Created in: 2008-2009
Ludomo Gamestudio gameproject
By: Kjell ‘t Hoen
Pixy is a concept about a fairytale creature that has to make it’s way through a cavern without getting stuck or being killed.
I created the first prototype of this game within a day, while killing time during my internship at Zylom (Gamehouse) Gamestudio:
In this version, players had to fly through tunnels, while avoiding the walls. The walls would spawn in lines and then another invisible object would destroy some of them in order to make tunnels. The Pixy would instantly die upon hitting a wall. Left clicking was firing a projectile to kill monsters and right clicking would create a shield that would destroy walls. This way, players could cut their own way through the level. I experimented with the spawning of tiles and enemies by a level spawner to create completely random levels. Although really fun to play and addictive, I didn’t think this concept was worth exploring. I did not have ideas to make this a full scale game though and I let it rest.
But the ideas did come, when I played this prototype a year or so later. I decided it was time to remake the prototype and add some extra features:
In this version players could control a larger Pixy in a larger world. I tried to find a way to not let the Pixy die when hitting the wall and the projectiles became arrows that were subject to gravity. This time I managed to switch the spawning of the level on and off, so I could also design my own level pieces. This was interesting, but because players could still create a wall-killing shield by right clicking it was quite useless to put a lot of time in the leveldesign since players would go right through the narrow passages I’d make. What was good about this prototype was that it showed me that the first prototype was better and what things did not work well:
- The first prototype sprite was better: the new sprite was too high, causing it to collide all the time. This was because the entire level consisted of squares. Therefor, a rectangle sprite did not do, since going vertical would be easier than going horizontal. I still don’t really know why it mattered, but it did.
- The first prototype was simpler: only two skills linked to left- and right clicking. This version had 5 different skills featuring (from left to right) sword fighting, shooting arrows, shield, teleportation and creature mind controlling. All the skills were nice but made the game very complex and except for teleportation, did not had anything to do with the core gameplay. In addition I also added an energy and hit points bar.
- Firing arrows in a curve was not useful at all, since most of the path was just horizontal. It made it much harder to hit enemies and not fun at all.
After starting Ludomo Gamestudio I decided to make a real game out of it, taking the things I learned from the prototype to do it right this time. After many hours of building I came up with a new spawning system, improved graphics and better gameplay. This would be the final version of the game:
In this version I wanted to include a technique invented during the creation of another game. I wanted to let every tile in the level, check what kind of tile it is. I did this by checking every possible surrounding tile combination, what in resulted in the eventual tile to be picked.
The game now does the following things to spawn walls like this:
- Spawn a line of wall objects
- Erase some of them to make a tunnel
- Move over them to let them check what kind of wall they are
- Select the correct sprite image index
The tile set where the object wall got to pick it’s image from:
Other things that can now be spawned every line:
- Every set interval a diamond for the player to collect
- Some fireflies for the player to collect
- A chance to spawn an enemy
- A chance to spawn a spike that falls down on the player
- A chance to spawn a wall of movable blocks
These technical expansions and lessons learned from the prototype resulted into the final version of Pixy.
You can download and play Pixy here: http://www.ludomo.com/pixy.php
Global Game Jam 2010
From Friday the 29th until Sunday 31st, the global game jam 2010 took place. There were 128 locations all over the world where games were build. I was present at one of the biggest participants: the location in the Netherlands, Hilversum. The location was my old school: the Utrecht school of arts. During 48 hours the 180 people that were present had to make different teams, think up a concept around a theme and build a game from scratch.
The dutch theme was ‘Deception’. In addition one of the following things had to be present in the game: a ’Monkey’, a ‘Donkey’ or a ‘Key’. After forming teams there was little time to get ready, intall the equipment, have dinner and start brainstorming. Organization of the dutch Game Jam were the Utrecht School of Arts, Gamehouse Studio, Microsoft Imagine Cup and the Dutch Game Garden.
I teamed up with two programmers I got to know during my internship at Zylom (Gamehouse). Also part of the team were two graphic artists and an additional programmer. From left to right: Roel Verbroekken, Ronald Versluijs, Luc Bloom, Dirk van Dulmen and Gilbert Avezaat (programmers left and graphic artist right ).
On some locations in the school were webcams located, that life streamed footage from our location:
During the development we could determine ourselves how much rest we took in-between work. This resulted in a total of 7 hours of sleep during the 48 hours we had. The long hours wore everyone down eventually and when I took a walk around the building Sunday morning, most people were getting some sleep.
Looking back @ Save your Souls
Game: Save your Souls
Created in: 2010 (within 48 hours!)
Global Game Jam project at the School of Arts in Hilversum in association with Gamehouse Studio, Eindhoven
Team: Gilbert Avezaat, Luc Bloom, Dirk van Dulmen, Kjell ’t Hoen, Roel Verbroekken & Ronald Versluijs.
We started brainstorming in many different directions, but knew we had to start building soon if we wanted to get something done in time. Some of the brainstorm output:
We could instantly come up with many examples of deception in games, but many of them were linked to multiplayer with different player information. The key was to create a game where players could decieve each other. This would require a multiplayer game, but that was something that was to difficult to create on a technical level with the limited time we had. Two players behind one keyboard would make the game a lot less difficult to build, but when players would sit next to each other, they would instantly notice any moves the other player would make.
A short while after the brainstorm kickoff the programmers came with the idea of creating a game that would use two (computer) mice. Because we were still a little stuck with the theme we decided that it was best to let the programmers start building a prototype for this concept, while the rest of the team would continue conceptualizing a nice game idea.
Saturday morning, after hours of work and only two hours of sleep we decided to continue building and expanding the prototype. This raised a lot of questions on the how, what, when and especially why of the game and I found myself struggling with the answers. I had spend so much time thinking of other ideas, that I still had to get started with this (final) concept. After a while I regained my consciousness and rewrote the design document.
The final concept was about two moving objects that one or two players would control with two computer mice. The objects would be following a path and the deception would lie in the mental difficulty of controlling two objects simultaneously. Still, not everyone was motivated because the lack of a clear concept/ model.
The main question was still what the objects would be. Would they be a thief, ninja or something else? Soon thereafter we thought of a theme: Heaven and hell. This helped greatly in the design of the game, as we could link everything to this theme. We wanted to switch between different levels, so those levels became Heaven and hell. The two objects were an angel (a good side) and a devil (an evil side) of the player. We emphasised the internal struggle with a story: the main character of the story (the player) is dead and rises towards the afterlife. Both Heaven and hell want him because he has done just as many good as evil things in his life. After a struggle the character is broken into two halves and is set on a journey that will determine their eventual fate. It is up to the player to Save his Souls.
One of the graphic artists remade this storyboard into a nice picture of the title screen of the game that got everyone even more enthusiastic:
Before we knew it everyone was motivated again and we saw ‘the end of the tunnel’. The following hours until Sunday 1 am went by very fast and progress was huge. We felt good about the progress and took some well deserved hours of sleep. Some hours later we continued and we were done just in time to present the game that afternoon at 3 pm. Reactions were very positive and a great reward for our long hours of work.
What was really cool about this project was that I had the liberty to focus completely on the design. That I had failed to come up with a concept did not matter in the end. I still feel I had given a positive spin on the eventual concept and I still made many good decisions.
You can download the final version of the game here: http://www.ludomo.com/free_SYS.php