Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prototype Progress

Our team has made great progress on the prototype and we are feeling pretty confident in our game. We have settled on naming the game "Attraction." Who says puns can't be fun? Between the magnetic mayhem and relationship narrative, we feel it's a pretty fitting name.

Controls are tightening up, mechanics are improving and becoming more robust and we are almost completely finished with the level we are building for the prototype. Using Farseer Physics was a great idea and things are rolling smoothly. We hope the professors, students and other judges will be impressed!

Here are some screenshots of the game in its current state:

Launching yourself through the air with a Repel Magnet

A tricky puzzle that requires pulling yourself up then launching to the right

Swinging across a gap with an Attract Magnet

All loaded up in a bucket and ready to Repel yourself to safety

Using your sidekick's head to launch to new heights

Monday, September 10, 2012


After a couple of "jam sessions," where we, as a group, discuss the game and come up with ideas for various elements, we have come up with a pretty solid concept and hook. The gameplay should be unique and the narrative should be interesting and fun.

Here are five titles from which I will be drawing inspiration:

Donkey Kong Country 1-3
These games are fantastic. They were created by Rare for the Super Nintendo. Based on the original arcade game Donkey Kong, these games take Kong's story to a whole new level. Fast paced gameplay with excellent graphics, story, sound and controls make for a very solid platformer. I will examine the clever puzzles and tight controls found in the Kong series in order to bring some of these elements into our own game.

Portal 1 and 2
Portal 1 and 2 are excellent examples of thinking outside the box. Throughout the entire first person experience, you never once wield a machine gun or rocket launcher. Yet, you are faced with enemies, challenges and puzzles that keep you on the edge of your seat. Using only your portal gun, you must navigate puzzles and outsmart the bad guys. The fantastic narrative seals the deal in this must-play series. I chose these games as a source of inspiration for gripping narrative, witty dialogue and clever non-combat gameplay.

Give Up, Robot
This is a simple browser flash game that I just can't get enough of. Essentially, you are given an mobile game-style puzzle-by-puzzle experience in which you must pass through puzzle-levels one at a time. You are a dinky robot blessed with the ability to jump and use a grappling hook. That's it. You will find yourself flying over games and swinging around lava chunks and before you know it, you've died 553 times and passed 42 levels. I will try to learn what makes a game addictive and captivating from Give Up, Robot.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Zelda games are typically amazing and this one is no exception. I could go on and on about everything that makes this game great. However, I will limit myself to one of the most-loved gameplay mechanics of all time. The Hookshot. Our game will feature a similar mechanic in that, you can pull yourself toward objects or pull objects toward you. On top of that you will be able to push yourself away from things. This mechanic will make up the core of our gameplay experience and our puzzles will be based almost entirely around the idea. For this reason, I am taking Ocarina of Time as an example of how to do the mechanic right.

Limbo is indie game development at its best. This 2D platformer does everything in its own way and holds surprises at every turn. The art is beautiful and the gameplay is simple and engaging. The puzzles are extremely well done and did I mention that this game is just plain creepy? The simplicity seems to enhance the weirdness of this game. Limbo uses a physics-based approach that we will be pursuing in our own game. I will use this game as a source of inspiration for technical and creative ideas.

I believe that if we take some great games as examples of how to do things right, we can save ourselves the time and headache of trial and error in various areas of development. Even though we only have 8 or 9 months and limited experience, I'm sure we can bring a great experience to the table by paying attention to what makes a game fun and keeps people coming back for more.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Time To Get My Hands Dirty

The eight games that are to be prototyped have been selected. There were quite a few exciting game ideas presented last week and there are several that I would be happy to work on. I was placed on a team assigned with creating a prototype for a game we will refer to as Magnet Bot. YES!

The basic premise of this game is, a robot's girlfriend (yes, robots date each other) has been stolen and dissembled. Your job is to find her, put her back together and take down the baddies who stole her. Luckily, you have some nifty tricks up your robot sleeves that will help you do just that. Using your abilities to magnetically push and pull on metal you will be able to navigate various clever puzzles and hair raising challenges and find your long lost love.

I was immediately interested in the concept of this 2D puzzle platformer. It has potential to be a very clever game that will find a perfect home in the XBLIG market. We have a solid team of two artists and two programmers. Myself and my buddy Dave Hurst will tackle the code and our artists Jon Humphries and Cory Haltinner will take up the artistic content.

We have 4 weeks to create a catchy prototype that presents the game's potential and solidifies the fun factor.  Time to dive into XNA and see what we can do!