Our team decided to make a top down dungeon crawler type of game with simple mechanics, simple story and one boss. Our aim was to make a game which feels good to play and to fight enemies, in other words mainly mechanics based. Idea was to make an atmospheric and dark (“abysmal”) dungeon with blood trails guiding the player to the final boss.
The player is a human sacrifice to the god called Alphaurn the High Adjudicator but he decides to rebel and fight his way through the dungeon to kill the god. On the way player is able to uncover some of the story through old cave paintings.
We decided to use a beta version of Unity for development because it had the new tilemap system built in. Because we used a new feature which had not been fully developed yet, we ran into many problems game design wise, which our main programmer tackled very well, but that took some resources away from other development.
Our project ended up being quite graphics heavy before any real game mechanics got implemented and some animations ended up making the responsiveness suffer. However we improved and optimized these animations and added movement directions from 4-directional to 8-directional, which clearly made the game look and feel better. Character graphics and animations were exported into sprites from 3D models. Background graphics and UI was designed in Photoshop.
Game has specifically designed sounds and music made by one of our team members. He also designed multiple particle effects on player and enemies, which give them a nice finishing touch.
Game has everything implemented that we had in our initial plans, but ended up lacking a bit in playability and it might not be that easy to find the “fun” in the game at this stage. However we are especially proud of our clever enemy AI and player’s fighting mechanics, let alone our extensive character animations. Our team got to learn a lot of new things. Through many hits and misses we have gained a lot of new knowledge for future projects.
Brainstorm is a sci-fi themed 2D fighting game where the players play as highly developed robots. The game is only player versus player, and it supports both keyboard and (Xbox) controllers. There are two different characters in the game.
When designing the playable characters we wanted to make the robots look highly futuristic with some organic aspects to them. Shapes and colours also played a big part in the design process; we wanted the characters to stand out – figuratively and literally – with bright highlights and distinctive shapes. The arena the robots fight in is appropriately a futuristic laboratory with lit consoles and test tubes lining the walls.
Our original idea was that each character would be a combination of a Brain and Body. Every brain and body had unique abilities, giving players a freedom to modify their fighter’s powers and style. Midway the project we realized that we wouldn’t be able to make that, so we cutted out the brains, only taking one or two properties of them and implemented them to the bodies.
We put a lot of thought into the game’s balance and dynamics. We wanted the two characters be highly asymmetrical and still be balanced against each other. We took inspiration from the common character archetypes in fighting games. We decided to make a well-rounded Ryu-like character and a quick rushdown style character.
We wanted the game to be accessible and easy to understand. All the moves are made with a single button press, there are no crouching or dashing, and each character has only three attack buttons. The attacks can be different whether the character is on the ground or in the air. Because of the small number of moves, we tried to make each of them useful in different situations.
It was important to prevent infinite combos and throw loops from happening. We accomplished this by keeping a close eye on the game’s frame data. We also made the attacks push the characters away from each other as a preemptive measure. Throw loops were prevented by adding a throw counter that could be executed instantly by letting go of all the controls. This was inspired by the similar mechanic in Fantasy Strike fighting game.
D.A.S.H. – The Dimensional Adventures of Sir Hissington is a puzzle game centered around a simple dash mechanic. You are a Scottish golfer lost in different worlds due to an elevator that moves between dimensions. Your only solution to move forward is to dash through different enemies and try to find your way back home. In each level there is a possibility to earn a golden star by dashing through all of the enemies with an optimal amount of dashes.
Along the way you will encounter different monsters, angry police pigs, flaws in the matrix, flying pizzas and lava to name a few. There are currently 30 levels divided between 3 worlds. The worlds have unique themes, enemies, obstacles and music. As you complete a level you unlock the next one, so you can’t skip any puzzles. D.A.S.H. is a simple but challenging mobile game.
In early development we all took a sheet of paper and wrote down ideas for what we’d like to work on. After comparing thoughts and combining things, we ended up with a puzzle game for mobile centering around one mechanic. We wanted different worlds and a simple cartoony graphical style. So our core idea was pretty much set after the first brainstorming session. We kept the scope small yet we still had to scrap a few ideas. For example at the start we wanted a customizable main character, power ups and 5 different worlds. Even though we had 3 members working on the graphics, the amount of work spent on art and animation was going to be too much for the time we had.
