Nothing good on TV equals good stuff on the computer. Rushed in some concept art into a freshly pressed Cocos2D v3.3 project, just out of curiosity, and naturally to help the artist along. She’ll probably look into color things and such. I’m just pretending the game works already on my iPhone. Beep beep, pew pew, pow! Tee hee, awesome, got a power-up…
I’m going forward with a broad front, business-wise. I’ve piled up a bout 5 – 6 projects, not only game dev related, quite the contrary. Entrepreneurship is interesting generally, and though Sneeweis is the main part of my company, it is not the only one – Sneeweis is the trade name I do game development with, while the rest of the company is still running a full schedule of subcontracting and small projects within the IT world. Yeah, I’ve piled on a bit too much, one could say, but hey, it’s great fun.
I’ve always wanted to grow Sneeweis to a “real” game studio with 4 – 5 employees, but it’s hard to do when you’re revenue based. Simply put, it takes a while before your account contains enough sweet, cold cash to be able to employ someone.
I had an opportunity to take a step forward with Sneeweis a few months back, when I was invited to discuss about game development to the local school, which has a study line for game design. To cut the story short, I ended up signing a student on board for a 6-month learning-at-work period. We’ve been drafting concept art for a game, Jungled Baron, which I had to dig up quickly from the big box of game ideas. Glad I did, as it got a real boost to become the next game for Sneeweis!
The student, Elma Lähteenmäki, is a 2D artist/animator, she’s 18 years of age, and given what I’ve seen in our few weeks of concept work and Skype calls, she’s got a nice career in game design in front of her! You can check out her portfolio right here. While I get actual art for a game which is supposed to be released, I’m hoping I’ll give Elma an insight to both the game devlopment process, as well as to how small game studios operate.
But hey, let’s not stop there. Take a look at some of the concept art Elma’s been pushing into my Dropbox folder!
Greatest enemies. The baron and an ape.
Once we’ve got a bit more finalized work, I’ll start dropping some Jungled Baron gems to this blog. But for now it suffices to say that the game is an homage to the 1980’s electronic games (Donkey Kong, and those, you surely remember…) and the theme is, as the name implies, the jungle. A baron crash landed on a desert island, went a bit nutty for the coconuts on the island, and I think what made him snap completely was when he noticed there are apes on the island, vicious, dirty, thieving apes, about to steal his precious coconuts! He defends his coconuts fiercely, and he’ll need a lot of help from you for that.
We’re hoping to whip up enough of the basic art to start creating a real “screenshot test” on a real device in the coming two weeks. I’ve really started looking forward for the development phase of this game!
The Kisau Veelas are named in foresight for the kids’ game I’m planning to do with them. One of the kids’ game’s aspects would be, not very original, an educational one, more precisely about counting. So the names are derived out of the English words for the numbers 1 – 10.
This is Wansy. I haven’t put my mind to developing the characteristics of the Kisau Veelas, as it’s not that important in Oggipital. But for the kids’ game there certainly will be a well-thought character and characteristics palette.
All of the Kisau Veelas have a set of facial expressions in Oggipital, and a specific small animation. There’s no sounds attached to them because having like 40 Kisau Veelas on the playfield would mean the game would never shut up. So the animations are there just for fun, for that small polish in the game.
Oggipital has a bunch of characters in it, but the thing is – the game is not at all about the characters. The game mechanics have initially been designed just to be actions and functions, not related to a character or a story at all. The game idea was initially much more of a hard-but-simple game, a very short slicing/cutting frenzy, do-or-die. The art style was supposed to be “line graphics on acid”, very much inspired by Super Hexagon. Super Hexagon happened to be the first thing that went big on the indie side at the time I entered Twitter.
I had – still have – a great idea for a kid’s game, and I was juggling for a while if I would make that as my first game. This was at the time I noticed kids’ apps and games was becoming big (here in the Nordics’ driven a lot by Toca Boca), and I knew a well-made kids’ game would easily gain a top position on the App Store charts. I was right – six months after I saw dozens of new kids’ apps popping up and the App Store featured a lot of these. Feeling a bit defeated (by my laziness of not pursuing that game), but I’m sure there is room for yet another great kids’ game. Believe me, I have two little gamers here. The iPad is awesome for kids.
But the size of the project dissuaded me, and in hindsight that was good. The decision to make a simpler, smaller game as the first game was certainly the best approach to enter the game development industry.
However, I started thinking a bit ahead. I’m in this for the long haul, fully intended to run this as a business and make a living for me. In an attempt to maximize future benefits – both in workload and in marketing – I decided to change the art style of Oggipital (whatever the working title was in the beginning…hadn’t one, I think). I wanted to get a feeling for the art style for the kids’ game, and the style by Pietari Posti was so great that I wanted to fix that immediately.
The plan was to make a simplified set of the kids’ game characters and use them for Oggipital. This would pay off when the kids’ game is out, as the characters are already known. Building a brand, sort of. I noticed the game mechanics were a good fit for these simplified characters, so to browse my List Of Crazy Ideas did not take long, and I had the names and main characteristics of the characters ready. They will fit both games – the kids’ game will be an extension to the characters seen in Oggipital. Yes, the kids’ game will happen. One day.
In Oggipital the Kisau Veelas, as I call the funny chaps which you are about to slice and dice, are essentially just round blobs with funny faces, and fulfil the game mechanics’ need for round, cuttable, equal sized targets. But I’ll run a set of blog posts to show off each character – because the art style is awesome!
For the last two weeks I’ve added a lot of visual stuff into the game, most notably the High Scores screen and several “for fun” animations to all of the screens. Adding those in makes wonders – now I starts to feel like the game I once was designing. And definitely fun to make this stuff. Small stuff, but gives a lot of character to the game. And it’s surprisingly fast and easy to implement!
We’re on the final stretch now, just a few features missing – most prominently the Game Center integration and the small in-game animations. I finally googled smart enough to find out why the animations kept crashing the game, so now all that’s left on that front is to include the proper sprites and animation sequences into the game.
On the Game Center integration front I started with the local score handling. A few minor bug fixes and that’ll be a wrap, after which the Game Center stuff will go in. For that I need to activate the Game Center leaderboards and achievements in my iTunes Connect account, alas I want to do the whole feature separated from other stuff. The testing of it requires also sandbox testing towards the Game Center test servers.
In the meantime I’ll treat you to Screenshot Saturday #4 even if it’s not Saturday!