Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Round 2 + Updates

This update should really have come a bit sooner, but it’s been a busy few weeks. Since we sat down to try our hand at 2 week games we have achieved far more than we expected, all while moving into a new office! (also we got a Twitter account finally!)
First week @BizDojo, loving it! Great workspace, great people, embarrassing photo’s pic.twitter.com/5BH3CA1xS2
— One Legged Crab (@oneleggedcrab) July 15, 2014 

Moar Apps!

First up is that while most of the games we are creating are only prototypes, a couple have been lucky enough to receive a bit of polish and are now up on the app stores. They are;
  • Take Off – a game where you guide a little rocket ship through space, aiming to teach kids about our solar system. Available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
  • Pogosheep – you’re a sheep on a pogo-stick, a tricky game with a pseudo-NZ twist. Available on Google Play + just about every other Android store out there. Coming to iOS very soon.
We’ve created a number of other games too, most of which can be played on our new website, others are slowly being added.

While we’ve been creating these prototypes + the website, we have also been working on a port of the fantastic Flox AS3 SDK to GameMaker: StudioFlox is an all in one back-end service that we have used forProleague (and now Pogosheep) that makes saving complex data a breeze and GameMaker is Ryan’s tool of choice for prototyping with just the right balance of simplicity to power. We can highly recommend bothYoYoGames and Gamua, these companies and their respective projects are awesome!

Um.. guys, you promised?

So prototypes, prototypes, prototypes but weren’t we going to review/refine our process after each round too? Well yes and certainly we would have liked to do more of this but we have managed two discussions. The first was about three weeks ago, right in the middle of some crazy development and mostly it was to try and decide on whether or not we had a project that made us excited enough to commit a year or so to it. We decided at that time that we hadn’t found it yet…

The latest review happened Tuesday this week, we spent a long time discussing whether or not we thought it was actually possible for us to find a larger project while prototyping these smaller games. The first thing we had to clarify was what exactly a larger project would look like for us, we agreed on the following;

What kind of game? We decided to keep this quite vague and that led to us deciding on the player experience rather than game specifics. The game will be competitive, a game that rewards players for better/faster decision making and strategy, certainly reactionary skill will be important but the focus is the strategy. The game would also require some kind of building from the player, Minecraft and the Real-Time-Strategy paradigm were cited here of examples where players can express themselves both creatively and strategically.

What kind of scope? Even with a prototype to give us confidence in our game design, we don’t want another project as big as Proleague to swamp us again. We like the idea of a six month project, it sounds both manageable and big enough that we can really throw in some real depth. We’d call this a small to medium project however from our game description, it sounds like we are leaning towards an RTS of some kind, we certainly can’t make that in six months! This will be an interesting challenge, trying to boil down some larger games into something really focussed and unique, similar to how Greed Corp did with Turn-Based-Strategy.

What platform? A number of the prototypes that we’ve done so far have been mobile focussed, in-fact every release so far has been on a mobile store. When we were discussing a larger project, we came to the point of whether or not it suited the mobile audience. This was a big point of discussion, the only likely alternative being Steam. We’ve had a number of people tell us recently that Steam Green-light is the way to go, but that’s not necessarily true when you’ve invested a lot of time in learning another platform. We eventually decided we would prefer Steam but it still could go either way.

Why would we build it? We want to create something that both expresses our own experiences building and playing games, while also connecting with people through the game. We want to see the smiles as people play! I think a lot of people are getting into game design for the money, but certainly it’s all in the creation of something great for us (some money would be great too though!)

So with all this what does it mean for our prototyping process? Well we’ve found that it’s been really easy to come up with ideas the last few weeks, but now we have something to measure against. To help sift through them we can toss out all the ideas that don’t work for desktop (with Steam in mind), we can remove any others that aren’t competitive or strategic in any way, it gives us something to aim for. The ideas keep coming and often you have three or more you want to try all at once. But now we can measure the credibility of things we haven’t even created yet. The platform/game/scope are all arbitrary decisions, we could have picked anything, but they needed to be made to help us to start narrowing the focus.

Another issue that has come up is collaboration. It’s pretty easy to get really attached to your own ideas, and we have worked as individuals most of the time. That’s going to change too, but we had to think of a way to still keep the same rapid iteration possible. Here’s how it will work, we will still work individually on prototypes, spending a single week on each one, no graphics or anything. If we find a game we want to release, we pitch it to the team, if everyone approves we all help to polish the game together. That was originally our plan anyway, but we’ve been a little bit slack on it. This is an official new rule we’re adding to Crab’s Law.

The new home

By connecting places, activities, and people The BizDojo powers growth… for cities, companies, and you.
So it’s been a crazy few weeks, but even more so, a crazy few days! Moving into BizDojo has added a number of new opportunities for us that we’ll hopefully be able to share soon! We’re also yet to tell the story of how we ended up here, although that will have to wait for another post (I see I’m already over my 1000 word limit).

Keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook to catch the latest news, exciting times!

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