Social Game Universe: Dirty Dancing & Grow-Ops

Posted by aBethke on Wednesday Sep 21, 2011 Under Game Development

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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.

Dirty Dancing

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

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Demo Reel

Posted by aBethke on Sunday Aug 7, 2011 Under Game Development

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Hey All!

Andrew and I have been busy working on various projects that we aren’t quite ready to talk about but I ended up putting together this little demo reel the other day and figured I’d share it.

Also, if you’re looking for more ways to keep track of us don’t forget about Twitter and the Facebook.

Twitter: @GoldenGearGames!/GoldenGearGames
YouTube Channel:
Facebook Group:

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Leaping Luchadores

Posted by aBethke on Tuesday May 31, 2011 Under Game Development, Releases

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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.

Play Now –

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10,000 Ninjas: Pirate Edition – Post-mortem

Posted by aBethke on Thursday Mar 31, 2011 Under Game Development

Reposted from:

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.

Play it now: 10,000 Ninjas: Pirate Edition

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Cells – Released!

Posted by aBethke on Thursday Jun 24, 2010 Under Cells, Game Development, Releases

Cells, a puzzle game about synthetic life.

This was developed for the Experimental Gameplay Project’s CASUAL ADDICITON competition and is dedicated to my friend Amanda Martin. Synthetic life is real and a breakthrough, accept it. 😉

Play it at Golden Gear or read more about the development

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In Development: Sushi Sumo

Posted by aBethke on Friday Jun 18, 2010 Under Sushi Sumo

Host 2.0

Sushi, Sumos and a dancing Japanese style game show host all done in claymation. Yes… this is really what I do full time. XP

Read More

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Parallax: A simple solution

Posted by aBethke on Friday Jun 18, 2010 Under Bag o' Tricks, Game Development

Recently when I was working on Star Fall I needed to develop a basic Parallax implementation as part of the game design. Ive done this type of implementation before but never built anything reusable. In fact, I’d love to tell you now that I did just that when developing Star Fall but that, sadly my friends, would be a lie. I have however taken the code I wrote for Star Fall and developed it into a very basic Parallax system which I offer up now to the gods of the interwebs and anyone else that might be interested.

The basic breakdown is pretty simple. You instance the SimpleParallax class and then begin adding layers to it and defining their properties via the methods I have created. The layer handling system uses a name to keep track of the layers. When you create a layer you assign its name and then reference it layer via the same name. There is no active depth sorting, simply create the layers in the order you wish them to appear.

[cc lang=”actionscript3″ line_numbers=”true” no_links=”true” width=”100%”]
package com.goldengear.core
import flash.display.DisplayObject;
import flash.display.Sprite;

public class SimpleParallax extends Sprite
public function SimpleParallax()
mouseEnabled = false;
mouseChildren = false;
addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, handleEnterFrame, false, 0, true);
protected function handleEnterFrame(in_event:Event):void
var i:int;
var num:int;
var layer:DisplayObject;
var layerName:String;
var scrollSpeed:Number;
var loopX:Number;

if (!isPaused)
num = m_layerNames.length;
for (i=0; iSimpleParallax – Test Application

As I poke at this class more I will probably release the updated versions. Enjoy!

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This is a trick I picked up recently when I was preparing some games (Mashin’ Meeces and Star Fall) for release on portal sites and saw that it would be a bit easier (and required by some) to figure out how to change my multi-SWF application into a single SWF app.

Mashin’ Meeces was originally broken into three SWFs: game code, art assets and sounds. I did this so that I could work on the game independently from the sound or art since those were being taken care of by other people. Through my previous experience developing games I had never run into a problem with having games broken into multiple SWFs before but those projects have all been for private sites and game portals like Newgrounds and Kongregate are a new experience for me. After talking with my colleagues, doing some research and poking at the code for a bit I finally got the solution of embedding the SWFs into my main application and then load them using loadBytes.

Here is the code I used to embed the two SWFs (art and sounds) into the main class of my ActionScript project.

[cc lang=”actionscript3″ line_numbers=”true” no_links=”true” width=”100%”]
[SWF(width=’800′, height=’600′, backgroundColor=’0xffffff’, frameRate=’30’)]
public class MashinMeeces extends Sprite
[Embed(source=”MashinMeecesAssets.swf”, mimeType=”application/octet-stream”)]
private var swfAssets:Class;
[Embed(source=”MashinMeecesSounds.swf”, mimeType=”application/octet-stream”)]
private var swfSounds:Class;

public function MashinMeeces()
// Rawr! I am the constructor…

For the loading I had just been using a standard Loader implementation and to convert the pre-existing code all I had to do was drop the URLRequest() and change load() to loadBytes().

[cc lang=”actionscript3″ line_numbers=”true” no_links=”true” width=”100%”]
protected function addedToStage(in_event:Event):void
var loaderContext:LoaderContext = new LoaderContext(false, ApplicationDomain.currentDomain);

var assetLoader:Loader = new Loader();
assetLoader.visible = false;
assetLoader.contentLoaderInfo.addEventListener(Event.COMPLETE, assetsLoaded, false, 0, true);
assetLoader.loadBytes(new swfAssets(), loaderContext);

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Star Fall – Released!

Posted by aBethke on Saturday Jun 12, 2010 Under Releases

An extremely fast paced game in which the user plays as a falling star that is burning out. Soar over the abstracted cityscape and collect the dreams as they float up but avoid the nightmares because they drain star power.

Play it, rate it, favourite it! at the following sites…

Game Jolt

Read More

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Mashin’ Meeces – Released!

Posted by aBethke on Saturday Jun 12, 2010 Under Mashin Meeces, Releases

This is a quirky but fun action game in which the player revisits the comical dynamic of mice terrorizing elephants. Users have two modes of play to choose from to better customize their experience. Free Play Mode is a more relaxed style of progression allowing the users to casually sit back and mash some mice at their leisure. Challenge Mode is for users who like something with a bit more substance. Battle your way through 10 levels of game play including the Twin Terrors and finally confront the Mama Mouse.

Play it, rate it, favourite it! at the following sites…

Game Jolt

Mashin Meeces - Screenshot

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