Tiny Update…

I’m on ABC Radio’s Tech Stream program (along with a bunch of other people) talking a little bit about GCAP and the year in review – link.  For the record, my game of the year is Canabalt on iPhone.

And here‘s an article I wrote for Open Forum on the R18+ rating, the proposed Internet filter, and how they might affect the local games industry.

November EGP

Well, too many other projects took over last month – including helping to set up the Melbourne branch of the IGDA, presenting at iDef, and working on some other things that it’s too early to talk about. As a result, my October game didn’t really evolve beyond the previous iteration.  I did manage to hook up collision and put torches and coins in, but it still wasn’t really a game. Hopefully November will be different because this month, I’ve decided to follow the theme used on experimentalgameplay.com, and this month it’s ‘Art Game’.

Head over to the Freeplay forums to join other people in Melbourne doing the same thing.

October EGP

Ten days in, and I’ve put up the first iteration of my October game project:

Here, the player’s movement speed is based on the mouse’s distance from the character – and the faster they move, the more they can see, but also the more noise they make, which will attract the spiders.

The gameplay is based on the Token Studios group currently in the Games Program at RMIT.  Working with them, I really wanted to see whether or not their core premise would work in a 2D space – it’s too early to tell just yet.

Goals and opposition in Fabric

This latest build of Fabric introduces goals – helping the blue particles to coalesce and eventually form suns & planets – and opposition – in the form of the red spikey particles which can destroy the blue particles.

What’s interesting here is how much focus has been pulled away from the grid – which was the original element.  It feels like the more nouns that are added to the game space, the less interesting & dynamic it becomes.   All the player is really doing in this version is clicking on the red spikey particles, rather than balancing destroying the grid & stitching it back together.

Next step, I think, is to pare it back and consider how the player interacts with the grid because adding elements to the space doesn’t seem to work.  That might be some time because this week, there’s the Digital Distribution Summit, I’m running some workshops in Yarrawonga, and the flying to Sydney to do a presentation at Screen Australia – then we’ll be into October and the first of the Freeplay Experimental Gameplay Projects.

Lighting and Texturing in Fabric

I’ve added simple ambient and point lighting to Fabric, along with a (familiar to mac users) background texture.

I’m not sure either feature works just yet.  The texture in particular is too busy and seems to draw the eye away from the grid, and the lighting effect, rather than focusing the player on the mouse cursor, feels as though it’s making the rest of the grid feel less important.

Meaningful choices and feedback in Fabric

Playing that first tech-pass of Fabric, it was clear that unstitching the world wasn’t going to work as the core mechanic of a game – it isn’t particularly interesting to destroy something, even to save it in the long-term, if you don’t have the possibility of fixing it too.  Enter the ability to stitch things back together, which changed the dynamic of the game, and introduced choice into Fabric’s world.  The other new feature in this build is a simple particle system that indicates when the red blobs have been destroyed.  This first pass player feedback gives cues to where events are taking place without necessarily forcing them to shift focus.

Fabric

Once I’d recovered from pulling the event together, I found myself really inspired by the people at Freeplay who were pulling together their own projects – and it made me want to do the same.

So, I’ve started two things.

The first is an attempt over at the freeplay forums to run monthly experimental gameplay projects in Melbourne, producing one highly experimental game every month within 7 days and fitting a theme.  The first will run in October and we’re still deciding on the theme.  Head on over and sign up if you’re interested in taking part.

The second is I’ve started putting together what I think will actually be a bigger game now that I’ve started it.  It’s called ‘Fabric’ and I’m going to try and document its progress here.

The original idea for Fabric came from thinking about expressing connections mechanically, and also about creating a game where you had to destroy part of the environment in order to protect it.

The fabric of the game world is essentially a cloth simulation – particles connected by springs – with charged elements that travel along the grid-lines, seeking out their nearest neighbour.  When those charges connect, they destroy a large area of the grid around them.  The only way to stop them moving is to destroy the grid-line they’re travelling along.  The overall aim of the game is to stop the fabric unravelling completely as you can see it doing towards the end of the movie.

It’s still early days, but even at this early stage, the nature of the technology has brought up restrictions in what I originally thought I could do gameplay wise, but it’s also opened up other possibilities too, which was the whole point of the experiment.

Unreleased BBC License

Game design & Writing

Pre-production for IR Gurus in conjunction with BBC Worldwide & production team.