Tag «Unity»

Devmania 2011 – Eindrücke

Unlike the other content, this article is available in German only. But Google translate might help.

Mein drittes Jahr in Folge bei der Devmania - dem größten und trotzdem kuschligsten Hobbyspielentwicklertreffen Deutschlands. Eigentlich sind es immer die gleichen Gesichter, viele sehr jung, größtenteils männlich, Windows-und Linux-Desktop-PCs und Laptops - sehr nerdig, aber keineswegs unzugänglich!
Obwohl die meisten irgendeine Entwicklungsumgebung offen haben und an ihren aktuellen Spielen herumbasteln, sind alle hier, um ihre Arbeiten zu zeigen, darüber zu diskutieren oder einfach neue Leute kennen zu lernen. Viele kommen - wie wir auch - gleich im Pulk, am besten einheitlich als Team gekleidet oder mit Teamtischdecke. Die große Mehrheit ist dabei sicher Programmierer, aber ich hab mich auch sehr über das Mädchen mit den Aquarellfarben oder den Musiker mit dickem Keyboard gefreut.

Zur Eröffnung kam ich bisher leider immer zu spät - dank 5h-Fahrt durch 4 Bundesländer. Ankommen, PC unter den vorbereiteten Tisch packen und dann hören wir meistens einer Reihe von Vorträgen zu.
Die halten die Teilnehmer selbst, manche auch gleich zwei... Wir haben unseren Teil mit "iOS-Development mit Unity" beigesteuert und Friedrich hat zudem noch seine drei Ludum-Dare-Spiele gezeigt (und dafür den zweiten Platz der Projektvorstellungen bekommen!).
Die waren dieses Jahr allerdings ziemlich brav. Der kreative Größenwahn der deutschen Hobbyspieleentwicklung in Form von MMOs und Gothic-ähnlichen RPGs blieb diesmal (leider) aus. Dafür eher die Präsentation fertiger Projekte oder wie man fertige Projekte durch Struktur in der Konzeptphase erreicht. Eine Engine war wieder dabei (Softpixel), der Splitterweltenmacher Thomas Schulze stellte Splatter vor und Related Design's Christian Rösch zeigte neben der Entwicklung (s)einer Demo auch sein 2D Shoot'em'Up.

Wer kein eigenes Projekt am Laufen hat, erhält die Chance darauf durch die Teilnahme am Overnightcontest. Thema dieses Jahr: Pirates! Von 14 Uhr an bis zum nächsten Morgen um 10 Uhr erreichten elf Projekte den Abgabezustand.

Ich freu mich schon auf nächstes Jahr!!! Der Termin steht auch schon fest: 6./7. Oktober 2012. Dann hoffentlich mit einer großen Projektvorstellung auch von unserer Seite!
Es tut gut zu sehen, was die deutsche (Hobby-)Spieleentwicklung so treibt. Ich weiß noch, wie verdammt pessimistisch ich die deutsche Szene in meiner Diplomarbeit betrachtet habe. Aber gerade erwachsen ihr doch eine ganze Reihe von Talenten.
Bis nächstes Jahr (oder der nächsten Entwicklerveranstaltung)!

Noch zum Schluss: Ein paar interessante Teams und Entwickler, die wir trafen (Ich hoffe, ich vergesse niemanden!)

Iwan Gabovitch | Joyride Labs mit Nikki and the Robots
Thomas Schulze | Splitterwelten und Splatter
Andreas Reich und Martin Dechant | Golden Vertices
Felix Kerger, Torben Wenzel und Manuel Scherer | Uniworlds
Alexander Zacherl | Bit Barons
Thomas Trocha
Frederic Schimmelpfennig | Goose Gogs

Announcing Tumblox!

Finally I get around to announce Tumblox, a little side project of The Rat King. It's gonna be a puzzle game exclusively for iPhone and iPod Touch, made with Unity3D.

The gameplay is simple: Just rotate the big box until the colored blocks fall at the right positions. You can use the device itself - rotating it in your hands - and/or use buttons and gestures on the screen.

