Games

Cloudbuilt

(December 2010-July 2013, 2½ years : In development)

My first commercial project, and the first from Coilworks. I have mostly dealt with the business side, made the tutorial level (which could be replaced before the game is finished), built and administered the web site, and been a PR-person in contact with media (some examples are these two interviews I did at Game Developer’s Conference 2013: Link 1 Link 2).

Considering this is an on-going project, I won’t type more about this so as to not break any NDAs.

A "almost hit" is still a "miss"

Demi concludes a jump, and a turret misses a round.

Bloody Mess

(June-December 2010, 20 weeks)

The Game: This project started out for the course “Individual Creation” with me being recruited by the team’s artists. The game was a post-apocalyptic quake with Vikings. Which was just as awesome as it sounded. The artists were Rune-inspired like mad, but wanted something more down-to-earth and gritty. And I wanted mechanics that was in the spirit of Rune without being Rune. Not to mention the team was a joy to work with every day of that project.

The Project: I was recruited as the artists wanted someone to lead the project, but I rather wanted to do UX art, design and implementation. I ended up playing both parts in addition to level- and gameplay design. I did manage to get designs and art done for menus and HUD, as well as getting one level blocked out and ready for decoration. From the perspective of a game dev project, it didn’t go too well. having too many tasks at once, I slipped on the programmer-artist communication, which led to the artists thinking there was no game, and the programmer thinking there was no content to implement. However, from a mere synchronize-art-efforts-for-the-course (which was the initial intention), it went as planned.

Due to a scarcity of available (and interested) programmers, not much of the design got the time to be implemented, tested or iterated upon. I did get the menus and a in-game GUI done, though!

BloodyMess-mockup of the heads-up display (HUD) taken over one of the default maps in UDK.

Wheelchair Racer

(Apr-Jun 2010, 10 weeks)

The Concept pitch: A Mario Kart-like game, where you play with wheelchairs. This change the way you control the game on a very fundamental level. As you steered like a wheelchair would, you drag each wheel by tapping the corresponding trigger. Power-ups will be powered by power-crates found along the track – these would be consumed when picked up, so the early game would be a matter of abundance, and the late game one of scarcity. Each racers will also leave “tails” – energy tracks that last really, really long and make racers behind go faster while they remained in the track. That way, slower players can come back in a natural way.

The Project: We initially planned the project to require five weeks of implementation and the remaining five weeks for polish and buffer, to make one level and four characters. However, a lack of planning on the design and programmer side caused lack of iteration on the level design side and technical issues with implementing a wheelchair with the tools on the programmer side. This caused most of our major features having to be cut – most notably the tail system and most of the power-up design, and the level (which had been designed and mostly decorated) had to be re-designed from scratch, throwing a lot of (art) work away in the process. Perhaps not surprisingly, this caused some friction between the team members.

The Game: The controllers were an issue we had to work a lot with. When you turn with a wheel chair, you spin each wheel to push that wheel forward. However, in a racing game, the player expect their vehicle to turn; this difference in mental models made players perceive the controllers as inverted, so we had to change which trigger steered in which direction.

The implementation issues on the code side, along with unrealistic expectations on the design side, made implementation of GUI and animation come too late in the project, which in the end got much less iteration and just missed being worked out in time (in fact, animations worked up until the last day, but broke due to a code optimization; the matter of reverting to a previous revision wasn’t mentioned, I believe).

Here’s a video:

The game was initially a pitch of mine, but adapted to the audience (the teachers, the other students) so that we could get permission and the team to make the game. As such, it went from a game to salute the everyday troubles of being physically handicapped to one that “de-dramatises” physical handicap (bordering “making fun of”). As the initial idea was based on my own experience spending a whole summer in a wheel chair, the twist was not something I was completely aligned with. As such, the design contradicted itself – it was a game intending to be fast and fun, but with controls that mimic the relative complexity of controlling a wheel chair – and a contradiction I had trouble to see and, thereby, resolve.

Monkeys at War

(January 2010, 2 days)

As a part of GSP Game Jam (GSP is for “Gothia Science Park”, an incubator close to the university), which in turn was a part of the Global Game Jam 2010, I, Henrik Lundqvist, Niklas Johansson and Jonas Bjering made a game around the theme “deception”.

The result was a turn based-game with simultaneous turns, where two monkey tribes fight on an eight by eight-grid of an island. Each round you can move with one monkey and attack with another (but not do both with the same monkey). When both players are done, their moves play out simultaneously. The game is over when any one team only has one monkey left.

