Big news! Jungle Rumble is headed to the Playstation Vita!
The Hard Truth About Ugly Babies
Are games born fully realized? Are they conceived as the epic experiences they sometimes become? Are the difficulty curves, advanced mechanics, and story arcs all apparent when the idea strikes? Of course not. I’ve never made a game that bears more than passing resemblance to the original design doc. Grand sounding ideas about real time exploring of sun baked lands can lead to Desert Bus. A prototype’s awkward mechanics can obstruct any grand ideas that served as inspiration. Even beautiful games start out as ugly babies.
How do these ugly babies develop into something amazing? If you figure it out, let me know! But I do know about one thing that has helped me: Candor
What is candor? On one level, it’s honesty. But it goes a little deeper than that. It is honesty from somebody who took the time to investigate with an open mind. It is a thought where the thinker is being as honest with himself as with the creator. In video games, it is when a designer and tester can really examine what is happening while playing, without being defensive about a “bad” design decision or being a “bad” player. Sounds obvious, right?
Well it’s actually really hard. We humans are social animals. We sugarcoat harsh feedback to not be jerks. Or we get swept up in the emotion of E3 and think that Daikatana is the best thing. Ever! Or we show our importance with loud-mouthed opinions about Dear Esther not being a game. That’s not so helpful because Dear Esther clearly worked for some people. There is plenty of hot air on the internet. What is really helpful when making a game? What is the best gift you can give to somebody bleary eyed from late nights keeping the dev kits blinking? Candor.
I received the gift of candor from Indie-Wunderkind Rami Ismail. Jungle Rumble had been pretty well received by crowds at PAX East, PAX Prime, and Florida Supercon—the game was “fun”. Rami came by the Boston Indie Game Collective and put the cans on to play. Unslept, jetlagged, and straight from the airport, he battled the Kagunga tribe for an hour. He figured out the mechanic pretty quickly. That’s nice. But it was his thoughts on what didn’t work that were real gold.
"The medal system. I hate it." The visitor from the land of Stroopwafels didn’t sugarcoat. Back then, there were 3 different time limits, the fastest being gold. Some levels rewarded gold for no mistakes. Some levels rewarded gold for steering all allies towards the bananas. I explained the different criteria to a perplexed playtester.
Head shaking. “I didn’t understand any of that. Perhaps 3 simple criteria? A time limit, taking out all enemies, and saving all allies? 3 criteria… 3 medals?”
I pondered. “But in early levels there’s no threat. The enemies are always killed. Easy gold.”
Rami nodded. Easy gold in the early levels. He had a good point.
"I get in the groove? It’s nice. I make a mistake? I lose. I don’t know until the next measure, which I mess up. So I lose again." We pondered this. A noise when making a mistake would be jarring. Having more information in the HUD up top would be distracting. We came up with the silent red Xs that show up on a mistap."
We talked for two hours. It wasn’t two hours of abuse. It was two hours of deep thoughts on the game I was enmeshed in. It was a generous gift of time and attention.
Trevor’s giving a postmortem of Jungle Rumble tomorrow at Boston Postmortem. It’s at Moksa, in Central Square, Cambridge, at 7pm.
Jungle Rumble, the Rhythm Monkey RTS That Will Bring You Zen - Blog - Events, News, and Videos for Web Designers and Developers
Trevor spoke with Ian of Future Insights about Jungle Rumble, game development, and zen.
Jungle Rumble is launching!
Jungle Rumble comes out Thursday! Seriously!
This is crunch time at Disco Pixel.
Crunch can be a beautiful, pure time when all energies are focused on one clear goal: Shipping. When those of us working on the game revise monkey animations at midnight because our deadline is fast approaching. When the great peeps who beta test indulge me with countless playthroughs to see if that crash bug finally got fixed (and it often did not). When already supportive family and friends somehow kick it up a notch by throwing their iPhones at me to test on. When the the sun rising through my office window becomes a common sight.
My first crunch was when NBA 2K was about to make its big debut at E3. This was 1999—well before PAX, game websites, and listicles. People still read articles about games printed on dead trees. Sharing information meant lending your physical copy of Next Generation to somebody. The whole world focused on what crazy things were brewing at E3. Magazines devoted whole issues to breathless coverage. Gamers poured over the news to see what was in store. And Sega prepped countless prerelease Dreamcasts to show row upon row of games that would launch on their then-next-gen console.
IndieCade #screenshotsaturday Showcase April 26
Each week we feature 10 screenshots offered by developers currently working on games for submission to the IndieCade Festival. Here are this week’s selections (in alphabetical order).
If you want to get involved, check out the rules here!
Cachiche by Aaron Oldenburg
Circuits by Digital Tentacle
Exist by Narcissist Reality
Glitchhikers by Silverstring Media Inc.
Glorious Maximus by Sneaky Games
Hextraction by ComboMash
Jungle Rumble by Disco Pixel
Unrest by Pyrodactyl Games
Zaboodles! by Kurt Waldowski & Daniel Firsht
Thanks you, as always, to everyone for sharing your ongoing work with us. Keep sending us your screenshots and we hope to see you at the festival!