Our coder did a fantastic job working solo on the game’s code. He reached pretty much every milestone we had and always delivered exactly what was asked of him. The only difficulties we had were with the animation and timing them correctly. Luckily we managed to get them working pretty much as was intended. We were also going to add different particles and lighting effects to increase atmosphere and make the game feel more alive. In the end we ran out of time, so we just added a simple light for the levels and a strong spotlight for the main character.
As for the graphics we decided to divide all the work for each of the 3 artists based on their skills and interests, so that everyone got to do the part they wanted and felt somewhat most passionate about. Early on we decided how the game was going to look and we agreed on the graphical style. Most of the time was spend on making animations for the character and the enemies. We wanted to make them more interesting with different movements. We think that despite that we all have a different style of doing art we managed to make the game worlds and characters look and feel very good and consistent.
The game tells a story of a person having the worst hangover of their life, turning their night into a series of encounters with lizards and other creatures. The genre of the game is roguelike and it works like Mystery Dungeon games. The main character goes through randomized dungeons with different sceneries. There are lizards who will attack you along the journey, but they will also drop power-up pills that make you stronger. The enemies get stronger the further the player advances in the game but luckily the power-ups stack. There is a boss fight every 5 floors. The goal is to advance as many floors as possible aim for a high score!
The game is playable on PC and uses keyboard as controls.
We wanted to make a RPG game originally. At first we were thinking of having more elements in our game, like different classes, weapons and companions. Those ideas were scrapped quite early in the process as we realized that we wouldn’t have enough time to implement all those ideas. We chose to aim for a simpler game we could finish in time.
From the beginning we wanted to make a game which would have replay value. This is why we were thinking of making many enemy types. We ended up making 4 types of enemies: a weak enemy, an agile enemy and two different bosses. To add more replay value, we were first thinking of having different classes or slight character customization, but decided to stick with one main character only. Instead we decided to make randomized dungeons so every playthrough is a little bit different.
The Ping Box team members: Toni Mutanen (coder / assisting artist), Ilkka Tyni (coder / level designer), Manuel Gabarron (main artist / level designer) and Jerri Ahonen (coder / level designer)
The Apprentice, The Dungeon and the Goddamn Teapots is a hack and slash game set in a steampunk / fantasy world. The player’s goal is to fight through dungeon levels as fast as possible, while collecting golden cogs that drop from defeated enemies, which deducts time (2 seconds) from the clock. Getting hit adds time (4 seconds) to the clock.
The player can perform a three hit combo by keeping the attack button pressed. It is only a visual feature. We wanted the later hits to do extra damage, but we pretty much ran out of development time.
There’s two types of enemies in the game.The giant wasps that are fast, but can be killed easily. We thought about them being able to poison the player with their stings, but that feature had to be cut due to time constraints. They spawn out of nests. You can’t destroy the nests, but if you hit one, it’ll spawn another wasp (much like in real life). There’s also the animated armors, steam-powered horrors which can take a beating.
There’s two types of traps in the game. Tesla pylons that zap the player if he / she stays next to the pylon for a set amount of time. The tesla pylons are destructible. There’s the steam jets that turn on and off in set patterns. If you learn the patterns, you can avoid getting burned.
There’s some destructable items in the game. It’s rather fun having to hack through a bunch of crates to get to the exit. The volatile barrels explode when you hit them, there’s nothing to be gained by hitting them.
The Scope of the Game
Our initial scope for the game was way too ambitious. We’ll all try to be more conservative when it comes to adding features to games in the future. Here are some planned features that didn’t make it into the game:
We wanted to create an elaborate crafting system, where the player would gather different kinds of materials from defeated enemies. He’d / She’d return them to the forge and use them to upgrade his / her weapon. We figured out a system, where the the appearance of the weapon would change, along with it’s statistics. For example, the weapon would get longer, thus the player could hit enemies further away. Some elemental damage bonuses were also discussed. Given more time, those features would have been doable.
The main character has a mechanical arm, we thought about different abilities the character could gain from upgrading his arm.
Having another playable female character in the game with different characteristics was discussed. Maybe she would have had a different mechanical body part than the male counter part.
