Agent Simon

Live blogging from The 48hr Game Making Challenge 2010

Hour 8 – 12:30am Saturday

We’re at the 48hr Game Making Challenge in Brisbane and we’re going to experiment with blogging as we make 🙂

This year’s keywords are: dinosaur, revenge and bar, thanks to @YugSTAR from the ManaBar.

Tom outlined our game plan in the previous post, and so far we’ve been following it pretty closely. We came up with plenty of verbs based on the keywords and started brainstorming ideas around them. We’ve got three concepts we want to take further and we’ve set off prototyping each one of them separately. Derek is busy developing graphics and an art style that works for two of the ideas.

The ideas are loosely;

  • stealing eggs from dinosaurs
  • dropping dinosaurs into a bar for epic havoc
  • serving drinks to punters before they turn into rage monsters

Concept art to come soon. Here’s our setup (thanks for the screens Maggie, you rock!). Notice the healthy bananas! Matt’s eaten 5 already.

Tom and  I are tweeting, and someone occasionally posts to the Voxel feed too.

Hour 11 – 2:47am Saturday

The three prototypes are progressing well. Tom has a playable and is now implementing a better control scheme that uses X360 controllers. Matt has some impressive flocking with box2D physics. Derek has made some nice cartoon stlye concepts (see below) – very much in the Agent flava. I, on the other hand, have yet to compile my code! haha Installation issues aside, I did manage to help Tom get the X360 controllers talking to flash in Windows 7. Matt is now asleep, Tom is piking and I’m about to do the same. Hopefully we’re back at it early and are able to settle on a prototype before about lunch tomorrow morning.

Hour 17 – 8:30am Saturday

The sleeping quarters were surprisingly full last night, and many are still down there asleep. I think it reached its most full state at about 5am. I know this because sleeping on concrete without a pillow ain’t that comfortable and I might have spent more time awake than asleep. The drone of the vending machine didn’t help. Matt and I are back up. Matt’s got some cool stuff happening. There’s a lot of potential in it. Another positive of this “Raptor in a nightclub” idea is that it’s very different to anything we’ve made before and we find that pretty exciting. It has a strong puzzle element to it and it would be fun to deck out with ambient details. On the other hand, Tom’s “egg stealer” prototype in it’s embryonic state was super fun last night and I wonder how far Tom got before sleeping. I think it’s probably worth abandoning my prototype after I’ve had to reinstall Windows and lost a couple hours to crap. Looking forward to hearing from Derek… I wonder when he slept. He did have a cocktail of Red Bull, Mother, V and some other energy drink on hand….

Here’s a playable of Matt’s “Raptor in a bar” prototype. So… you’re in a bar and the green circles are people drinking and chatting. The aim is to eat as many people as possible by placing your raptors optimally. The game currently is self-regulated so you’ll have to use your imagination to imagine the game. To play you have to place three exits in the bar, ie doorways for the people to get out. Click three times, each click will place a blue circle. Now you’ve got exits, you clearly need some Raptors. Click twice more to place the raptors (red boxes) and on the second click the scene will play out. You’ll have to refresh your browser to play again. Enjoy!


PS: Derek is now awake. Good morning Derek.

Hour 25 – 4:37pm Saturday

We still haven’t settled on which of the two prototypes to make.

The “egg hunt” game is a competitive multiplayer game where the two players are competing to steal eggs off a dino. The dino chases the player with the egg, or the nearest player if the egg is on the ground. Without an egg you can outrun the dino, but with the egg you are very slow. It becomes an interesting match of trying to avoid the dino whilst trying to beat the opponent to return the egg to your base. Next up we’re adding more interactions between players and some minor tweaks to gameplay.

You can play “Egg Hunt”, but it’s not easy to setup. Unfortunately you need Xbox 360 controllers plugged into your PC plus this tool to play it. Having said that, its well worth your trouble 🙂


Animations: Dino_Eating_Hour25, Dino_Run_Hour25

The “raptor in a cocktail bar” (aka DinoDino) game is somewhat similar to a simulation type game where you setup a scenario and then watch the consequences of your action. The aim is to enact revenge on all the punters in the bar, and you do this by unleashing dinos at strategic positions in the bar. Next up we’re making more levels and prototyping three distinct dino types.

You can play it here: DinoDino_Hour25

The bar from "Raptor in a cocktail bar"

Both mini-teams have until 6:30pm to receive their final prototyping before we make the difficult decision. We figure neither has the depth in gameplay at this point, but they’re both of relatively equal “fun”. Interestingly, opinions given by passers-by have been equally divided.

