Big Green Pillow

Porcunipine is out! (now for real)

From now on, beware of serious perfurations in the heart… our little baby has finally crawled its way onto major PC platforms!

After crazy ammounts of testing and development of new features, our humble party game that started unpretensiously on a Ludum Dare weekend has finally grown into full shape and we are very happy to bring it to the public!

Today, May 21st, Porcunipine will be published by Curve Digital (Thomas was alone, OlliOlli, The Swapper) on Steam and Humble Store!

Check out the launch trailer!

Many thanks to everyone who have supported the game development <3
You can get it on Humble Store or Steam:

GGJ15: Making Wild Night Show

Hi there,
so last weekend we had the Global Game Jam! And now, after we slept and came back to our senses, we can share some of our experience with GGJ15, and how we came about to making our little adventure, Wild Night Show :)

Surviving the wild takes effort

Surviving the wild takes effort

We jammed in our hometown, at the university lab where we first met, and that has supported us since ever. And since this was the only jam site around we could gather pretty much all the local developers in one place, which is always fun.

This time we couldn’t have the entire team available all the time, which forced us to work smarter, and manage our time and scope better. Which is good, that’s what jams are for, right?!

Concept

We took till Saturday morning (10am-ish) to brainstorm and set an idea for the game. This is what we settled upon:

“A short adventure with text based mechanics about filming and directing a survival tv show.”

In the game you’d have to go through a whole night in the woods. It looks like your everyday graphic adventure, but played like old text adventures, like Zork, where you type in commands (“take book”, “use key”) to do stuff.

Some of the reasons we went with this concept:
Very simple development (allowing to focus on design)
Scalable plot
Animations are optional
So basically, we could make a prototype very quickly and work our asses till the last minute making it better, instead of trying to make something complex just work.

Production

Having a general scope we jumped into prototyping in Unity, sketching out the story and plot lines, and making as much placeholder art as we could. So by 8pm we had the whole game functioning. Ugly and buggy, but functioning.

Ugly and Buggy

Ugly and Buggy

From that stage on it was mostly a matter of polishing and smoothing the rough edges.
We worked a lot on expanding the game’s vocabulary. First with synonims for the words used on the main plot line, so that you’ll get the same result when you type “get”,”take” or “grab” for example. Then we added some actions that actually diverge from the game progression, but have some comic value. Stuff like “pee on fire”, “slap face”… Improvisation is a big part of adventure games, and one aspect that we really wanted to leverage. And of course we could have done more, but hey, game jam!

As far as art goes, we had plenty of time to redo the placeholder assets properly, and draw some cool game over screens. Since we had close to zero animations, we were exporting from Photoshop straight into Unity, without having to worry about separating assets parts for animation, or rigging or whatever.

WildNightShowPlaceholders

First Sketches vs Final Assets

Placeholders2

Sir Sketchalot and Mr. Fancy Coffeecup

 

Publishing

We like to make our jam games as accessible as we can, that’s why they’re usually web based (just one click away, right) and since the last Ludum Dare we’re publishing our games on itch.io. Seriously, itch.io is awesome. You can get your game published in minutes, already with a nice custom land page, and even put up a payment widget for no cost, if you need one.

So that’s it! That was GGJ15 for us. If you wanna check the game out, here you go:
Wild Night Show on Itch.io

PS: We made this for you, so tell us what you think, okay? Bye!

Porcunipine at SBGames!

It’s been a while we don’t write in here. And it’s also been a while we’ve been working on Porcunipine, a couch multiplayer we’re making that has been very motivational for us, we’re really starting to believe we’re achieving our goal of creating a truly fun experience, that makes people lol and have a great time together :)


:) + :) + :) + :)     =     :D

And we are proud to say that in the past weeks Porcunipine was nominated for both “Best Game in Production” and “Best Student Game” in SBGames 2014, one of the most important events for games and digital entertainment in Latin America. So we flew over to Porto Alegre for our booth where the game got to be played by a lot of nice people!

