, which is interesting.

Cool Moves:
Whilst testing I found some cool moves the players can pull off which make the game more interesting, even at a high level.

- The laser-shot combo - If you let your charge bar charge to 9 bars or more, you can fire both a normal shot and a laser beam at once. The laser beam clears all the land in front of the player so the shot has a free path directly into the opposing player.

- The waterfall - If the opponent has land above you, you can shoot it to make it change to your own color and fall one at a time. You can use this falling land to 'swim' upwards from falling block to falling block.

- The flying shotgun - You can successfully jump off your own land directly into the opposing player and shoot them from point blank range. This move is very risky however because whilst you're over your opponents land, you have no walls to shield you from their shots, whereas you have to get right in their face to shoot them (unless you have lots of charge and rapid fire whilst in the air). Another risk of this move is that once you've left your own land, it's very difficult to turn around and get back on it (unless you've pre-prepared land for you to land on). A good solution to this problem is the flying waterfall.

- The flying waterfall - If you're above the opponents land, you can fire a single shot to change the opponents land into your own. You can then jump off this falling land to safety.

- The God-Ray Attack - If you jump above the opponent whilst they're on their land and fire a laser beam downwards, you can cause them to fall to their death with no walls directly below them. If executed well, this move can take an opponent by surprise and kill them outright. This move is very risky because if you miss or the opponent manage to get back onto land, you will probably fall to your own death.

- The Flying God-Ray Waterfall Attack - If you execute a God-Ray Attack whilst on the opponents land (but still above the opponent) you can combine it with the Flying Waterfall to survive.

- The Flying God-Ray Laser-shot waterfall combo - To successfully pull this off, you need 10 full charge bars. It is essentially the combination of the laser-shot combo with The Flying God-Ray Waterfall Attack. I'll let you figure it out.

02 - Land Control 1.1 COMPLETE - 2 player game

Although I could do a lot more with this game I'll consider it finished for now.

Link to the completed game

- WASD to move

- Left Control to fire a normal shot (Ideally this would've been left shift but shift causes problems)
- Space to fire your laser beam

- 8456 to move (on the keypad to the right on the keyboard)
- Enter to fire a normal shot (on the keypad to the right on the keyboard)
- 0 to fire your laser beam (on the keypad on the right of the keyboard)

I finally fixed the sprite bug that caused the land to look all weird. I figured out that it was only when the land should be switching into a 'flat on all sides' sprite that it was failing to do so. The solution is kind of embarrassing. To execute this code (and all the other wall sprite changing codes) , the wall MUST have at least one space free on any one side. I don't even know why I thought it was a good idea to program it that way to be honest. The game played fine as soon as I deleted it (except for another weird bug but we'll ignore that =P).

The balancing didn't quite work and I think this is very much due to having never figured out how to implement the wall falling mechanic. In play-tests the laser beam is fairly underused but not loads. It's benefits mostly come from combining it with the normal shot, which is interesting in itself.
If I'd have properly implemented the wall falling mechanic however, the laser beam would've been much more useful as it would allow the player to cut off pieces of land without fail whereas the normal shots can be prevented from completely cutting off areas of land. I actually think the wall bomb would've been a bad mechanic to add with hindsight since the point of it is to counter the loss of land caused by the laser beam but since the laser beam. Since the laser beam is less powerful in this version of the game, it would've practically prevented an end-state caused by loss of land. This is an end-state I wanted the game to have.

If I had more time (and programming knowledge) I would have:
- Gotten the land to fall how it was supposed to
   - added the wall bomb to the game
- Made the game online (The controls would instantly get better due to having a whole keyboard to each player + many other benefits)
- Made a three and four player version of the game. Might be interesting.
- Made the characters more distinct in how they play.
- Made more variety in characters to play as, with different move-sets and tweaked variables etc.

