Walking Home Simulator

Share personal experience by using games (Mainichi) :

http://femfreq.tumblr.com/post/53306704524/human-angle-queer-games-the-secret-avant-garde –  Interview with Mainichi game developer

http://indiegames.com/2012/11/freeware_game_pick_mainichi_ma.html – Mainichi Game – sharing personal experience with games

“How do you do it” game and it’s use of gaming to share a very personalized story

Street Harrassment:

http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/resources/statistics/ – statistics on street harassment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1XGPvbWn0A – 10 hour walking in NY

Summary:

Our Proposal is basically to make a ‘walking home simulator.’ It’s a game where you play as a woman walking home from work very late at night. You can make different turns, take different routes, interact with people on the street, but the object of the game is to get home safe. Of course, this goal is easy to accomplish as only about 4% of rapists are strangers to the victim. However, seeing as how 1 in every 5 women in US are victims of rape, there is a real need to be careful. The main content of the game is the amount of street harassment the player with experience. About 90% of women in US admit to being street harassed (A percentage, I feel, is low compared to the actual figures). Most of the street harassment portrayed in the game will be harassment we or our friends have endured (getting followed, sexist remarks, catcalls, the good old “pretty girls should smile!”, and the subsequent “You should be happy! I’m complimenting you!” argument). Our main goal for the game is to share personal experience through games.

 

 

 

Fractal Mario Game

So, Greg and I haven’t really had much time to meet yet, so in terms of character and level design, we have a lot to discuss. What we do know is that we want a Mario style side scrolling pixel environment. I made a quick mock up of a possible pixel environment.

Halloween Frogger Game – Nivetha

Here are some art concepts for my modification idea. I’m doing Frogger.

I want to make a Halloween-inspired game where you play as a light that guides a trick-or-treater through a haunted mansion. The object of the game is to avoid the ghosts and grab the candy in a room that is totally dark except for a small light which you control and which the trick-or-treater follows

Here are some pics:

Cowboys & Outlaws – Swetha

Here are some hypothetical screenshots from my game.

The is separated into two screens in which two players attempt to find each other by following the sun, this mechanic may change to allow for a more 3-D like map but for now, you can just move right and left:

Also, I think the game would mostly be exploring the world so the daytime changes slowly to night where you follow the moon. There may be certain obstacles that the characters must break through with their guns. Other objects may only break when both characters strike certain objects at the same time:

Finally, the game leads to a (anit-climatic) fuel between the two characters. I feel like I need to frame the game some more to make this reasonable but for now, that’s where it stands.

Greg – Narbacular Drop Team

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2010/03/08/narbacular-drop.aspx

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2007/11/01/rps-interview-portals-kim-swift-and-jeep-barrett/

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2010/03/10/opening-the-portal-exploring-portal-s-creation-and-its-ties-to-half-life-2.aspx

There weren’t really interviews with the individual team members or the programmers, so I’ll treat all of them together. If you haven’t heard the story, the team that made Portal was initially just a student team at Digipen (a game school). Portal was initially Narbacular Drop, which had the original portal mechanic, but with much different aesthetic, and story. You’re a pixie trapped underground.

Valve came to the release fair, saw the game, and offered some feedback, and then eventually offered to have them show the game at Valve offices, where Gabe Newell offered them jobs to finish Portal.

The initial feedback was in line with Valve’s style:

JB: One thing I remember in particular… In Narbacular Drop there’s a lot of cases where we have places where you can screw yourself. You can drop your box in the lava and you have to reset the level. And in Valve design terms, that’s retarded. You can’t screw the player. That was one big thing that came up. The art design – everything was pretty brown and muddy. So when people first see the game they say…

KS: Quake.

JB: Yeah, it’s a first-person shooter. So there were a lot of things that we did wrong in that sense. You couldn’t tell the ceiling from the floor, there was no grounding in reality.

