Monday, January 21, 2013

Strange Happenings

More progress! Little over 48 hours left to go in the jam, and things are starting to come together. We have enough sections for there to be a feeling of progression, and although we've encountered a few technical limitations we've managed to find workarounds for most of them so that our game plays nice and smooth on the Ouya. We've also come up with a tentative title for our game: Strange happenings on Murder Isle. It might still change last moment but for now I think it suits the game perfectly.  Due to the intense development we've not had as much time to test gameplay as I would have liked but it I do think the game is quite fun and should lend itself really well to some coop chaos.

Here is a photo of the team, hard at work:

And here is a screenshot of our intrepid hero coming tantalisingly close to unraveling the mystery of Murder Isle:

Why is this high tech facility built inside an active volcano on a seemingly deserted island? What the hell is wrong with the warthogs? Why are the mysterious gunmen so intent on murdering innocent castaways? Why is nothing as it seems and most bafflingly, where the hell did the T-Rex come from? Strange happenings indeed...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Turkeys and technicalities

Damn, seems like it's been a few days since I've updated. In the passing days we've gotten round to setting our game up on ouya - only to find out that our ouya is a bit broken out of the box.  Luckily there is another developer nearby that also preordered a ouya and we were able to use that one to test.  Getting everything to work was a bit painful but considering that it's a completely new system, and that I've never deployed an app to any mobile platform, it didn't go too badly. Still, it's never nice to lose time in a jam to technical issues.

Other than that we're finally getting some gameplay together.  We're doing some turkey hunting as part of the tutorial:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Delicious jam

So another day, another scene... sortof. Our car chase scene is starting to come together, it should be a nice change of pace from the rest of the game. Our ideas for the story are also coming together and it should be at least mildly amusing if not good, if we can get it to be anywhere near coherent. Screenshot!

We've been jamming really hard for several days straight now so we are at the point where sanity is starting to waiver, but fully in jam mode so the creative juices are flowing. It's also been cool to see some updates of the other people participating. There are some cool projects by some talented studios so competition will be stiff but I am still confident that we'll have a good chance at winning.  I find it odd that some people actually have booked domains, set up a twitter/facebook/youtube account for their game after the first day, but don't have any screenshots or other signs of progress. But you gotta market the socials, I guess.

In the meantime I'm trying to get the game to actually run on the OUYA.  Having to go through app manifests, downloading and installing SDKs and general technical tomfoolery has reminded me how lucky I am to be able to work with Unity for PC most of the time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

15 Jan progress

Yeah, so I've given up counting days.  A lot of things tend to fall by the wayside in the blur and frenzy of a jam.  One thing that, fortunately, has not fallen by the wayside is progress. We're starting to get the building blocks of story together, our character is almost finished being animated and we have a lot of art content to work with.  Enough for a screenshot:

You can see hints of some of our planned features in this (note kickass explosions, terrain scorch marks and deformation).

Yeah. Explosions.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


So we've been working semi-hard over the weekend, progress has been good but not amazing.  The visual side is coming together slowly - we have a model or two, lots of terrain art, buildings, vegetation and other odds and ends. We want a high amount of content and polish for this game so we're doing a low-poly 3d look similar to what we did for Death Smashers.

Programming wise, I've implemented some basic enemy AI that I hope will be interesting to play against - enemies take cover and try to move to safety as much as they can, but occasionally charge the player. The idea is to have something that appears to be more intelligent than it actually is - and it looks like I've succeeded in that. We've also worked on effects and overall juiciness; marks on the floor (along with a weird terrain wobble effect, pretty cool), rippling water and Death Smashers explosions. Tomorrow we should have animated player characters, when that has been integrated along with the destructible buildings we should have our first chance to have a good feel for what the game plays like.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 1/2

The jam snuck up on us: on Monday I was still really keen to make good progress on Broforce.  The wording for the competition is quite vague and initially we'd hoped we might be able to enter the new version of Broforce. Understandably though that is somewhat against the spirit of a gamejam and we were denied.  We had some discussion on Tuesday, a jam with prizes such as this one is really hard to resist for us and we decided to go ahead. The catch being that if we participate, we HAVE to win at least one of the prizes (preferably the main prize) to make up for the development time lost on broforce. A big risk, but we are confident. Time will tell...

We had some discussions on gameplay and theme: We want to do a fast-paced top down twin stick shooter, with a strong emphasis on coop gameplay and narrative. Gameplay references are, well, any twin stick shooter, cannon fodder and broforce. Thematic references include Cadillacs and Dinosaurs and The Amazing Wagon Adventure.  The organisers of the competition encourages people to start working immediately, and considering the stakes we went right ahead. While our artist is pumping out concepts, we got some base systems in place: basic twin stick movement, some pathfinding for enemies and projectiles. We have a lot of code that we share between projects that had to be converted from 2d to 3d as well.


Hi, I'm Ruan, and I work as a game programmer at Free Lives ( We have decided to take part in the CREATE gamejam hosted by Killscreen and Ouya and I want to chronicle our progress as the jam progresses. The closing date for entries is on the 23rd of January, hopefully I will be posting more-or-less daily updates on our progress.