Android Game: Magnetos

These past few days I organized and hosted a weekend long game jam, namely Gotland Game Jam HT 14. While not helping participants out with their games or generally making sure things went smoothly, I made a game by myself.

I took this opportunity to try out the new UI system in Unity 4.6, turns out it was pretty nice overall. There’s a lot of similarities with NGUI in how things are set up, but they differ greatly in implementation. The new UI feels infinitely more solid than NGUI, mostly because they’ve been able to do stuff not possible with only scripts. One of these things is the RectTransform – A new type of transform specifically for UI and 2d.

It’s not all good though, the Text component is currently horrendously bad, offering very few options. As I’ve heard though from meeting some Unity folks in Paris they’re working on replacing it with a new properly updated one soon enough.

Back to the game, here’s a bit of gameplay recorded on device:

It’s really quite simple, wherever you touch on the side panels, the green ball will move towards it. You need to avoid the red shapes and pickup the blue ones to get health.

I’m really happy on how it turned out, especially the art style. I was initially planning on having a lot more colors, effects, particles etc but I soon realized my programmer art really could benefit from keeping it simple and clean – so I did.

Even though it’s quite far from a finished game, it’s a really nice idea and foundation to build upon. Don’t  know when I’ll have the time to do it, but these are some of the things that I’ll add in the future:

  • Proper level/wave system. Perhaps with patterns of shapes.
  • More variance in unfriendly shapes (for example homing)
  • Pac-Man mode when filling the blue bar (eat shapes)
  • Some sort of score system
  • A few different power-ups

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:
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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.

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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!