Archive for the ‘Videogames’ Category

NZ games in the spotlight

The New Zealand Game Developers Association has a promo video for 2011 out now on the PlayMaker Youtube channel. As of this date there are at least 26 studios in New Zealand “registered” with the NZGDA and likely a fair few more independents who are yet to contact us.

I edited the vid on a tight timeline and unfortunately didn’t have time to include many of the great titles out there but that will hopefully be remedied with the next promo clip we do.

We’ve got a lot going on in our little country when it comes to games and the best is yet to come!

Introducing the Templar for Grinding Gear Games

Recently we finished directing, editing and post production on a trailer for Grinding Gear Games. The trailer introduces the Templar class, a devout fighting monk type (my words, not theirs!) who finds himself exiled for his pursuit of the truth beyond religious rhetoric.

The process of creating the trailer was a lot of fun, from the concept stage with Grinding Gear Games founders Chris Wilson, Jonathan Rogers and Erik Olofsson – who are also the primary creative and technical force behind the game Path of Exile – through to directing the voice actor (Kevin Harty, who did a great job voicing the scottish type brogue of the weathered holy man), editing the trailer and adding post production polish with twitch and motion effects.

We’re happy with the result, which hints at the depth of the world behind the game and really showcases the amazing technical capability of the engine Grinding Gear have created for their free to play Online Action RPG!

NZ’s iOS Dev Community is flourishing

There’s no doubt the low barrier to entry for mobile devices has seen a mini-explosion of sorts on the indie dev scene.

We have a great number of new studios in NZ devoted to iOS / mobile games and it’s encouraging to see that a small team of one to three people can make a name for themselves in the new democratic indie frontier!

The blog on NZ’s indie community site, PlayMaker, has been created to present work from any and all devs – no matter how big or small (i.e. not just indies) – in the New Zealand game development scene. There’s no shortage of news to post but there’re certainly a lot of iOS devs who see the limelight on the frontpage.

I think it’s something to celebrate and the latest post I’ve written for PlayMaker presents a game from a Hamilton-based developer called Ironshod. Every time a new iOS dev signs up to the PlayMaker site or makes the news (or a tweet) somewhere I make a beeline for the app store to pull down their game. I’m always keen to check out the latest from our little community and it’s always great to show support too!

Reverse Maze is an engaging little game and I’ve found myself caught up for more than a few minutes at a time whenever I pick it up.

Check out the PlayMaker post here and the trailer for Reverse Maze below.

Trailer Editing

Editing a trailer is an exercise in pure creativity that I enjoy immensely.

The whole idea behind a trailer is to promote the work you’re presenting and to do it in a concise and engaging way. Subtle touches will move the audience emotionally and viscerally if you get them right – a quick flash frame with an accompanying ‘boom’ on the soundtrack can create excitement, anticipation and fear.

Having the opportunity to edit the trailers for Grinding Gear Games’ forthcoming Action RPG Path of Exile has been a lot of fun. The latest trailer we’ve completed presents the Duelist class and three bosses from the second Act of the game.

 

Next version of Danger Balls in the pipeline

Sweet! We made it onto DIYgamer’s “Top 10 Break Out Indie Games of 2010” – thanks DIYgamer for putting us up alongside class like Shank and Super Meat Boy!

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Our momentum on Danger Balls slowed down after we completed the IGF competition version of the game; everyone needed a break so we’ve been working on other projects – like PlayMaker – and prepping for our next version, due mid-December.

The next version of Danger Balls will contain a few more of the features we were hoping to get into the first – luckily the IGF rules allow for updates to your entry. Although the organisers don’t guarantee that the judges will see any updates you make, it can’t hurt to have the option available. It benefits us to have a version that more adequately highlights the features of the game, too.

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P.S. the IGF is going to be killer with the number of quality entries this year – the worst part is knowing that you might have to wait quite a while before you’ll ever get to play some of them.

Danger Balls deadlines loom…

Phew… it’s been a busy month… The IGF deadline for submissions approaches and we’re tweaking madly to make the Nov 1st date. We’re pretty happy with how the game’s shaping up but we’re trying to milk every last little bit of stickiness from the settings to get the best possible play experience… There’s plenty to say on that, as far as the art and skill of gameplay balancing but we’ll post on that when we have enough time to do so!

DBalls Screencap

Thanks to our friends at Thinkt the soundfx for the game are great and have put a whole new spin on it for those of us who’ve been immersed in the silent version for so long! Thanks also to the inimitable Mr. Ryan Cooper of Mukpuddy for lending his chameleonic voice to the game’s primary antagonist, the Overseer TV – I think I spent more time laughing at his outrageous ball gag adlibs during the recording session than actually working xD.

