Thursday, May 30, 2013

Finally, I say things and they happen!

At the start of the year I migrated from being a game designer to being a producer. Producers in the land of video games are nothing like film and TV producers, they're a lot more like project managers in any other field. Yes, no longer am I in charge of figuring out how things work, I just have to make sure they're done.

At least that's the theory.

This space monkey actually features very few of the space elements,  get the app to see  all!

I do actually still do a lot of design, so I have to tell myself off when I'm late. 

The perk of being the producer on a project is that I get to say what will get made. Lately I've ben working on a project called MonkeyMe, where you get to dress up monkeys in all kinds of crazy stuff. And when it came time to have more stuff I could simply say, "I want space stuff!" That's as far as I went, I don't believe in taking away the creative fun of artists by getting any more specific than is needed. It's always been my policy, and it's served me well, but probably never quite this well.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mind The Gap

When someone sent round a link to Mind The Gap at work, work ceased for a short time. I would have told everyone to get back to work, but I was too busy playing it. 

The game starts off simply enough - there are three stations and you can connect them by dragging train lines between. Passengers appear at these stations in the form of different shapes, and their shape matches one of the stations. All you have to do is provide a network that's good enough to allow passengers to hop on the trains that move along the tracks to get to a station that's the same shape as they are. And the passengers are smart enough to hop on and off different trains to get to where they want to be.


One of my rail networks, shortly before I become overwhelmed and made everything insane...

It is easy, at first, but each station can only have a total of 10 passengers waiting at it before it becomes overloaded and it's game over. Also, you only have five different train lines, so only 5 trains trundling around at any given time.

Just as I was getting really into the game Peter Curry, one of the game's co-creators, popped into the office and we (I mean me) all started throwing ideas at him about how it might be improved. Although we all conceded that all such ideas were incremental, considering the fact that the game is already brilliant in it's fiendish simplicity.

In conclusion, go play Mind the Gap, it might be the best game ever to come out of Wellington, and that's saying something because, for a little city, Wellington punches hard in the video games stakes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Zombie Sandcastle

For far too long (6 years in fact) I've been playing around with a piece of software called Scratch. This little piece of wonder is made by smart folk over at MIT and is designed to get kids into programming. I've never learnt to program so instead I use Scratch.

Zombie Sandcastle, because this is the way the apocalypse plays in my head...

It has many problems, being a bit slow being its major one, but I can't get out of the cycle of having ideas and then trying to work out how to do them in Scratch. 

But then I had an idea that was actually pretty well suited to the environment, a game I like to call Zombie Sandcastle. I was actually trying to think of something along the lines of Minecraft but better suited to touch screen. 

The proof of concept that I've ended up with has no crafting in it, or any of a whole bunch of ideas I would put into a fully working game but you can do the fundamental action of digging up sand and putting it down somewhere (anywhere) else. And you have the pressure of zombies trying to eat your survivors and your survivors having to look for something to eat!

If you want to know how that works then play Zombie Sandcastle