Drapan

I make games

Game Connection & Paris

I just came back from Game Connection in Paris yesterday and it has been quite the experience. I was primarily there to pitch Braindusts new game BlastCat to publishers and I must say it went quite well. Had a lot of good meetings (both planned and spontaneous) and have a lot of promising contacts to follow up on, these are interesting times indeed.

If you’re unfamiliar with what Game Connection is: it’s basically a dating service for games industry folks. You send meeting requests to companies ahead of time and the system automatically works out an agenda with all your meetings and where you’re suppose to meet. More importantly is the mere proximity and opportunity to just talk to industry people to network and present your project and get feedback.

Surprisingly for a very early alpha, I got exclusively positive feedback on the game although some more enthusiastic than others of course. I’d hope this is because we have a very simple, solid and enjoyable core mechanic with lots of potential to be become even better by some tweaking and polish. A process which will continue this week with implementation of a tutorial and redoing some of the levels to better fit some sort of learning curve before we send the game off for evaluation. I’ll be posting more in-depth about that subject and the game as a whole in the future.

Game Connection also coincided with Paris Games Week which was held in the same expo area, didn’t really have the time though so I just ended up taking a 30 minute walk in one of the halls. For me one of the highlights with these sort of expos is always seeing what other universities are up to, and this was no exception. The only place I really stopped at was a french university where I was demoed a game on impressively broken English. Also, it was quite surprising that the vast majority of visitors of PGW seemingly were kids 8-12 years. Perhaps I was just expecting the same type of crowd as at Gamescom, where everything was age-restricted.

Going to Paris for the first time, of course we did some touristing as well, so here’s the obligatory Eiffel Tower picture:
2014-10-30 21.13.41

Dreamhackathon

This previous weekend me and some friends went to compete it in the Dreamhack Hackathon in Globen, Stockholm. In short, it was a mad dash to create anything during 24 hours. We, as most other groups, made a game.

The initial idea was a frantic two player 2d (literally-) platform dueling game where each of the players would start on either side of the screen on their own platform. The players would then need to push the other player of their platform by throwing balls at them, with knockback only. The platform would consist of pillars which would be destroyed when hit by the other player.

2014-09-26 18.51.43

There it is, our post-it note design! On paper it sounded lite it’d be great fun. Players would need to dodge incoming balls by moving about and jumping while not falling down from their ever narrower platform. At the same time trying to knock down the other player or destroy his/her platfrom.

10 hours into Hackathon, it turns out, it was boring as hell.

We spent the next 4 or so hours trying to figure out what to do to fix it, we tried basically anything we could think off.

  • Adjust the rate of which you could throw balls (slower/faster).
  • Adjust the speed of the balls.
  • Adjust the maximum/minimum speed of the balls (if you held the fire button you charged it up).
  • Adjust the charge time.
  • Limit the number of balls, to encourage mind games.
  • Put something blocking direct line of sight, so players would need to lob the balls
  • Changed the platforms to a delicately balanced stack of boxes.
  • … and more

The main problem was that the player really never needed to move, you could just stand in one place and spam balls which would block incoming ones (they collide mid-air) and eventually one of the players would slip up and someone would win.

We had more or less accepted defeat and was going to turn it into some sort of volleyball game when another friend of ours walked past our table and suggested we make the platforms scrolling instead. We were desperate and it sounded like a decent idea so we went for it.

And here’s the final result!

We’re all quite happy with how it turned out – especially considering how close we were to giving up halfway through. It’s not spectacular in anyway but turned out be quite a lot of fun in the end after all!

Blast from the past – mp_warehouse_ext

So, I was going through a harddrive I rarely access in everyday use and I found some screenshots of a map I did back in early 2008 (or at least that’s when the shots are dated) for Call of Duty 4. I remember absolutely loving making this map, the overall layout worked very well for COD4’s one-life gamemode Search and Destroy as it offered a lot of variety in how the attackers could approach the objectives.

The distance from the attackers spawn and objectives was also quite short, potentially making for quick rounds. There was 3 main approaches the attackers could take:

  1. Go indoors through a narrow corridor, with a branching path through a tight vent system.
  2. Go through the large front gate to one of the warehouses and hope it wasn’t well covered by the other team.
  3. Go on the outside, perfect for sniper-dueling, either out in the open or through a small office building.

Admittedly, I must say after all these years that the theme of the level is quite uninspiring. I’d like to remember that it was all down to me focusing on the flow of gameplay and varying the distance of engagement (very important in an fps) rather then the aesthetics. Another reason of course being that the vast majority of assets in COD4 has this theme.

I also found this very early in-editor screenshot of the outer area of the map. After this screenshot was taken I added a third building on the left of the two main warehouses which connected the two with narrow corridors, traversable vents and a large room full with storage shelf where one of the objectives was located.

mp_warehouse_ext_1

Here’s some of the screenshots, the oldschoolness proven by glorious 4:3:

shot0016 shot0015 shot0014 shot0017

This last screenshot really gives away that the map wasn’t quite finished when these screenshots were taken, note the missing detailing on the right wall (completely flat and boring, no roof), the way-too-clean ground and the strangely finite backdrop.

The predecessor to this map, mp_warehouse which I also made, was the first complete custom map released for COD4, mere days after the mod tools came out, something I still take some pride in after all these years. It was also featured in a German games magazine and included on their CD (Remember those days?) which was quite awesome for a acne-ridden 17 year old me.

Both the orginal and the _ext version was still played on a few servers just a year or so ago, quite awesome for a custom map made in 2008. Actually, I just checked and there’s still at least two servers running it right now, wow.

Will perhaps make another one of these posts in the future, found some other rather interesting stuff I have worked on in the past.