Seraph is a game about a wish-born falling star in search of dreams to stay alive while avoiding Nightmares. Players control the star using a virtual DPAD or tilt based controls and have the power to slow time and cleanse most nightmares.
The game features four types of Nightmares to avoid while you soar ever faster through the night sky collecting Dreams. Golden Dreams will restore you to full health while Blue Dreams empower the star with spears to cleanse most Nightmares. Trade life for the power to slow time and survive for as long as possible.
Dirty Dancing was the second game that we worked on for Social Game Universe and was a partnership between SGU and Lionsgate.
Originally Alex was supposed to handle the client team lead position but it was later decided to put Andrew in charge for this game while Alex focused on post-launch Grow-Ops updates. We both contributed to the core design of the game, but on the coding side of things Andrew did the real work of the project by developing the Isometric engine on which the game runs, while Alex focused on other systems like Inventory, Sound Management and top/bottom bar UIs.
Grow-Ops was a game developed by Social Game Universe in partnership with Fremantle Media for the Facebook platform. Alex was hired (contract) to lead the development for this project but his role quickly expanded to include project management and completion of the game design.
Grow-Ops is a farming style game with combat/strategy elements that allowed you to sneak onto your friends’ yards and attack their plants. It was designed to appeal to a niche market culture of teenage to young adults; basically, the type of game that the ‘Adult Swim’ crowd would enjoy. The game focus was on beautifying your own yard by decorating and planting pretty combo crops while setting up defenses and then venturing out into the world to unleash attacks on friends and strangers, clearing their plants and replacing them with your noxious cash crops.
This was a short event after a lot of work to get us to the goal. The idea behind it was to mesh game development and hardware hacking to create unique alternative peripheral devices for gaming. There was a a flight sim you pilot with your eye, a laser trip wire maze you could physically navigate, a space shooter style game with overly complex controls (by design) and my project Button Masher. My partner on this initiative, Vlad Cazan, did a great write-up on the hardware side of things so I’ll focus a bit on the games.
By the end of the project we had planned to demo 4 games: 3 two player games and 1 one player game. When it came time to integrate the two devices to my laptop and the game logic we ran into some communication issues. We scrambled to try to resolve the issues before the show but could not. Fearing having only one game to demo I stayed up most of the night coding a new 2-player on a single device turn-based strategy game (think Othello) to try to salvage the experience. Overall people were really excited about all the projects.
Social Game Universe (aka SGU) is a Toronto based social game/media company. From July 2010 until about August 2011, first myself and then Andrew were contracted to help SGU develop and release two Facebook games, Dirty Dancing and Grow-Ops. We were introduced to the CEO of SGU via our good friend Miguel (Spooky Squid Games) and subsequently got to work with him on both of the SGU projects.
The second, and likely to be vastly more successful, game that we helped SGU develop was the recently launched Dirty Dancing. For me, this was a project that Andrew really kicked butt on as he single-handedly designed and implemented the entire isometric engine that the game utilizes. Andrew and I both played key roles throughout the course of this project starting with the high level design down to the technical implementation. Andrew led the client team implementation while I was mostly focused on Grow-Ops, Read More
Wrestling has been banned in Mexico and upon hearing the news the Luchadores have gone mad with grief. No longer able to accept a world where their beloved wrestling is outlawed the grief stricken Luchadores have gone running for the cliffs to end their suffering. Little do they know that their plight has been witnessed by none other than El Christo himself. Filled with compassion, El Chisto personally steps in to save the poor Luchadores from damnation by using his love and super saviour powers to save as many Leaping Luchadores as he can.
This was the premise for Leaping Luchadores, one of the Golden Gear projects that we completed in 2010. Originally this was supposed to be a very small scale game partially to compare small project releases on portal sites against larger project releases. I wanted to get a sense of the time investment per project in terms of potential pay off from the portal sites and various related revenue generation streams. A bunch of the top portal games (and by extension portal revenue earners) turned out to be much smaller scaled games in comparison to some of the projects I had slated for development. Aside from that project level goal, the idea here was to make a small zany, if not outright insane, game that would be very easy for users to pick up and play while offering a bit of depth to keep them hooked longer.
