Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Board Game Jam 2 and an Untitled Hacking Game

March 5, 2012
Play Testing at the Jam

Play Testing at the Jam

So last weekend was the second Toronto Board Game Jam, and it was great. A lot of returning faces from the first jam, and plenty of new ones to join them. There’s been several write ups of the Jam already, so I don’t feel I need to cover that territory, and instead I’d like to discuss the game I created with Paul at the event.

We decided to avoid too much deliberation on the jam-day (which can eat in to your build time) and work out a concept a few days before. Paul and I sat down to discuss the theme (Science) and hash out mechanics. We wanted something easy to learn and quick to play, with minimal pieces to ensure we completed in time. Additionally, we wanted something where players directly interacted with each other, something which flexibly accommodated about 4 players, and with those restrictions, we went to work. (more…)


Quick Post: Milky Doom

June 8, 2011

Just a quick note; our team is still working on Milky Doom. TOJam isn’t planning on hosting this year’s games until the Arcade (in October). We’re planning to provide a download of the game sometime in the near future! Eyes on this space for details as they arise.

Milky Doom Preview

May 15, 2011

It’s getting close to the deadline, and Milky Doom is virtually complete! I’d like to take a minute to talk a bit about our game for this TOJam. These screenshots still don’t have all the assets we created, but they’ll be in there before the night is out.

The start of a round

Milky doom is a game about aliens, who have become trapped in a bowl of delicious, corn-inspired sugar cereal, and are panicking as they are stranded in a sea of deadly milk! Silly? Yes. Very.

Life in the cereal bowl

Players try to stay out of the milk. It’s a King-of-the-Hill style game; the aim is to be the last alien standing. All of your friends and allies may be drowning at the bottom of a terrible milky grave, but it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate being the last and, clearly, the best.

Players can run and jump, and we hope to later add power-ups and grabbing abilities. The playing field is a bowl of cereal, and players run across the top of floating cereal kernals to stay alive. The cereal is crazy-realistic; it floats, bobs and bunches in to islands, and was a triumph for us. Bump in to other aliens to launch them. AI agents are littered in with human players, adding a lot of chaos.

Fear the spoon!

It’s not all about your fellow aliens, though. Fear the spoon of the unwary (or cold-hearted) eater! It makes the playing field more hazardous, smaller, and can kill slow and unsuspecting players!

We’ve been having a blast creating this game, and we hope to share it with the web soon, once it becomes available on the TOJam website, sometime soon (we hope).

TOJam 6: Morning 3

May 15, 2011

Some Milky WIP

It’s the final day here at TOJam6!

So yesterday was completely lost in a haze of productivity! Milky Doom┬áhas gone from a collection of assets in a weird technical demo of cereal physics to a legitimately fun program that just needs some minor structural additions. Our models are (mostly) textured, our code is nearing completion, and we still have the rest of today! Really, it’s gone much better than I could have anticipated.

Still, there’s a number of things left to do; can’t relax yet!

Uncontrollable Mutation

July 1, 2010

I’m a big fan of the basic idea of super-powers in one form or another — it can make a great play mechanic in a lot of settings, and provides a lot of interesting opportunities. I’ve made several uses of White Wolf’s Aberrant RPG for these types of games (the original d10 version, not the d20 edition they printed later), and with a few modifications (and an entirely new setting) it works really, really well. But there’s one thing in the base Aberrant setting/system I’ve always really liked that I’ve never had the opportunity to properly explore: eruptions.

For the uninitiated, Aberrant is a X-Men style super-hero setting, where some humans have experienced a miraculous mutation that gives them their powers. The initial onset of the mutation is a violent presentation of those abilities, normally preceded by a week of migraines and then triggered by a stressful event, called an eruption. It a very cool basic idea, which suggests that the character’s powers are normally selected based on their personality, and the nature of those events. (more…)

Marshall McLuhan and Suspension of Disbelief

February 10, 2010
Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan... disbelieving?

There’s a number of things that have lead to this particular topic today. I have a slew of games I’d like to discuss, but I haven’t had a chance to give any of them the in-depth look they need (this includes a hilarious gem from Jim McGinley that I promise I’ll get to soon).

However, recently I found myself explaining to a friend one of the most abstract quotes from Marshall McLuhan, one of the greatest minds on media. Simultaneously, elsewhere on the web, I’ve been explaining to someone the major issues with nonsensical mechanics in RPGs. And more recently, I was speaking to a class about how the art elements and mechanic elements of games are separate in design, yet inseparable in experience.

The McLuhan quote in specific was, “A tactile medium in the context of a visual notion of causality“, which is a very complicated way of saying “The experience of physical things is distinctly different than the experience of a record of physical things”. His more famous, and more digestible, statement of this idea was “The medium is the message“. (more…)

Quick Post: Procedural Generation Misconception

September 9, 2009

I was up a little early this morning, reading some new entries over at the IndieGames Blog (specifically “Freeware Game Pick: Trapdoor Below (Telchar)“) when I saw a line that surprised me quite a bit. In describing this roguelike, the following was written: “…and the usual random dungeon generator that ensures every new adventure plays differently from the last.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Whoa! That’s not it at all! Now, I know I’m playing semantics here, but I’ve got a gut feeling that a lot of people don’t quite realize how contrary this statement is, and that might prevent you from appreciating the importance of procedural generation. (more…)

Mirror’s Edge: Successes and Failures

September 3, 2009
Kicking Face in Mirrors Edge

Kicking Face in Mirror's Edge

I recently had the opportunity to play though Mirror’s Edge for the first time — it’s a game I’d had my eye on for a while. After playing it to the end and playing around with it a little, I had mixed feelings of the whole product. Rather than review the game, however, I’d rather just go over what I felt really worked and really didn’t.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Mirror’s Edge is a First Person Action game that is based heavily across the ideas of Parkour. Players control Faith, a ‘runner’ (someone who transports items under the radar of the Big-Brother society in the game) who ends up in the midst of a murder-conspiracy which is fingering her sister Kate. Players use Faith’s skills of martial arts and parkour to try and uncover the truth and save Kate. (more…)

Many Endings

August 21, 2009

As readers of this blog are sure to know, one of the things I value most in games is choice. In most games, however, there’s only one way to finish a game. Even take games with multiple endings, like BioShock or the historical Chrono Trigger — both have multiple endings, but both require you to accomplish the same task to get there. While Chrono Trigger lets you reach this ending point in several different ways, there isn’t any ending that doesn’t involve defeating Lavos, the game’s end boss.

So, here’s something to consider. Why not have multiple game-ending scenarios? While Chrono Trigger has multiple endings, it only has the one game ending scenario — defeat Lavos. But what if there were others, like evacuate the planet, or prevent his arrival, or somehow peacefully resolve the Lavos problem? (more…)

Queens, a cool approach to dying

August 19, 2009


So, a little while back I came across an awesome little indie flash game called Queens, from noonat, made for one of the Ludum Dare competitions. It’s a short, stylish platformer that revolves around a king who tests his wife by putting her inside a crazy little dungeon — if she dies, he can replace her. (more…)