- first-person 3D puzzle platformer
- Ludum Dare 20
- made within 48 hours in April 2011
- used Unity/C#, 3dsmax, Photoshop Elements, bfxr, inudge
LD entry |
Video: Walkthrough |
Post mortem |
"Tri" is another Unity game I made for a contest.
At the end of April 2011, the Ludum Dare 20 began - and I was ready to make a game from scratch in (less than) 48 hours. The theme that got the most votes from the community was "It's Dangerous to go Alone. Take this!", a famous quote from the original "Legend of Zelda".
To be honest, I had the idea for my game the night before the contest started (and the theme was revealed), which was 4 o'clock in the morning in my timezone. So I was kind of lucky my idea more or less fit the theme when I woke up, as I don't think I would have finished the game if I first had to come up with a core gameplay.
Now, "Tri" is a puzzle game inspired by "Portal", where you have to think your way through the environment (instead of just shooting bullets into enemies). "Tri" uses ego perspective and the normal shooter control layout, but gives you only one weapon - the "Tri Force Field Generator Gun" (the name is an oh so clever reference to the "Zelda" games). With this gun, you can shoot three force field generators which will stick to the grey surfaces. If you place the generators correctly, a force field with the shape of a triangle will appear. As you can walk on this force field, it is a device to create platforms to reach places too high or far away.
There also are laser rays which you can reflect with your force fields, so you can redirect them and therefore activate or destroy certain obstacles. There are no limitations of how much triangles you can create, therefore the game is a little bit easy - on the other side it's great fun to build as much force fields as you can, so why restricting the player here?
After the event I chose to put the game from the normal "Compo" into the "Jam" (which is the same contest, but with relaxed rules and no chance to get voted for), as I used some code from the Unify Wiki for the first person controller. (The inbuilt controller had a gameplay-breaking bug.) I wrote the majority of the gamelogic by myself, nonetheless. Complying with the rules, I did everything else, too - graphics, sound effects (with bfxr) and music. The music was made by clicking randomly in inudge an hour or so before deadline.
"Tri" was mentioned with a screenshot right in the official result announcement!
Here are some screenshots from the development progress. The first task was to make it possible that the player can shoot the generators, and they should connect themselves automatically through thick lines.
After that, the laser reflection functionality got implemented.
The generated triangles got some restrictions, so they can't be infinitely big.
After the core gameplay was coded, the second day mainly was spent on leveldesign. I had to roll my own shader for the texts on the wall, which unfortunately doesn't work on older machine apparently.
The main menu for choosing the level (your progress gets saved) and exiting the game was implemented last.
- 3D roguelike
- improved version of "Pitman Krumb" (see below), for the Rat King
- iOS: March - May 2011 | Win+Mac: January/February 2012
- used Unity/C#
Project page |
Videos: Trailer (iOS) - Trailer (PC) |
After we finished "Pitman Krumb" we were very happy how it turned out. And after I spent an extra week to make a fixed version, The Rat King decided to make a commercial game out of it as soon as possible. Because we tried to get into the iPhone/iPad market back then, the new Pitman should become an app for iOS. And so it became.
After ca. five weeks of porting, extending, balancing and testing, the newly named "Pitman" was finished and ready to submit to the AppStore. On May 2nd it was officially released to the digital world, and some days later "Pitman Free" was approved by Apple, too. This way, people can test the game's first half dungeon without paying anything in advance.
Of course, the biggest part of the changes are related to the interface. Not only would the screen be cluttered with buttons and information regarding skills if we had adopted the PC version's screen layout, but there also would be no intuitive method to control the camera. Thus the inventory and the skill overview got extra screens which can be accessed by tapping the player character. Besides, the original Pitman has no main menu or the like, so this had to be added, too.
In order to allow precise and extensive camera control the game got ingame buttons for translating rotating and resetting the camera. This was tweaked a lot and we think the game is very usable; in fact, we never got negative feedback regarding the controls, be it iPad or iPhone:
Another change for the iOS version is the addition of real save slots. This changes the gameplay, as the average roguelike has permadeath, but we knew it would get us some very bad reviews if the players couldn't save and load their games.
