From GameAWeek

Game A Week

This challenge started innocently enough, with a tweet from Ana wondering if anyone would like to take on the GameAWeek challenge. Because of that tweet, and awesome group formed comprised of Melissa, Mark, and James. Since then our group has made a lot of games, and even presented those games at a conference!

it just so happens that I’m at the midpoint with game #27. Time to do a bit of reflection about the games I’ve made at this point, while pointing out some of my favorite. I’ll be the first to admit that some of these games are really rough, but that’s the point of the game a week challenge. Each week I get to dig into an idea, try something new, or learn a new system and every week I get a little bit better. Another bonus of the challenge is being pleasantly surprised by what you’re able to do with the given constraints. Of the twenty six or so games I’ve made, I think these are my favorites:

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 3.56.30 PM
Time Enough To Travel
Time enough to travel was my first real attempt at making a point and click adventure from the ground up. I was feeling pressure from the time constraints of the game a week challenge and decided to draw on that feeling of time slipping away. I also had a lot of fun coming up with the sparse bits of writing (when am I ever going to get the chance to say the player died of bee stings like the dude from the movie ‘my girl’ again?). Plus, people liked to play it, so that’s always a good sign.
Read more about Time Enough to Travel
Play it!

I loved doing the art for intrigue. I always wanted to do something that had a Edward Gorey-esque style to it. I also love logic puzzles, so it was a no brainier to combine the two for a mystery game. It’s also the only game a week game that I’ve made a sequel for.
Read about it!
Play it!

mental block
Mental Block
I really like the flexibility of this game. Mental Block is a gravity based puzzle game where all objects on the screen move at once and you control where gravity is pointing (up, down, left, right). The rooms were fun to make because they’re all written as text files that are interpreted by the game loader. If i could make a change to this game, I’d try to add a twitter component so that players could tweet levels to one another.
Play it!

Hello, universe
Hello, Universe
Hello, Universe was the first game a week game that I entered into a game jam. The theme was “Space Cowboy” and I tried to think of a cool way to mix the western tropes with some more modern tech. I decided on making a game where, after a hard day of work, you sent messages to star clusters using morse code. The game was difficult but had a cool ‘a-ha!’ moment when you made contact with the first star cluster. It placed at #21 just shy of the top twenty. It was also the first of my games to get a ‘let’s play’, so that’s cool.
Play it!
Let’s Play

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 7.41.54 PM
Amazing is one of those games that only a mother could love. If there’s any game on this list that really needs a remake, it’s this one. I like the mechanic and it gets really difficult after a while. With more polish, I think this game could really shine.
Read more about it here
Play it!

I also really liked Ask the Fireflies, but it’s a bit less game-y and more atmospheric.

Game-A-Week #32 J’Accuse

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the wedding reception of some close friends. During that time, a group of us stumbled across a copy of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Inside the old wooden box, there were a ton of questions each written on a card the size of an apples to apples card. After reading a few and having a chuckle about how outdated they were, we naturally gravitated towards turning it into a game.

We had a few rounds of playtesting and eventually landed on a format that was some-what amusing: use the cards as accusatory, or defensive, statements towards other players. For example, if you had the card “At times I feel like smashing things” you would then use that as a base to accuse another player for some transgression “At times I feel like smashing things, RYAN!” The accused would then be able to respond with an inventory card they were holding adding “, ok?!” to the end of it.

Example of gameplay:

Arnie has the cards “I have had very peculiar and strange experiences”, and “I have had periods of days, weeks, or months when I couldn’t take care of things because I couldn’t ‘get going'”.
Ryan has the cards “At times I feel like smashing things” and “My sex life is satisfactory”

Ryan decides to accuse Arnie and says “My sex life is satisfactory, ARNIE!”

Arnie then decides to defend this out-of context association with “I have had periods of days, weeks, or months when I couldn’t take care of things because I couldn’t ‘get going’, OK!?”

The round then ends and a winner is chosen by the number of laughs they received.

The game felt very much like “whose line is it anyway” and provided a good amount of entertainment. Will we play it again? Probably not, but it was good at the time.

Game A week #30 ech.OS

Play, ech.OS in the twiny jam!

When reading Neuromancer, one of the things that stayed with me was Gibson’s description of Dixie Flatline’s saved consciousness. The consciousness was saved as ROM (Read only memory) which meant that while it could interact with the protagonist, and offer advice, it could never generate new associations or memories. If the unit was ever reset, or if the unit lost power, the consciousness would return to the state it was in when it was first created. Creepy.

Do not read the following if you still want to solve the login puzzle.


