GA Spring 2022 – Bergensjöfellbyfjord

Team Alpha DAWG and the game

We made a 3D, RPG monster-raising game inspired by animal crossing and Norse mythology where the player can do quests for the people of Bergensjöfellbyfjord. The player’s choices affect three different statistics – reputation in the village, bond with their creature, and money and they can unlock four different endings, two different evolution forms for the creature, and some quests based on how high their bond and reputation are.

Development Process

We had a hard time coming up with the final concepts for the game. We started by scoping too big and for a few weeks we were a bit confused about what the final game would look like but in the end, we did come up with the end goal for our project.

Artists started by creating concept art for the monsters, characters, and the world, getting the aesthetic direction down and creating more concrete samples for what the gameplay could be in the final product. Inspiration was drawn from norse mythology as well as already established monster collecting/raising franchises. These concepts were then turned into the 3D models, 2D art, and UI elements seen in the final product.

Creature ideation:

House Concepts:

UI

3D Models:

 

Coders started coding the basic structure of the game like movement, camera angles, dialogue system, etc. The main programmer focused on core mechanics and systems, and the secondary coder focused on minigames, worldbuilding, and the narrative design. After getting the basic working coders moved to quest systems, interactions and implementing UI.

We didn’t get the game as far as we had hoped but the team has already decided to give a few extra weeks of our free time to polish the game to its fullest potential.

While working on the game project we learned a lot about scoping and time management.

The members of Team Alpha DAWG:

Programmers:

Samu Lehtineva

Amanda Vanhatalo

Artists:

Siiri Syvänen

Coral Nguyen

Ere Kreula

Ada Ikonen

Erika Markkinen

We outsourced our music from:

Anna Haaraoja

More concept art/musings:

Link to the game:

Bergensjöfellbyfjord

 

GA Autumn 2021 — Pang: The Tainted Forest

Download the game here!

A forest in agony, and an unlikely hero.

Pang: The Tainted Forest is a reimagining of the old arcade game Pang, where you take on the role of a tiny rat, determined to free its home forest from the pollution that has suddenly taken over. Magical powers of the forest are by the rat’s side, as it uses nature as its weapon against the evil pollution bubbles.

The game features:

  • 18 different levels with platforms and climbable stairs
  • Multiple power-ups and different weapons
  • Highscore system
  • Beautiful 2D hand-drawn graphics

Development

We started the project by choosing the game we are gonna use as a reference, and Pang seemed the most fun to replicate. At first, we were considering making pixel art but ended up choosing not to go with it. We didn’t have previous experience of pixel art and we figured that we already had a lot to learn with Unity and game-making in general, and this decision ended up serving us well in the end, as we encountered multiple problems in Unity and GitKraken.

The idea of a forest setting with a mystical atmosphere came quickly to us at the very beginning of planning. It was obvious that the balloons had to be the enemy, and after pondering their function, one of our team members had an idea that they could be pollution. From there on we settled on the idea of the main character embarking on a journey to save the forest and wanted to showcase that with a small animated story.

During the first weeks (and even later on) we spent a lot of time on concepts and ideation. There were multiple ideas that we had to abandon due to lack of time, for example snowy and underwater levels with different physics, multiplayer support, a final boss, more guns, enemies, or additional helpful or neutral characters, and so on. The basic mechanics of the game came to be fairly quick, but the programmers spent a lot of time fine tuning the physics and making sure everything not only looked good but felt good as well.

The design of the character and themes for backgrounds was decided early on by voting.

Even though all artists were at first able to make sketches about everything, the dividing of the art creation happened naturally and in the end, everyone got to do things they wanted and also try something they weren’t that familiar with. For the character and the background, we had a voting system for the sketches that we would start working with. Around this time we also chose to make three different versions of the backgrounds, showing the player the progress of their quest of clearing up the forest.

After deciding to go with two different mystical forest backgrounds both having three intensities of pollution and voting the rat as our hero, it was time to also think about other important assets and their overall look.

Early gun sketches and comparing them to the character style and colors.
Screenwriting for the story cutscene.

Overall, our biggest problems had to do with our artists being new to Unity and Gitkraken. It was also a challenge to keep everything coherent with so many artists each with their own style. Despite encountering multiple problems we thankfully managed to solve all of our problems and ended up with a project we’re all very proud of.

Some of the multiple finished sprites that were done for the game.

 

Team Gamma Rats

Jere Joensuu – Programmer, Project Manager
Joni Nevala – Programmer
Janina Korpela – Artist, Project Manager
Mona Westman – Artist
Niina Lahti – Artist
Nina Lahti – Artist
Aura Solja – Artist
+ our lovely sound designers Deniz Kirci and Akseli Koskinen!

