Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Game 00 - Beneath The Skin

My Ludum Dare 29 entry; my first ever (finished) game

This game doesn't actually have it's own post so I thought I'd give it one.

The theme was 'Beneath the Surface'.

Since my bi-maxillary ostectomy operation (under-bite operation) was coming up I wanted to play with my anxieties 'under the surface' of what my face might look like after the operation as well as the physical act of seeing under the surface of my skin. The game isn't particularly well programmed as it was my first game (a lot of it is drag 'n' drop') but I learnt a HUGE amount from the process and it's what started me really making games. 

The player has the option to remove facial features, rotate, rescale and replace them with various other objects in order to 'play the surgeon'. The game was partially inspired by 'Dead Baby Dress Up' by Edmund Mcmillen and by the surgeon from 'Bioshock'.  

The soundtrack is a recording of me playing a song I wrote on the piano. It gives the game a spooky, yet sad and melancholic feel.

'Beneath the Skin' is probably my most personal game to date and is certainly one of my favorites. I'd like to work more in this direction for my next game (most recent game being 'Too Many Windows').

If you'd like to play 'Beneath the Skin' you can download it HERE

Game 10 - Too Many Windows

My entry for Ludum Dare 31
play the game HERE
 The theme was 'Entire Game on One Screen'

It wasn't a theme I was particularly happy with but it could certainly have been worse. The problem is that MOST games fit in to the theme of 'one screen' so part of the challenge was trying to find a way to limit myself further. Meaning comes from conflict so in respect to the theme I wanted to focus on the conflicts that one screen could bring to the game. The most common reason someone might want a second or third monitor would be to increase the amount of screen space in order to see everything they want to at the same time.
That's the conflict I went with, I'll limit the information the player has by restricting the amount of things the player can see at one time due to their limited screen space.

Everyone can relate to the troubles trying to find specific windows in the crowd of other windows so I played along with that theme being careful to make sure that it was absolutely impossible for the player to have perfect information.

I like the way moving one window in order to gain more information directly reduces the information you get from another part of the screen by the way the windows all overlap. This is where the fun is generated because the player has to be constantly moving things around in order to get the information they need to keep playing. 

Another huge source of the fun in this game is the scoring mechanism. I think the way I decided to make it was possibly the most important decision in the whole process. 
The player starts with 10 seconds on the clock and a score of 0. Their goal is to increase their score as high a possible.
Every time the player clicks a button, their score is increased by 100 and their time is increased by 2 seconds. This would potentially lead to a remaining time well above 10 seconds and in play-testing this was common. The problem being that when the player has a lot of time to find the buttons, the game loses a lot of its suspense and the gameplay becomes quite mundane. 

So I changed the way the scoring works whereby if the time is less than 10, the player is awarded 2 seconds per button click and if the score is above 10 the player is only awarded 1 second of time. This way, as long as the player hovers much more closely to 10 seconds remaining, which keeps the anxiety and thrill consistently high.
Also, for the really good players, if their score gets above 10000 then the 2 second bonus is only awarded if their remaining time is below 5, requiring even greater concentration.

I think it was Tom Francis who said that a good game is fun to play around with even without goals. With that in mind I juiced the game up. The windows retain their momentum after you move them so you can essentially throw them around the screen and they'll bounce around with various 'bouncy' noises and particle effects. This is satisfying because the feedback loop is very short. It also makes the game particularly entertaining when the player starts to panic, throwing windows all over the place. It also creates a conflict between being both quick and accurate with your clicks. 

I also juiced the game up with explosions which occur every 1000 points. Screen shake occurs as a satisfying explosion noise is played and the windows all move off at random speeds in random directions, bouncing everywhere. It makes the game briefly more difficult but is also really satisfying and acts a little reward for gaining another 1000 points.

I don't claim to be musically talented and the soundtrack could certainly have been improved but It was enough to give the game some level of tension and immersion. If the 4 bar loop does get annoying though, I have included the option to turn music off as well as the option to turn SFX off If the player wants to listen to their own music or something. 

Every commenter so far has stated that the game is very fast paced and fun, as a ludologist this makes me very happy. One commenter mentioned that the windows could've been things like web-browsers and addware, and honestly I wish I had realized the importance of that sooner. I think it's a brilliant idea and would've certainly improved the game. I could've randomized the windows somewhat as well with subtle variations on webpages and it wouldn't have taken too long to implement.

I'm very happy with how the game turned out (although it would've been nice to add in those window variations). I think it'll score more highly than my previous two entries on 'fun' and maybe 'theme' and 'overall'. I'll probably score lower than 'Beneath the Skin' on 'audio', 'innovation' and 'mood'. I'll probably beat 'Micro-System' on every aspect because it was honestly not very good.

Play 'Too Many Windows' HERE