As most parts of the game are functional now, the main task that is left is creating some challenging levels. So although we're still working to bring this guy here to life, you will be able to play Tumblox this month (with a little bit of luck)!

The Grumpy Jump Stigma

Since the founding of our little business we're pursued by a stigma. Probably everybody knows this problem: A failed project, which follows you every game design discussion and questions all of the great ideas you have.

Those of you attentively following our news on this blog and Facebook may know the project called “Grumpy Jump”. Friedrich made a game called “1930” for Mini Ludum Dare #23 and we decided to make a full game out of it for iPhone/iPad.

After the first post you have never heard anything about the “Grumpy-what?” again, haven't you?

The calculation is easy. You “just” take a working game concept made for a contest and complete it by filling it with more and better levels. Zing, instant success! Especially with a cross-platform engine like Unity3D. Also, the idea behind “1930” was very simple so it should take two months at most to transform it into “Grumpy Jump”.
We are always very accurate and planned this game with a design document, added some more features, more themes, story and some sense of humor. We have a concept - the work can start!

Late in the process, we unfortunately recognized that this wasn't the game we loved to make ...

How could this happen? On the one hand there is the project you might think the platform's users are looking for – and on the other hand there is the game you'd love to develop. Of course we are free, independent, passionate – we do what we want! But there is also the wish to actually make a living from game development. And in favor of this goal an analysis of the platform is needed.

The iPhone looks like a great choice for indies:

  • Everybody can join, after paying that little fee of €79/$99.
  • You can develop for every category from finance till gaming.
  • The platform is very widespread (particularly in the U.S.), but of course totally popular in Europe, too.
  • If you plan well a small team can create a nice app that corresponds to the price customers pay.
  • The iPhone is a great console for innovative gaming because of the touch screen, accelerometer, camera and GPS.

These were my arguments for the iPhone. Some of them turned out to be true, others I recognized to be just my vision but not reality. So let's think about the people having an iPhone. The main users love it for style, usability and all the new functions a smartphone presents.

As a mobile platform you can assume that people ...

  • … don't have the leisure to intensively deal with your game. Playing happens in little breaks while being in the bus, to pass the time or just doodle around.
  • … are also new to gaming and the confrontation with complex concepts over-strain their time/ attention span/ grasp.
  • … mostly prefer mainstream graphics, which means cute, colorful and friendly graphics
  • … have a high quality pretension.

All that in mind we decided to concentrate on the target group. We never wanted to be mainstream, and if you take a look at our old projects you understand what I mean. We love to try unconventional games with reduced colors and strange characters. But those projects were prototypes only: We planned what we wanted, because we just needed to show the ideas of style, gameplay and characterdesign (e.g. for university courses).

Omerta Screenshot

Über Leben und Sterben Screenshot

“Grumpy Jump” was the first game we wanted to finalize for selling. But Grumpy wasn't even fun to play at all. What happened?

It went like every project you neglect. With no motivation and no passion it gets harder every day to constantly work on it. In the end, the game should have needed less than two months to create but still wasn't finished by any means! That the stuff you have to do in order to found a company takes away time from producing games didn't help either.

Then there was the Seven Day Roguelike Challenge we wanted to take part in: “Just one little week interrupting our real project! After this week we will go on developing our mainstream, colorful, funny product!”. But in this week we thankfully recognized (or better: rediscovered) which kind of projects we love to do. How games have to be (considering time, team and abilities). That it's not right to bend yourself just to please a target group you don't even really know. And so we decided – with a heavy heart – to stop developing a game we worked on for about two months.

It's very hard to stop a project, especially your first commercial one, and admit a failure. But to finish something, come hell or high water, is stupid, too. Now every project gets compared to “Grumpy Jump”: Do we love the game and its mechanics? Is it fun?!
My advices (they seem obvious, but when concentrating on development you might forget about them, just like us):

  • Play the game as much as you can.
  • Use agile project management and only implement new stuff when the old/current features are working.
  • Never do a gameplay or style you don't like, everybody will feel that it's not your passion.