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Ludum Dare 29: God Hunter

The past 48 hours were spent coding and designing for the worldwide Ludum Dare game jam!

This was my first official Ludum Dare, and it was awesome to be able to do it with my good friend / honorary roommate Nicu Listana. We developed our games simultaneously side by side at our battlestations, consuming an endless supply of Hot Cheetos, Nachos, Seniores Pizza, and Diet Squirt. I believe my shiny white laptop has a good layer of red flakes all over it from the festivities / Hot Cheetos. Ah, memories. battlestations-ld48

The Ludum Dare theme this year was Beneath The Surface, which I didn’t really like too much because the first thing that came to mind was “Dungeon Crawler”, which of course was the first thing to come to every other game developer’s mind…and of course I had to try my hand and see if I could make a dungeon crawler in a constrained time period with constrained resources (and possibly constrained skills).

I helped out with the graphics for Nicu’s game, and while he integrated them into Unity I worked on my own game, God Hunter in Flash.

GodHunter-Title

The game I made was one I’ve been wanting to make for a while: God Hunter – a minimalistic dungeon crawler, in which you are a God Hunter who is going into the deepest darkest dungeon to claim glory in felling the great Mountain God. Using my constrained skills, *ahem* I was able to dish out a very minimal rogue type RPG game over the weekend. We coded, designed, made art, and even managed to squeeze in attending a party in between. Now that takes some serious skill.

god-hunter-v02

The menu screen art is really different from the gameplay art, and I veered a little off course because the vision I had for the game was also changing. Kinda tough to redo things when you’re moving forward at an incredibly fast pace.

I wanted to take the essence of roge-like games, and really wither them down to their most basic elements. So room clearing here is essentially the same, just without all the fluff.

Also RPG fans, you’ll recognize the SFX immediately. Hungary And if you find all the story events and enemies weird, then good, as my brain was throwing them up on the computer screen via stream of consciousness.

WARNING: There is plenty of twerking in God Hunter. You have been warned.

I can see how  God Hunter would be a perfect rogue-like game for mobile and the every day casual player, even those unfamiliar with RPG or rogue games. It’s literally tap and play.

Some features that would really make God Hunter complete:

- Inventory System and cool weapons / armor
- Even more crazy stories / characters / enemies
- Procedurally generated dungeons
- Boss Fights
- More room types

It was a totally adrenalinizing 48 hours with a of fun in between, so I’ll definitely be participating again next year.

Also don’t forget to try out God Hunter and let me know what you think! You can play it right now in your browser.

Now finally, time to get some sleep. zzz.

Cheers,

John


Project ZM

Project ZM

You’ve probably been wondering, where are all the updates?

Ssshh, it’s a secret. We’re referring to our game in progress as Project ZM from this day forward until it’s formal release (for various legal, PR, marketing, publishing reasons). Updates will have to be kept to a minimum, but we’ll still be releasing some fun stuff time to time!

We’ve been working closely with Playviews to bring Project ZM to life, who are pretty much doing all the heavy lifting. We’ve created the universe, and they get to play in it / make it better.

Here’s a lil somethin somethin from our artist. Til next time!

comic_rambo


Hanging Out With Sloths

I can’t help it. Sloths are cool. Anyone that disagrees can keep walking.

Game in progress and Zombocalypse mobile below:

hanging-with-sloths

sloth


It’s 2014

It’s 2014

2013 was a great year!

Adult Swim decided to publish our games.
We made a big game called Zombocalypse 2.
We worked with talented people.
Very talented people.

A lot of learning happened.
A lot of growth happened.
A lot of goals changed.

This year will be even better.
We’re working with an incredible production team.

I’m working on a ton of projects.
Wearing many hats.
Learning how to be a game producer.
An entrepreneur.
And even a writer.

Still creating.
Still learning.
Still happy.
Still doing what I love.
Still grateful for all the luck I’ve had.
Most of all thank you.

Have a great 2014.
Best wishes, and much success.

- @ironzilla


Good Rules Make for Good Fun

Right now, most of you are playing a game. The game is that you have to make enough money to survive and be happy. The rules: limited resources, limited time, and limited energy. And you can’t choose what attributes you start the game with. You get X amount of points in strength, charisma, intelligence, and so on.  Let’s add permadeath to top it off. Now that’s one hell of a game.