There is more, like help screens and additional content, but I think it's suffice to say that we didn't do a half-hearted job when porting it; especially if you compare the development times of the original game "Pitman Krumb" and "Pitman" ... It's like the saying goes, 80% of the time is spent on 20% of the project.
Over half a year later, Pitman was ported back to PC. The reason for this mainly was that it was easy enough to do, and we wanted to try out several selling platforms, like IndieCity, Indievania and Desura; and compate them to the only market we knew until then - the AppStore from Apple.
- 7-day-roguelike with boardgame style
- Seven-Day-Roguelike-Challenge 2011, together with Jana Reinhardt
- March 2011
- used Unity/C#
Download: Windows - Mac |
Video: Trailer |
In March 2011, the seventh Seven Day Roguelike Challenge took place. The 7DRLC is a contest without prices where the participants create a game within a week only; of course, the game has to be a roguelike.
If you don't know what a roguelike is, don't worry - I didn't know much about it before I entered the Challenge, either. You probably can read a definition on Wikipedia, but as I was told the main elements are:
- randomness, regarding world generation and gameplay
- permadeath, which means no savegames and quickload
- turnbased gameplay, so you have time to think
As usual, Jana Reinhardt and I teamed up and together we made "Pitman Krumb". The premise is simple: you play the dwarven protagonist Krumb on a not-so-epic quest for mighty artifacts, collecting a lot of items and fighting against vile monsters. Jana did the graphics (character models, environment textures, decorations, GUI elements) while I used Unity3D for the interactive part. Again, Kevin MacLeod provided us with the music we needed.
Most roguelikes have procedurally generated dungeons and rooms as levels. I was sure I wouldn't compete in this field and tried something different instead: Now in "Pitman Krumb" the player has a couple of so-called "cards", which is our name for several pre-designed world sections with x*x tiles to walk on (with x in the range of 4 to 8 ). The player can distribute these cards on his journey and create his own dungeon this way. Everytime a new card is placed, new monsters and items also are created. Thus, "Pitman Krumb" should remind the player of a board game, which is complemented by the lack of animations and the style of the items (flat tokens on the ground).
The game generally is a role playing game, so the player can use different weapons, armours, potions and other magic stuff. After slaying enough monsters he can train several skills which make Krumb faster, stronger or more intelligent. At the end of each level a ladder appears which leads the brave Pitman to the next challenge ...
All Seven Day Roguelike Challengers are winners as soon as they submit a finished game in the given timeframe. But as it is tradition, a Commitee consisting of several members of the roguelike development community evaluate all entries and give points on categories like "Completeness", "Fun" and "Roguelikeness". Out of 98 participants (46 of them completed their games) we made the seventh place (2.44 points average, with 1 being the worst and 3 the best). This is not too bad for our first roguelike!
While Jana posted daily updates of our progress on our blog on ratking.de, I used the more or less official website 7drl.org and wrote small articles every day. Here is a list of them, as there isn't anything like this on the site unfortunately:
Pitman Krumb: Post-Mortem
The pictures here are some of the screenshots of Unity3D I made while working on "Pitman Krumb". While the official, good-looking screenshots mostly show Jana's superior talent for art, these ones are just a documentation of my personal progress; that's why I wrote day and time on every screen.
Our work began on Sunday, 03/06/2011.
First feature to be implemented were the tileable level meshes which are generated on runtime.
Added creatures (the player character is "just" a special kind of creature), and the possibility for the player to extent the level with some more meshes.
Creatures can attack (on their own) and be attacked. They die sometimes, too.
There are items that the player can pick up, which means he has an inventory. Decorations stand in the way and often can be used (e.g. health fountains).
The Pitman can use magic and weapons and enter another dungeon through a ladder.
Krumb can learn new skills after he earned enough experience points. NPCs will talk to him.
There are no screenshots from the IDE for the last day as I was busy balancing the game (I didn't really succeed) and writing the "story" and doing the leveldesign. The game was pretty complete at this point.
The plot was the following: Krumb has to find some artifacts, but every person he meets doesn't have them. In the end, NPCs and books with texts were totally unimportant because the player can choose not to talk to them / read them and just advance to the next dungeon. Thus, the story is in the game for atmospheric reasons only.
