Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

A Game In 0 Hours…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 7, 2011

I tried. I didn’t quite succeed. But I did come out with a game I consider somewhat fun with a little extra work.

I participated in the 0-hour game jam. The idea was to make a game in the hour that exists before Daylight Savings Time turns the clock back… that missing hour between 2 AM and 2 AM. As usually happens, I misjudged the amount of time it would take by a significant fashion. In fact, after just over two hours, I finally had something remotely approaching “playable” but not much fun…

Slings and Arrows, 2-hour prototype

What was I trying to make? Well, the next day I couldn’t help myself. I had to keep tweaking it and getting it closer to my final vision. Here is the semi-final result with a few extra hours of effort. It still needs sounds, special effects, and probably some kind of UI command to restart the game instead of just refreshing the page. But it’s a lot closer to what I INTENDED to build during the 0-hour game jam:

Slings and Arrows, version 0.9

I haven’t been able to get past level 10.

As for the final gameplay prototype (the second link), I’m pretty happy with it. I like how in the beginning of the game it’s really pretty mechanical: You deflect the rocks and dynamite, and dodge the arrows. Easy. But then later in the game, you have to make some decisions at high-speed. Something may get through, so you either have to “super-spin” or pick something to go through, and you usually don’t want it to be the dynamite. You may not be able to dodge the arrows, especially if they are heading towards an unprotected side of the fort, so you will have to suck up the penalty. I confess I can’t see what I’d do with this thing to make it anything resembling a commercial product, but for such a quick-and-dirty prototype I think it’s pretty fun.

As far as the experience:  I spent too long on the art assets – believe it or not, those crappy little projectile sprites took me about 5 minutes each, which is about 3 minutes too long on each one. When working under a 60-minute time limit, that crap really counts! I’m still learning Unity, so that probably slowed me down a little, too. But probably only by about 20% or so. Really, my scope was, once again, too frickin’ large.

The whole point of these kinds of game jams is, in my mind, sort of like a training exercise. It’s like playing your scales. You can put your skills to the test, evaluate how you perform under pressure, hopefully learn a bit, and try out some new ideas or get some practice working with a particular engine / API.  Or all of the above.

Filed Under: Free Games, Game Development, Indie Evangelism - Comments: 11 Comments to Read

  • Gary the Llama said,

    Nice job. Any interest in releasing the source? I know nothing about Unity but this seems like it would be a cool and simple project to dig into.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    So much of Unity is not actually handled in code, per se, but I’ve got three script files controlling the action. I’d be happy to share those, as terrible as they are. Maybe someone can help me correct something I’m doing wrong… 🙂

    Can’t do it until much later, though. I’m at work and it’ll be crunch mode for the next couple of days.

  • McTeddy said,

    Not bad, Jay. It’s simple, but fairly fun. It’s a far better project than what I ended up with.

    I had planned to try a group project with some buddies of mine… but they apparently didn’t think to install visual studios or set up the libraries prior to dev night.

    I ended up passing out long before my team was prepared to start the development.

    On the plus side… they are now prepared for next years event! 🙂

  • Greg Tedder said,

    If you don’t mind me asking, and correct me if I have my terms wrong, but what was your asset pipeline and how efficient did it feel?

  • reader said,

    Fun !
    Only obvious tweak i’d still make is to make things bounce back according to the incident angle of hitting the shield, not at the reverse of the original vector they came in on.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    @Greg – It was absolutely trivial and efficient. I am amazed at Unity in this respect. Everything in the game is a cube, created with the built-in editor. But bringing in models and textures created with another editor is incredibly simple. Plus, if you edit directly from the asset directory, Unity will pick up the changes and automatically refresh them inside the editor.

    If I were to do more with this, I’d replace the projectiles with quads instead of cubes (so I could have some freedom to use a perspective camera instead of orthogonal – wouldn’t have to see the cube-sides). There is a “plane” primitive in Unity that can be used, but it creates it out of a large number of polygons, when all I really need is a a single quad. It probably wouldn’t make a difference in a project like this, though.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    @reader – since the bouncing objects are (in this proof-of-concept) purely cosmetic, I didn’t make that a priority. I should probably tweak the background color, as the rocks can get hard to see. Sound effects and more special effect ‘feedback’ to help you see what’s going on would also be important. And some better feedback to let you know you just moved to a new level.

    Interestingly, my original concept (discarded about 10 minutes into the 0-hour jam) had physical enemies tossing the weapons at you, and you could deflect them or store them to be fired later. In retrospect, not only did I not have time for that, I’m not sure that they’d have made a better game. But then the angle of deflection would have been critical. You can see some bare-bones remnants of that in the 2-hour prototype, where the rocks deflected back at each other would destroy both objects. I didn’t feel it added anything to the game as it exists, so I got rid of it in the later version.

  • OttoMoBiehl said,

    Jay, what is your overall impression of Unity. Is it possible that we’d see a version of Frayed Knights made with Unity?

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    @OttoMoBiehl – If I was starting from scratch right now, I’d almost certainly use Unity. I’m pretty impressed with it. But then I’ve not delved deeply enough to discover all of its warts yet.

    As to an FK Unity … man, I’d like to. Part of this experimentation right now is for me to help get an idea for what it would take. Unfortunately, it’d probably take quite a bit, compared to continuing with what I’ve got, so I really don’t know.

  • GhanBuriGhan said,

    First try, Level 7. Do I get on the Highscore? 😉
    Pretty amazing for a few hours work!

  • Xenovore said,

    Not a bad little game! =)

    I do think implementing full collision on all objects would make it really interesting, e.g. if you could deflect dynamite into a herd of rocks and blow them all up (or at least deflect them all away) that would be huge. Another idea: the arrows could come from an archer that randomly pops out, and wanders around shooting. You’d have to deflect junk back at him to take him out. (Similar to the saucers in Asteroids that come out and take potshots at you.)