↓ beautiful people playing Porcunipine at our humble booth ↓ 

                                           ↑

                                                          this picture is specifically cool
The day was over and most of the people had already left the place,
except for that lovely crowd that didn’t mind spending some more time with our game :)


Anyways, it was great seeing so many people excited with what we’re doing.
Lots of great feedbacks keeping us on track for the full release, with some fun new content coming soon :)

Porcunipine is out! (Sorta)

We’ve worked hard. We’ve played harder. Now it’s time to release our couch multiplayer to the world and find out the hard answer to the simple question: Is it any good?

Free Demo

Porcunipine has finally come to a stage where we can show some of it to the masses and gather some relevant feedback, so that’s what we’re doing! We put out a free demo so you guys can try the game and toss your criticism at us.

PorcunipineDemoOut

That’s right folks, our little bald hell-raisers are here. For free!

Oh my, where can I get it?

From any one of these store, honorable player:

Indie Game Stand (Early Access)

Itch.io

Roper: Inspirations, moodboards and playlists

You know how some places just feel different than anywhere else?!

My grandma’s living room, Donkey Kong’s water levels, or Shadow of the Colossus’ planes all make me feel a certain way. And its not because of what I do in those places, it happens when I’m doing nothing, just sitting there. Its in the air.

That kind of atmosphere, the part of the experience that hits you in the guts even before you realize what you’re supposed to be doing, is both the result and foundation of all the little things that make up a game. So I want to make sure we give enough thought to that “atmosphere design” before we dive into the little things (like story, level design, visuals and everything else).

Things I see when I close my eyes

Having said that… Here’s a collection of some of the stuff that, when put together, bring us the feelings and emotions we want Roper to bring to people. This is what we’re feeding our brains while making this game.

(some would call this a moodboard)

 (some would call this a moodboard)

There are more of these, and tons of visual references in our Pinterest board.
You can also listen to our design soundtrack with this Spotify playlist.

We’ll keep those updated, so be sure to follow if you care to see the changes we make.

They might be huge.

Roper says hello, world!

Guess what?! We are starting a new project code-named Roper, and we want you to take a look at it.

Why and How

Its super important for us that we make a game people actually wanna play, so we’re gonna open our creative process here. This way you guys can have a say in it too and, hopefully, we can figure out together what is the game you wanna play, and how we’re gonna build it.

You all know how dev logs work, but I’m gonna establish two ground rules about this one:

1-Criticise. Please.
We want you to help us see how the game can be better. Please tell us what we’re doing wrong.

2-Expect Changes.
Nothing at this stage is final. Not the name, not the art, nothing. This is a record of our creative process, not our production process, so don’t mind if we go back and forth sometimes. That’s the point, that’s how creation works.

So let’s get to it!

The Game (so far)

Roper is a pointless musical adventure in which you play a string in a quest to form a band. It hangs between a point and click adventure, a digital instrument and a toy.

It is an iPad game, but may be on other platforms later.

This will be the kind of game that you buy once (remember those?), play it for hours, and finish it.
No in-app purchases. No facebook invitations.

Here’s a sneak peak of our sketches (I’ll explain later):

01_Sketch

Well that’s it for now, but we’ll be back later with more gamy stuff, about the mechanics and gameplay.

Thanks a lot for reading this, mom.

Our very first Jam (or, Porcunipine revisited)

PorcunipineTitle

Last December we gathered our team of fantastic four to create something from scratch in 72 hours for the 28th Ludum Dare Jam, which theme was “You only get one”.
After flooding the living room with brainstorms, we found ourselves holding onto a specific idea so that we wouldn’t drown on our own chaotic creative process.
The idea we chose was a thing who had to fight other things with it’s only one thing, so that it needed to shoot and fetch the projectile back so it could be used over and over again.
While the geniuses a.k.a. developers where figuring things out creating some crazy prototypes, we designers were still trapped inside our right side of the brain trying to give the whole thing some context, imagining stuff and doodling undefined ideas.
Some hours later we agreed it would be about Porcunipines.