Basically, I think this game has the potential to work very well on an online games website like kongregate.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

02 - Land Control Game 0.3

Land Control Game 0.3 - Link

I've made quite a few changes in this update:
- New Character sprites (also, they control a bit differently)
- Charge Bar (to limit when you can and cannot attack)
- Some sounds (finally)
- New weapons:
    - Normal Shot (1 charge block) - changes a single opposing wall into your own color
    - Laser Beam (8 charge blocks) - destroys all opposing walls in its path
    - Wall Bomb (5 charge blocks) - supposed to place 16 walls around the player but doesn't work yet

    - WASD - movement
    - left shift - normal shot
    - left control - laser beam
    - left alt - wall bomb

    - IJKL - movement
    - right shift - normal shot
    - return - laser beam

    - R - reset players and walls
    - esc - Quit the game

I want to add some kind of acceleration back into the players movement code up to a certain speed. This is because it's currently impossible to simply drop off the edge of a wall. You always go at full speed and it feels kind of clunky and gives the player less control of the characters (which often leads to frustration).

Known Bugs (other than the wall fall thing not working properly):
- walls rapidly switch between stuck and unstuck when next other rapidly switching walls (I think I know why but I haven't found a working solution yet).
- when both characters try to shoot at the same time it can cause one of them to not work (Might be fixable by simply changing the control scheme. Something to do with both shoot buttons being different shift keys?)
- Wall bomb doesn't work. Something to do with it not wanting to be in the same place as other walls I think.

Friday, 18 July 2014


These are basically images of the visual representation of my initial ideas. I just scribbled them all down as fast as I could.
I decided to go with the Player vs Player idea.
Land connectors were quickly replaced with sticky blocks because I wanted the player to be able to easily place them in the heat of the game and sticky blocks seemed simpler and easier to perform by the player.
 Super shots are now Laser Beams. This is to differentiate the two weapons (normal shot and laser beam)  since they both have very different underlying uses. The normal shot changes the color of an opposing colors wall into the shots color. The laser beam on the other actually destroys the walls meaning the only way to make land in that area is to make it fall from above or to place wall bombs.
 Early thoughts on how I was going to execute the falling walls idea.
The initial idea didn't work so from here on out I am trying to figure out a solution.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

02 - Land Control Game 0.2

Link to 0.2
I spent a whole day making version 0.1 into a buggy mess so I've reloaded a previous version of the game and now I have a working version of the game (even if it still does not play exactly how it was intended). This version probably doesn't look like a big big change but it will change game-play A LOT (especially when it works how I want).
I've been thinking very hard about how to make a group of blocks which aren't connected to a sticky block on any vertices to fall like the blocks do currently when they're not connected to anything.
So far I am unsuccessful.

I've changed how the characters play a little bit but I honestly haven't spent that much time perfecting their movement. They still control quite jerkily and it's too easy to throw yourself off the edge at the moment.

The falling blocks problem is my priority at the moment because it's the mechanic that all the other secondary mechanics rely on to work so I cannot make any progress until this is fixed.

I could technically release this version of the game now and it would actually be quite fun. This is a very good sign so despite the lack of programming skills I am rather hopeful.

I think a change of genre is important to keep me creative and enthusiastic so I'll probably give this game a break next Tuesday but I'll probably come back to it at some point because I think it has a lot of promise.

cya tomorrow probably. I still need to upload my sketchbook scans.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

02 - Land Control Game

I said I was going to make a card game. I lied.
I was unable to get to sleep last night because I was so exited about all the new ideas I had for an arcade version of Momentum Jump. I cannot wait a whole week to try these ideas out so I'm postponing 'Card Game' until next week.

Land Control Game 0.1 - This is the link to my progress so far.

Control the red character with 'WASD' and shoot with 'left shift'
Control the blue character with 'IJKL' and shoot with 'right shift'

The characters currently play quite differently because I am still in the process of figuring out the best control scheme so have fun experimenting with both.

I'll upload some sketchbook design scans tomorrow and hopefully I'll have another prototype to upload too.

Monday, 14 July 2014


Here is the link to the final game.

I've spent so much time today polishing the mechanics, levels and the artwork, I haven't left myself enough time to make or implement and music or sound effects. Listen to the Super Metroid OST whilst playing or something =P

This is only the first week but I feel 10 times as competent in Gamemaker already. This is a fantastic real-world skill as I now feel confident enough to implement any 2D prototype I want to.

