CAT | 48 hour game comp

Hey there, we’re making a game at ACMI at Federation Square. We’re going to take an earlier prototype we made in 2011 called Time Travel Treasure Hunt, and make it into a fully fledged app fit for the App Store in just 14 hours! (Meanwhile we’ve spent a year working on our upcoming title… shh). So this is going to be EXTREME GAME DEVELOPMENT. 1 year? who needs that? 48 hours? Who needs that? 14 hours? Just perfect ;P

Come say hi at ACMI and pitch in your ideas. We just had a communal brainstorming with some luverly audience members, and we’re setting up two machines for you to make art for the game and make sound effects for the game. We’re here all weekend and I’ll be live blogging as often as possible. Supposedly I’m meant to be “spruiking” the audience, but I think ACMI forgets I’m a computer nerd LOL so we’ll see how that goes.

Ok so we’ve got the stations setup, people are recording explosion sounds. We’ve got people suggesting names for the game and we’ve got a drawing station with people filling in the lines for chickens, cows and houses!

first build of the game


second build of the game – some art and programmer “animations” ;P

I’ve uploaded our first build of the game: Play it here. The basic mechanics are up and running and from the first brainstorming session we are working our way through the list of todos.

The second build includes the first audience made art ; the trees and cows (?).

nawww

But Tian doesn’t like having people watch over her shoulder. Especially when she has to make art that fits the same style as what the audience can draw… haha oh Tian, it’s ok we know you’re AWESOME.

Day 1 – Hour 5 – 2:01pm

CHICKENS

and this one!

Here’s one of my favourite audience made art works!

People recording chicken sounds has got to be the best part of this whole shenanigan! It always gets a laff. BEGGGEEERRRRRRKKKK

Day 1 – Hour 6 – 3:31pm

Just had a quick team meeting. We’re dividing up the workload and putting champions in charge of certain areas. Matt, Tian and Henrik are building the first major scene and getting the flow happening in the core gameplay. Sam is getting sounds into the game and the audience user made content flow flowing. Tom is on the star collection crusade and I’m tackling the introduction to the game.

 

 Day 2 – Hour 14 – 4:31pm

We’ve had no internet all day! Sorry for the lack of updating…

But on the plus side we’ve been better at ignoring people today and desperately rushing to have the game ready for shipping. 26 minutes to go…

 

The final game!

final build of the game!

 

 

 

 

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Last weekend, we competed in the #fab48hr game making competition in Brisbane, Australia… and what a wild weekend! We won! That was great, but more importantly I was absolutely blown away by the quality of games made by the other teams. I was particularly impressed with the level of quality and polish that was developed in “indie” / student room. There is an enormous amount of talent in Australia and I’m sure we’re going to see more from those awesome young developers.

In the #fab48hr competition, each team must concept, design, and create a game based on three keywords that are provided at the beginning of the competition. This year, those words were “suit”, “key”, and “badger”, provided by Yug, Hex, and Jinx.

We made this:

Download the game we made here [WINDOWS] or if you use a Mac, try this link [MAC].

The Badgers of Fury 161

The Badgers of Fury 161

How to Play: Without giving too much away, if you have a couple of XBox controllers, plug them in for the best experience, using “A” as your action button. If you have to use a keyboard, you can use the arrow keys for player 1 and WASD for player 2, with “shift” as the action button. Also be aware the the glowing yellow floor (which totally looks like lava) will kill player 1 and the swirling blue circles (evidently poisonous gas…) will kill player 2. That’s all you really need to know… oh yeah one more thing: the badgers aren’t nice and they will eat your face.

The Badgers of Fury 161 was developed by the Alliance of Indie. This team was composed of developers from a number of Australia’s top Indie studios including yours truly Agent Tom (The Voxel Agents), Liam Hill (Defiant Development3 Blokes Studios), Cratesmith (Cratesmith,DefiantStrange Loop), Matt Ditton (Queensland College of Art, Defiant), and the incredibly talented Milenko (Strange Loop,Defiant).

The Alliance of Indie

Matt Ditton, Agent Tom, Liam Hill, Cratesmith, Milenko

But really, kudos where kudos is due:
As proud as we are of the game we managed to make in 48 Hours, the real winners of the competition were the indie team Rockin Moses (read about them here: http://making-games.net/48/?p=2916) who made a really fun game called The Fifth Suit. 

This game was great fun to play. For me, their game evoked “Smash Brothers Brawl”. While playing, I was less concerned about winning and more concerned about trying to make life difficult for my opponents. It was a strong social experience and quite a polished product for just 48 hours of work! You can grab a PC version of their game here [WIN] but it’s best played with XBox controllers. If you’re lucky enough to have some XBox controllers then I strongly suggest you get this version [WIN – XBox Controllers].

Congratulations Rockin Moses!

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The cream of Australia’s indie game development world are joining forces to compete in Brisbane’s annual fab48hr computer game making competition.

Last years winners, Cratewerks, which included Matt Ditton and Cratesmith, are combining forces with one of 2007 and 2008 winners, Agent Tom Killen, of the teams sif90 (2007, 2008) and The Voxel Agents (2010). They will be joined by the exceptionally talented Liam Hill, Mark Filippelli, and Milenko.

Matt Ditton (on the left) and Crateworks (on the right) are back again!

The 2010 event saw close competition between both Cratewerks and The Voxel Agents. Both teams made great games and in the final community voting round, Cratewerks won by a crucial single vote.