Por·cu·ni·pine
Noun ˈpôrkyəniˌpīn
A large hystricomorph rodent who once had defensive spines or quills on the whole body and tail, but along with it’s aging process lost most of it’s spikes, being left with only one, usually in the forehead.

In the game you’re a porcunipine who has to survive an arena of wolverines, the species’ only predators, using your last (and lethal) spike.

Porcunipine basic mechanic

This is the version we submitted to the compo, it’s on Kongregate in case you’re curious about how it feels.

Later on, we received great feedbacks about the looks and how addicting it was, and as many players suggested it would be great to have a multiplayer mode, we decided to give it a try, designing more game modes and refining the elements to create a new version where up to 4 porcunipines would be able to fight each other, just like a party game.

‘Till now we got three more porcunipines and two more game modes, “Last man standing” and “Arena”.

Last Man Standing beta gameplay

This is what we’ve been achieving so far, playtesting has been crazy and emotionally charged, so we are very thrilled to release it as soon as possible, for android consoles and PC.

We’ll keep posting about the process, keep your hair up!

The AppCampus experience

There we were. Shouting and jumping, reading and rereading the email from Microsoft saying that one of our side projects Callvenient was selected to represent our country in the Imagine Cup, one of the biggest students technology competitions out there.
With our smiles stretched from ear to ear as if they were showcasing how much we felt rewarded for the hard work, we knew it was going to be an incredible experience to meet Russia and lots of creative people from around the world.
During the event we kept rehearsing the presentation and tweaking the project day and night (well, mostly day, it was the white nights season) and rushing ‘till literally the last minute, but it was incredibly worth it. We got the first place award from the AppCampus!!! But… what’s that?

The AppCampus

Very (very) briefly, AppCampus is an intensive mobile application accelerator camp managed by a partnership between Aalto University, Nokia and Microsoft, in Espoo, Finland.
But it’s just so much more than that.
The program allows developers to get in touch with all sorts of creative people. Amongst other 18 teams from 13 countries around the world we were in a really inspiring environment perfect to develop and leverage our ideas together.

AppCampus_August_Batch_2013
AppCampus’ August batch

Along with the financial support to get things going (with 0% equity, which sets it apart from other acceleration programs) and hotel accommodations for the whole month, the AppCademy provides daily activities such as 1-on-1 meetings with pros from the industry, pitch sessions, talks and workshops on relevant topics regarding each and every stage of development, publishing and marketing of an idea.

Considering that Finland has more than 170 game companies, being half of them less than 2 years old (and putting aside the average price of 7 euros for a pint) Helsinki is just an incredible place to be a developer. Weekly bar meetups like IGDA with people from places like Remedy, Grand Cru, Supercell and Rovio showing off what they’ve been up to really pumps you up to keep on track.

Talk with Ilkka from Supercell
Ilkka Paananen’s, CEO of Supercell

Rovio's HQ, Talk with Peter Vesterbacka
Talk with Peter Vesterbacka the Mighty Eagle at Rovio headquarters.

The industry of games and apps is sometimes revolved by this mythical fog that makes it appear to be an easy and intuitive path to follow, but it just isn’t. The experience we had with the accelerator was exactly what we needed to put down this myth. Meeting great people in a country fizzling with life and creativity was the most valuable training we could get so far. We already miss the finns and the sauna, and it’s always great coming back from a trip feeling bigger personally.

If you have (and believe in) an idea that you’ve been cooking in the oven we definitely recommend checking out the program at http://www.appcampus.fi/ and if it’s a game, make sure you also check out http://gamefounders.com/ which is the first gaming accelerator in Europe, based in Tallinn (beautiful place with cheap beer, btw). Hopefully our next stop :)

Moi moi!