One takeaway for me is to show games I make to people in industry, and ask for feedback. At the very least, I’ll get feedback, and as long as the games are decent, there’s not much to lose.

Game Picks

Nightmare Demo

The first game I tried out is called Nightmare Demo. It’s a shooting game where you try to defeat the minion bunnies and boss bunny in waves. My favorite parts about the game were the characters and satisfying feel of the machine gun attack.

The most dissatisfying part of the game was the little hole in the wall that lets you escape from harm. While you’re in there, all the bunnies freeze in place, but you can still kill them. It’s kind of like the disappointment of tag when you’re “it” and everyone loiters around base.

Awe

The second game I played was called Awe and it is a simple puzzle game. You have to find out the color pattern for the hidden triangles to unlock new colors. Each color corresponds to a sound, and the act of completing a pattern creates new landmarks. The game also has a collaborative mode, but I couldn’t really tell the difference since no one else was online.

As far as game feel goes, most of it is polish, but the act of selecting a color has a unique percussive effect. In addition, the theme of being a creator makes the experience more meaningful and uplifting.

Reading: Game Feel

Read the first chapter of Game Feel by Steve Swink (unfortunately the interactive examples are currently offline) before you start working on the control system or game clone. Try to improve the feel of the assigned title or experiment with different kinds of controls and be ready to present your findings in class (no written responses).

Steve Swink worked on many indie games and is currently developing a first person puzzle called Scale.

Assignment: Clones!

The assignment for next weekis to clone / remake a classic game in Unity.
These are the assigned games

Some games can be reproduced quite faithfully (i.e. Breakout, Pong) while others (ET, Super Mario Bros.) are obviously too big or complex for a one week assignment. I’m expecting you to capture the geist of the gameplay: the control system, the feel, the core mechanics.

I don’t wan’t you to reproduce Atari’s clunkiness and blockiness and I don’t care about the visual appearance for now. This is an exercise to learn Unity and a in-depth study of a simple gameplay.

The next step will be to add a significant twist to the gameplay and turn the clone into something novel.

Due Date and what to deliver next time

I’m still trying to gauge your skills and allow some flexibility with deadlines. The idea is to have the clones done by Thursday 23.

Some of you are are probably able to deliver the clone by this coming Tuesday, and start working on the next step.

Some may just bring a work in progress on Tuesday.

All the others, especially first time Unity users or first time developers would probably need more elements before they can start. In this case the assignment for Tuesday 21 is:
Practice with what we’ve done so far and devise a control system that feels good. Make a scene with some obstacles and find ways to control one or more avatars.

All of you should at least develop some kind of control system, or even better, a couple of variants with different feels.

The games

Download the game ROMs and the flash ports here

The ROMs should run on openEmu if you have Mac/OSX and Stella on PC/Win.
Drag and drop the SWF files on a browser window if double click doesn’t work.

Game!

I have to catch a flight tonight so I won’t be in class… but here are my top picks!

The bizarreness of some of the games on itch.io/warpdoor was amazing. These are a couple that can be played in the browser. I like the frivolousness and scrappy-ness of the art and the unexplained weirdness of these games.

Swaacl’s Monument

http://whybotherplayinggameswhenyouwilljustdieandforgetthem.itch.io/swaacls-monument

As far as I can tell, there is no objective. You can either move to the right or move to the left via arrow keys. Along the way, you may bob your head up or down to pick up sticks or scribbles or blobs attached to trees. After picking something up, the object floats up into the air and just hovers there for the rest of your journey, and a blob-like part of your body either detaches or grows or shrinks or something. Finally, you reach a creepy, scribbled shrine-like obstruction. You may move no further.

P.S. check out the URL hehe

Kuru-kuru! Kuru!

http://spassfabrik.itch.io/kuru-kuru

2-player game (one person uses w-a-s-d, other person uses arrow keys). You have these long slinky rubbery arms that you can navigate across this room full of sushi conveyer belts. The goal is to gather as many sushi plates as possible and bring them to your mouth for feeding. Whoever consumes the most sushi is the winner!