There are four monkeys:

  • The banana monkey throw banana peels on a position 1 square away, invisible to the opponent and blows up on a crossing opponent for 6 damage. This monkey turned the game into one of acting on imperfect information, playing on the “deception” theme.
  • The “stick monkey” nudges a monkey (I think with a knock-back) horizontally or vertically for 5 damage.
  • The “apple monkey” tosses an apple along a row or column until it hits an opponent for 4 damage.
  • The “berserker monkey” kills a monkey if it can attack in melee-range.
A picture from Monkeys at War

The game in its initial play state

Download Monkeys at War (requires Java and Flash to play)

As with the earlier “spelsylt”, my role in this was just as much painting graphics in Illustrator as doing design. We quickly set up a pen-and-paper prototype. This allowed us to balance the game long before we had it working on the computer, and paint all the graphics as well. The last day was to get the game running and bug-fix it (note: This downloadable is crawling with bugs. There is a more stable, although still bug-filled, but so far it’s on a few USB memories).

Filhäv

(April 2009, 2 days)

This game was created during a Game Jam at the university called “Spelsylt” (“sylt” being “jam”, the fruit-and-sugar mixture). From the key words Time and “Fil” (“lane”, “sour cream”, the latter being a thin yoghurt) I and two other design students were supposed to make a competitive game in 2 days (the school had to close during the night, thus adding an extra day). Hold on, because this will be as student-kind-of-fun as it gets.

A picture from the game Filhäv

The background, if you have to ask, is a reply to the organizers adding the key-word “Easter” during day-two, *after* I’ve spend the whole first day making berries. The text thus say “Now we’ve got Easter you pricks! :P” accompanied by a crudely-drawn Easter egg and just-as-crudely drawn Easter twigs and feathers

The game is like guitar hero with adjustable difficulty level and three lanes. Thematically, it’s about binge drinking (“häva”) sour cream (“fil”). But. In this sour cream are berries that you don’t want to fall down into your throat (it makes you cough and lose several seconds of sour cream binge drinking). The berries fall from the package down in lanes, so to avoid them from reaching your mouth, you press the lane’s button to make it turn into a berry fairy. You have to press the lane which berry is closest, though, or an “emo-fairy” will appear, giving you a score penalty. By using the up and down keys, you can increase and reduce the package’s distance, giving you more points but less time to react to the berries. A video might explain it better, so here goes:

Download Filhäv

(note: I took some time in May 2010 to polish it a bit further, but I’ll leave the old version up to be honest about what got made in two days)

My role in this project was, apart from brain storming and fleshing out the idea with my two co-designers, to draw all the art for the game as well as put the two pieces developed the first day into a working game. The art was drawn by hand, then scanned and – in the berries and fairies cases – coloured with “colour replacement tool” in photoshop.

Alcheringa

(Jan-Mars 2009, 10 weeks)

Developed for university’s Game Project 1. The game is about two players co-operating on a scrolling field by creating, moving and using clouds to make plants grow. The players can only move himself in one direction and moving the clouds in the other, so to move the clouds around freely they have to work together.

The game got nominated for Best Innovation in the Swedish Game Awards 2009.

Download Alcheringa

My role in this project was, for the first half of the project, lead designer while on the second half being project lead, which turned out to be a lesson on how not to assign responsibilities. Because no-one really wanted to project manage, I happened to simply point at a poor student friend who got the job, claiming “design lead” in the process – this resulted in being lead designer on paper only, as all questions were directed to the guy writing the design draft, who by the way didn’t like me at all in the process. With the poor student friend later resigning from the course, I got the chance to sort that out. The second half of being project lead was not so much about following and adjusting a plan as much as calling latecomers, prioritize work and hoping everything would work in the end. Luckily, it did.

“Johannes schack” (my tic-tac-toe)

(sometime 98/99, unsure)

In third grade of elementary school (9 years old), I made a simple tic-tac-toe for four players I somewhat self-indulgently called “Johannes chess” (the Swedish word for “tic-tac-toe” loosely translates to “bums’ chess”). On a 4 by 4 grid, each player places each piece on the board for up to three markers each. When all pieces are placed, one per turn can be moved horizontally, vertically or diagonally until all three pieces are aligned. I used red, green, blue and yellow for the players, as well as the Playstation symbols, to differenciate each piece (I remember being something of a fan boy at the time). I can’t say I remember play testing it at all.

It's not a marvel of design, but it is at least colourful!

It’s not a marvel of design, but it is at least colourful!

I mostly mention this because it’s kind of cute, in that “I did this as a kid” kind of way. If you’ve read this far, I guess you don’t mind it being added. :-)

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