GA Autumn 2021: Rat Mash

Game Idea

Rat Mash is our team’s version of the original Rampage. You play as a radioactive rat in a post-apocalyptic world to destroy the leftovers of humanity! You destroy buildings, climb them, and beat your enemies to make your way to the start of it all!

In the picture above you can see our concept art for the main character and below you can see the final character animations.

 

Development

When the project started in September we originally thought about making Frogger with a twist but our team also saw Rampage on our list of games and ideas kept flowing in for it. We chose against Frogger and chose to do Rampage since we had more passion for it even if it was going to be more difficult to do and the scope was going to be bigger. 

We studied the original Rampage, its mechanics, movements, and flow and used it as a base to refer to and improve on.

Originally we had way more things we wanted to have in our game but as time passed we realized our scope wasn’t realistic for the game we had chosen, and the time we had, so we scrapped a lot of things. 

Our process was somewhat rocky with having lots of bugs, a big scope with imitating Rampage and courses to focus on. However, our team is very proud of what we achieved and we’re very happy we chose Rampage instead of Frogger.

Team Monki Flip

Artists:

Emma Erjanne 

Joona Ljokkoi

Mikko Nystedt

Liisa Pirhonen

Coders:

Veeti Karilainen

Ville Karilainen

 

Download here

GA Autumn 2021 – Superbuzz

Going through all the possible options to base our game off of, we fairly quickly all leaned towards Thrust. To give our own spice for the game, we first decided to try to find a theme which would then shape how we approached making our own version. From somewhere came the idea about “bees with guns” which very soon evolved to mech bees being invaded by mech spiders. And that’s how Superbuzz came to be.

Features:
The game is composed of 8 levels with increasing difficulty, including traps and enemies, with the main goal being making it out of the hive with the queen within given time

  • Honey hook allowing the player to grab different tools and the queen
  • Gate system requiring the player to bring a heavy mech-honeycomb on a pressure plate to activate it
  • Spiders blocking the way walking across the passages
  • Spiders shooting towards the player
  • Laser traps triggering every few seconds
  • Fireball dispenser providing the player a weapon to hook and clear a path

Development

First things first, our programmers got some basic player movement and a hook mechanic implemented as they were the most crucial mechanics for our game. Our biggest challenges were very much related to the player character. In the first prototypes the controls were heavy and not responsive enough, making it unnecessarily hard to avoid collisions.

It also proved to be challenging how to make the player character’s movement direction clear. The heroic bee would go through multiple iterations as we were trying to figure out what would be the clearest way to portray this advanced pollinator.

The heroic bee and some designs it went through
Queen and player concepts
Enemy concepts

Choosing to go for a color palette helped tie together our assets better as it was a bit tricky to keep the art consistent with multiple artists. We also put heavy emphasis on making the levels visually easy to read. Tilemaps made doing level layouts fairly easy, but also on the other hand easily left the beehive feeling a bit inorganic.

Early mockups for testing with colors to make the levels visually easy to read

Sometime midway the semester it seemed the project came to almost a complete halt due to some unexpected circumstances that required us to redistribute quite a bunch of the workload, but we clearly picked up the speed towards the end.

Looking back, something we would have done differently is playtesting much more. Being worried about the difficulty held us back a bit from making more fun and daring levels.

Altogether despite some difficulties and not exactly everything making it into the final build, we’re still very much proud of what we achieved.

Download here

 

Team Jousters

Ilmari Huhtanen – Programmer
Marko Saari – Programmer
Néd Richard – Project Lead / Artist
Karin Aimonen – Artist
Joel Eklund – Artist
Katariina Paulaniemi – Artist

Games Academy 2021: Pyramid Dash

Our Team Alpha DAWGs decided to make a version of the arcade game Boulder Dash with a visual theme inspired by cyberpunk and Egyptian mythology.  We chose Boulder Dash as our base game because it was a simple game that most of the team found fun to play.

We made a lot of concept art before finalizing the look of the game, tweaking color palettes and the designs of the characters and the environment.

Development Process

While the artists were working on finding the visual style, the programmers created a prototype of the game. The early prototype had character movement and boulder physics.

The team started adding more as the base prototype was ready, like polishing and adding visual assets and refining the core mechanics of the game. As we were working on the game the team had to balance their time between working on the game and other school work.

We added collectibles, character animations, and the Main Menu prototype.

After ensuring that the gameplay would work without bugs, the team started working on adding in animated backgrounds, enemies, and a lot of levels as well as the Main Menu and other UI. The game also got a score system and a timer.

As we were already quite far with the game, we decided to add in the dialogue story parts with animated character sprites to push the story of the game a bit further. This had been planned from the beginning as something we wanted to add if we had the time for it.

