Student Area

Imaginarium

Imaginarium is a cooperative puzzle game about a Child’s adventures in an unfamiliar home. As players work together to navigate the world, they discover the power of a great imagination set free.

The game is designed for two players: one player controls the character of the Child on the computer, and the other plays as the Child’s imagination, using a smartphone with a game app to take photos of real life objects which will assist in overcoming obstacles in the game world – ex. a key to unlock a door, a light to brighten a darkened hallway, etc. Creative interpretations of real world objects further deepens the theme of imagination – ex. a human hand might stand in for a clock hand in order to activate a stopped clock in the game world.

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Too Many Captains and Not Enough Wire

Description

Too Many Captains and Not Enough Wire is a multiplayer party game. One engineer and multiple captains need to work together pilot a spaceship and destroy enemies.

Downloads

Unfortunately, as our game is hardware-based, you can’t really play it without our custom controller. However, while we were developing the game, we created a simulator of the controller, which you can find here: http://simulator.toomanycaptains.com/

We’re exploring other ways to make the game more widely playable!

Overview & gameplay

Sandblox

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Player One controls a creature that is trying to escape the sandbox. Their goal is to overcome the obstacles on the map in order to reach a final destination, the Beacon, before night falls. Player Two will have full control over the obstacles in the sandbox through use of a physical controller. These controls will affect the surrounding terrain allowing Player Two to move the various colored blocks around the world, popping them out of the ground or shaking them left and right to keep Player One from escaping.

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Physical controller we fabricated to allow Player Two to easily move and orient the platforms.
Physical controller we fabricated to allow Player Two to easily move and orient the platforms.
The smaller box houses an Arduino UNO and the wiring setup to allow it to talk to the sliders and knob.
The smaller box houses an Arduino UNO and the wiring setup to allow it to talk to the sliders and knob.
The sliders are color-coded to match platforms in-game. The "knob" is actually a rotary potentiometer that maps values from 0-360 degrees of rotation in game. The sliders are slide potentiometers that map from 0-100 percent to show movement from some point A to a different point B
The sliders are color-coded to match platforms in-game. The knob is actually a rotary potentiometer that maps values from 0-360 degrees of rotation in game. The sliders are slide potentiometers that map from 0-100 percent to show movement from some in game point A to a different point B

Downloads (Requires an external controller/joystick for Player Two):

Sandblox Download (Mac)

Sandblox Download (Windows)

 

Secret Mommy Makeover

Mommy went away for the weekend, and she left her special secret drawer unguarded. Finally, now’s your chance to try on all of her makeup! Except… what is all this stuff? How do you use it?

Link to the game: http://caro.io/secret-mommy-makeover

Source: https://github.com/carolinehermans/secret-mommy-makeover/tree/gh-pages

(to run the game locally, run the command “python -m SimpleHTTPServer” inside the directory and go to localhost:8000)

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Reading response: level design lesson: to the right, hold on tight

I really enjoyed the reading by Anna Anthropy about level design. I think that old term games like Mario aren’t often thought of in the context of good game design, over shiny new games that have innovative new ideas – as opposed to older games that created the ideas we now think of as baseline.

Anthropy’s way of walking the reader through each conscious design decision and the minutea of how cleverly disguised the tutorial segment of Mario is was very easily read and digested. I found it really interesting and inspiring how much the game both trusts the player to come to the right conclusions, and cleverly disguises small tutorial aspects to help the player come to the right ideas of how to play the game.

The part that really struck me was when Anthropy was talking about the mushroom’s first appearance in the game, how it’s movement, lack of animations, and all these small details showed it to be a different sort of item than the threatening goomba. And also how Mario at that point would be specifically positioned that his likelihood of catching the mushroom is really high – therefore teaching the player how beneficial encountering the mushroom is over the goomba.

I think this article showed a lot of detail and meditation on game design and provided lots of things to think about and references on how to approach game design.

Reading Response: How to prototype a game in under 7 days – Giada

As an art major student, after reading this article, I was thinking about the  standard to judge whether a game is good or not. Compared with artistic works which are very hard to judge their value. There seems a universal direction to define “a good game”.

Fast prototyping, for me, is not only new but also very charming concept. Compared with traditional process of making art works, fast prototyping provide more possibilities to creator for checking whether the idea is work or not. It’s more efficient and more practical undoubtedly.

However, from my perspective, these kinds of workflow strongly decrease the creator’s personality which players can feel during playing. When game designers start focusing on mechanics and agency of game rather than inserting their experience and thought to their products, does it represents parts of the limitation of game design?

