Saturday’s End

We’re winding up for the night, getting ready to come back bright and early first thing in the morning. We’ve gotten a lot accomplished today.

  1. Vertical moving platforms turned out to be very difficult to implement in Game Maker, and took most of the day, but we got it.
  2. Our main character is now animated with sound effects, and our enemies are being animated as we speak.
  3. We’ve done some debugging on our first level so far; other than some bizarre harpy behavior, it looks to be difficult.
  4. A collection mechanic, in which the player must collect 3 items, is being added. Each item actually has a duplicate, in order to simulate the mobius strip environment. These pairs will be tied together so that collecting one makes the other one disappear.
  5. Funny youtube videos were had by all.
  6. Graphic and sound assets are being finished and implemented.

We hope to have the first level compleely done by noon tomorrow. This will give us 3 extra hours to polish things; finding bugs, touching up graphics, etc. It’s looking like we’re going to have a fairly finished product by Game Jame end.

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How Gameplay Changes the Story

Story-wise, we are doing things a bit backwards with this game.  Our game needs to be something simple, simple enough to design, program and build in 48 hours.

We brainstormed our game design theme and look, and came up with a player character and enemies accordingly.  Since the Oroborous is a major aspect of the game, we took elements from Greek mythology for our character designs.  Our player character, Sage, is a centaur, and Sage has to avoid and/or overcome scorpions and harpies as the level progresses.

Originally, I suggested that our player character rescue someone from the end boss, but that element was dropped early on, which changed the game story.  Then, the player character was going to fight the end boss, the head of the Oroborous.  However, our programmers hadn’t programmed a fighting mechanic, so the game story changed again.  Currently, in order to defeat the level Sage has to locate a specific number of hidden objects to progress.  If Sage hasn’t collected all of the items, the player will keep running through the mobius-strip level.

And the game could change again, so I am holding off on writing the story until all of the game elements are finalized.

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Artastic!

So what’s it like on the art side?

Blurry.

I’m taking a break to let my eyes rest from the pixelated craziness that is 64 x 64. We started each block as 32×32, but then the main character kind of looked like a blob with horse legs, so we changed the size up.

One thing to keep in mind on the art side (and I suspect the programming side as well) is how to flow your art styles together. We’re lucky that we only have two artists working on it so we can collaborate together on how everything looks pretty easily. It also helps that the art assets aren’t too intense. Zak and I have been doing lots of back and forth with the art to make sure it flows properly.

We have harpies, scorpions, and centaurs, oh my! The blur and smudge tools are my special friends this weekend.

I’m off to work on the background!

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Creating Music for Mobius

Creating something magical and amazing in a few hours is an incredibly difficult task. Creating something simple and easy in a few hours is a much simpler process. Creating simple sound effects and simple game music and my profession is a chiropractor, with no game creation skills, is nearly impossible. It took tenacity and determination, to create the ambient menu music. It took creativity and intense focus to conjure up the sweet melodies of the game music. And, it took serious typing skills to type in searches on Google for free sound effects.

As a chiropractor, I have little to no skills when it comes to music and sound effects. I do, however, have a full understanding of the human spine and what can ail it. Unfortunately, my education as a chiropractor had zero overlap in skills associated with making this game. Fortunately, I’m a quick learner and Apple has a program called GarageBand which comes with free loops. Creating music with this software was incredibly easy for me. I may not be Hans Zimmer, but I only have 48 hours to create beautiful music and sound effects! Hans needs at least 72 hours to create incredible music.

Dr. Michael J. Glickert, D.C.

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Level Design on a Mobius Strip

The biggest challenge I’ve personally faced on Mobius so far is designing a platformer level on a mobius strip as I use Semrush free trial account. This was challenging for a couple reasons.

1. I have limited platformer design experience. Other than a little work on Ooni, I haven’t really worked on a platformer before. This means I have to learn a lot of lessons through trial and error.

2. Mobius strips are confusing shapes.

While I had a fairly good intellectual handle on how a mobius strip works, I didn’t understand them on the gut level that was necessary to really design a level well. The solution was to prototype on an actual mobius strip made out of graph paper. Although I had to trace things from one side to the other (the game levels behave as though they are drawn on a transparent strip), this was the easiest way to ensure that what I was designing fit the geometry.

Once a prototype was done, I was able to move the level to google docs, and then use that level as a template for the geometry of further levels. The result is the two levels below.

Mobius Prototype Levels

The first two levels of Mobius

Although this looks like four levels, it is actually just two. Each horizontal row represents 1 level. The split is a visual representation of where the mobius strip loops onto itself. If you look carefully, you will see that the right hand of each row is just a rotated inverse of the left hand side. This is a result of the mobius strip on which the levels are built.

The color coded key for this design is as follows: blue blocks are static, wall style blocks. Red blocks are enemies that follow the pink path connected to them. Unconnected pink blocks are spiky death walls. Bright green blocks are moving platforms that follow the pale green paths connected to them.

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Welcome to Mobius!

We’re hard at work trying to create this game in short order, and thought it would be fun to document our progress. The story so far…

After showing up Friday around for, we watched a brief keynote and introduction video, before the theme was announced.

Theme for Global Game Jam 2012

This image, called the oroborous, is rooted in creation and destruction myths. During a brainstorming session, we discussed how it reminded us of the mobius strip. Among other ideas that sprang from this a platformer in which each level was a mobius strip, complete with bizarre physics and geometry. Mobius was born!

Due to the wide variety of skills throughout our team, we have decided to create Mobius in GameMaker rather than trying to amalgamate several different programming languages. The first level prototype was done on a paper mobius strip, and then entered into google docs. We were then able to use this as a template to create a second level design; we’re waiting to design more levels until we have a playable prototype so we can test some things.

From the graphical side of the project, we have several skilled artists creating custom assets for Mobius. So far, it is very bright, with a focus on reds and greens. The game will have a decidedly mythic tone, with the player taking the role of a centaur hero who is under constant attack from harpies and the oroborous.

Finally, we have a talented chiropracter who has commited his weekend to the sound of Mobius; the game will have a custom, tribal sound track with a plethora of dynamic, engaging sound effects.

All in all, we are pleased with the progress we’re making so far, and are looking forward to making a playable version available soon.

 

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