Hour 29 – 7:57pm Saturday


“Egg Hunt” has become the clear choice for us to polish up for the 48hr comp. We just played it for a good twenty minutes and we didn’t want to put it down. We’re off to list all the remaining tasks and reunite as one team to polish “Egg Hunt” up for submission tomorrow. After the meeting, we’ll be back here to post the playable.

Below is the final version of Dino Dino (aka “Raptor in a bar”) game at Hour 29. Click once to place the large and slow dinosaur. Click again to place the small and fast dinosaur. Imagine that the yellow circles are marked targets (ones you must get), they don’t do anything different, its all in your head. NB: you can get stuck in a level, where you have no choice but to refresh the browser.  Play Dino Dino at Hour 29.

Just realised Egg Hunt can sound a bit funny when you say it fast in an Australian accent. So we need a new name for it. Thoughts?

Updates coming soon.

We’re going to be adding a stack of new visuals and a couple minor gameplay tweaks. Visuals wise we’re planning to add: level background (seen above), a mother dinosaur, lots of particles, cloud shadows, animations for being various actions, a stun effect, a hit effect and lots of minor things. We’re considering game music that sounds like the Benny Hills theme song crossed with the Flinstones theme song – but getting that made depends on Joel… our musician in Sydney.

Hour 32 – 11:48pm Saturday – Update on the music

It’s looking like we might get a custom loop written for the game!! Joel says: “4pm tomorrow? Jeez! Sure, I’ll give it a go tomorrow. Something weird, fun and mental, with a prehistoric theme…” He’s risen to the challenge of writing something like Benny Hills VS Flinstones hehe 🙂 Good luck Joel.

Hour 35 – 03:30AM Sunday Morning – Triceratops Trauma? – Latest build before sleeping

A little over 12 hours remaining…. This just in: Footprints! 😛

[Play the game!]

With 4 player keyboard support!
P1: WASD + QE (Move + Hit/Drop)
P2: Arrow Keys + Shift+Enter
P4: Numpad8456 + 79

Hour 46 – 2:20pm – YIKES!!

So much to do. No time to post! Tom’s network has gone wacky, causing the controllers to stop talking to flash. This is TERRIBLE …

We have music though, and I’ll post some shortly. Joel’s made some cool tribal “ougachucka” music.

The Following Day – after a good sleep

Just in case you’re sitting on the edge of your seat since my post at Hour 46, I want to let you know that we did resolve the weird network issue and our submission went just fine. So, rest easy kids 😛

The game turned out really well! We’re very happy with it, and at times, playing it was our biggest distraction. It’s called “The Egg Beater”, and in the sprint towards the finish we just wanted to polish it. We did complete many of the graphical improvements we had planned at Hour 46 – see our backlog of tasks to see what got done. There was one absolutely critical task, the win screen, that didn’t get done… Yep, that has got to be what cost us most dearly! Because of this the game didn’t have an end, and therefore after it started the first time, it never went through the start again. This meant that each new person to approach the game would pick up the game where the last players left off, and they would be dumped into the middle of a match with the scores maxed out already at 10 (where it was supposed to end) and they would totally miss seeing the instructions. Fortunately there were always people standing around and some became short term fans, introducing new players to the game – thanks to all the players and voters! We were just one vote off tying the Pro League.

Regardless of our mistakes, we’re really happy with what we produced. I overheard players standing around discussing strategies, and I saw numerous players stick around for multiple matches with some rivalries quickly brewing. The game has an instantly fun veneer to it, bash opponents, grab eggs and drop them at your hut. But there is a subtle and deep strategic element that unfolds with each play. The best feeling is knowing that we’ve made something novel. We’d love to take it forward… I know I can’t wait to get back to the office to beat Tom in a quick match 🙂

Congratulations to the Winners of 48Hr Game Making Challenge 2010

Congratulations to ‘Big Al’s Revenge’, from Cratewerks, winners of the Pro League! Their game was very polished, with a great intro, lots of humour, light hearted gameplay and it looked absolutely amazing for 48 hours. We were blown away by it.

Immigration Office took out the Indie League and it too was an excellent game. Although I didn’t get a chance to play it, their novel concept sounded very cool. I was amazed by so many games in the Indie League! There were numerous games that really stuck with me and I hope to see the teams continue producing great games. Good luck! The indie scene is waiting for you!