We’ve also just finished putting together an early version trailer of Danger Balls for the AnimFX showcase coming up in November in Wellington – we’ll include that in a post after the event.

In all, Danger Balls has been a truly indie endeavour as we’ve only worked on it in our spare time, for the most part as a team of three (writer/producer, artist, programmer), and I’m glad to see us approaching a milestone in development with confidence : ). We’ve got a way to go, yes, but it’s good to be where we are, too!

We’ll update with more info over the next few months…

We're all Monkeys

A certain person (who shall remain nameless) at the recent X | Media | Lab put it best when he said: “we’re all monkeys”.

He was responding to my spiel about my experience with GamerDNA, a site that incentivises and engages its community with rewards and achievements for such things as: filling in 5 pieces of profile information; uploading 25 or more game screenshots; logging 5 articles of gamer news; inviting 5 or more friends to join up, etc.

I signed up to the site about a year ago and was quickly drawn in by the little incentivising gimmicks that were thrown at me. As our nameless friend pointed out, I allowed my buttons to be pushed and I responded by the book: Monkey.

This type of system obviously has its roots in gaming, tapping into the competitive and reward-driven aspect of our nature as it does, but others argue that you can apply the same game-like mechanics to even the most mundane of activities – personal finance, for instance? – and incentivise and engage your users in a tangible way.

Turn the world into a game, they argue, and it works better. Give people a competition, and it can transform a dull-but-important task into something exciting.

Wired – How Game Design Can Revolutionize Everyday Life

At Pixelati, this system of engaging users through achievement and reward based systems really resonated with my personal approach to game design, so you’ll find it crops its head up in, for example, our Danger Balls game, which is ostensibly a “casual” title with the difference that we’re implementing dynamic goals-based gameplay and granular player-activity-based scoring (e.g. if you jump a lot, you’re “jumpy”, and your score and title reflects this).

…there’s a strong correlation between games that sell well and games that offer numerous and diverse accomplishments…

Gamespot – Achievement-rich Games Sell Better

Of course, time will tell whether we’ve actually done a good job of incorporating these mechanics into our game but if we have, by all accounts players/users will respond and engage in a much greater way than if we don’t employ these systems. The fun comes when we apply them in other areas, like community websites – but that’s a future blog post : ).

There’s more reading here (thanks to Rajat Paharia and Bunchball for the links throughout this article!):

The Wrinkled Future of Online Gaming (Wired)
Marrying Social Worlds with Game Mechanics (WorldsInMotion.biz)

Meet the Danger Balls Development team

Tim Evans: Game Designer / Artist

Tim Evans is the strange chap with the charming photo on our “About” page. I think his mummy and daddy dropped him on his head when he was a baby. They say you have to be a bit loopy to be a good game designer – I don’t know if that’s true (or even if anyone actually said it) but it takes up paragraph space.

Tom Mulgrew: Coder / Game Designer

Tom is our evil genius coding guy – he takes the random ideas everyone comes up with and turns them into maths that the computer (or, in this case, Xbox) can understand. I think he was dropped on his head too… just check out his Bebo page if you don’t believe me… (specifically that little video down the left-hand side…)

Damien Caine: Writer / Musician

The other member of the team is me – I’m the guy behind the camera who watches everyone else do the hard work, pokes a camera in their face at the most annoying times, then turns up at the after party, claims all the glory, and collapses drunk in the garden out the back for the night. I also do a bit of writing and game design when I’m allowed to.

Together, we make up the Danger Balls Development team for Pixelati. And here’s the first video blog in a regular series on the making of Danger Balls (note: there’s a lot of temp programmer art in there at the moment :).

Game Development – Danger Balls

We’re working on a small game at the moment called “Danger Balls”. It’s a concept from the mind of our primary game designer Tim Evans and it’s destined for Xbox LIVE.

In a nutshell, you have to help the fingerling avoid the balls (which one can assume are ‘dangerous’) for as long as possible. Our lead programmer Tom (aka Mot) is working in the XNA platform using C# and is greatly enjoying having premium art content from a professional animator/artist to work with xD.

We’ll have video content about the making of this game as it develops, but for now here’s a screenshot of Danger Balls in early development (note the programmer art for the cannons : ).

Early Development Screenshot

Early Development Screenshot

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P I X E L A T I

We are a transmedia entertainment company working in video, music, web and games.

We've made game trailers with Grinding Gear Games, created music videos with Illegal Musik, built communities with PlayMaker, and we're working on a casual game for Xbox and iOS called Danger Balls.