- The game is mostly bug free as far as I can tell.
- The core mechanics are fun to play around with.
- The artwork looks good (could be better).
- I spent a fairly long time balancing (trying to teach the player specific things in a certain order so they were never completely lost) against (letting the player make their own mistakes and feeling autonomous). I don't know how well I did this though as I didn't have much time to play test.

- It should have been longer.
- Ulterior motives and a higher level of risk/reward would have made the game more exiting and interesting.
- The game could just be more fun in general. I tried to decrease how punishing the game was by cutting the game into short levels but I still get the feeling that people will lose the  motivation to carry on if they repeatedly die. This problem could be solved however by doing the previous point well and perhaps including some kind of narrative motivation.
- There isn't much variation on 'collect all the green things' to advance. If I had the time I would've tried to include more variety.

I really wanted to include some kind of timer to add replay value and to create tension in accurately navigating the levels quickly. I didn't have time to program that in unfortunately but you can time yourself if you like =]. I've found it adds a lot of fun to the game.

If I had more time to work on the game I would have definitely explored the wall destroying mechanic more, I'd probably experiment some more on theme and I'd like to have tried it as an arcade style game too. I will probably spend another week sometime making this.

Next week: Card Game (probably)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Momentum Jump 0.3

Momentum Jump 0.3
I spent most of my day socializing against my will. I have however managed to get in a few hours of game dev this evening. As I stated previously, much of my focus today has been on aesthetics although I haven't ventured into audio as of yet. Nevertheless I'm happy with the feel so far. It feels very Metroid.

I've been using beta pixel art software today called Pyxel and I'm currently very impressed with it despite the 'glitch?' preventing me from saving my tile-sets as separate images. Hoping the next update will fix that plus a couple of other problems I have with it.

Tomorrow I hope to wake early and spend the whole day finalizing Momentum Jump.
Next week: Card Game?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Momentum Jump 0.2

Here is the link to the newest version of 'Momentum Jump' (working title).
I've been playing around a little bit with various types of level and improving collisions etc. The game now has some beautiful lighting and randomly generated backgrounds =O.

Much thanks to AntRazorPlay for his informative video on 2D lighting in game maker.

From this point on I think I'll stop adding mechanics etc and start focusing on level design and aesthetics. I want the game to at least be playable with minimal bugs and an end screen for Monday.

I want to focus more on the feeling of swooping around so It's quite possible the levels will be larger to allow for more fluid movement. It might be beneficial to work on some sort of zooming out feature if I were to increase the size of the levels. This way, the player will be able to actually see where they are going and make a series of interesting decisions about where to go and how to get there =P

I'd like the zooming feature to be similar to that of Tom Francis' 'Floating Point' (also made in just a week) as it feels very smooth. It also puts the intensive on speed since a larger view gives the player more information and there is the Risk/Reward of speed/danger vs information.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Week 0.1 - Momentum Jump Game

I started working on this game 2 days ago so I have until Monday evening to finish and upload the final thing. The idea for this game came from accidentally deleting the jumping code I'd written for another game I was working on. This forced the player to have to use their momentum to 'fling' themselves across gaps. This method of travel I found to be much more interesting than what I had previously so I made this new game to experiment with the idea.
This is the first build of the game: 0.1
(Windows only) (Exporting to Mac and Linux cost money I don't have)

movement - arrow keys
harsh brake - Z
place checkpoint - X
previous level - A
next level - S

Feel free to leave criticism, insults and smiley faces in the comments =]

Actually I did make a game once.

You can find it here.
This was my submission to Ludum dare 29 and was primarily what got me exited about the idea of creating games in short periods of time.
It was the first time I actually managed to get GameMaker to do what I wanted (sort of).
Yes, I'm using GameMaker. It's quick to prototype and simple enough for me to experiment with design. Also, I suck at programming anything other than gml (I do plan on learning Unity with C# at some point).
here is the link to the Ludum Dare Page for my game.

Episode One

The plan is to make and release a game every week during the longest summer holiday I'll ever have. Although I've dedicated the last 3 years to learning about games design; watching design lectures, reading articles and books, analyzing games etc, I'm not particularly experienced in actually making games. Since I'd like to make games as a job one day I'm hoping that this project will push me in the right direction.