The Evolution of the Music (by Joel)

Working with the Voxel boys, I’ve been given a lot of weird briefs before. When most composers get asked to write something, it’s usually “punk with a bit of hip-hop” or “electro-pop with a soulful vocal” or “tense strings and brooding trombone”.

Voxel Agents music briefs are more like “Nashville country music but with horror themes in a midnight thunderstorm” or “early 90s’s Japanese computer-game electro except that it’s underwater”. This one was “Benny Hill-type chasing sexy nurses across the field except set in pre-historic Flintstones cartoon-land.”

As I was walking out the door of my apartment, about to head to the recording studio, my girlfriend suggested the classic “ooga-chuka” vocal percussion that is somehow supposed to be the way that cavemen sang songs (how did that come to be? did someone dream it up for a b-movie?) . That was the idea I ran with.

Here’s the initial embryo – a multitracked caveman Joel choir:

First draft.

I was slapping my hands rhythmically on thighs, stomach, calves and a tambourine for percussion in that first draft. I then spent a good hour programming sampled orchestral and ethnic percussion to build the sound up to a convincing tribal thump.

Second draft.

Ok, so at this point I’ve got about an hour-and-a-half left. In music production terms, that is but a fleeting whisper of time. Working on a normal project, I’ll give a musical idea maybe three or four hours to develop before I’d break for tea, clear my head, and come back to evaluate whether to discard it or not. Generally, I do.

90 minutes to completely finish? I just had to run with whatever idea I came up with first. Here came the tough bit: cavemen were rhythmic, but they didn’t apparently write melodies in the sense that modern music expects. “Ooga-chucka” doesn’t suggest a thing in terms of harmony and melody. I felt I had two choices for inspiration: Hanna Barbara’s Meet The Flinstones or Paul Simon’s Graceland. I chose the latter, as I’d always loved the electric bass in “You Can Call Me Al”. It’s African, right? Cavemen were in Africa mostly, right..?

Third draft.

So three hours has yielded 7 seconds of audio. Now, 25 minutes has to yield another 80 seconds or thereabouts. I’m already realising that the idea isn’t particularly strong; the bassline is cool, but coupled with chord sequence it isn’t catchy, clever or culturally familiar, and those were the qualities I was hoping to give the game’s music. With no time to look back, I rush forward, programming a nice and clean pop-funk drum pattern, and extending the chord sequence.

Fourth draft.

I don’t want the music to just loop over and over ad-nauseam, so I spend most of the remaining minutes adding variations to each part over the course of the now-extended 90 second runtime. No two bars in the final piece are the same: either the percussion, bass, chords or drum kit is doing something different at any given point. Oh yeah, and I’ve added another “You Can Call Me Al” tribute: a brass section.

The final mix finishes suddenly so that it can loop back to the start perfectly.

The final mix: Caveman Afrobeat.

And that’s that. I email it to Simon and go home for the afternoon, having experienced another reminder that a good music idea is a precious commodity.

And finally, A video of the game

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8 Comments for Live blogging from The 48hr Game Making Challenge 2010

Ben Marrinan | October 4, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Hey guys, I was there in the team sparkle fresh. Just wanted to say i was blown away by your game, the concept is brilliant! Shame you didn’t win. Congrats on all your success with train conductor and i hope to see you guys back next year.

Paul (@Atramentarious) | October 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Hey Guys, congratulations on the game! Shame you didn’t win anything but it was really close! Planning to finish and re-release?

48hr Game Making Challenge » The Voxel Agents? | October 6, 2010 at 9:16 pm

[…] adored Voxels kept a blog of the comp – check it out over at their website [here]. The Voxels started out with two game prototypes and opted for Egg Basher – rumour is they […]

admin | October 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm

thanks ben!

we’ll definitely be back next year. I loved team sparkle fresh’s game also. the quality that everyone produced just blew us away. it gets better every year.

keep it up! are you guys going to take your game further?

admin | October 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Thanks Paul!

We were really happy with what we made. Simon and I will spend most of next week battling to determine who is better at it (totally me).

We’ll keep the concept handy. We’re not sure if we’ll pursue that game as a stand alone release, although we’ll definitely get the 48 hr playable up online. As for releasing that as a game, we’ll just see how it plays out.

Hope you’re there next year!

The Fire Game - The Voxel Agents | December 20, 2011 at 9:00 am

[…] fire game started long long ago. Regular readers will remember last year when we competed in the 48hr Game Making Competition 2010.. The three keywords were Dinosaur, Revenge, and Bar. So we came up with a game, where you drop […]

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