Stuff is happening. Promise.

Friends, we are still here. We might have gone under the radar for a short period, but stuff is happening! 

Some time ago we flew across Norway to the wet, cold and windy town of Bergen to go to Konsoll. Konsoll is a conference (or festival) for game developers – aiming to  create a sustainable game development industry in Norway. We, or at least me (Jennydalf), was quite nervous about this small adventure. I wouldn´t be so bold as to call myself a “game developer” yet, even though I am the mastermind  behind the blockbuster “Jennyball”.

After listening to the awesome speakers, and meeting a lot of talented people, we realized that we might have been aiming a bit high with “Edgar”.  It´s quite a complicated game to be our first, and since we are very eager to learn and make something as fast as possible, we started to think of simpler concepts that would still be interesting and fun to make and play.

Sooo… *drumroll* Let us introduce: “Aquanaut” or “Akuanaut” or “Nautical” or “the big climb” or “up up and away” or… well… we´ll think of a good name.

diver2

I really really reeeeaaally like fish. If I wasn´t a graphic designer, I would have been a marine biologist. This game involves a lot of fish. I´m gonna have so much fun with the graphics!

It´s a simple jump-forever-and-ever-game.  You play the role of a lost diver, waking up at the bottom of the ocean. You need to collect air to survive. You jump from one fish to another to get higher. Different fish have different functions. Eventually you might reach the surface (and beyond!). Besides air, you collect some sort of in-game currency as you jump, and at the end of each level you will be able to buy gear to improve the diver. (And lots and lots of other interesting features.)

This is gonna be fun!

runner2

jumping_3

Update 20.10.13: Just to be clear: Edgar is not dead. We definitely want to bring him to life eventually.

Figuring out Unity3D – The first game

Me and Jennydalf are busy learning Unity3D, our weapon of choice for making games. We are already too proud to keep it to our selves, so why not show you this first masterpiece of a game already, while we are trying to figure out where the power button is. Note that Jenny did most of it, my role was simply adding some mindblowing sound-FX.

So don’t just stand there, but try out “Jennyball – The Evil Absorber of Tiny Green Cubes (that go ding)” here:
– https://www.jennydalf-and-ninjolai.com/pub/rollerball/ (for Mac OS X and Windows)
– Linux version is here: https://www.jennydalf-and-ninjolai.com/pub/rollerball_linux_x86.zip

absorber

You can compare scores, for bragging rights if you’d like, post them here or on Facebook!

PS: I wouldn’t look for introductory tutorials for Unity 3D similar to this game, they don’t exist.

The story and the mechanics

Since both Nikolai and I have full time jobs, it´s a little tough to find time to work on the game. But we´re slowly moving forward, and spend most of our evenings talking about the game concept or learning Unity. I have started  on a great tutorial, which explains most of what the different tools in the program do.  I´m also working my way through code academy´s programming-lessons, to get a basic grip on coding. Nikolai will of course be the one doing that part of the work, but it´s helpful to know a bit about the language.

The game concept is starting to get somewhere as well. The main storyline is getting clearer, and we have some new thoughts around the mechanics. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I feel we´re moving in the right direction.

We have talked a lot about it, and come to the conclusion that we don´t want to share the full storyline until the game is done. It has some twists and turns that we would like to be a surprise. But we´ll give you a short summary of the basic plot, and what poor Edgar has to face:

Edgar_Gameconcept-01 Edgar_Gameconcept-02 Edgar_Gameconcept-04 Edgar_Gameconcept-05 Edgar_Gameconcept-06 Edgar_Gameconcept-07 Edgar_Gameconcept-08 Edgar_Gameconcept-09 Edgar_Gameconcept-10

So that´s the plot. Roughly… It´s pretty basic, and gives Edgar a clear motive: Collect parts to fix his girlfriend. It also makes it easy for us to divide the game into chapters – one for each part. In each chapter you will be introduced to new or more advanced mechanics.
It´s  a common story, but the twists makes it special. Just wait.

About the mechanics: This is where we have been struggling. The mechanics has to be based on something that the humans could have used as a weapon against the robots. Something that destroys or manipulates metal. We lost the battle for magnets against Teslagrad and our new friends from Bergen (Go play the demo). So then what? We talked a bit about using the qualities of metal itself. (Melting points, chemical reactions, corrosion, mass….) but it didn´t really fit into the idea of a weapon. So we made a list:

What can destroy a robot:
-Rust
-Acid
-Electricity
-Computer viruses
-Water
-Explosives
-Nature (genetically modified super-nature)
-Lasers
-Heat
-Teleporters (Just teleport them into space. Done deal)
-Wind
-Lava
-Vacuum
-Ice

Acid. Acid is cool. There has been made several games using acid before, we know that… but it fits really well. It could also add something to the story, in terms of the humans making a weapon that not only destroyed the robots – but also, in the end, themselves.

…So we started talking about the possibilities of using acid, and I started sketching:

Edgar_Gameconcept-11 Edgar_Gameconcept-12 Edgar_Gameconcept-13-13 Edgar_Gameconcept-14 Edgar_Gameconcept-15 Edgar_Gameconcept-16 Edgar_Gameconcept-17 Edgar_Gameconcept-18 Edgar_Gameconcept-19 Edgar_Gameconcept-20

If any of you people out there has any thoughts or ideas, please share them with us. Like I said: nothing is set in stone yet.

