Spring 09 48 Hour Competition - World 2

Introduction

You play as the gods of the earth trying to rebuild it after it is destroyed. The theme for this year was "If there is no environment, where will we do stuff?" We focus on the solution: create a new environment. The game adresses issues such as pollution and water maneagement. This brings up the very real problems that we face in the world right now and therefore the theme question could not be more fitting.

The planet starts as a small scrap of earth that maneaged to survive with a few humans on it. You must increase the planet's size without upsetting the balance. The only problem is, the people on the planet will reproduce no matter what you do. In so doing they upset the balance on their own, creating pollution and draining the water supply. Humans become a frustrating but necessary burden, without them you as the gods cannot exist.

Team

All team members contributed to the design of the game.

  • Lanz Singbeil - Music, Balancing
  • Kristin Kobayashi - Art
  • Shane Morin - Programming
  • Eric Raue - Programming
  • Samppa Raski - Art

Screenshots

titlescreen-thumb.PNG instructions-thumb.PNG gameplay-thumb.PNG gameplay3-thumb.PNG

Download

You need to install Microsoft XNA Framework Redistributable 3.0 to run the game.

Postmortem

Our team consisted of mostly artists and designers. Eric was the only experienced programmer on the team although other members had taken basic programming courses. We had each member focus on their strengths. Samppa created most of the art using his skills in Maya. Kristin unfortunately had to work both days but she helped out in the evenings with design and art. Lanz composed music and balanced the game. Eric programmed the game including setting up the basic framework and animations. Shane did gameplay programming and gameplay balancing.

Initially Eric suggested that SDL and C++ would be a good choice, although he would be willing to try C# and Microsoft's XNA since it looked easy to use. Once our design was fleshed out we realized that there would be a lot of rotational logic involved and may not be best suited for plain SDL. Having only looked at Riemer's XNA tutorials a couple hours before the competition, Eric suggested that we try XNA. None of the team had any experience programming in C# or XNA before the competition. We used Subversion and Google Docs to coordinate. Music was composed in Mixcraft and art was done in Maya and Photoshop.

What went right

  1. Choosing XNA as a development platform. Although none of us had programmed in C# or used XNA before we were able to program our game in 48 hours with most of the features we planned. XNA made it easy to load images, music and sound effects which allowed us to focus on implementing gameplay. Images could be easily scaled and rotated which was a big part of our design. Since C# is very beginner friendly we were able to get a few members of our team contributing to programming. If we had used C++ this would not have been possible.
  2. Original music. Lanz manged to compose three songs that fit our game perfectly. He has very little experience with digital music and composing so this was an amazing feat.
  3. Sleep. We decided to go home and sleep both nights which helped us maintain our concentration during day time. This was not without risks since Saturday night we still didn't have a feature complete game with the only space objects being asteroids. We were able to complete the game on time and with a decent amount of sleep.

What went wrong

  1. Game balancing. Our design sounded fun but it was hard to understand how fun it would be until it was implemented. If we could not balance our game once we had it implemented then we would not have a fun game. The game turned out slightly too difficult due to some last minute tweaks. If we had focused on one or two simple gameplay mechanics instead it would have been much easier to visualize how fun the game would be and not take a shot in the dark like we did.
  2. Lack of player feedback. When the player dies we do not indicate why they died. The pollution level indicator is too subtle. We were so accustomed to our game that we did not realize this information was not made clear to a player playing the game for the first time. Not all visual cues were implemented such as space objects besides asteroids exploding when they collide.

Concluding remarks

Eric: Usually I try to do everything myself including art so it was nice to focus only on programming since I knew I could count on my team. Using XNA was a real treat since it was much quicker to implement features than using C++ and SDL. We had an ambitious design and did cut back a lot during design but ultimately I would have liked to do more.

Lanz: I had to leave 3 hours early so i was pretty bummed…but it was an amazing experience. I recommend going even if you don't feel like you would be able to contribute programming skills or art skills we always can use more people. Our game idea was really well developed, the balancing was done quite well considering the time we had but difficulty levels were not implemented (it took me 10 tries to beat the game). The music was really fun to compose and maybe doing some dynamic music would be fun to try next time (we only just had songs playing on a loop and not determined by player action). The art quality was excellent and our game seemed almost proffessional in that regard. Really great work everyone.

Samppa: The concept development process we went through was definitely interesting — I was surprised by how many good ideas we came up with in so little time, working from a theme that initially didn't seem very inspiring. From that point on the team worked very well together, with everyone's talents fully utilized. Eric did a great job here organizing our efforts and keeping our aims realistic. For my part, I got to play around with an art style I wouldn't normally use, and which I rather like in the end. I may end up adapting it for other projects as well. I also came to appreciate the awesomeness of subversion — moving files around with flash drives now seems so cumbersome.

Kristin:
It was really unfortune that wasn't there for most of the time, because I would have liked to have seen the process that created this excellent game. I didn't have any experience in making games,so this was a great way of understanding how it works and what position I would take in the team. Everyone did an awesome job at making this game, under 48 hours too!

Shane: I have a much greater appreciation of game balancing ><.

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