Tag «screenshots»

A picture blog for our new game

As some of you may already know we currently work on a new project, which was named "Morituri" for some time but has now the title Behind Stars and under Hills. Its prototype is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and the MDM.

Behind Stars and under Hills will be a Dungeon Adventure with detective elements and animal people. It puts emphasis on story and atmosphere, on interaction with NPCs (dialogues) and exploration. While there probably will be fights (of low complexity), those won't be the main focus of the game. Instead, players have to find hidden ways and items, translate scriptures, talk to the inhabitants, trade with them, circumvent and/or find ways around dangers (like enemies and traps), and use the light by placing torches.

There are no real hard facts to announce yet (hopefully soon though), but we started a picture blog for the project, especially for the prototype we currently work on. You can find it here. We post everything visual, i.e. drawings, scribbles, animations and screenshots from the game and the level editor. Our intention is to link the blog whenever we post those pictures on Twitter or Facebook, so people don't see a single slice of the game only, but can inform themselves more about the look of the game instantly. It also makes it easier to follow the project as long as we don't have a dedicated website.

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https://behindstarsandunderhills.tumblr.com

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The bpb:game jam 2016

At the first weekend of August 2016 we once again visited Berlin in order to take part in a game jam hosted by the bpb, the Federal Agency for Civic Education. It was a special jam for us, as we were actually invited by the organizers, and the theme was a lot more serious than we're used to: "Flucht und Vertreibung" (Escape and Eviction).  We didn't really know what to expect, other than that travel expenses, hotel and food would all be paid by the German tax payer. (Thank you all!)

The whole event went from Friday till Sunday, with Friday being reserved for an unconference. It started with everybody introducing themselves, which took a lot of time as there were over 50 people! We knew some of the participants already: they were fellow indie developers. Nonetheless the introductions were very interesting, because - and this is another uncommon thing for our jam trips - around half of the people weren't game developers, but came from various fields, mostly pedagogics. The youngest participant was 16 years old, and I dare not to estimate the age of the oldest person in our group.
The only gripe was the pretty low ratio women to men. Unfortunately this is common, but at least it was higher than at most game jams.

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The more interactive part of the unconference were the 'sessions', where people suggested various discussion topics, all in accordance to the main theme, and then do group debates. I suggested "Sprachbarrieren" (language barriers), and thus a few of the participants, including Jana and I, talked about apps for language learning and our experiences with different languages, and how we could use these as gameplay mechanics.

The second session for us was about "Perspektivwechsel" (switching perspective), and here the discussion started with the split-screen camera technique in multiplayer games, but soon got more serious and went from the literal interpretation of perspective to empathy, and how we see others, and games that actually let us "live" different roles; consciously or subconsciously.

Overall these debates prepared us well to get into a more serious mindset, as right afterwards we got instructed to come up with game ideas and discuss them in random groups. I still think the idea of a "Refugee Go", maybe a tad cynical, would be an interesting take on the location-based gaming: the idea was to force the player to literally walk at different places in a real city where they have to fill out virtual forms (in real-time, i.e. with a lot of waiting). The idea was to let players empathize with a refugee in Germany who tries to apply for asylum. As you'd play it with a smartphone only which then demands permanent attention, it would also be a bit like Tamagotchi.

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It was new to Jana and me to not discuss our ideas directly with each other, but alas, Jana was in another group. There she formulated the concept of a card game with instructions on each card for the players, and they'd have to run around and solve the tasks.

In the end we found together again. After a few years of jams we became a solid team and apart from a small collaboration now and then we somehow became unable to try new constellations. ;) Some lively discussions later about what our jam entry should be, we settled for a compromise we were actually both happy with: "Visa Runners", later named "Die Stimmung kippt!" (The mood shifts!).

Visa Runners is the prototype for a multiplayer mobile game with real-world interaction, a bit inspired by Space Team. At the beginning all the players connect their smartphones with each other. Afterwards everyone gets assigned a randomly chosen profile of a refugee-seeking person, with character traits like gender, age, birthplace, skin colour, education, etc.

Visa Runner Profiles
Then the real game begins.

