Category «Game Development»

Mondar at the A MAZE 2019

We visited the A MAZE this year, and it was relaxing and fun. After missing it in 2018 (we went to the Reboot in Croatia instead), we were eager to meet fellow German and international developers in Berlin again. For those who don't know the A MAZE, it's a games festival with exhibition, talks, live music and workshops (and probably more). The focus is on art/games, and not on the business side or even the development of games. It's all about personal stories, crazy, mesmerizing and/or glitchy visuals, VR/AR/MR/XR/PR and generally digital weirdness. So, we had a good time.

The A MAZE happened at a new location this year, at the SEZ, a big building reminding Friedrich of his former school which was built in the 70s. While the Urban Spree was always very fitting for the AMAZE in our opinion, the SEZ brought the event together well and was also better suited for this year's cold weather. The venue change was good!

In order to justify our visit a bit, we also brought Mondar's Dungeon with us and showcased it for a few hours at the Open Screens (right next to Sos' Open Sound System). Some people eagerly played the game and gave feedback, and overall we are stoked by the positive reception. Mondar's Dungeon was originally meant as our entry for the 7-Day-Roguelike-Challenge (yes, the same event Pitman Krumb was part of, back in 2011!), but we didn't finish in time and instead worked a bit more on it until it felt complete. The elevator pitch: "Mondar's Dungeon is a roguelike, but with cards." While future updates might still come, it is mostly finished and can be played on itch.io for free!

Our friend Björn was also at the A MAZE. He released his game Murder Machine Mini on Steam two days before, and Friedrich lent his laptop so he could present the game at the Open Screens too. He did, and quite a few people had a good look at this retro shooter.

As mentioned before, the A MAZE also offers talks and workshops, and we attended some of these. For example, while Jana took part in a workshop by Anita Sarkeesian about diversity and representation in games, Friedrich was more interested in the technical side of game creation and attended workshops about ray marching shaders and about stage design in Unity. But our personal highlight were the Hyper Talks, where nine creators each had five minutes for talking about everything, from playing with dogs to creativity burn-out.

It goes without saying - we also talked to friends and friendly people at the venue all the time, discussing games, game design and the weather. Jana took part in a podcast (about game difficulty), over at the Saftladen.

Now what does the future hold for Rat King? Sadly, Behind Stars and Under Hills is on hiatus with an unknown fate. But to keep going, we accept commissioned work - the second half of 2018 was dedicated to the game for an app about the sky disk of Nebra, commissioned by MotionWorks GmbH. This sky disk is probably the oldest still existing depiction of the cosmos - we will write a bit more detailed blog post about the game soon.

Of course Rat King is still indie, thus we create concepts and prototypes for different game ideas floating in our collective rat hive mind. This blog will hopefully be more active again soon!

Behind High Five and Under Gamescom

Hey - long time no read! We're sorry for the lack of updates. (I bet you heard that sentence before.)

After months of finalizing and polishing Behind Stars and Under Hills' prototype, we pitched the project to several publishers. Afterwards we put the game on a temporary hiatus, so we can pursue other projects for now. Behind Stars is still highly active in the back of our brains though - more about that in later posts! Meanwhile, a few atmospheric screenshots from the current state of the game prototype:

To earn some money we currently design and implement a mobile game for local animation studio MotionWorks - it's pretty cool to collaborate with creatives working a few streets away for a change! Unfortunately we can't tell too much about the project yet, but the setting will be the Bronze Age, and the game itself is embedded in an interactive app about the Nebra sky disk. It is co-funded by the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and the Investitionsbank Sachsen-Anhalt.

In April we visited the Reboot 2018 in Croatia, together with our good friend Björn. The Reboot itself was a very cool 3-day event within a luxurious hotel lobby with lots of games, food and talks! But we were also mesmerized by the beauty of Croatia and Dubrovnik, and the bombed hotels along the coast line...

A short time ago the summer semester of our former art school ended, which always concludes with the annual summer fest together with an exhibition of all the students' works. As our office is part of the incubator Designhaus which is directly tied to the university and thus does an Open Day during the exhibition weekend, we were obliged (and happy!) to also show stuff we made. We decided that Behind Stars and Under Hills would not work for the audience of people mostly interested in the finer arts (and their young kids), so instead we created a small game specifically for the Open Day.

We also were adamant that everybody would be able to play the game. But from former experiences we knew that some visitors even have reservations against using a mouse or keyboard. This is why we got a Makey Makey and made a game you would play with high fives only: High Five Romance Race! Later on we also presented the game at the Talk&Play in Berlin. We can say without shame that this simple endless runner is one of our most popular products now. ;)

Of course we will visit the gamescom this year again - we won't showcase anything this time, which is actually a good thing because it gives us more leisure to have a look at all the great games presented at the Indie Arena Booth. Just today their line-up was revealed, so have a look!

INDIE ARENA BOOTH trailer 2018

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Are you going too? Tell us via Twitter - or even better, join us on our new Discord server and talk directly to us! :)

bpb game jam 2018: Hugs & Kisses

Just like in 2016, we were invited to a local game jam in Remscheid, Germany, hosted by the bpb (the German Federal Center for Political Education) to make a political statements through game concepts and prototypes. As such, the theme was a bit different than the usual jams: "Discimination, ostracism, radicalization".

Our own entry is a bit more game-y then we would have wanted; but after not being able to find a more meaningful idea (and message) for nearly half a day, we went with one of the earliest concepts we had. So we created a 2-player co-op game about cats and dogs, and about working together to keep all the citizens happy. We called it Hugs & Kisses.

The world map is divided in three zones. The dogs' zone (blue), the cats' zone (red) and the neutral zone between them. In the dog country are mostly dogs and only a few cats, and vice-versa. The neutral zone has both species equally. The gameplay is simple (and inspired by Overcooked): you have to feed the cats and dogs in your country, otherwise they get unhappy. So if there's a cat in cat land craving for fish, the cat player goes to the fish spawning point and carries the fish to the hungry cat.

Only when there is a cat in dog land asking for fish it gets interesting, because a player cannot enter the other player's zone, so they have to work together and trade the fishes and bones with each other by throwing them around.

bpb game jam 2018 - Hugs & Kisses

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And sometimes, a community member gets sad and needs to be hugged. <3

In any case, should the needs of a citizen get ignored for too long, they become mad - i.e. they explode and take parts of the level geometry with them. Discrimination has a fatal impact in this case indeed.

You can try our little jam game on itch.io (Windows only). It's best played with two gamepads, but keyboard is fine too. Be aware that it really is a prototype, so there is no real lose or win condition. But see if you can beat the game without anybody blowing up!

By the way, if you are interested in the development of games, you might want to read a short article about Hugs & Kisses on my own blog - it mostly describes the process of creating the level for the game.

Of course it was also very nice to meet many teams from all over Germany and Austria at the jam, seeing their games come to existence during the three days, and of course having a good time together. If you want to find out more about them and their games (and speak a bit of German), click your way through the bpb game jam wiki and have a look at their projects!