Game Design Workshop at Interdesigners

The past few weeks were a really cool time to be alive.
We led a workshop on game design concepts attending the Interdesigners and it turned out to be really fun!

The event

Interdesigners is a relatively small event, organized by students and for students, it’s been happening in our college since 1991 and it stimulates the exchange of knowledge in design and it’s related fields. It only lasts a couple of days but it gathers so much cool people passionate to help and develop knowledge that the energy in the space is just incredible

How Did it Go

We started off by checking out some ingenious examples of independent game studios and its creations and processes, trying to demystify the real role of a game designer within a project. Then we threw some questions attempting to discuss the concepts of fun and play, we found it really difficult to plan an interview over such abstract topics, but using as foundation the studies of Jesse Schell on the book “The Art of Game Design” we managed to create a nice and understandable atmosphere before the practical exercises.

Later on we tried reinforcing these points by analysing playcentric dynamics in other types of activities such as a rollercoaster ride. For example, trying to figure out the points where the ride is more thrilling and what kinds of elements are contributing to the experience, both positively and negatively.

AppCampus_August_Batch_2013
How cool was Bomberman? (it still is!)

hi there

The Practical Part

And to cut out the talking and the sleepy faces we ended the workshop with a different approach. We suggested they formed a group and choose a classic outdoor game such as hide-and-seek or capture the flag so that they could recreate it putting into practice the concepts we talked about.
The participants needed to figure out the essence of the game, what made it fun to play, and try to enhance that experience somehow, we also brought some random objects to the workshop so they could use them to enrich the gameplay if so they wished.

AppCampus_August_Batch_2013
Designers doing some serious brainstorming.

After some time brainstorming they chose to rethink the game Dodgeball, picked up some water balloons and this is the awesome idea they came up with:

The Game

A group of people is divided in two adversary teams that are positioned facing each other in a field (just like Dodgeball).
Each team gets a bucket full of water balloons by the side of the field to throw at the opponents. It’s a turn based game and the objective is very simple: eliminate all the players from the opposing team.
But the gameplay is rich in it’s simple elements, for instance, when you get hit for the first time you “lose” an arm, that is, you need to put your good arm behind your back and never use it again till the game finishes. And for the second time you get hit you need to do the same with a leg, and that includes you jumping in a single foot dodging the balloons like a schizophrenic. And if you get hit a third time, well, you get eliminated.

AppCampus_August_Batch_2013
Some one-footers having a hard time.

During the playtests the players (that were also the game designers) had new sets of mechanic problems constantly popping out, and this was a great thing for them to dissect and really analyze what was risking the gameplay. This was an important part of the workshop, some of them told us they had never realized how difficult it was to design the rules of a game so it can function nice and evenly.

Another cool thing that naturally came up was that the game unexpectedly allowed the players to create team tactics, for example, one time during the playtests a guy got hit and “lost” an arm, then people from his team started suggesting that he should position himself near the reloading area so, regarding his impaired ability, he could practice a much more convenient activity such as reloading the “healthy” ones with fresh balloons. This was a nice thing to see happening once it was great for engaging the players in a more structured team play.
The game turned out to be really fun to play and, with very unique elements they set out to create a game that requires collaboration between players and supports competition, both resulting in an awesome social interaction.
And of course the water element was a really nice touch, especially considering the not so pleasant temperature of 36ºC on that sunny day.

AppCampus_August_Batch_2013
Dodge that!

Of course we also played it and tried solving its emergencies, so both the participants and ourselves were up for the task and its challenges, and, finally, we were fascinated by their perceptions of fun, and how it was manifested in their game design. It was a great learning experience for us as well and we left thinking: “Please, let there be more game design workshops like this one!”

You can also check out the workshop’s photo gallery on Facebook if you’d like :)

Photos: Sarah Brust and Natalia Dian.

Cheers!

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