Reading response to “to the right, hold on tight”

I found this to be a really interesting reading. I have never played past the tutorial level in the NES mario game, and so for me the tutorial level has been the whole experience. It is so well crafted that I didn’t realise it was a tutorial at all. Anna Anthropy carefully dissects the anatomy of the level. The sheer depth of the design is incredible. The thing that caught me the most was the jump – giving the player a harder but nonfatal/unstaked challenge to practice on, and then following up with a jump over real gap that is almost visually identical (and would probably be to someone playing for the first time) but slightly easier than the just seen practice. It made me think to games I’ve played they have had possibly similar set ups. I feel Kirby’s Adventure had this, although probably with less agonised over level design. In Kirby’s Adventure, the various levels of “hidden” shortcuts makes the player feel clever for working out the various environmental effects of the abilities they can gain from the enemies, and this is then necessary in the far more nonlinear later levels.

Homeplay: Pole Riders

Pole Riders is a pole-vaulting polo game for two players only. Vault up to kick the ball into the opposing player’s goal, or kick your opponent off their pole.

Pole Riders is one game in Sportsfriends on PS platform. Sportsfriends is a compendium of four highly acclaimed local multiplayer games. All of these games already exist as playable prototypes, and have been exhibited around the world at festivals and parties. The original Super Pole Rider is made by an indie-game designer, Bennett Foddy as an web Flash game.

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Original Web Version

Die_Gute_Fabrik

Die Gute Fabrik (which is German for “The Good Factory”) is a small games studio based in New York City and Copenhagen, Denmark. They take classic play forms from the past – be they physical folk games from the playground or adventure games from old consoles – and breathe new life into them with music, 21st century technology, and our own sense of style and storytelling.

Style: Hand-crafted, Synaesthetic, Offbeat, Personal

 

Reception

SportsFriends was well received, being awarded a 9/10 from Polygon, 8.7/10 from IGN, and a ⅘ from HardCore Gamer.

The game also received awards at IndieCade for Impact, Technology, and Audience choice (though this was not Super Pole Riders, it was for games sold within SportsFriends.

 

Read a review

Sportsfriends is praised by IGN for its flexibility in catering to partygoers and in-depth gamers alike. A low barrier to entry is set with simple controls and clear goals. For example, Super Pole Riders displays a glowing ball and two opposite targets. With simple, intuitive controls like jump and swing, anyone can pick up a controller and try a match or two.

Yet, as the two of us played multiple rounds, we began to discover the idiosyncrasies of gameplay. Letting go of your swing earlier gives you a higher jump. The angle of your mid-air orientation can send the ball farther. The pole can not only be used for swinging, but for blocking, too. I can’t help but agree with IGN when they note “once you master using your pole … there’s plenty of freedom to playfully troll your friends.”

 

What worked what didn’t?

What worked for us was the simplicity and hidden tricks of the game. Sure, there were no AIs or high scores or new levels or character unlocking. But, there was a learning curve to climb which intrigued us enough to bounce around between games and continue to learn new tricks along the way. Additionally, the play on sound was a positive touch to the user experience, where music would start and stop as the player went mobile or stalled. This way, your movement added to the intensity of the match.

However, what did not work for us was the lack of replayability. Though there were new skills to learn and sharpen, scoring occurred as often as it does in soccer. And with games lasting up to five minutes, of the same mechanics relentlessly repeated over and over again, the pole vaulting became tiresome.

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Jake Bittner & Giada Sun

Homeplay – Ultimate Chicken Horse

“Ultimate Chicken Horse is a party platformer game where you build the level as you play, placing traps and hazards to screw your friends over, but trying not to screw yourself.”

There is no single player mode for this game, and the developer really want to focus on creating an experience with a group of people. For every level, the players can each place down one optical (ex. blocks, traps, hazards, etc.) on the screen to make it harder for the others to reach the goal which is a red flag somewhere on the screen. A player can only get he.she made it to the flag and yet at least one of his/her friends didn’t.In addition, there is also trap points so that a player that couldn’t reach the goal can still gain points by trigging certain obstacles. However, If no one gets to the goal then none of them can get any point.

The process is then repeated multiple times and every time the players are starting the level gain, they get to build upon what they had for the previous round. Thus the game becomes a lot crazier, harder and more fun with more and more rounds are played.