The players have to flee to safe countries and get a visa as fast as possible. The countries are represented by QR codes lying around in the (preferably big) room, on tables and maybe even hanging on the walls. In order to get a visa you have to run to the QR code and scan it with your phone. Then you get a few days of visa - so you need to renew this visa very soon and very often. (A "day" is a second long in our game.) To make it harder players get a day less each time they try to seek refuge in the same country. If you overstayed your visa you need to get a new one as soon as possible, because you lose if you're without shelter for too long.


Yes, the game gets unfair quickly. Intentionally so.

To underline this, every few seconds a tabloid issue appears on one of the phones - usually it's a (mildly) exaggerated headline about refugees or foreigners in general. These headlines affect all players, so the one who sees it has to tell the others (or can choose not to). For example, if there are news about "black men attacking a puppy" all players with the traits "dark skin" or "male" will get minus points in that country (i.e. less days of visa). At some point, a country will refuse visas to certain persons, and those have to flee to other countries.HeadlineThe game ends when only one person is left.

Here's hoping we made a game that captured the theme of the jam. I wish the end result were more functional, but for a prototype it worked pretty well. The funny thing is: when we presented our game, it dawned on us that we didn't even need the prototype, as we were only running around with our Android phones, yelling what we're doing currently. It could have been a theatre play...

The first day of actually programming the game was hell, as I had to download the Android SDK first (to be able to actually build games for smartphones), then try to get a certain plug-in from the Unity Asset Store running. It was very badly documented, and I needed hours to find out how it actually works. But after that we finally got the multiplayer part running, and implementing the gameplay was easy enough. Thankfully the plug-in for the QR code scanning was much less of a hassle.

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We were very impressed by the games of the other groups, some of them had a team size of five or even more. You can find (German) descriptions of most of the entries at the official wiki - ours is here, even with a downloadable APK.

Overall the first "bpb:game jam" was a success for us, and we think it also was a success as an event. Thanks to the bpb for organizing it! Here's hoping we will be able to take part again next year.

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TRI – The AMAZE-ing update released

TRI 0.2.1 update

We are pleased to announce that the new update 0.2.1 for TRI is live and can be downloaded now. As already said before, this will be the last version with the low price of $4.99 only. We currently scheduled version 0.3 (the STORY update) for end of May, and that one will come with a price increase!

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Now, for the AMAZE-ing update we have some new stuff, especially worth mentioning two new levels. The first one let's you walk on walls and ceilings a lot, and has windmills and a glimpse on the floating ghosts (the Kami). The second one re-introduces light rays and acid pits. If you already owned and played the TRI alpha, for your convience you can play the new levels directly - but don't miss the enhancements in the other levels! For example, we added the monk in the tutorial level, mainly for demonstration purposes (as he doesn't talk much right now).

The monk appears

And you can finally run now. This was the feature requested by most people so far. :-P Unfortunately, this changed the balance of the gameplay a bit where it wasn't wanted. On the bright side, if you have to walk up a long wall you will need far less triangles now, as you can run quite a while on the wall after leaving a triangle until you fall down again. (Just try it!)

The complete changelist for the AMAZE-ing update:

  • Fixed NullReference in output_log.txt regarding save files
  • Fixed the feedback functionality (via F11), should work always now
  • Added possibility to use/activate/pick stuff with Left Click
  • Fixed rotating box in level 7 ("Reluctance")
  • Changed savestate fileformat, saves from 0.2.0a and before not usable anymore
  • Removed GUI key statues in the top right corner for the first level
  • Added possibility to sprint via Left Shift key
  • Improved visuals/gameplay of some of the levels, changed tutorial a bit
  • Added option (in tab "Performance") to disable fullscreen antialiasing
  • Fixed a glitch with climbing on slopes
  • Fixed the minor issue of antiwalls playing sounds even when not activated
  • Added two levels, introducing (again) light rays, acid and autosave
  • Added an NPC with simple behaviour for demonstration purposes

You may wonder why we call this update the AMAZE-ing update. From April, 24th to 27th we will be in Berlin, visiting the AMAZE IndieConnect! We will meet other indie developers and give a talk about why and how to limit your game in a healthy way. So, if you want to talk to us in person, this might be your chance. :-)

And now for some more screenshots of the new TRI levels:

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