- memory game
- Mini Ludum Dare 23
- made within 24 hours in January 2011
- used Unity/C#
LD entry |
"1930" was made with Unity for the Mini Ludum Dare #23 on Sunday, January 23rd 2011. The theme was "The name of the game must be a year", with subtheme "Spring physics". I mostly ignored the subtheme, but I think I was pretty good at that year-thing.
I created the concept, wrote the code (in C#) and modelled the level. Jana Reinhardt created the 3D model for the gorilla. The music was downloaded from Kevin MacLeod. The piece is called "Spazzmatica Polka" and perfectly fits the colors I've chosen.
It's a singleplayer game, where you have to memorize a path from one blue building to another. The path is presented at the start of each level, and can contain gaps which you have overcome with a long jump.
"1930" has only 8 levels, as development time was pretty short (ca. 12 hours) and I really lost motivation at the end of the day. You can play the game on Dropbox. If you rather want to watch than play, Vimeo has a video walkthrough.
- multiplayer-only strategy game
- ZFX Action III, together with Jana Reinhardt
- September/October 2010
- used Unity/C#
Download: Windows -
Video: Gameplay |
= death from overwork
The German board for (hobby) programmers and game developers ZFX hosted the ZFX Action III. The ZFX Actions are gamedev contests with loose terms; for the third instance, the goal was create a (mini) puzzle and/or strategy game within 2 months (September and October 2010).
Jana Reinhardt and I decided in the midst of September to do an entry. We went for the two themes "chocolate" and "bureaucracy" (there were four for choosing - the other two were "storm" and "oil"), and immediately began the work on "Karoshi!", a multiplayer-only strategy game in the style of "Dungeon Keeper" (great game BTW).
The core gameplay is simple: Build an office, recruit employees, and destroy the desk of the adversary company boss. To do so, train your employees (which are interns at the beginning) to be mobbers and vandals. Mobbers hurt other people while vandals attack furniture.
In order to generate money you have to place desks and chairs (thus creating office space) and give your employees tasks. To reduce the time an employee needs to complete these tasks you can train him to be a geek.
Training is done at copiers. Another type of furniture you can buy is the plant. You use it to delegate your minions and let them patrol from location to location.
Employees which were attacked by interns or mobbers have to heal themselves on vending machines with chocolate bars. Initially we wanted to implement coffee machines, but this way we could serve the theme "chocolate".
We wrote the concept by creating one single text document which was edited by each of us several times while the contest lasted. We chose Unity as the game engine, as Jana created her diploma project "Ketonauts" with it. It soon became apparent that is a reliable tool for prototyping and easy to use. And it has a free version!
I programmed the game logic in C#, while Jana made the 3D models and textures of nearly everything you see in the game. Only the floor of the level is my contribution to the look, as it is generated on run-time and uses a simple texture atlas.
A big portion of the time was spent on the GUI. It was very extensive this time although Unity's GUI system isn't the best; but now it automatically rescales to look good with every resolution. The second biggest hassle was the multiplayer functionality. Although I had experiences with RakNet from former projects (e.g. "Omertà") this is something I never mastered. As this was a hobby project I decided to give every client the control of its own logic (movement of minions and such), which is very prone to hacks/cheats and should never be done at home, kids!
All in all "Karoshi!" is the most complete game Jana and I ever did together, and it was part of the motivation to actually found Rat King Entertainment, our own gamedev studio. By the way, the music of Karoshi! was made by Kevin MacLeod.
- two player coop game
- Devmania 2010 overnight contest, together with Björn Grunewald
- made within 12 hours in October 2010
- used Unity/C#
Download: Windows |
Moon Laser Duo
Since some years I visit the Devmania (formerly known as Dusmania), an annual meeting of enthusiastic hobby game developers. One of the highlights of this event is the overnight contest, where people create small games over the night (as the meeting takes place over two days). 2010 was the first year I also participated in this contest.
The theme this time was "Mondschein" (moonshine).
The whole night, from October 2nd to October 3rd, I worked on "Moon Laser Duo", together with Björn Grunewald, a former co-student.