Key Features

  • Unique game flow: move between crafty level designer and skilled platformer
  • Huge library of blocks to create an infinite variety of levels
    Online Multiplayer
  • Customizable game modes, block options, round options, and more!
  • Sweet funky soundtrack

Classic Competitive Mode

  • Take turns placing blocks in the level and running through it individually, and watch your friends attempt your level before trying it yourself
  • Pick the blocks you want to place from an extensive inventory
  • Best for 2 – 3 players
  • Great for designing levels with a specific plan in mind and for tighter competition

Party Mode

  • A Party Box opens to reveal a random assortment of blocks to use
  • Players pick and place all the blocks at once
  • Everyone runs at the same time for maximum chaos. No collisions between characters… yet
  • Best for 3 – 4 players
  • If two or more players tie, sudden death kicks in and you need to race to the flag, first one there wins!

 

Level design lesson – Reading response by Annie

It is really interesting to see how the author arguers that the idea of giving out rules explicitly with clearly written words is in itself problematic. For me personally, this makes a lot of sense, especially when the game is not in my native language, I have even less motivation to actually read thorough every detail. Thus I never plays anything other than mini games simply because memorizing all the detailed rules is a cumbersome process for me. And sometimes, it is not even that I don’t want to take the time to learn the rules, but the cognitive processing it takes to actually understand the rules before playing takes too much brain power. Moreover, when I actually start playing the game, it is often the case that I still need to go back and refer to the rule book along the way. As a result, most of the time I don’t even bother to look at the rules before I play.

On the other hand though, if a game designer had already thought of the experience that a user like me could have with game rules and thus decide to build a little tutorial into the game itself (like super mario) that would’ve been great. I have to say that it was a supervise for me to see the author to use super mario as the example for a good level design because even though I had played this game many times, I’ve learned the rules so effortlessly that I have never even noticed that. I agree that super mario is an extremely successful game largely because there is almost no learning curve and every rules that the game has just naturally come to the player as he/she is starting the play.

How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days: Matthew’s Opinions

As someone who often has game ideas, tries to execute them, and falls a bit short, this article is right up my alley. It might as well be called “How to Have the Superpower You’ve Always Dreamed of,” and it would pretty much be the same article and I’d have just as much interest. The logic is sound, the creative process is solid, and if it’s been tried and tested by Jesse Schell, then I’d be a fool to disagree with him.

It also gives me peace of mind to see these ETC students come up with games, start to make them, realize they suck, and move on, since whenever I make a game and I start to realize it’s not great, I feel like this is something that only happens to me and that I must salvage it before anyone notices. Their honesty about their failures is appreciated.

I also really responded to the constraints, since that is something I’m used to; if I feel a creative block, I often go to random fill-in-the-blank generators to get ideas, and seeing ETC students do that is very affirming.

sayers_PrototypingReadingResponse

I actually really enjoyed the prototyping reading, mostly because it reinforced and reminded me of some things I should do while prototyping.  In particular, I really liked the part about not just accepting your failures, but loving them.  The idea that you could show off a failure as something that was out there and missed was a good thing to remember.   One thing I hadn’t really thought of for group prototyping was the developing in parallel though.  I think its an awesome idea if the team can do a bit of everything.  I personally love being able to dabble in all parts of game creation, so it really appealed to me.

Homeplay: Overcooked

Overcooked is a 1-4 player co-op game in which you control a team of chefs to collaboratively assemble food in a frantic setting. The single-player campaign seems sad and lonely, so it’s really more of a 2-4 player game.

In my play-through of it, I played it with my friend Clelia from start to the end of World 3. The control system was very intuitive and easy to grasp, and the game itself is easy to understand and begin to play. The challenge and the fun in it is the deluge of tasks that you have to work together to have any hope of fulfilling in time. The mechanics that really worked for us were the adrenaline/stress of having to jump around and continually organise ourselves spatially. The surprising number of interactions and ways to cook/organise in the game were enjoyable too and it didn’t feel like there were artificial barriers to increase difficulty or create stress — apart from the levels. From the start the co-op experience is extremely fun, high-strung and stress-filled. It keeps you filled with adrenaline but is really well punctuated by relief at having completed a level. The levels mostly lend themselves well to quickly thought up strategy expressed through swearing and shouting and are fun to play, even if you end up doing terrible on the first run.

