2 Games a Month — Game Sprint 3

In the 2 Games a Month program, teams of four have two weeks to create a working prototype of a game following a set theme. Every ‘Sprint’ the teams change as well to promote cooperation between all participants.

Two more weeks have passed by and Game Sprint 3 has been successfully wrapped up. The various teams had their hands full with the theme which was “existing stories”. This could range from fairy tales to mythological tales and so forth. A few great prototypes have been made and you can read all about it down below.

Daemonium Porcus — An asymmetrical multiplayer game for three players. Two must escape with a relic from the maze while the other hunts them down.

Baldr — A tower defense game in a Norse mythological setting. Protect your village from the frost giants!

Waxarus — A 2D platformer where you play as Waxarus and use your wings to climb the Tower of Babel.

Frozen Heart — A runner game where you chase the Snow Queen to rescue your friend Kai. With speedrunning potential!

Dylan Millian, Thijs Snoeck, Jens De Wachter, Milan Vanalderwerelt

What is Daemonium Porcus?

Daemonium Porcus is an asymmetrical multiplayer game where two Greek slaves try to get a relic from the center of a maze guarded by a gruesome monster.

It’s loosely based on the story of the maze of the minotaur, but takes in a reality where, before the maze was inhabited by the minotaur, a far worse creature roamed its halls, “Daemonium Porcus”.

Settling on the idea

In our brainstorming phase, we divided up each into our specific parts of the supernatural/religious stories that exist. Someone would be diving deep into the bible and Christianity, whilst someone else would be diving deep into Viking lore or ancient greek mythologies. On a completely different note, we also researched some paranormal occurrences that appeared in history to see if we could find something really cool to work further with.

Eventually with the inspiration gathered from a lot of sources we found two pictures that really interested us and got our ideas already running wild with ideas.

The Tower of Babel (by Pieter Bruegel) and Theseus and the Minotaur (by Edward Burne-Jones)

This being the tower of Babel and the mysteries surrounding the Minotaur from ancient Greece. Later on, Jesus and the demon pigs completed this picture.

Armed with these inspirations we settled on having a demonic pig roam around in a circular maze defending a prized relic, a golden pig head.

The slaves sent into the maze were tasked to steal this relic from under Porcus his snout and to bring it back safely.

Some learnings

When prototyping over such a short time, letting everyone focus on their own responsibilities can be a huge benefit. With good communication and teamwork, we managed to get on the same page about a concept.

The initial concept vs the final product

The future

What we foresee for the future is adding in more and more monsters to accompany Porcus in the maze and to challenge the slaves who are trying to get the prized relic that is in the middle. These monsters would have different abilities than the Porcus, what these would be is something that only the future will tell.

Besides that, we would also like to implement a more intricate level. At the moment we are working with one circular maze with some moveable walls but we really want to make the entire maze rotate and move to make the entire thing feel more dynamic and to make intricate tactics possible.

Besides that, we were also experimenting with the idea of making the maze multilayered, with different layers that the players could traverse between. With the Slaves starting at the top layer and having to go down into the maze to try and get to the prized relic.

Baldr: How hard it can be to balance a game

Simon Buyck, Jorik Weymans, Lucas Van Baeveghem, Arnaud Sougnez

Summary of the game and the theme

The theme and game are both based around Norse mythology. Our story/game starts outwith Baldr, the warrior of his village. With all the men and women out on the seas. He’s the one who has the fight off the frost giants. But luckily he's not fighting alone, the gods are helping. Kill some frost giants and earn God Favor. With the God Favor, you can then build statues of one of the gods. They’ll then fight with you till the bitter end.

How did you settle on this idea/game?

At the start, none of the team members had an idea of what we could do for a game. Meaning no one had a theme and a game genre/concept. That is why we tackled the brainstorming differently than we normally do. The game requires that we should start from an existing story, this does not mean that we have to make a story-based game nor tell an existing story and create a game around it. We started by adding stories we know on the miro board.

After this we started by listing game genres we were a fan of. We had around 20 game genres in the end. We then took the one we all liked the most (and were the most feasible in 2 weeks to make because making an MMO-RPG is impossible in this timeframe).

This gave us 6 game genres: roguelike, tower defense, stealth, bullet hell, third-person shooter, and dress-up. We debated about what genre to make and what story to take. In the end ended up with: tower defense + Norse mythology. We quickly created a concept of the game and from this, it all started.

Lessons learned. What went well? What didn’t?

The main thing that didn’t work out for us was the style of the game. There were a lot of different art styles: low poly, realistic, stylized low poly. This is because we chose to make them look a bit better than just grey cubes. We mainly focused on the towers, which are the main aspect of the game, to look good and in the style we were heading for.

Is the concept viable? Do you see a future in it?

The overall concept of the game is viable. But there is still a lot of work ahead of us to create a fun-to-play game for everyone. We have worked out some ideas already on paper that we want to implement in the game. We do see a future for this game but there is still a lot of work to do gameplay-wise. It still feels too bland to say it’s a great game, but with some fresh eyes and a good mood, this can become the next best game.

Waxarus: A Wax-tastic Prototype

Robin Decock, Viktor Colpaert, Julien Lommaert, Jeroen Janssens

Short Summary

Waxarus is a Metroidvania inspired 2D platformer in which you play as a child called Waxarus who has wings of wax. Progress through the levels to reach the highest point in the tower of Babel and make your way to godhood. Be warned, those wings won’t keep you in the air for long when taking flight. Extend your godly power by finding all of the god feathers and try to reach the heavens!