We started off strong and ended strong. The middle part of the development wasn’t nearly as effective. Our Usability course had some very time consuming assignments, which slowed the development of the game. This was an essential learning experience, mostly on how to scope games better. SourceTree was a pain, until we learned how to use it properly. Everyone lost at least some work, because SourceTree overwrit made changes. We feel that we won’t be releasing the game, it would need a lot more content to actually ask money from it. Adding content takes time and our 3D game project is already starting.
The volatile barrels cannot be hit.
You can run outside the levels, since returning to the warp room doesn’t work.
Sometimes golden cogs fly to unreachable places.
Level 1’s clock doesn’t stop when you cross the finish line.
Programmers: Esa Nord, Miska Rantala, Henri Gullsten
Graphic Artist: Satu Kiintonen, Jari Hirvikoski
Sound Effects: Akseli Takanen
Music: Lassi Kähärä
About the game
GRIP is a 2D puzzle-platformer, where player falls into a cave and must find their way back to surface. In the cave an alien entity takes place of the player’s missing arm and player can use it to help advance their journey through the cave. During the game player finds power-up that allows them to use that alien arm as a grappling hook. In all the levels there are also collectables that player can collect to increase their final score. Along with the basic left and right movement and jumping, player can also perform wall jumps and climb ladders. In some levels there are also interactable objects that are used to clear those previously mentioned puzzles.
Since assignment was to make a 2D game we started designing platformer from the start. There was bit of brainstorming what type of platformer we would make puzzle-platformer. Initially we had planned to add monsters, bosses and story for the game, but due to lack of time we had to cut it off from the game and focus on level design and puzzles.
The idea was to make a Japanese role-playing game that had an old school look. The art would be pixel art and the combat turn-based. We planned on bringing the large scope of the game down from the start. The most important things we got done were the battle system, sprites for the party and enemies and the dungeon level.
Artists: Sam Payne and Anna Runsten
Programmer: Justin Granger
Miscellaneous (music, movesets and stats, balancing etc.): Jaakko Liukkala
We tried to have something playable each week while still getting things done. Some weeks we would get very little done and during others (especially nearing the end) we managed to do more than the previous three weeks.
We could have done a better job distributing the work and fixing problems with communication and time management. We got a good amount done, though. The battle system and sprites are good and took a long time to make.
Lethal Tentation is a 2D puzzle game where you play as an alien jellyfish with electric powers. You find yourself on a spaceship, captured by its human staff and held as a test subject, and must escape by short-circuiting security panels and other machines with the electricity in your tentacles. The game has 5 different levels to play through.
After brainstorming multiple concepts we came up with the idea of zapping machinery with electricity to solve a puzzle. The earliest version of Lethal Tentation had the basic mechanics already nailed down: the jellyfish could zap a panel to open a door and proceed in the game. As development progressed, we began to incorporate simple physics-based puzzles to diversify gameplay.
The character design was also established quite quickly, needing only a few tweaks to make it more relatable to the player. Each of the team members then designed a level, and after getting most of the basic mechanics and visuals finalized we set out to finish one level per week. The five level scope was ambitious and resulted in crunch time at the end stages of development, but we managed to finish all five levels and most of the functionality we had set out to include in the game.
Since we wanted to keep the environment mysterious and the character an alien creature, we tried to avoid using plain language in the game world. This meant that we had to non-verbally communicate the controls and mechanics to the player. Because of these decisions, a whole lot of development time went into improving the user experience. For controls, we ended up using contextual thought bubbles that would show a visual tip as if it’s something the jellyfish character was thinking. Careful placement of lights and reactions from the jellyfish in the form of animations both played a big part in communicating important objects in the game world to the player. The jellyfish would look at nearby objects of interest, and point at them with a tendril when they would be close enough to interact with.
When it came to visual development, we decided early on to go with a painterly, line-less art style that would work well with depicting a colorful, oddly-shaped jellyfish creature, as well as let us add different levels of detail to our environment. While matching painting styles between two artists isn’t always the easiest task, we managed to do it without encountering any large issues. Developing a style guide containing tips for color choices, possible brush uses and immediately vetoing smooth computer-generated gradients helped to control our visual style immensely.