While working on the game project we learned a lot about Unity and the power of friendship. The communication within the team worked well and everyone did their part.

The members of the amazing Team Alpha DAWG are:

Programmers:
Samu Lehtineva
Amanda Vanhatalo

Artists:
Siiri Syvänen
Coral Nguyen
Ere Kreula
Ada Ikonen
Erika Markkinen

Also from outside the team, we received music from:

Brandon Emene

Link to final build

GA Autumn 2021 – Manse Madness

Download here

Manse Madness is a reimagined version of Frogger, in which the player is a student traversing Tampere and beyond. There were a lot of features we wanted to add to the game in order to take the basic ideas of Frogger and develop the game further, such as power-ups and enemies. Initially, we had planned on telling a story with the game. While there is progression in the locations the student visits, we were not able to add many story elements into the game.

Original title screen from early development

Development

We wanted the game to have a vibrant and playful feeling. With some ideas for the basic look of the game, we got to work creating the assets and integrating the game, all while refining the core of the gameplay. We noticed during our development stage that our lack of a clear vision for the visuals ended up working against us. While we had been making very steady and consistent progress, the stages looked pretty disjointed. We created a color palette to unite the game, but it meant that many assets had to be redone. A very noteworthy lesson about the importance of planning!

The early stages of the level tilemaps as the color scheme was decided

Once we had the basic elements of Frogger within the game, we began focusing on power-ups and abilities to really make our own game shine, as well as adding an AI enemy.

Our work was done remotely, but weekly in-person meetings and check-ins on our progress helped the game progress as smoothly as possible. We were able to keep our scope reasonable throughout the project, which gave us time to add additional features towards the end. The game we ended up with is visually appealing and enjoyable, and we all learned a lot while making it!

The finished downtown level
You can’t have a Frogger clone without rivers and logs!

Download here

The Retro Foxes:

Olli Mähönen: Programmer

Matti Nurmi: Programmer

Essi Mäkinen: Artist

Anu Hautakangas: Artist

Lari Kettunen: Artist

Dominique Desanges: Artist

Games Academy 2021: Rift Hopper

Rift Hopper

 

Our team Sigma Katz decided to remake the original Pac-Man with a little twist. We wanted to add multiple different themed levels with procedural generation, so that every level will be different from each other. Travelling between levels happens through rifts, so this is how the game got its name, Rift Hopper.

 

The goal of the levels is to collect all the coins without dying to the enemies.

 

Features 

  • Single player 
  • 3 different themed levels 
  • Procedural generation so every level is unique 
  • Multi-room system 

 

Creepy Castle; where you must watch where you step or you will burn.

 

Development 

The project started in September. It began with a brainstorming, and we quickly got ideas of how to modify the classic Pac-Man. The basic idea was to make a game with multiple themes, new graphics and some interesting features. We decided that each level should have a different theme, so every artist can have something entirely their own to work on and show off their styles.

This semester was very busy and we had other very time consuming courses, so many of the level ideas and different types of power-ups were dropped off. Game is still a work-in-progress, but most of the basic elements are implemented.

This project taught us much and it was a good learning opportunity to us all. The most important thing we learned from this project is that communication and weekly meetings are important in order to keep on the good pace.

 

Team Sigma Katz 

Aleksi Karppinen – Art 

Olivia Koivisto – Art 

Tomas Wass – Art 

Santtu Syväsalmi – Art and sounds 

Otso Alenius – Programming 

Ville Vennonen – Programming 

GameCamp 2021: KitsuCare

 

Team

Laura Julkunen – developer

Development in 2020

KitsuCare is a virtual pet game for mobile devices and it’s still under development. I started developing this game in 2020. I’ve explained the game’s concept here: https://homepages.tuni.fi/laura.julkunen/kitsucare/

Last year’s development more in detail on my GameCamp 2020 post: http://www.gamesacademy.fi/page/2/

Development in 2021

After GameCamp 2020 I’ve continued development in Spring and GameCamp 2021. It’s been interesting to notice that even after a year of development areas of improvement still crop up. The way most transitions between areas worked started to bother me personally, so I changed them. One tester was really distracted by blinking prompts, so I replaced those with using stripes instead. GameCamp’s great for getting feedback from your game, most of the time clear improvements can be made. I also learnt that heat waves really melt my brain, that was an unexpected hinderance to development.

There’s surprisingly lot of different things that go into the development of even one game. I hadn’t originally thought that I would need to touch anything related to physics, but then in Spring I messed around with that a bit to implement a minigame. A while ago when I started implementing more visual guides in the game I noticed objects don’t act as I expected, so I need to adjust how one guide works. I also encountered some very confusing bugs later in summer, turns out I need to adjust how nighttime works.