Steven Messinger

Instead of going for a CEO or upper management at a game company, I search for someone who has come from a similar background as me and has a position that I think is achievable.

  • Steven Messinger graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in computer science and a specialization in digital media and arts.
  • He was an intern at Electronic Arts on the PC game Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II where we worked as a gameplay engineer.
  • After graduation he worked a short time as a tools programmer for Image Space Inc on the PC racing game Rfactor.
  • Next Steven landed a job at Rockstar Games San Diego where he worked on Midnight Club: Los Angeles as programmer, Red Dead Redemption as an Ambient Designer (World Designer) and GTA V as a Senior Scripter (designer that codes).

Over the Summer of 2013, I interned at Electronic Arts on The Sims 4 as a UI gameplay engineer and my dream company to work for is Rockstar Games as a Gameplay Scripter (designer that codes) and move up to a Senior/Lead Scripter and possibly further up. So seeing that someone in a similar position as I am was able to do what I want is very encouraging.

Steven wrote this nice article about How to Break in as a Game Programmer: Read Here

Links:
Mobygame Profile
LinkedIn Profile

Jenova Chen

Jenova Chen grew up in China, and graduated from USC’s interactive media division. He made Thatgamecompany along with other USC graduates.

I first heard about them through the game Flower, back in 2010 ish. It is basically a game about blowing flower petals around, which sounded extremely stupid on paper. However, I was eventually convinced by a friend of mine to check it out, and it redefined what I thought video games could be. For the first time, I cried because of a game’s emotional power.

He believes in video games as its own unique media, one that is capable of producing what other mediums cannot. Instead of overloading on tiny mechanics, cheap tricks, and high quality cutscenes which are popular in AAA games, he boils games down to its essence. Instead of starting at mechanics, he starts with how people feel, and build the entire game around one central emotion. The power of his game was able to move many, including me, to tears. After this, I could not look at all the previous games I owned the same way again, as I always feel they are missing something.

Sylvia – Jen Zee

I really admire Jen Zee, the art director for the indie developer Supergiant Games. She did the art for Bastion and Transistor, which both have a really amazing art style and are hugely inspirational games for me.

Trailer for Transistor:

Transistor Art: http://conceptartworld.com/?p=33458

Jen’s Portfolio: http://jenzee.deviantart.com/gallery/

Interviews:

Text Interview: http://www.reminisc3.com/2012/06/09/interview-jen-zee/

Video Interview:

One of the things I think is really interesting about her is that she didn’t have a formal art education. In college she majored in informatics with a minor in math. In this regard she’s really inspirational, since recently I’ve been wondering if computer science and the BCSA program is really all that useful for me and whether I should have just pursued a major in solely art or animation. However, Jen’s background proves that your major choices in college don’t have to define what you do in the real world, which is cool to see.

It seems her path into the game industry began with a class in college, in which her team pitched their final project to people in the game industry as a learning experience, but her art made a good impression so these people later contacted her about doing freelance work. After holding various freelance positions, she worked for Gaia Interactive before coming to her current position at Supergiant Games.

Swetha – SuperDimentional and ewes

Hey all!

These are some of the games I found on Itch.io :

http://pixelmind.itch.io/superdimensional

-reminds me of limbo

-smooth animation

-great dimensional portals that drive the story/ game!

http://rainwarrior.itch.io/pastured-ewe

-annoying but addicting

-hard to understand what to do initially

-I usually enjoy games like this (slice of life, farm animals, etc), but I can see how it’s not everyone’s cup of tea

 

 

David Rosen

Rather than go in depth on any one developer, I wanted to capture more of a sense of some independent developers that inspire me and make me consider the possibility of actually creating games and releasing them to the world.

The Stanley Parable was a Half-Life 2 mod that eventually became a full-fledged product, developed by Davey Wreden. This was his first real game he made, and he made it straight out of college, it became fairly popular amongst the game-creating community, and the release version sold very well on Steam.