One of the interesting things to mention with this game is that we couldnt get sponsorship. Now, I wanna take a moment and really stress this point. Not only did we not get sponsorship we couldnt even get a response out of potential sponsors at all. No rejection, no conditional sponsorship, not a single peep. Ultimately I ended up attributing this to the content: Jesus. Sponsors were probably too freaked out about the religious content to take a chance on this project which for me was very disappointing. Its one thing to be told your game isnt good enough or needs more polish, its another thing altogether to get complete radio silence from companies whose primary focus is knowing and monetizing this market.
“We’ll chop limbs off, replay ww2 over and over again, but jesus love is offensive” – Tyler Moore
I thnk the thing that Seamus (aka the artist) and I found most baffling about this lack of response was that we had revised the game multiple times based on play testing it at various public events throughout the summer. From our analysis users seemed to really enjoy the game concept and got a huge laugh out of all the crazy super saviour powers. On top of play testing I had also taken the forethought to send the game out to some of my most hardcore religious friends for sensitivity testing in relation to the religious content.
Almost a year after the initial development has completed we are happy with the small game we made and get lots of enjoyment showing it to crowds at various conventions but sadly this project looks like that it will not yield revenue. The game is playable on Kongregate, Newgrounds, Mochi and our own site.
10,000 ninjas was my 2nd entry for the CASUAL ADDICTION game development competition hosted by the Experimental Gameplay Project. By the end of the project I was pretty happy with what I had put together taking into account that once again I ran out of time. (Lesson to Learn: Scope projects better for EGP competitions)
With this design I spent more effort trying to design features that would be casually addictive, as opposed to Cells. Ultimately I think this game ended up being a bit better received by the public than Cells was even though I think Cells is the better game between the two.
Core Mechanic: When I started I wanted to make something that would be very easy to pick up so I decided to go with the basic concept of point/click to kill. I will definitely admit the fact that I had just picked up a touch screen computer influenced aspects of the design. At the time we had thought we were going to be using the touch screen a lot more to exhibit games over the summer, which didnt end up happening, but it was still interesting to design a game more for a touch screen interface than mouse. Beyond that the game was really just supposed to be a small project that was easy for users to play and allowed them to rain mayhem and destruction upon ninjas dressed as pirates.
Session vs Persistent Kill Counts: One of the decisions that I had made was to add separate counters for a users total kill count vs their session kill count. The idea here was that the game would inherently coax them into playing more by creating a competition using the two different kill counts. This in relation with the UI I chose to display the kill counts was supposed to, in a playful manner utilizing the levels on the bar, increase the replayability.
Unlocking Powers: Another feature I added to try to increase the replay factor was that powers can be permanently unlocked depending on a users persistent kill count. Each time the user played they would have to get a certain number of kills before they could start using the cut scene attacks. Over multiple play session their persistent kill count would build up and unlock the powers so they had them right at the beginning of the game. The permanent power unlock feature was supposed to serve two purposes: 1) Entice the user to play the game multiple times; 2) Give them a goal to work towards while replaying the game.
Visual Style: When I was doing the initial character and power designs for this game I wanted to pick a style that I actually had the ability to draw as well as have something that had some weirdness to it in hopes of catching the user’s attention. To this end I went with the block style characters, made the enemies ninjas dressed as pirates fighting a ninja, and finally added the cut scene super attacks to really take some aspects of the game over the top.
Conclusions: Two things that I think ultimately worked against the final product was the cluster kill combos and the game balance. To put it bluntly the game balance was off; I should have spent more time focused on tweaking when/how the enemies spawn and this definitely detracted from the game. The cluster kill combo was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ features. The concept was that as you kill stuff your rage bar fills up. Hit max rage and anything that gets near you when you attack will also get attacked as you leap from enemy to enemy. Unfortunately this really broke up the flow of the game in a bad way, rage almost never runs out which just made it worse and if you were fighting bombers it basically ensured you were going to die.