After I thought of a concept I started Unity - and was unable to do anything for some hours. It was pretty late when the idea which was formulated at the beginning (it consisted of a human and vampire walking on a planet, trying to catch each other) got better and stimulated me to actually write the game logic. While I hacked some code into Visual C# Express Edition, Björn created the graphics in 3dsmax.
All in all it was worth it - we made first place!
"Moon Laser Duo" now is a simple coop multiplayer game for two people at the same computer with splitscreen.
You and your partner control two little astronauts on a moon who have a laser between them. The laser destroys the aliens which constantly spawn and try to kill you. If you and your friend are too far from each other the laser will diminish and eventually vanish. So you have to stick together to eliminate as many aliens as possible and therefore get a high score.
You can watch a video of the game on YouTube. Or even better, download it from Dropbox (RAR format, 7.03 MiB). Be aware that this is the contest version, so bugs may exist, and the gameplay is unbalanced.
- prototype for a third-person environmental puzzle adventure game
- summer 2009 - summer 2010
- used C++/OGRE3D/Bullet/FMODEx/Hikari/MOC/Lua/luabind, 3dsmax, Flash, Photoshop
Videos: Presentation Slides -
Head Over Heels
Hals über Kopf
From July 2009 to July 2010 I worked on my diploma project. I wrote my thesis from October to January - within it, I explained how to design computer games (especially gameplay, interface, story, sound, leveldesign and physics), but also created a design document (with gameplay and story elements) for the game which then would be the practical part of my diploma.
The rest of the time, until the beginning of June 2010, was solely reserved for programming, scripting, creating the art assets (characters, level geometry, plants, enemies, etc.), animating and texturing, and writing some kind of documentation of this whole process. In June, I also had to prepare the final presentation.
The supervising tutors for this diploma were Professor Bernd Hanisch and Designer Daniel Ackermann.
While creating the game, which I called "Dynamikon" in the beginning, I learned that I had to make a scene editor for it. So I programmed "Overhead", my own little 3D level editor. It mainly does what other editors do: let you build scenes out of pre-modelled 3D meshes. You can move, scale and rotate every mesh, but also give them mass, friction, a collision shape, etc. "Overhead" was built with a physics engine's needs in mind.
But I specifically programmed my own editor because of the special gameplay elements of my game. You can create dummy objects, called "points" in the editor, which serve as spawning points, waypoints and holders of lights, sounds and particle effects. Moreover, I implemented so called "Black Holes", which manipulate the individual gravity of objects and the player. The leveldesigner can build areas with spherical or even cylindrical gravity. The "holes" also may have trigger functionalities, so scripts can be called as soon as the player enters or leaves them.
In the end, I named the game "Hals über Kopf", which literally means "Neck over Head". A better translation would be "Head over Heels" or "In a Mad Rush". It became more of a platformer than I originally intended.
The background story of the game revolves around a planet which exploded centuries ago. The main reason for this catastrophe are strange plants which change the law of physics wherever they grow. Thus the world now consists of floating rocks and other stuff. But most people survived. They still live on the large chunks of earth and stone and most of them got used to the new situation. For example, in the course of the Industrial Age, some even equipped flying rocks with steam engines and propellers, so the boulders can be used as flying islands.
The player takes the role of a nobleman who lost all his wealth. In order to make a living he had to sign on a flying ship and do some smaller jobs, like cleaning the toilets. But of course, there are greater adventures ahead.
The gameplay consists of three main power-ups:
- With the fruit of the Timestop Plant, you can stop the time and use frozen objects as platforms.
- As soon as you eat from the Dimension Change Plant, you can switch between two parallel worlds.
- When you throw the seed of the Gravitation Portal Plant, a portal gets created. If you enter it, your personal gravitation direction will change.
For the prototype I realised one level which included all three power-ups, so it was for presentation purposes only.
The game was created with OGRE, OIS, Bullet, FMOD Ex, Hikari, MOC, Lua, luabind. Programs used: Visual C++ 2008 Express, 3ds Max 2010, Photoshop, Flash, FlashDevelop, Audacity. I sincerely want to thank all people who created these libraries and applications.
I am also very grateful that my brothers Ludwig and Johannes-Paul composed and arranged the music and made some of the sound effects.