Here are the credentials.

Password: not forgotten

The password is case sensitive so that might have gotten some people. I’d love to hear your interpretations of the game, so please comment with them.

Game A Week #29 Extinction Event

Play Extinction Event

Sometimes making a game is easy, other times I don’t really have a good idea of what I want to make. This game is a result of not having an idea. Rather than trying to brainstorm ideas on paper, I decided to make a toy in unity and see what ideas followed as a result.

My first toy was an Ocean wave sim where objects floated around. It was interesting to watch, but difficult to control and I didn’t really have a mechanic that I was digging. The second toy was a gravity sim recycled from my previous game Mental Block. The basic idea was to move a ball around with gravity points that players could turn on and off. The toy was fun, so I decided work on it some more.

Game A Week #28 1/2

Night Watch 3d!

At GDC I was lucky enough to play around with google cardboard, and loved it. I had been eying an Oculus devkit, but didn’t pull the trigger because of the cost. But at $20 I had no excuse to delay vr dev on cardboard. Google has a really helpful page about developing in unity which sped up the progress.

After a couple hours of hacking I was able to create a 3d version of my last game Night Watch. To be fair, I designed Night Watch with cardboard in mind, so I didn’t have to modify the gameplay much, but the process of porting was much easier than I expected. The most difficult part of the process was recreating the GUI to work with the stereo cameras. I wasn’t able to use the CardboardGUI script provided, so I ended up using Unity’s new 3d UI system. There are some parts of the game that are still buggy (the game loop doesn’t restart correctly in the cardboard version when you die), but It’s almost to the point where I can put it up on the Android App Store. I’ll update this post when that happens.

Game A Week #28 Night Watch

Play Night Watch!

This was a fun one. I’ve been thinking about games that only use gyroscopic controls, and Night Watch came out of that brainstorm. I tried to think of reasons why you wouldn’t be able to move and I thought of being scared stiff, or being dared to not move for a specific period of time. My mind then drifted to old shows like “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” and being dared to stay in a cemetery by yourself at midnight. That idea then spawned the flashlight mechanic to fend off the ghosts.
There were a lot of cool technical things I had to do in this project, like figure out how to make the ghosts vulnerable to the flashlight, all while keeping in mind that I’ll port this to google cardboard as soon as possible. Google’s provided code uses raycasting, but I thought it would be too expensive for each ghost to be making this call during the update cycle (are those calls still costly? I have no idea, but I bet they are). The solution I came up with was to create a hitbox that enabled/disabled when the flashlight toggles.
NightWatch Unity Editor
I also tried to make sound a bigger part of the experience because I felt 3d sound would play a bigger role in vr. As a player, you can tell if the ghosts are approaching and from where because you hear them and orient yourself without light. I felt like this made the game too easy so I added some random sound makers to occasionally mislead players.

Since the initial release, I’ve gone back and updated the game to focus on the gamefeel. I tried to think about actually being in the graveyard and what I could do to foster that feeling. One of the coolest additions (I’m totally biased on this) was adding a heartbeat that slowly grew louder as your flashlight’s battery decreased. I felt like this really helped to build the atmosphere because it kept with the metaphor of the flashlight providing safety. When you know you have a full battery you feel safe, but as the battery decreases and time goes on you start to freak out. I also added an exploding animation for the ghosts, but I’m not quite happy with it. I feel like it makes too much of a commotion, and I should probably replace it with a more gradual fade out (A shader that turns a mesh to dust, or has them dissolve might work better here). The addition did seem to resonate with players, though, so maybe I’ll keep it.

I’ve successfully ported the game to google cardboard, so keep an eye open for that release.

I’ve uploaded the game to gamejolt, so if you want an achievement for making it to 1am, or want to support me with some ad revenue feel free to play it here.

Game A Week #27 Bots

Play Bots

Over half way done!

Bots has been in development of a while, so making the remake of it in a week went much smoother. Bots started out as a control the area game, but evolved to include some programming aspects.

Game A Week #26 The Z-Files

Play The Z-Files

I always wanted to do an X-Files inspired game. Instead of being Mulder or Scully, I wanted to create an experience where you were part of the conspiracy. The result is a game where you actively try to omit facts reported on a field report leaving the notes that cast doubt, so it’s more of a smoking man simulator I suppose.

Game A Week #25 Candy Sort

Play Candy Sort

I was under a bit of a time crunch this week, but since it’s still (sort of) the Halloween season I decided to borrow the code base for shamrocks and build a game about sorting candy. The game is a bit cheesy, but I like some cheese with my Halloween. It brings back fun memories.