The Stanley Parable “Raphael Trailer” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ-IcS7mRSk

 

RollerCoaster Tycoon is a game that was developed by one programmer, Chris Sawyer, and one artist. For such a small development team, this is a fairly intricate simulation. It was only able to be such an advanced game at the time because developer Chris Sawyer wrote the whole game in x86 assembly language. He started his career in 1988 converting Amiga games to DOS until 1993. He released Transport Tycoon in 1994, and after four other games (two of which were Transport Tycoon World Editor/Deluxe) released RollerCoaster Tycoon. His detailed simulation fascination reminds me of Will Wright of the Sims.

 

The last pair that I wanted to research was Wolfire’s brother Jeff and David Rosen. From http://www.wolfire.com/ “Wolfire Games develops innovative, independent games for Mac OS, Windows, and Linux. It was started by David Rosen in 2003 to organize his open source video game contest entries. After graduating college in 2008, he was joined by his twin brother and three friends and Wolfire Games officially dove into the independent game industry!”

David Rosen has been making games in his free time for 20 years. He’s currently working on Overgrowth, which has been in development since 2008. This game is follow-up to Lugaru, a similar, much simpler version of this game. Their development has been incredibly clever and time-efficient for such a visually-detailed indie game (even if it has been in development so long). He has a GDC talk explaining his animation process, creating only 11 keyframes for any equipped item, and interpolating every possible frame of animation needed beyond that. He keeps his audience up to date with Alpha vlogs and explains his process for other developers to learn alongside him.

http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020583/Animation-Bootcamp-An-Indie-Approach

Sample of Alpha vlog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaxiKobmAR8

Jeff Rosen is the Creator of the Humble Bundle. Being connected in the independent industry with his brother allowed him to convince developers to sell on his platform. Humble has opened a whole new audience to indie games, and has opened it’s platform to include other groupings like THQ before it went under almost two years ago. It’s earned $50 million, and over $20 million of which went directly to charity.

 

 

 

Rachel – Olli Harjola

Olli Harjola of Facepalm games. Creators of The Swapper (2013)

I admire Olli because of his wide range of talents. He created The Swapper mostly by himself (while a student at the University of Helsinki), with only one other permanent team member (only credited with level design) and two freelance workers. He had full creative control, and with backing from the Indie Fund, created a stellar game that met with great success. Initially released for Mac and PC, the game is now slated for release on all major consoles and has won numerous awards for its main mechanic use and aesthetic. He’s also quite vocal about the divisions between indie and AAA development. Though I think a few of his points are lost in translation, this is a talk he gave in 2012 at Assembly about how big companies use tech to spackle over design flaws. In it he emphasizes complementary art and design choices, as well as the need for intimate player interactions rather than massive, often slow, multiplayer interaction crap-shoots.

A repetitive interview discussing the game’s release date and Olli’s work on the unique visual qualities of The Swapper.

Ticha-itch.io Games

So I was browsing the itch.io website and the games that caught my eye the most were Tipping Point and Binary System. I was mostly drawn to them because of their aesthetically-pleasing thumbnails–but after playing them they turned out to rather interesting!

I GUESS YOU CAN SAY WE’RE UNDER SOME FOWL WEATHER

The goal of Tipping Point is to use an unstable platform to your advantage while you hoard as many chickens (which fall from the sky because of reasons) into a fence as possible. It has a very simple gameplay and graphics-wise it looks pretty good; but admittedly, I don’t think it’s something I would play for more than 5 minutes at a time.

Binary System seems like another ‘collect stars and avoid getting hit by asteroids’ at first, but it’s pretty interesting in that it focuses on the mutual dependency of two objects. The game can actually be pretty tricky because the controls are a little awkward and, given the way the planets are arranged, it’s hard not to get blown up. Still, I think this is a game I can easily get addicted to because of its lovely graphics and coordination-heavy gameplay.