For some time I regularly updated a blog. It's written in German, but also contains a lot of pictures - just click on "Screenshots" or "Skizzen".
- prototype for a multiplayer deathmatch game
- university project, together with Jana Reinhardt
- summer semester 2008
- used C++/OGRE3D/RakNet/Bullet/FMODEx, 3dsmax, Z-Brush, Photoshop
About Life And Death
Über Leben und Sterben
Like "Omertà", "About Life And Death" was a semester project for my university which didn't follow any projects offered by the professors. Luckily, Professor Bernd Hanisch allowed us (i.e. "SONEN HALS", which still only consisted of Jana and me) to make another computergame prototype in 2008.
But because this time we wanted to make a game, not just a prototype, we reduced our requirements: one small indoor level, two characters at the same time, more realistic graphics, less gameplay. At the beginning, we thought of a beat'em'up, but after testing some rather old games on the PSX (and failing at the controls) we decided to change that concept to what now is a two-player-deathmatch-multiplayer-game.
Again, Jana mainly did the graphical stuff. Although I made the level mesh, its true beauty comes from Janas textures, lightmaps and botanical prefabs. She also created two characters, the Huntress and the Prey, from concept to model. I did the same with the second, "strong" form of the Prey (see below). I also programmed the prototype by using OGRE as 3D-engine, Bullet for physics/collision and FMOD Ex for music. Of course, RakNet was used for the networking things. This time, I used Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition as IDE, which produced some problems of its own ...
Other programs we utilised: 3D Studio Max 8 and 9, Photoshop, Audacity, Z-Brush, UVLayout.
The gameplay is easy: try to get rid of your opponent. "About Life and Death" uses the classic controls like any ego-shooter, so not much to say here. It gets interesting when you play the part of the Prey, as you will have to be more defensive: instead of shooting on sight, you'll have to create traps to confuse the Huntress and use your morphing abilities to make yourself stronger.
And once again we tried to keep a wiki up to date (here).
- prototype for a multiplayer strategy game
- university project, together with Jana Reinhardt
- winter semester 2007/08
- used C++/Irrlicht/RakNet, 3dsmax, Photoshop
Videos: Gameplay -
Omertà - Schweigen ist Gold
Right before the Games Convention 2007, Jana Reinhardt and I decided to do our own university semester project, because the ones offered by the professors weren't to our liking. Again, after "Faszination des Bösen" and "Mummenschanz", we chose to make a computergame, this time together.
Thus, we created a virtual developer label: "SONEN HALS". We called our game "Omertà", because we love movies about the mafia.
One of the many good things of this project was that we could split the tasks easily. Jana made all the prefabs (models, textures), while I coded the prototype and designed the map. We both created three characters (models, textures, rig, animations) and, of course, the concept. The whole thing is worth around five months of work.
Our tools of choice were, among others, Photoshop, 3D Studio Max 8, Code::Blocks, Irrlicht, RakNet and Lua.
If you understand German, you can get all the information about the game on our project wiki. The gameplay of "Omertà" mainly consists of recruiting neutral NPCs so they steal, fight and spy for you. Your enemy doesn't know which NPCs on the map are yours and you don't know anything about him, either. As soon as your army is big enough, you should seek the boss of your opponent and attack him. Of course, he plans the same. "Omertà" is a genre mix, with RTS and RPG elements.
- prototype for a third-person adventure game with two protagonists
- university project
- summer semester 2007
- used Virtools, 3dsmax, Photoshop
Videos: Exploration -
Fascinated By Evil
Faszination des Bösen
Made for the summer semester 2007, "Fascinated By Evil" tells the story of two very different characters. One of them is Kwai, a mute mercenary, who has to be controlled by the player. His follower is Golem, a cyborg made out of trash with a highly depressive personality. Together they have to solve a crime about murdered goblins.
As there were only three months for concept and development, the status of the game is 'unfinished - forever'. Having a level for walking through and two or three characters were the goal, so all you can do at this point in my little prototype is asking some little goblins for help and solving one little quest. I used Photoshop, 3D Studio Max and Virtools in order to bring the thing on screen.
Big thanks to my brothers for providing me and the prototype with music and speech.