Getting The Brain Juices Flowing

We came up with the idea behind Waxarus by looking into many different well-known stories, from mythologies to fairy tales. We had many different ideas but found the one based on the story of Icarus the most interesting. In short Icarus’ dad made him wings of wax to fly off a tower but when he got too close to the sun his wings melted away.

We decided to work it out further and that is when the tower of Babel got added to the mix because we felt that the setting would fit the story of Icarus quite nicely. We then worked out the core mechanics and art style but had some issues with the latter.

Searching For A Fitting Artstyle

Something we struggled with was coming up with a fitting art style. We first made something that was generic Low Poly but wanted to apply the same style you can find in Valheim. Doing this would require baking maps and that would take too long because we only had 2 weeks. Because of this, we went with a more 2D art style using the workflow that was used in Dead Cells. We recreated the shader and, thanks to the shader, had the workflow to convert the 3D models to 2D pixelated art.

No-Vania to Metroidvania

We saw in the second week that the feather system was not comfortable, because the player didn’t have enough terrain to get used to the hover system. The hover extension also made it so that the player couldn’t determine if he could cross a gap or not. We still tried to implement more visualization to make it clear for the player but all efforts deemed meaningless on that subject. We decided that we had to change the way of the game. Because of this, we looked at the Metroidvania game style and quickly adapted to that.

We gave Waxarus only one static hover time and 2 new abilities that could be unlocked through the level, a feather shoot ability and a divebomb (quick descent which concludes into a downward impact).

Level Design: A Struggle for Openness

At first, we decided to go for a typical linear platformer from left to right. However, we soon realized that this would be a bit boring. Because of this, we decided to try and make it more open, which would suit our main mechanic of hovering better. Soon the narrow hallways we were crafting turned into open areas that allowed you to soar through the sky. No longer was right the only way to go, you could also go left now. Up and down too! This change did cause some new issues, however, as we might have gone a little overboard with our scale. Because of this, the screen of our devices could not capture the entire area anymore. We believe that this issue could have been avoided if we had used a tilemap, which is something we will definitely take with us to the next 2D prototype we make.

Some Final Thoughts

Despite the struggles and hardships, we believe that we ended up with a good end result with some shortcomings here and there. The most important thing is that we learned from our mistakes so that we can develop even better games next time. We surely think that if we got another chance at making a platformer that we would tackle it quite differently. This would also result in a much more appealing end result. We see a future in this game but not necessarily with all of the mechanics that we have right now, a lot needs to be added or reworked in order to make it commercially viable.

Frozen Heart: The Speedrunner in a fairy tale

Jérémy Jägers, Tinca Antohi, Briek Keters, Christian Fedrau

Summary of the game and theme

Frozen Heart is a Running Game that mixes the “cute” aspect with speedrun gameplay.

Because the story is based on “The Snow Queen”, the purpose is to save Kai from the Snow Queen by dodging obstacles, enemies and paying attention to your heat bar by keeping your torch warm enough with the different campfires in the levels otherwise the cold will take hold of you and freeze you completely!

Don’t forget to make the best score by reaching the end of the levels the faster you can!

How we got the idea

One of our team members got inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen”. The story of Gerda looking for Kai fit in the environment of a runner's game. And it is the type of story which is appealing to everyone.

The further we spent thinking about that concept, the more ideas we gained for the gameplay; such as Gerda having a torch that must always be lit, lest she would freeze in the icy forest. We also thought of a simple manner of showing the story in the game by having the text window conversation between Gerda & Kai.

Lessons learned

We learned that taking your time in the first days of development to think the idea through and concept is vital. Our team spent two days gathering references and listing down the game mechanics; by doing so — we had a clear view of what we desired to deliver and worked with little struggles on the actual development.

Our artists had to accommodate working in a minimalistic style, given that it can be quite challenging to create a world in such style without making it as if it is lacking details. While the programmers discovered how crucial outside feedback is. Without the playtesting coming from other sides, they would omit the multiple collision bugs the game had.

Is the concept viable? What’s in the future?

Our team would expand the world Gerda and Kai live in by adding more levels. If time allowed us — our game would encounter the final chapter of “The Snow Queen”’s story. Eventually, after crossing multiple levels, Gerda would arrive in the Snow Queen’s palace, where a special “boss encounter” would occur. She would rescue Kai and much like in the tale: live happily ever after…

Conclusion

Based on the past two Game Sprints player feedback has been done more often and the teams felt more confident as a result. There are, however, still a few things for some of them that can be improved.

  • Too many interruptions mess with the workflow.
  • Don’t be too hasty to finish props before the blockout.
  • Come up with an art style in the first week.
  • Similarly, don’t add more main mechanics in the second week.
  • Starting earlier on a trailer so it doesn’t feel rushed/incomplete.

It’s not all bad, though, as the teams were able to reflect on the things that worked really well, too!

  • Playtesting with externals (outside the program) over the weekend worked out really well.
  • Blocking out a rough level first helps.
  • The “1111” structure is perfect — 1 developer, 1 audio/UX designer, 1 2D artist, 1 3D artist.
  • Having two days to polish delivers a good result.

With that, we’ve wrapped up our bi-weekly report. Thank you for reading and we’ll see you again for the next report!