Joining them will be Agent Tom (second left) of The Voxel Agents
There were some calls for the two teams to fight it out once more, but according to Matt Ditton ofCratewerks, it makes more sense for the teams to combine forces. “It was a tight competition back in 2010, and even though we did beat those guys pretty soundly, working together is always better than working apart.”
Agent Tom of The Voxel Agents put it more bluntly. “It you can’t beat them, join them.”
You can follow the Alliance of Indie struggle through sleep deprivation, caffeine overload, and the need to get along at their blog (http://allianceofindie.wordpress.com) and over Twitter @allianceofindie.
The fab48hr is a computer game making competition for Australian independent and student developers. It runs from Friday, 30 September, to Sunday evening on October 2. Over 48 hours, participants must come up with a game idea, and then make that game in a frantic weekend of programming, art, and design.

About The Alliance of Indie
The Alliance of Indie are Liam Hill (Defiant Development3 Blokes Studios), Cratesmith (Cratesmith,DefiantStrange Loop), Matt Ditton (Queensland College of Art, Defiant), Milenko (Strange Loop,Defiant), Mark Filippelli (Strange Loop), and Agent Tom (The Voxel Agents).

Twitter: @allianceofindie
Blog: http://allianceofindie.wordpress.com

And follow the #fab48hr:
Twitter: @48hrgamecomp
Web: http://48hrgamecomp.com
Follow the action with the hashtag #fab48hr

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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!

DinoDino

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 🙂

EggHunt_Hour25

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

WE HAVE A GAME!

“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
P3: IJKL + UO
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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We’re loud and proud of the fact that it was the 2008 48 Hour Game Competition that inspired us to start our own games studio, and so it is with a sense of purpose and trepidation that we are preparing for the 2010 challenge. Over the next 48 hours we’re going to laugh, we’re going to cry, we certainly aren’t going to sleep very much, and we’re going to make a game.

We have a lot of respect for everyone entering the competition. It’s not a small undertaking to start with nothing but a blank canvas and the need to turn three obscure words into a workable game concept.

Indeed coming up with an initial concept is one of the hardest parts of the competition (second only to the stamina that is required) so we thought we’d share the process we employ to turn those three keywords into a set of game mechanics.

To begin with, we get away from the computer. The core game mechanics are vital. We need to get our core concept worked out. So we resist the urge to fire up Photoshop and instead welcome pen and paper as our first set of tools.

For our 2008 entry, Melonauts, we had a big piece of butcher’s paper and on this we drew three columns. At the top of each column we wrote one of the keywords. In each column we extracted any verbs (action words) related to the keyword that we could think of.

For example, in 2008 the keywords were “watermelon”, “astronaut”, and “summertime”. Beneath summertime we wrote dozens of keywords including “seasons, summer, cycle, heat, sun”. Beneath “watermelon”, there were “smashing, growing, planting, harvesting, juicy”. Astronaut had concepts of “gravity, spacesuit, planets, and travel”.

We then started combining the keywords. There is an obvious link between “planting, growing, harvesting” and “seasons, cycle”. This link immediately suggests a game mechanic based on growing a watermelon crop.

Another potential concept was to combine astronaut with planets and sun. These concepts are related in a thematic way in that a game could be about an astronaut exploring different planets with different suns that affect the way plants grow.

So we had two concepts. One was a highly mechanic based game of growing and harvesting crops in cycle with the seasons, the other involved an astronaut going on a journey and exploring how watermelons would grow on different planets.

To decide between these concepts we looked to our strengths as a team. We were able to rapidly create game mechanics and we had experience in developing mechanic’s based games, but no one in the team had experience or significant ability in creating story driven exploration games.

We also considered what we were making the game for. It was the 48 Hour Game Comp and so the judges had a bunch of games they had to play. They would only have a few minutes to play each game so whatever we created had to be instantly pick up and play, and needed to express its concept within the first two minutes to be effective.

For those reasons, we chose to play to our strengths and we developed the concept where watermelons needed to be planted and harvested in cycle with the seasons. At this point astronaut was doing little more than contribute a theme to the game, and the planting and harvesting needed a purpose, and so we took the inevitable decision to make our astronauts space marines who needed to fight and needed watermelons to do so.

And so Melonauts was born. The words “summertime”, “astronaut”, and “watermelon” became distilled into a set of game mechanics based on planting and harvesting, watermelon fuelled space combat, and a relentless cycle of seasons.

To summarise our process, it is focused on producing actions words and verbs. It is the actions that translate directly to gameplay and game mechanics. We avoid exploration or story driven gameplay because that isn’t our strength and because it’s very difficult to make a story driven game compelling within just two minutes of gameplay.

There are different approaches to take. “My Mechanical Romance” by Curious Bear won in 2009 and that was largely a story driven game where they elegantly expressed a complex concept through simple game interactions. It was a beautiful game and so we don’t mean to say that being exceptionally focused on mechanics and action words is the only or the best way to approach the keywords.

We follow our mechanics driven approach because it suits our strengths. If you have a team that is great at producing concept or narrative driven gameplay, make that type of game. If you have a brilliant artist who can produce content rapidly, make a content heavy game. Play to your strengths, and us that means producing a set of simple mechanics and refining those mechanics into a short sharp game that is instantly understood and endlessly replayable.

Massive props to the SIF90 team. Simon, myself, and Matt (the three on the back right) owe a debt of gratitude to Joe Gatling (back left), Jon McEwan (front left), and Michael Szewczyk (front right) for working with us to create Melonauts. It’s a game we can all be proud off.

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