No More Sweden 2009


I spent the weekend in Malm̦ for No More Sweden, essentially hanging out with indie developers and making a game in 40 hours. In my opinion, one of the most interesting things about the Indie scene is how different each developer takes to the craft Рjudging what is important, what is less important and when it is time to scrap an idea Рsomething that shines through some of the games that were made. Hopefully, all of them will be available in the next few days Рmy own game, Alain, can be downloaded now.

The game is essentially a platform game that has you maneuvering an ape in order to get a maypole through a level. As with most games written in a compo under a short time limit, it has certain flaws that are there due to a lack of time – lack of time to polish, and a fear of killing my darlings seeing as there wasn’t enough time to replace thrown-out features. For example, I would like to have spent more time on the firing and climbing mechanics, seeing as it can be somewhat uninituitive and difficult to control now, and I also would have reconsidered the graphical style and gone for something that would give a clearer image of what platforms you could actually stand on.

Doing it again, I would spend less time on creating assets (although I lucked out as a friend offered to create background graphics) and more time tweaking the level design to weed out the brute-force-solutions and making the proper ones easier to perform. There’s also a bunch of features I would like to have added as they would have given me opportunity to create a lot of new and interesting puzzles, and I regret not observing people as they played the game as much as I could, as this had surely given me a lot of more things to add to this list.

Feel free to try the game and add your own comments!

Posted on Jul 19/09 by Saint and filed under General game development, Homegrown, Meta-blog | 1 Comment »

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Experimental Gameplay 3.0


So the Experimental Gameplay Project relaunched again, and is holding monthly prototyping competitions. Nothing to add to that, really, all is well.

On a related note, submissions are open for IGF 2010, although I have nothing to add there either other than that I hope to submit something this time. Finally, Ernest Adams wrote an interesting piece on defining games, maybe nothing earth-shattering but I am a big fan of taxonomies, they provide opportunity for discussion of both the taxonomies themselves and how different games would be placed within them – in turn furthering our understanding of the medium and birthing new ideas.

Posted on Jul 09/09 by Saint and filed under General game development | No Comments »

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Damnation was a very ambitious project – a steampunk, cooperative action-adventure mixing the fighting and vehicle segments of Gears of War with the area traversing of Prince of Persia. With a target set so high, of course it failed to deliver – and it failed to deliver in most ways you’d expect it to, having the quality of everything from controls to narrative and presentation be sub-par and with a bunch of bugs and design issues that really shouldn’t have been a problem in this day and age. I think the team knows of this as well, and detailing the failures thus doesn’t serve to help anyone.

Rather, I will go into what I liked about the game – the areas before the final boss really showed off the strengths of the design and was a nice build-up to a reasonably varied and interesting final fight. Climbing around the walls of Terra Verte was aesthetically pleasing and gave the same sense of advancement that the last generation’s Prince of Persia games, even though it was sometimes hard to see where to go. Finally, the steampunk setting was a little underused but had some really cool elements in certain areas.

Damnation is a good example of why so many games today are bland and uninspiring copies of what’s already out there – teams realize they aren’t capable of producing the game with all the features they want, so they cut the risky ones in order to avoid ending up with something where nothing really works, something like Damnation. The key, of course, being to have a project scope that is just right, a few really good and innovative features that the game revolves around (without losing what’s already there) or simply being a famous enough studio that you’ll be able to put in as much time as you want to finish what you started. And even then, as we’ve repeatedly seen, not all the time in the world can make a mediochre concept into an interesting game. It is hard to tell if Damnation had an interesting concept, but there are a lot more interesting questions to ask and a lot better games to play.

Posted on Jul 08/09 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »