Hey all, I’ve started doing write ups on Level Design over on Gamasutra. If you would like to read them I’ll leave links to them below.
Spoiler Alert: We won!!!
This weekend I traveled back to Sacramento for another awesome IGDA event. This one was a 2 day game jam hosted by IGDA Sacramento and Woman who Code. This time there was no theme, so we got to come up with our own ideas. Lot’s of cool ideas came out of the brainstorm such as a reverse Kirby. You could take out enemies Mario style, or get sucked up by them which would take you into a new world inside of that enemy where you can collect coins and other power ups before breaking out. Other cool ideas consisted of a brain wave 2D speed runner, a battle arena RTS hybrid, a fantastic tale of a Giant and her human daughter and more!
One of the ideas thrown out during all of this by one of the mentors was a “Silent Hill Rip Off.” We ended up spinning off that idea, and decided to make a phychological horror game. We settled on the theme of an office littered with cubical farms after a strange power outage. The concept was that you had stayed late at work, and lost track of time. When the power cuts you finally come to, but something isn’t right. Nobody is here, furniture has been tossed around and something seems to be following you.
The objective was to escape the office. Of course, we only had two days so we quickly cut the scope down to make sure we had something to show at the end of the jam. We had planned features such as needing key cards to access the restricted stair case, getting the power back on via a generator and using an elevator to escape your doom. Alas, we focused on the basics. I churned out some quick models while the programmers and sound guy went to work. I couldn’t have done this one alone, and I’m super thankful for our awesome team this time around.
At the end of day one, we had all the assets we needed to make a basic demo. I worked through the night to do a level layout and began setting up lighting to direct the player. At the end of the day we were all super proud of what we accomplished. Day two came, and the demo (which should be posted soon-ish on the IGDA Sacramento website if you’re interested) consisted of awaking at your cubicle, a flashlight, navigating to a hallway through a cubicle farm, a physics jump scare where a shelf gets knocked over as you approach it (assisted by some AWESOME sound work), working doors, ambient music, flickering lights, and a few more rooms to explore before coming to a close.
Out of the 5 groups the judges named us the winner. Which means we get the opportunity to show our game at the next Sacramento Indie Arcade, which is pretty huge! However, I think we’re all the winners for having such an awesome environment to get together and do what we all love, and that’s making games. Everyone there made something awesome in such a short time span. IGDA Sacramento has brought us mentors and a communal place to do what we’re passionate about and I’m super thankful for them.
Another thanks to my team;
Ivan, Kyle, Curtis, Tracy and Justin. You all rocked.
E3 is still going strong on the expo floor, but with the majority of reveals out of the way I wanted to take a look at what I’m most excited for.
Let’s start at the game I might be the most excited for… and that’s Insomiac Games’ PS4 exclusive, Spider-Man!
Not a lot of details on this one, but as a huge Spider-Man fan this is a dream combination. Insomniac are experts at creating unique and light-hearted experiences. During interviews they said the best Spider-Man stories come when Peter’s world and Spidey’s world collide, and I couldn’t agree more. Pete will be a bit older and more experienced in this title; meaning we’re going to get a Spider-Man at his full potential. Plus, that white spider on the suit is looking sweet!
Continuing the Superhero dream teams is Telltale’s Batman.
This is a game we’ve known about, but we finally got some more details and screen shots. Telltale are masters at telling rich stories and bringing characters to life. They’ve done phenomenal jobs on other comic properties such as The Walking Dead and Fables. It’ll be fascinating to see their take on The Dark Knight himself.
From Superheroes to Zombies!
Days GoneState of Decay 2
Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 3
Now I could write articles for each of these games individually… but I’m trying my best to contain my excitement into one blog post. New comer Days Gone looks like a solid outing into the post apocalypse. I’m sensing an open world and a Naughty Dog esque story line. Plus, do yourself a favor and watch the gameplay if you haven’t, because some incredible tech was on display. There were more zombies on screen and moving fluidly then I have ever seen, and that’s impressive when you look at game such as Dead Rising. Next up a sequel to what I consider one of the best zombie games ever, State of Decay 2. This time around we’re getting what we all wanted, a 4 player romp around the zombie apocalypse. Last but not least, a game I hold very dear to my heart… Telltale’s The Walking Dead.
If you’re reading this blog, you might know I want to be a Game Designer. The first studio I ever stepped foot in was Telltale. One fateful day I saw a post on Twitter about a Focus Test for Season 1 Episode 4. I jumped at the opportunity and the rest is history. Anyways, we got a teaser trailer for season 3 showing us an older Clementine taking out a ‘marked’ zombie with a new character by her side. Who is this new guy? Why are these zombies marked? Where has Clem been? All of these are questions I can’t wait to have answered.
I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface… but don’t want to ramble on so I’m going to leave you all with some pretty pictures and a list of the other games that really caught my eye. Thanks for reading! Are you excited about any of the games shown at E3?
The Dad of War himself, Kratos, rocking an awesome new beard in a new Norse setting.
Mass Effect Andromeda’s new protagonist, Ryder. “We made it”
Robo dino open world RPG Horizon Zero Dawn.
Til next time!
7 hours to make a game. That’s right, only 7!
Over the weekend I took a trip up to Sacramento to take part in my first ever game jam. The local IGDA chapter was hosting it and I thought it would be a great intro event for me, as I’ve been a member for a couple months but hadn’t made it to a meet up quite yet. Upon arriving I got to meet and greet plenty of new faces, and before I knew it we were getting the jam spread… err I mean going.
The theme for the day was revealed to be “Cycle.” I panicked a little bit internally here. Bicycle… maybe motorcycle? I wasn’t prepared for the theme whatsoever. However, a friend of mine who came along with me suggested Recycle, and we ran with it. Originally we conceived a game where the player would be in a park setting and would have to run around picking up and recycling trash left over from a birthday party. I figured we could quickly and easily play with the physics and color palate to make the game quirky and fun. Something that let the player shoot the trash from afar into a bin, much like trowing paper balls into a trash can. Cause who doesn’t love doing that! (okay okay, not the craziest idea!)
I got working on a document laying out the basic ideas and making sure we were both on track. More importantly I wanted to make sure we could complete something by the end of the jam, so I made sure we kept things simple. My friend, Ivan, got to work on his programming magic and I started cranking out some park assets with basic geometry.
A few hours in, we had issues with the scripts and getting things to work our way. Looking at what we had, I decided to cut what wasn’t going to make it and make a push for the finish. We weren’t able to get the pick up and throw feeling right, so we reworked some things. I over-sized the world, making the player about mouse scale. This made it so there was some platforming in the game. I rearranged benches, picnic tables, slides etc so that to reach some trash, which became just left over soda cans, you would have to do small jump puzzles. You would then have to push the waste, Rocket League style, into the tipped over recycling bin. With those two mechanics in place we had a “game.”
Finishing touches included a scoring system and having the ‘scored’ cans fade away inside the recycling bin. Oh, and making sure the player wasn’t scored and destroyed! We threw in some light-hearted music made by a fellow jammer and called it a day in the final minutes.
At the end everyone got up and anyone with something to show did so. Considering this was our first game jam and we completed something, one of the hardest parts for us, I was proud of our little project. There were some really great things made in the 7 hours including a racing game, infinite runner game and a cycle of life game. It was a ton of fun putting ourselves to the challenge and I can’t wait to do it again!
One more thank you to IGDA Sacramento for hosting this awesome event! If you are an aspiring designer, or a vet, get out there and be a part of your local community.
Til next time!