Some of the levels had gimmicky design that I felt more as a random annoyance or busywork taking me out of stress-fun-zone than being a natural ramping up of difficulty. However, Clelia feels that she “enjoyed the levels that [I felt were more gimmicky], although they might not stand up to repeated playthroughs”, but also that “the logic of the game is less visible when there are those barriers, which can turn the fun spatial movement into just running around for no reason”.  We also liked the first level being a tutorial without it actually saying THIS IS THE TUTORIAL.

I didn’t really get the scoring and it seemed to vary somewhat arbitrarily over the levels. Overall (neglecting the scoring), the difficulty of the levels seemed to be well set — e.g, it’s mostly possible to scrape or come just below a 1 star (the amount needed to pass a level) on the first try, on the subsequent tries if you plan and strategise during the inter-level wait it’s easily possible to do far better and get a 2 star, and to get the best rating requires practice and high-strung organisation to not make a single mistake.

Overall the co-op experience was really, really fun and energetic, and the difficulty and core mechanics of the game are well thought out. The graphics are very cute and the interactions are really well fleshed out, and there’s a ton of visual and gameplay variety to the levels (sans the gimmicks). The single-player seemed kinda boring from the very little I played of it, and some of the levels seem to have annoying mechanics that feel like artificial difficulty barriers rather than well thought out design, but the rest of the game-play still makes up for it.

Here is a video of someone else playing it:

Context & Reception

The developers are British, but there isn’t really a way to tell that from the game. The publishers are the same ones as the Worms series, so it’s really good to see that someone is keeping the local couch co-op torch lit. The critical reception seems overwhelming positive for the co-op aspect of it, and most people seem to enjoy the levels and the gimmicky aspects of some of them. The single-player seems mostly panned, and the developers themselves say that the first and foremost wanted to make a co-op game. It’s really sad that games having local co-op are rare now.

Homeplay – Push Me Pull You

 

Gameplay:

  • Weird fleshy naked body horror, but in a cute way
  • local multiplayer game for 2-4 people, separated into 2 teams
  • Each team controls a two-headed catdog like human and can determine when to stretch and shrink the body
  • There are different modes with different numbers of balls, but the general goal is to keep the ball on your teams half of the ring for as long and as continuous as you can

Authors:

House House

An Australian game company made up of four friends: Jacob Strasser, Stuart Gillespie-Cook, Micheal McMaster (art and visual design), and Nico Disseldorp. A hip artsy bunch.

Context:

Dr. Doolittle’s pushmi-pullyu

Development:

Originally planned for release in 2014 and was exhibited at GDC 2014 and Play Station Experience 2015 before it was announced for the PlayStation 4 in November of 2015. It was released for PS4 in May 2016 and computers in July 2016.

Design concerns came up with issues of the tendency to identify characters/teams by their race since they’re so naked and fleshy. These were addressed by emphasizing team colors as opposed to skin tones in various UI elements with easily distinguishable colors and more ambiguous skin tones. More can be read about the design process here.

Reception:

Reviews are overall positive with an 8/10 on Steam and with critics giving it high marks for its strangeness, quickness to pick up, and fast pace. It’s a fun game to be played with a group of people every once in a while, but it’ll get old after a couple days.

Homeplay – Ultimate Chicken Horse

Ultimate Chicken Horse is a multiplayer platformer that combines Chicken (a game where players confront death by pushing their limits beyond their fellow players) and Horse (a game in which a player must win 5 rounds to win the entire game) into a fun, light-hearted experience.

Users play as like-able animal characters and have one goal in mind – making it to the flag. Players who reach the flag earn a point, while the others die in the process. Each player takes a turn adding a new piece to the level before they’re given a chance to run through it. If everyone reaches the flag, no one gains points. It within in everyone’s best interest that they make the level challenging, but still possible. The pieces the players are able to place range in complexity, from simple wooden platforms to flaming tennis ball shooters, and allow for the development of crazy, Rube Goldberg Machines.

The game was created by Clever Endevour Games, a studio from Montreal, Canada, and was presented to the Steam community as a kick-starter in April of 2015. The game initially had a single player mode, however, after it’s first release, the multiplayer and party mode became so popular that the studio decided to focus all its efforts on making the multiplayer experience the best it could possible be.

Regarding it’s reception, Ultimate Chicken Horse stands out against other platforming games for it’s unique turn-based system, in which the players decide the level-design and how they want to go about experiencing the game. The gaming community, and especially the Steam Community, praise the game’s ability to bring people together for competition, while still maintaining a fun, jovial atmosphere. Critics say the game still has room for improvement and would be better if players were given a wider range of items to place on the map and if the item-placing system was friendlier to new players.

Review by the escapist