A minor issue

1tell you made our game norwegian problem

Soooo… We went out with a couple of friends yesterday, and talked about our game. The reaction was “Oh, like Teslagrad! A friend of mine is making that. He´s from Bergen!”. Apparently he is also a part of Hyperion, an awesome organisation I do some designwork for. Who would have though? Dammit… So that was a minor setback.

In our defence, it´s pretty much impossible to be completely original these days, and we hadn´t heard about the game before. But we want to be original. Or at least original within our own country. Preferably in the world, but that could be a challenge. Norway doesn´t have that big of an indie-game scene, and to be competing with somebody with a game based on the same idea could be problematic. And maybe also a bit unpopular. We don´t want to be unpopular.

When that´s said, Teslagrad looks awesome. I have only seen the demo, but it seems really smooth. You´re playing this small guy with a glove that can make certain things magnetic, which allows him to make elements (or himself) soar around because of the magnetic polarity. It´s scheduled to be released this year on PS3. The story and atmosphere in the game is very different from what we´re planning to make, but the basic idea of using magnets is the same.

But we don´t want to let go of our concept or our story. Edgar is too good, and the universe we have started to create around him is really interesting. So we though: why not turn it around? In the beginning we decided to make a metal character because of the magnets, but why not focus on the qualities metal? It opens up a whole new aspect. We can play with rust, soft metals, hard metals, melting points, oxidation… Magnets will still be a part of the game, but maybe just as a chapter? We haven´t polished the idea yet, but we do think this has potential 😀

The Concept

After a summer of feeling ridiculously smart playing games like Braid and Limbo, it was pretty clear to us that our game should be a puzzle-game. And since we lack experience in making games, starting with a 2D platformer seemed smart. So that´s what we´re going to do.

All of the best puzzle-games contains some sort of main mechanism that you use to solve problems. Whether it´s rewinding time, making portals or turning into a chicken. We want to use magnets, because magnets are cool. In a game they would be particularly cool if the character is made of metal. It made sense to make our main character a robot. We figure it will give us a lot of opportunities to play with the physics of magnetism and metal, and our poor robot character will be tossed and dragged around.

theconcept

This one pretty much explains the physics of the game. Looking forward to see how Nikolai solves this.

But why would our robot be in a world filled with magnets? I´ll tell you soon. It´s gonna involve war, love and cushions.

In the mean time: Here are some of my many sketches of robots, resulting in Edgar. I still might change him a bit, but I´m happy with his awkward and box-like look. And to be completely honest, I want to keep him simple since I lack experience with animation. Having a wheel instead of legs makes it slightly easier. I might give him two legs eventually, but I actually really like him the way he is.

robot_sketches

Crazy sketches. Some of these are so strange. Like the guy with the pointy hat. He was actually a pretty good candidate for a while, but I figured he was a little too surrealistic for a main character. Maybe he´ll turn up somewhere in the game though. He´s funny. And the small one at the left with the magnet-antenna is cute!

Edgar

Here are some magnets… and Edgar! Edgar has more character than the other sketches. His face and lanky body (even though he lacks a nose and mouth,) has a lot of potential in expressing different emotions. 

Our First Video Game

Image

The Designer:

My name is Jenny. I´m the designer. When I was young, and the school-nurse still thought I was a boy named Jonny, my father bought me a Nintendo 64 for my birthday. It didn´t help with the gender-issue, but it made my childhood a lot more fun. Apart from the time when I got madly addicted to Donkey Kong 64… And the months I spent all of my awake time fishing in Harvest Moon.

17 years (and a bachelor-degree in visual communication) later I´m sitting here with incredibly ambitious plans of making a game myself. I have made design for a wide range of purposes, but never for a game. I have a vague idea of how it works. Apparently hats are absolutely crucial.

I want to have the ability to create awesome worlds with awesome characters that is gonna make you fat and chronically late for work, but you wouldn´t care because you smashed the brains out of that giant turtle, or watched that princess explode.

The Developer:

Hi, I’m Nikolai. I’m the developer in this game making duo. I have been playing games since the late 80’s, mainly PC-games. To get to know me, I thought I’d start by sharing my list of games that influenced me the most (… which made me replace my keyboard, tought me rocket jumping, names of Aztec kings, how to optimize fish cought per hour, how to press mouse1 over 300 times/min, build orders, micro management, macro management, in-depth knowledge of rare bugs in games who will no longer be patched and how give my character more than one hat). Games that gave me weeks of combined playtime of good ol’ fun: Alley CatBubble Bobble, Commander KeenPrince of PersiaAge of Empires 2 and 3 (and HD)Railroad Tycoon II, Total AnnihilationHalf-Life (+mods), Quake 1-3StarCraftWarcraft 3Enemy TerritoryWoW (~180h of playtime), Lego games for Xbox360Team Fortress 2BraidFezJourney and flower.

The game:

So… how to make a game? We have no idea. We have never done it before. But how hard can it be? …very hard probably. We don´t know. We have less than any experience, which is a minor issue. But we´re optimistic. (We do have our bachelor-degrees though… That should count for something)

Why have we made this blog?

We made it so that you, the great people of earth, can follow the process of making a video game from scratch. Keep reading if you want to learn more about 2D computer graphics, JavaScript and all this shiny new web-stuff for making interactive awesomeness .

We´re going to post all our ups and downs, research and achievements, and eventually, hopefully, this process will result in a pretty decent – all new – game.