The Schick Hydro Indie Game Jam

Last week Schick Hydro partnered with Playcrafting to put on a indie game jam at Simple Machine in New York City. The planning and announcement for this jam was confidential until a little ago, so I could not talk about till recently.

We came up with a cool game called Calkarious.

Calkarious is a cooperative top-down shooter where two players must defend a powerful brain coral under constant siege by bioluminescent creatures.

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Set inside a massive sphere of water in deep space –– Calkarious
involves rapid decision making and quick maneuvers as players struggle
against 6 different colored enemies.

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Each enemy can only be killed by a shot matching its own color, and players
will need to constantly switch up their attacks to survive.

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A third player can even take control of the brain coral itself (with the mouse), and
change its color to absorb similarly colored enemies. Absorb enough
enemies, and you’ll be able to release a devastating pulse attack.

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The brain coral can only take three hits before it is destroyed. Players need to work
together to defend this magnificent coral for as long as possible and
achieve the highest score.

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The team for this game jam comprised a group of rockstars game designers and developers! Our team consisted of three of Eos Interactive’s team members Jose, Bobby and John. We also had a the VR game design rockstar behind Paulo’s Wing , Kevin Harper. Last but not least, the last member of the team was me.

One the most interesting constraints we had for the game jam was getting our content to work inside of an arcade cabinet. The arcade cabnet was called Polycade and it was made for creating custom games on a custom cabinet.

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We wanted to use every button in the arcade cabinet for our game.

Polycontrols Our goal of utilizing every button led us to the game mechanic of shooting enemies with the corresponding color and moving the brain coral with the ball on the arcade cabinet to get the brain coral out of danger.

 

Calkarious is free to play today on itch and will be available to play in an arcade cabinet, the best way to play it, on December 15th a Playcrafting’s 2017 Bit Awards.

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Come root on my first VR project Don’t Look Away for the Bit Awards.

Any who this past weekend was fun but I cannot wait to return to Museum Multiverse, my VR puzzle platforming epic! I have had so many cool things to show everyone about the game soon!

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Showing Museum Multiverse to the World!

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This pass weekend I was able to show Museum Multiverse and my other projects to New York City at Microsoft HQ. The event was part of Playcrafting‘s Halloween Expo, An event with over 150 indie games and over 1,200 attendees. Now thats a lot of the play-testers.

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I was with my team for the expo, so we were able to get a big room for our projects. The projects that are out, Don’t Look Away and Witchualistic and our projects in development, Museum Multiverse and The Take.

I got over a hundred play-testers to tryout Museum Multiverse along and got valuable feedback from the experience.

Here is what I learned.

  1. My first major puzzle is still too hard for a lot of players.

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 11.47.46 PMI had to give a lot of hints to people for my light reflection puzzle. This means I should have another puzzle to leading up to this more complex challenge. I have created a easier puzzle before this challenge in order to help the player understand what to do in the room players had trouble in. I got this advice from one of my friend who made a hit game called LineLight, Brett Taylor. He recommended that I should strip away the noise from the puzzle which will help the player understand the mechanic, so I came up with this:
Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 10.44.46 PM This is a cleaner noise free puzzle which would give the player the understanding of the light mechanic.

     2. Players loved the 2D section but the controls need improvement.

giphy (4) Jumping and landing is slippery in 2D. I think I can fine tune some Unity parameters to fix this problem.

    3. I still have a lot of work to do!

There is so much to do, but this is exciting! Everyone enjoyed the project and some people even came back to play the experience again!

I will continue to update you all on my progress on Museum Multiverse stay tuned on twitter, facebook, and on the site.

See you in VR!
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Revisiting and Revising

This week entailed finishing off the final puzzles of Muesem Multiverse and playtesting the game with people new and old to VR. I finished off my hiding locker scene with the context of this project. I made this scene earlier in the Launch Pad program but the project that this scene belonged to actually broke which meant this scene was lost until I recreated it this week. I think this scene is important to convey the switches between 1st and 3rd person view within some parts of the game. I also got feedback on one of the puzzles I have been working and of course some people have problems with it. I took the feedback a fault on my puzzle design. It is my job as the designer to create a fun understanding experience for most so I did a couple of things to improve the puzzle.

1 I gave the player more feedback when they are I the right track.

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2 I provided clues in the environment

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3 Giving a awesome reward once the player finishes the puzzle.

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I think after these changes players will have a better experience in one of the first puzzles of the game. I will be working the rest of the week on deploying the app and testing it through the store.

