The Process of Rapid Game Design:

Over the past 6 weeks we’ve developed 5 short games using a lua based engine called Perlenspiel. Perlenspiel was designed to give you the bare-bones needed to create a game, but allow you to use scripting to shorten development time. All you get is a grid, 1 line of text at the top, the ability to change the color/glyph of a pixel in the grid, keyboard/mouse inputs, and a time function. It doesn’t allow for any real art so developing the game is creating the code, but most importantly design.

The schedule for the course was you would A. Given some parameters, B. 4 Days to design and build a prototype, C. A playtesting session to show you any errors/needed changes, and finally D. 3 Days to polish he game and turn it in. Limited time made us be very conscious of the scope of what we could build and most of the parameters were restrictions on what we could/couldn’t do. This really focused all of us in the class on design, and allowed for some very different and creative games to be created. You can find the games made during this time in the Games section.

This course was definitely my favorite course I’ve taken at WPI, and I truly miss the time when I was able to quickly design and develop games like I did in this course. I’ve been unfortunate that I haven’t been able to go to Game Jams (I always have a fair amount of work, most of the time developing another game), but I understand the allure of such events. It’s said that every person in the game industry has a few ideas for the “perfect game” that they want to make. While I do enjoy game development and programming, the freedom of game design was a truly fantastic experience.

Obscura – A Term Post Mortem

So A-Term is over and thus 1/3 of the project. We got all the basic mechanics done, and most of the bugs worked out. If everything goes nicely we’re basically done coding, and everything else will be scripting and stuff in Hammer.

We had quite a few ups and downs during development. Everything from the storyline rapidly changing, or retooling the mechanics to work as puzzle elements without breaking the puzzles changed the way we had originally envisioned the game. While the mechanics were developed, we’ve still has some issues with shaders and the art pipeline but overall I feel that we should overcome these in the following seven weeks.

Still though even if it’s just some skeleton rooms and it’s puzzleless it’s nice to have something I can show off to people. Responses have mostly been favorable and I can’t wait to start the testing of the puzzles. Even though we’re only 1/3 of the way done it really feels like a game.


On developing Rawshark

Rawshark was the first game I truly worked on. I had worked on Dead to Lights 2, but most of my work was done on developing the hardware using the arduino, and interfacing it with XNA. Rawshark was created using C4 a game engine that while not fantastic is great for teaching. The original concept behind Rawshark was to create a game that used a grappling hook, and could still attack enemies. Rawshark was very short lasting just a small level with some minor items, and a giant boss. Created within the confines of 3 weeks it was very unpolished, and had quite a few problems. Overall though I’m glad with how Rawshark turned out, and I’d be willing to use C4 again if not for the horrendous issues with the art pipeline.


On developing Dead to Lights 2: Return to Vietnam

Dead to Lights 2 was created for a course with the aim to make a game using a hardware input that we ourselves designed and implemented. This was done using a chipset called the Arduino a device that allows for circuit input and transfers it to usb. Our game idea was to use a flashlight and create a survival horror. Obviously again limited by less than 2 weeks or so of time we decided to use XNA and create a top down arcade style game. The player would use his flashlight to ward off and kill zombies; also included was the functionality to shake the flashlight to reload batteries so that the flashlight could remain lit (in game). Movement was controlled by interfacing the Arduino with a Wii Nunchuck, and if the flashlight was dead moving the nunchuck would use a melee attack. Turning and directing the in-game flashlight was controlled by shining a real flashlight at sensors placed around the screen.

Most of my work was done on creating and building the circuits needed to make the hardware work and writing the code to interface with XNA. Aside from hardware I worked on designing how the game worked, and creating all the art for the game (You can tell it’s programmer art, but alas). I like how Dead to Lights 2 turned out and considering it’s released with a keyboard ver. It’s still a nice little game. Below is a video my partner and I made discussing the development of D2L2 as well as video from the game, and playtesting sessions.

On developing Hellfire: Shadow of the Wild West

It’s been quite some time since I worked on Hellfire over 4 years ago to be specific. Hellfire was made in game maker and even though I worked on what you would call the “tech” of the game there was no real coding, and at the time I had no experience coding anyway. Looking back at it I’m grateful for having taken Game Dev as one of my first courses. Later that year I had been having some trouble getting used to programming and was wondering if I would be able to program games. I had considered for a time switching to robotics (I took electronics during high school, and debated before attending WPI which major to choose).

I remembered my first term taking game design, it was a short game made in game maker, but I had a lot of fun making it. Taking it from the initial idea we all had to fruition. I even enjoyed the crunch time where the day before we only had the first level and first boss, and were scrambling to get the other sections done. The excitement when we go the horse level working and how awesome it looked, and how hours before the deadline we got the final boss working made the whole experience fantastic. Presenting the next day went perfectly, and the judges we were really impressed with our art, the comedy, and the diversity of our game (multiple levels, bosses with different styles of gameplay).

Thankfully I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. I’ve really enjoyed making games over the past few years, and it’s a great feeling to be doing what I love. Hellfire was my first foray into developing games, and I’m glad that it’s not only a game that made me enjoy making games, but that it stands as a game I can be proud of.