My biggest mistake has been continuing to rely on pure enthusiasm which unsurprisingly lessens with time. Not having been able to implement actual progression to the game so far has also added to the atmosphere of stagnation. Though at this point development is far enough for me to start developing progression to the game. What I plan on changing in my development now is to make it a bit more of a routine which will be a more efficient strategy for eventually finishing this game.

GameCamp 2021 – HIDE

Download link : https://jolied.itch.io/hide

Game idea

HIDE is a horror game in which the player takes control of a young boy, investigating his school in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, he’s not alone, and to escape the building, he will have to gather items and unlock doors while hiding from a mysterious monster, wandering in the corridors looking for prey.

We were greatly inspired by the indie game “Walk 散歩”, a PS1-stylized game taking place in a japanese setting, where a schoolgirl is chased by a yokaï on her way home. We really liked this visual style, and as we already created PS1-like assets for a previous game,  we decided to stick to it for our bigger project. 

The game revolves around simple horror-game mechanics such as exploring the school, finding items to progress and open locked areas, and finally getting out of the building, all the while avoiding getting caught by the enemy. The player can crouch behind props to avoid getting seen, or try to outrun the monster during chases.

Development

We started thinking about the context of our game, and as we appreciated the idea of having a “kid main character”, we quickly came up with the idea of a school setting. We created a circle layout that would allow players to always have a way to reach the desired area, without ever being totally blocked in a corner by the monster.

The artists started making props to fill the different rooms (classrooms, cafeteria, lounge…), respecting the PSX-style, by modeling with as few triangles as possible and low-res pixelated textures.

Our programmer focused on making the enemy AI, by giving it a path routine, making it wander through the building and react to the presence of the player in its detection radius.

It would also be our biggest challenge, as the monster would sometimes get stuck in walls or not react to the player at all. But we were aware from the start of the difficulty of making such a balanced AI which wouldn’t be too powerful, but also enough of a threat to keep players on their toes.

We learned a lot about PSX-style visuals, helped by renderers and lots of post-processing effects, also about event triggers that would block players’ progression until they find the appropriate item.

All in all, development went quite smoothly! Being a small team definitely helped us to keep an organized schedule and have efficient communication along the project!

Team:

Joni Honkanen – Programmer
Liisa Pirhonen – Artist
Néd Richard – Artist

GameCamp 2021 – Transgressor

Game Idea

We swooped into our final GC21 project hungering for an FPS game, since none of the team members had worked on one before, but all of us had a special place in our hearts for the genre. For inspiration, we peered quite far into the past;  to the days of Quake and Unreal Tournament, where the polygons were few and the gameplay fast.

Dual wielding and gliding became a core part of the player’s arsenal, since we wanted to have a thing or two to differentiate our game from most games in the genre being published, even if neither of those things – on their own – were anything new or unique.

So that’s how Transgressor crawled out of its sarcophagus.

screenshot

With a lot of shooting comes a lot of tomato sauce, so what better theme to go with than vampires? Choosing to be a bit more Legacy of Kain than Twilight, our designs took influence from both the ancient and the gothic, feral and civilized. We wanted the player character to tower over most enemies as they rained carnage across the level, be it on foot or leather wings, and made you feel like a god playing 4D chess with mere mortals.

Also – perks of being a vampiric creature – bathing in the blood of your enemies heals you, and if you miss the showers, you can always pop their corpses like human-sized pimples with a melee attack. Neat.

Development

We hit the ground running on the first week, where our programmers created a strong framework on which the rest of the game was promptly built; at least on the technical side of things. Since we were about to move fast and shoot hard, a lot of testing and thought had to go into not just designing the level, but making sure it felt as good as possible to traverse.

For one of the programmers, it was the first time trying out Unity’s NavMesh system for the AI navigation, which proved to be a bit challenging, especially in a game where the platforms are large and far between and there’s a considerable amount of verticality to take into account. We also got to try out some of the shader graph basics and now understand what kind of things can be done with it and how it could be utilized in the future.

concept art

On the art side of things, plenty of firsts were also experienced; our character/weapons artist had minimal experience with Blender – or 3D modelling in overall – and a lot of things had to be studied up and learnt while working on the assets. Naturally, crafting a larger scale environment also had its own struggles and challenges to overcome.

A few weeks into the project, it became very clear to us that this was something we’d love to work just a bit longer on, and thus paced our work accordingly. This, however, meant that the game wouldn’t be “finished” during the summer, but rather, we set our sights on an itch.io release later in the year.

Team:

Eetu Pohja: Programmer

Heikki Gauffin: Programmer

Katariina Paulaniemi: Artist

Lauri Kullas: Artist, Audio

 

Download the latest build on

Google Drive

Itch.io: TBA