Fuck This Jam 2012

Fuck This Jam started today and will go on until November 17th.
The Idea of Fuck This Jam, aside from having a cool name, is that a genre one hates is probably also a genre one does not know much about. That ignorance and dislike or not knowing conventions of a genre will result in a fresh approach in designing game mechanics and look.

I will make a farming simulation game and if I don’t fall asleep something interesting might grow from it.

Project Giana @GameLab

I just posted an article on the game Project Giana on the website of the GameLab Freiburg.

The game, developed by the German studio Black Forest Games, has a great look & gameplay elements that will appeal to fans of classic jump an run games like Super Mario as well as modern remake afcionados (Rayman Origins comes to mind).

The Kickstarter-Projekt will run for another 10 days, until  August 31st.

Illuminum Alpha 4 release

Illuminum lives! The alpha 4 release seemingly took forever but it’s here now! You can play Illuminumon your PC with your Xbox controller now. Mouse and keyboard still give better performancy, though.

What’s new:

  • The menu has been completely overhauled and can be navigated with the keyboard (use arrow keys and return) or the controller (press A to select).
  • The white cubes now vanish when you walk over them.
  • The brightness (gamma) can be set now. However, the calibration isn’t finished yet.
  • Some new particle effects have been added
  • You can select your difficulty from easy to hard in three steps. Difficulty level influences
  • lots of bugs fixed
  • some new bugs ;)

Known bugs:

  • You cannot select the name input field with your mouse. Use the keyboard to shift the focus onto the text field, change your name, then shift the focus back again.
  • The ingame help menu doesn’t work properly

Next up: Fixing the known bugs, then working on sound

Have fun! As always, I’m looking forward to your feedback.

Play Illuminum Alpha 4.

Seven Days to make a game

The 7DFPS challenge is nearing its end on Saturday evening. Over 150 Teams are working on a first person shooter right now, with only 7 days to finish it. Maren, Malte and I are participating as the official team of the GameLab Freiburg. We’re not expecting to win but the challenge of creating a more or less finished game within 7 days is intriguing. Since we only started on Monday  and since we also have normal university classes, the time pressure is even greater on us. What are we making? We’re working on a black and white western shooter. You’ll see how that turned out on Saturday. It will be published on 7dfps.org, the GameLab Freiburg website and of course here

To catch a bug with Mantis

In order to document and track the status of my game Illuminum online and to create a basis for finding and removing problems I wanted to use a bug tracking system.

The best web based bug tracking software that I know is Trac. It features subversion access and an integrated wiki and lots of other neat smaller features. Sadly Trac is programmed with Python and since most simple webspace packages, like the one this blog is hosted on, do not offer Python support I needed to switch to an alternative solution.

Mantis Bug Tracker is that alternative software. It is PHP based and thus runs on nearly any basic webspace. It’s really easy to install and there’s a mobile version, Mantis Touch, available.

Mantis offers the usual features for reporting an issue. It can be assigned to a user and is coloured depending on its status. As soon as a bug is fixed or a feature completed, it is entered into the changelog automatically. You can also create a roadmap by making future versions of your project and assigning features to them. Uploading documents is also a nice feature that allows documentation and major updates to be integrated into the system.

Managing several projects is possible but can be a bit confusing since all projects are shown on the mantis start page and can only be filtered via a small drop down menu at the side.

The system has performed well so far. I’m excited to see how well I’ll be working with Mantis and if there are are any major drawbacks. I’m looking forward to all bugs in my game  found and entered by others.

You can find the bug tracker for Illuminum here. To report issues you can log in with the user name guestreport and the password illuminum.


Kickstart a great game: République

République is an action adventure of the usual kind. The story:

“You receive a desperate phone call from Hope, a young woman trapped within a shadowy totalitarian state. Using a stolen phone, she calls and begs you to hack into the nation’s surveillance system, assume control, and help her escape from the clutches of the omnipresent Overseer.”

In République you don’t steer the main character directly but only tell her what to do and when to do it. Through hacked surveillance cameras you follow her movements, tell her when to move, fight, kill. Featuring elements of action, voyeurism, surveillance, stealth and hacking and a story heavily influenced by George Orwell’s 1984, this unique game concept shows lots of promise to become an indie hit.

The game is being developed by industry veterans behind AAA games like Metal Gear Solid, Halo, F.E.A.R., Kinect, and cutting edge videos like the Skyrim television spot and the iconic iPod “silhouette” ads.

One of the primary goals of the developers is to create a mobile action game with a heavy atmosphere and story specifically for touch-based devices. Besides iOS, there will also be a version specifically developed for PC and Mac.

Beyond digital gaming

Besides the digital game, there are also plans for real-world add-ons. A journal, replica of the item found in game will bring even more atmosphere to the gaming experience and the collector’s edition will feature another book, the Overseer’s Manifesto.

Help the game

Now, with only 7 days too go to the deadline, the game has only raised half the money needed to kick start it. So please, watch the proof of concept videos and interviews about the game, look at the great images and ideas and then help fund it.

République at Kickstarter

Kickstarter has been around for a while now and has helped fund lots of great games (e.g. Wasteland 2) and ideas (e.g. Elevation Dock). The principle is simple: a project presents itself and sets a funding goal and a deadline. Anyone can now pledge money to the project. This money is only if the project manages to reach its goal within the deadline. Otherwise the project simply dies. Usually there are rewards arranged in several tiers for the funders. For example you’ll get the iOS Edition of République if you pledge 10$. For 15$ you’ll get the game for PC & Mac. This is probably less than the game will cost on the market after release. Higher tiers give you in-game credits, and for the top tiers you will even get a game-character modeled after you.

République at Kickstarter

Free Unity license for mobile devices

Until April 8th, the Unity3D-licenses for Android and iOS are free! The two free licenses, that normally cost 800$, are the basic versions that have the same features as the basic version for PC/Mac.

To get the free licenses you need to register yourself at the Unity store and buy both for 0$. Then you’ll get the License key which you can enter when starting Unity for the first time (e.g. after upgrading to 3.5) or in Unity itself under Help > Enter Serial Number. And then you’re all set to develop for mobile devices.

Before you all start developing games for your iPhone and iPod: remember, it’s Apple. Of course you can only develop for Apple devices on apple systems. So you’ll need MacOS to export from Unity to iOS because Apple’s development tool Xcode only runs on MacOS. People on the Unity Forum say that although it might be technically possible to have iOS publishing on Windows it would be pretty useless since it would lack important features for iOS system integration and you can only upload to the AppStore from Mac anyway.

You should get your free license key whether you plan on developing for iOS or not. You never know if you might need it in half a year. Did I mention it’s free?

A game in 60 hours: live programming by Mojang

Humble Bundle is hosting aspecial program this weekend featuring the development team of Mojang (makers of Minecraft) who are live-programming a game in 60 hours.

During event, called Mojam, you can watch the creation of the game via a webcam and screencast. At the same time you can buy the game while its still in development. As always on Humble Bundle you pay as much as you want. All proceeds go to charity.

For certain goals the Mojang team will do certain actions – from opening a twitter account to shaving off chief developer Markus Persson’s beard when reaching the 1-million-dollar mark.

Users were able to vote on the theme and genre before the start of the jam. However, not only the most voted theme/genre, but alsow the least voted on were chosen. The result was a real-time strategy shoot ‘em up with a steampunk ancient Egypt theme.

I’m looking forward to seeing (and playing) the result!