It was important to get the game’s music to reflect the setting and the underlying story, the tempo becoming faster the further the player gets in the game. The main menu music was deliberately left quite short with the chosen instrument providing mystery and a sense of being lost in space. Level 1’s simple, bell-like tones reflect the jellyfish’s wonderment about its current predicament. Level 1.5 has the same mystery as the main menu music but with the added tragedy of heartbreaking violins. Level 2 is where the jellyfish starts really exploring the spaceship so the tempo grows faster. Level 3 starts incorporating a metallic instrument, hinting at the machinery to come. The final two levels, level 4 and level 5, are the only ones to use the metallic instrument on the foreground as befits the heavy machinery in the levels. The last two levels are also the fastest tempo-wise. The story’s resolution is befittingly heartwarming, and the end credits music works as a deliberate rev up after the lullaby.
The project was done in week long sprints. Every sprint we set out weekly tasks for ourselves that we should get done by the end of the week. While ambitious, keeping up with a predetermined and strict schedule helped us maintain our pace of development and accomplish most of the goals set out for ourselves.
Overall, we are pleased with the progress we made on the game and the scope that we achieved. Each one of us undeniably learned a lot about teamwork and growing our own personal skill set, and we look forward to another semester of game development!
Nice Nine developer team presents Last Habitat: Deep Sea Defense
About the game
Last Habitat: Deep Sea Defense is a sci-fi tower defense game set in a grim future where nuclear wars have left continents uninhabitable and the last remaining humans are forced to live in an underwater colony. Your mission as a player is to defend this colony from human-eating sea monsters by building towers. There are four different tower types with unique properties you can built alongside a canyon that the sea monsters use to attack the colony. Last Habitat features an in-game Wiki that holds useful information both about the towers at your disposal and the four distinct sea monsters that you will encounter on your mission to protect humanity and its last habitat.
The game has five levels to play through and each level offers more content and new challenges to overcome. As you make progress in the game and unlock new levels, you will gain access to use new tower types and encounter new sea monsters to defend against. The focus of the game still remains the same: protect the colony by building up defenses and survive the waves of monster attacks that will otherwise wipe out the colony and the entire human race.
The design process of the game started with a planning session where the team members narrowed down game ideas into one that could be created within a few months’ time frame. The game genre and idea was quickly chosen to be a sci-fi tower defense game done in pixel art, but initially the game was going to take place in space. To deviate from a popular choice of space as a game setting we moved our project to take place in the deep sea.
Our design process continued with research on tower defense games to understand what requirements, elements and features should the game have to be a decent one. From that point we started to design the tower and enemy types and thought about how many of them would we need in our game. We came to agreement that we should aim for four different types of both towers and enemies that there would be enough variety to the game. We managed to accomplish this and also created a unique tower type: Solar Link, a twin tower that creates a damaging ray between two towers. Similar type of towers are very rarely seen in any other tower defense games and we are proud of our Solar Link -tower type creation.
Our team encountered a few problems on our design process. As we were working on to create an Android game, the user interface and head-up display elements went through several changes in order to make them large enough and more easily understandable for the player. We tried to give the player more feedback about their actions and also created an in-game Wiki to give the player more information on the tower and enemy types as opposed to filling up the screen space with constantly visible lists or multiple pop-ups. The most troublesome design flaw was the initial use of an energy popcap instead of more classic in-game currency. Late in the project we had to make the hard decision to scrap the energy popcap and replace it with in-game coin currency with very little time to enhance the gameplay experience for the players.
Last Habitat: Deep Sea Defense has five levels to play through. At first we had planned that the game should only have three basic levels and an endless level but after few playtests we noticed that three basic levels weren’t enough. We decided that the four first levels introduces player to all tower and enemy types and the last level is a challenge to test the player’s tactics. Unfortunately we don’t have the locking system yet implemented, but it will be in the published game version like the other last adjustments that we are currently working on. We were also forced to drop the endless level, as the replacement of the popcap solution with in-game currency also mixed up the games balance. We hope to still implement the endless level to the game before launching the game on Google Play Store in the first half of this year. On the launch we will also implement the achievements to the game as we will be using the Google Play Services to do it.
Playable versions are available here for Android and PC: