— cjohnson games

Expand at Out of Index

Starting from about 2 months ago Chris and I began entering Expand into several different festivals/competitions. So far the selections have only been announced for one of those festivals which is Out of Index and luckily for us, Expand was selected. Out of Index was held roughly a week ago from today in Seoul, South Korea. The festival is a new festival that works in a similar fashion to the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC. Several games are selected based on their experimental nature, each game has a short 5 minute slot in which the developer presents the game to an audience and then the audience can play the games.

The organisers of Out of Index created this super rad trailer that gives you a better picture of what things were like.

Here is the presentation that I gave for Expand. It’s only five minutes long and should give you an idea about the mechanics that are used in the game.

The selection of games is a mix of Korean and international games. I’m currently working my way through the presentations for each game. I’d encourage you to do the same as there is a lot of interesting stuff to see.

Last weekend was AVCon and The Indie Games Room. I’ll do a post up about that after I receive some of the photo’s that were taken from the event.

Expand at Indie Games Room – AVCon + Talk

Expand is going to be playable at this year’s Indie Games Room at AVCon. AVCon is an anime and video games convention that is held annually at the Adelaide Convention Centre in South Australia. Both Chris and I will be there showing the game so feel to come along, play the game and have a bit of a chat with us about it.

I’ll also be giving a talk with Jake Moore about getting started making games on the Sunday afternoon. Here is the talk description.

Ever wanted to make your own video game? Not sure where to start? This is the session for you! We’ll be running through advice on getting started, what tools you need, where you can help and how you can distribute your game.

It should be a really fun weekend. I’ve been helping Brad, the IGR coordinator with the event this year. Mostly just preparing material for the website and handling the social media side of things.

Puzzle Script Workshop at Hamra Centre Library

I’m doing a re-run of the PuzzleScript workshop that I ran earlier in the year but this time at the Hamra Centre Library. The workshop will run from 10am to 2pm with a lunch break in between. This is apart of the library’s school holiday program and is aimed towards younger folks between the ages of 12 and 17(inclusive). I’m intending on keeping most of the workshop the same as the previous one. I’ll probably smooth out some of the sound bank material towards the end and possibly space things out a bit more.

Spots are limited so you’ll want to register for the event. The library has the software and computers all ready to go. So just bring yourself and some pen and paper to make notes.

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One of the attendee’s at the last event, a friend of mine called Stuart actually went on to build two great PuzzleScript games. They are The Nodus and The Nodus: The Puzzle Caves. I highly recommend them.

Update – There are no more spots available in the workshop. The slides from the past workshop are online, so you can follow along at home. I’ll probably update that website with the newer slides leading up to the event. The slides are largely passed on the PuzzleScript documentation with a few examples added to confirm people’s understanding of the material.

New Expand Website + Out of Index Selection

If you keep track of my Twitter feed then you will know that this posting is a few days out. So much has been going on recently that it’s tricky to keep track of it all.

Last week I update the website for Expand. If you’re not familair with Expand, it’s been a long term project for myself and good friend, Chris Larkin. To quickly summarise the game:

Expand is a single player video game in which players explore a circular labyrinth constructed as an abstract black and white geometric landscape. Players must avoid getting squashed as the labyrinth twists, stretches and reveals itself, always responding to the players actions and movements.

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The old wordpress website didn’t really convey what the game was about and felt a bit out of date. I think this new website quickly gets across what the game is about. Beyond setting up the page itself I also created a new Facebook page which I hope to regularly post to with updates about the game and it’s development. I also setup a short video of the game, some screens and Chris kindly uploaded one of the tracks to SoundCloud.

The game will definitely be available to download through itch.io and hopefully other distribution services too, if the cards fall nicely. I’ve currently announced a release date November 2014. It may be a little bit hopeful but it’s what we’re aiming for.

Last Thursday, when I was about to upload the website when I received an email confirming that Expand has been selected for the Out Of Index Festival in Seoul, South Korea. Out Of Index is a new games festival based on the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC. As part of Out Of Index I’ve submitted a short presentation about the game. It’ll also be playable at an after party event. This made my week. I’m really excited to be apart of something so fresh and exciting.

Expand will also be playable at this years Indie Games Room at Adelaide’s AVCon. I’ll do another post about that shortly as I’ve been involved in helping arrange the event this year.

The Cave of Ātman is released

The Cave of Ātman is out today. Based on the play tester feedback we made several tweaks through out the game. We also spend a bit of time layering the music as you progress through the puzzles.

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You can play the game on the following portals. If you enjoy the game then feel free to throw us some coin through itch.io.

Hayden has also made the soundtrack available for free on Bandcamp.

I believe that Dan is writing up an article about the game. I’ll share that through along my own thoughts about the game a bit later on.

Enjoy and let us know what you think.

New Project for Interstate Arcade

Recently I started working on a new project with my friend Stuart for Interstate Arcade. Interstate Arcade is a public games arcade that will touring around Australia later this year. Each of the cabinets in the arcade is custom built and games are sourced by local independent artists.

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The callout for games closed about a week ago however it’s still possible to get your game into the arcade. Originally 8 or so cabinet designs were proposed, each of these designs had different input configurations from your standard arcade machine. The changes to the input layout encourage designs for different kinds of games and that’s what got me interested in making something for this project.

Stuart and I went on a short hike together to brain storm ideas. This was a really great idea as I needed to get away from the computer after crunching on Expand for the IndieCade late submission deadline. We toyed around with a few ideas but in the end came up with something that we think is pretty neat. For now, we’re both wanting to keep tight lipped but eventually we’ll reveal all the details.

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What I can say is that we’ve chosen the cabinet design displayed above. There are two monitors and 12 buttons. There is enough room for someone to be in front of two buttons at once. Our game can be played with 1-12 players however I think it’s probably best played with 2 – 4. I’ve ordered some buttons online and am intending on making a custom controller to help us play test the game.

In terms of the collaboration with Stuart. I’m responsible for the programming and he’s doing the graphics and music. We’ll both have a hand in the design. Stuart’s pixel art is really fantastic, I’d encourage you to head over to his website and check it out. Stuart also came along to the puzzle script workshop that I ran at the Adelaide City Council library a few months ago. Since then he’s made two really great puzzle script games, The Nodus and The Nodus:Puzzle Caves, you should give them a shot.

For now we both are wanting to keep tight lipped about the idea. However I can share a little intro screen that we’ve been working on. Enjoy.

Testers for The Cave of Atman

Late last year my twin brother, Daniel proposed a game idea to me. The idea was based on a mechanic from strategy role playing game Jean D’arc for the PSP. In that game, when you attack an enemy they drop an aura behind them. If you collect this aura then your unit becomes stronger which is advantageous. However if an enemy unit collects the aura then they become stronger. This mechanic creates a stronger emphasis on the direction in which you attack a unit and how your units stand their ground.

Dan wanted to build a small puzzle game that used this idea. He showed me several unit types of level variations that he had scribbled out on paper. It was clear that the idea had merit and that he’d put a bit of thought into it. So I decided to help him build out the game. I was quite excited to work with him as he hasn’t created any games since our first commercial game Pollution Solution which we created while in high school.

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We are nearing the end of development on the game which is called The Cave of Atman and are looking for people to help us play test the game. The game has already gone through a few passes of testing and at this stage we are looking to iron out any bugs. If you’re interested in helping us out then please get in touch.

Free Local Multiplayer Games Website

One thing that I really enjoy doing is playing through the batch of games that are developed as part of game jams such as Ludum Dare. I usually sit down with my girlfriend and we take turns in trying out the different games. We also run through games listed on curated websites such as Free Indie Games and the recently released games on portals such as Game Jolt. When trolling through the list of games, those listed as local multiplayer games tend to stick because we both want to play.

Unfortunately there aren’t any websites that just curate free, local multiplayer games which is why I created a small tumblr blog to do just this. It’s called Free Local Multiplayer and was released a few weeks ago. I’m trying to regularly update the site with new games every week or so. The idea is to build a list of solid, enjoyable games that people can play together with a friend or at larger multiplayer parties. The spirit of playing games in a communal space with friends, strangers, family, partners or whoever is something that I think is definitely worth spreading.

Screenshot from 2014-06-05 01:42:29

I wanted to create something that was vibrate and fun. The website needed to quickly get across the types of experiences people could have which is why I opted for the grid design with large cells. I ended up choosing to use tumblr and modified an existing theme. The selection of themes on tumblr is impressive with most themes looking fantastic. I was originally hoping to use animated gifs for each screenshot however I ran into issues related to CORS so I opted for static screens instead.

All of the games posted are tweeted out at @FLMGames. If you’re interested in helping me curate the website then feel free to get in touch.

Third Games Playtesting Session

Later this month there will be another games play testing session held at CDW Studios. It’ll start run from 2pm – 4pm on Sunday 25th of May. If you’re making a game or interested in helping play test some then feel free to come along.

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All of the important details have been posted on the Facebook event page. Hope to see you there.

Expressions of Interest open for IGR

The Indie Games Room is an area inside of Adelaide’s AVCon reserved for showcasing independent games to AVCon attendees. I’ve been involved in showing games within IGR for the last three years, helped organise it in 2011 and am supporting this year’s organiser.

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Expressions of Interest(EOI) for this years Indie Games Room(IGR) are now open and will be open till Friday 16th May at 5pm ACST. Given my involvement with IGR I’d encourage game developers to consider submitting an EOI for this years show. I think’s it’s a valuable experience and I want to provide a few reasons as to why this is the case.

It’s a deadline!

Festivals and shows act as great reasons to get stuff done. They provide you with a deadline to plan and work towards. Unlike any arbitrary deadline you may construct for your team an event actually has real world weight and importance. Failing to meet that deadline also has consequences beyond the disappointment of not meeting them.

Understanding your own game

The EOI process tends to take people longer than expected to complete. This is especially true this year as we’ve front loaded the EOI with details that would usually be asked for later. Running through this process is important as it helps you understand your own game. For example, when writing a short description of your game you will likely think about:

  • What is the most succinct way to describe the game?
  • What is the most important thing to highlight when describing the game?
  • What makes my game interesting? How do I clearly articulate this?
  • What other games are similair to my game?
  • Is there a way for press to access the information I’m entering beyond contacting IGR?

By showing your game you will also see other interpretations of it, beyond helping you refine and improve your game these interpretations also help in strengthening your vision of what the game is and isn’t.

Meeting other developers

Talking to developers every year, many of them say that the best part of the room is meeting and networking with other developers. The number of games being shown at IGR is quite high and as such there is a large crowd of developers who are actively creating. In order to help facilitate networking we are intending on running a developer only event on either the Friday or Saturday night.

Motivation

Most people make games in order for them to be played. Seeing people play your game and be excited about it really helps in maintaining motivation after the event.

Other things

Beyond the points raised above there are other reasons to be apart of IGR. I’ve listed these below.

  • Receive Press about your game
  • Find bugs, test changes – You can make changes on the Saturday night and then see them in action on Sunday
  • Advertising – In the past developers have taken email addresses of fans, handed out pamphlets and more
  • Find Employment – Several developers have found employment through contacts met at IGR

Thanks for reading. You can find links to submit an expression of interest on the Indie Games Room website.