Entering The Multiverse

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Let me start by saying there is still much work to do on Museum Multiverse, but it is coming along. This week the team has been working on post processing effects in order to create a cinematic warping effect when entering paintings in the museum. Unity has an awesome new system for post processing effects but they are not compatible with Android. Our solution is to work with legacy image effects in order to make the scene look great on the Gear VR.

I have also been working on the notion of incorporating 2D gameplay into VR. I have created a pretty good proof of concept and have now added that portion into the game. I want Museum Multiverse to be a departure from the normal VR experience on the Gear VR store and I think this section will be a refreshingly fun experience for players.

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We also added a new member to our ranks of Museum Multiverse, Mikei Huang, a talented VR and Visual Designer. His work portfolio includes cool VR projects like Kuru Kuru Sushi VR and Back Seat Baby. He has been working with me on the cover art and creating visual consistency in Museum Multiverse. I am very happy to have such a talented member of the New York City gaming community on my team.

We also completed the models of the main character(s) for the game. Up to this point we have been using a simple cubed character as placeholder for most of development but it will be good to finally switch him for the main character. We will miss Mr. Cubes but we are happy to have our character so close to being finalized. The Character Modeler and Animator, Ethanis a talented artist with works in many visually stunning titles. Checkout his twitch channel where he works on projects live and his amazing GDC talk on low ploy development. We’re excited to have his work in Museum Multiverse.

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Our next steps on the roadmap are to connect all scenes scene together and playtest playtest, playtest – and then more playtesting. The more we learn about how players organically behave in our game the better Museum Multiverse will be. One of our goals in playtesting is discovering what players enjoy as well as what they don’t understand. We hope to incorporate  these findings before the September 9th due date.

Until Next time…

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PlayNYC and the Awesome Feedback of 100’s

This weekend the team went to PlayNYC. Play was NYC’s first dedicated games convention and it felt a lot like PAX in it’s early days according to game veterans.

PLAYNYCStage.jpg We got to showed off an interactive trailer of The Take. This mostly had the mission briefing and traps you can set in the room. The players of the experience of course did not listen to anything from the mission briefing and instead they mostly had fun throwing things around an stacking books on the desk.

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We had a great time had a ton of feedback and we are now ready to add this to the game.
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A New Way to Hear? fmod in Prod

In Museum Multiverse I knew to make the project truly come together I would need an amazing soundtrack to captivate the player. Thanks to Niko Korolog and his work with adaptive music in my game I now have music that will suck the player in from the start to end of the demo. Niko used a program called FMOD to create an adaptive soundtrack. FMOD is a sound effects engine for video games and applications developed by Firelight Technologies, that play and mix sound files of diverse formats on many operating systems, to learn more about this awesome application visit their site.

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This program gives me the control to shut off layers of music at my choosing and turn on other ones through code. To get started on learning this magic I’d recommend this awesome tutorial from FMOD on integrating this middleware into Unity.

I cannot wait to continue incorporating this adaptive soundtrack into Museum Multiverse.

A Mini Game Becomes a Game

Well it’s been a week, and we’ve been able to implement decent rotation of the game objects on the X and Y axis using the Gear VR’s touchpad. Now when we hold onto objects using the trigger, we can swipe left and right to rotate them on the Y axis, and swipe up and down to rotate them on the X axis. We’ve even been able to pick up the rotation of the controller itself to rotate the objects on the Z axis whenever we roll the controller with our wrists. This motion gives instant feedback and a real sense of connection to the objects.

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After we implemented these basic controls, we decided to finally put some of our friends in a room with simple rigidbody objects, and told them to experiment and explore as much as they wanted. One of my 3D modeling friends, Jose, was excited to finally see some of the models he made inside of a game.

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After switching the headsets and controllers back and forth between our other game developer friends Andy and Rob, Jose noticed that some of his models were missing. When he thought that they might have been glitched outside the room, Rob said that they weren’t glitched at all, and that he hid them somewhere in the room. He then challenged Jose to find them in two minutes. This led to all of us hiding and finding objects for the next half hour or so. We ended up getting pretty sidetracked. It was simple, but in a refreshing sort of way. Rob commented how this should just be a game in its own right and we all sort of agreed.

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I’ve decided that given the scope and timescale of Museum Multiverse in its current state, I’m going to instead focus most of my time on this new concept. I’ll still work on Museum Multiverse with Ernest, but for the Oculus Launch Pad program I’m going to be diverting my efforts towards this now. Rob and Jose came up with a name for it already – “The Take”, and are currently working on fleshing out a spy theme and some design documents for it.

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