Off the top of our heads let’s think of some people that have won or are winning this game. Notch. Kanye West. Oprah. The creators of Google (I’m using Google Docs to type this). Your rich friend’s parents. Maybe you are that rich friend with the rich parents. Maybe you’re surviving just fine and are happy right now.

Yeah, the rules of life are hard. They make life nearly unbeatable. The guy that made these rules probably made Space Invaders too. But these limitations are what make the little achievements in life that much more amazing. How’d you feel when you made your first paycheck? Maybe you faced one of your fears and came out alive?

That’s what good rules do. They make games challenging. They make games fun.

My Simple Game

A Castle Crashr making a guest appearance during Zombocalypse's beta session (2011)(A Castle Crasher making a guest appearance during Zombocalypse’s beta session – 2011)

I was making a game called Zombocalypse. Naturally, a zombie shooter. The game is very limited. You move left and right and you kill whatever comes your way.

Then beta testing for Zombocalypse started.

Why can’t you carry more than one weapon at a time they said.
Why can’t you jump they said.
Why does each zombie killed only count as 1 point they said.

What are you, born in the 2000s? I could’ve just said my world, my rules, but today I’ll explain why.

What Are Good Rules?

Essentially, game designers introduce rules to emphasize everything else you CAN do in the game. The focus is now what you CAN do and not what you CAN’T do (in real life that’s called being positive). Good rules:

  • leave room for innovation

  • emphasize other mechanics in the game

  • make the game challenging

What Games Do This?

In Halo, you can only carry two primary weapons at a time. Because of the players’ limited arsenal, they must now compare the strengths of weapons on the fly that pertain to the situation they’re in. The focus is now the best weapon, and not the number of weapons.

In Super Mario Bros, all you do is move from left to right and jump. Simple yet revolutionary. Because of this minimalistic approach, all the other aspects of the game are emphasized. The player must now focus on the terrain and be aware of the patterns and functions of each enemy they come across. After all, they call Mario games platforming games and not jumping games.

In modern Chess you can only move a pawn one space forward. When our medieval ancestors were beta testing the game, I’m sure peasants left and right were asking why does the pawn only move one space? Why does the king only move one space? Why does the knight move in an L shape? The focus is not on what each piece can do, but what they can do in tandem with your pieces, your opponent’s pieces, and the estate of the chess board itself.

Back to Zombocalypse

I limit the player to one weapon, left and right movement, and one zombie kill = 1 point, to emphasize 4 things:

  • Resource Management: Your inventory is severely limited. You can only pick up one weapon at a time. This simple rule emphasizes the player’s ability to distinguish the strengths and weaknesses of weapons.

  • Movement: I wanted the player to be focused on the action. I even omitted the player from jumping, an unnecessary mechanic for a game NOT about platforming. Just like chess, because movement style is limited in both the player and the enemy, players must focus on how their character moves in tandem with enemies and the limited gameplay area itself.

  • Kill Count: Zombocalypse rewards the player on how many zombies they kill, not what type of zombie. This is meant to emphasize the utility of the kill combo streak — rack a streak of 25 kills to call in a missile strike or 100 kills to call in a chopper, giving you an edge when you’re in a tight situation. The player subconsciously aims for a high kill count and not a high score, making the Kill Combo even more relevant.

  • Accessibility: Zombocalypse is simple to play. Move left and right, shoot left and right, look at your kill count, wash rinse repeat. This was the main governing law in creating this world. If a mechanic made the game too complicated, I would throw it out.

Although not as complex and grudgingly devastating as real life, each rule in Zombocalypse serves it’s purpose.

And What About Life?

Life itself is proof that even a game with ridiculous rules can still be fun and satisfying. And with these rules humanity has done some incredible things. We made steel boxes fly. We went to the moon with the power of a calculator. We made video games.

So when you make your next game, make those rules with purpose, leave room for the player to innovate, and make it challenging. And just like life, any game worth beating is never easy.

—–

This blog post is part of the new series on Game Design


Zombocalypse 2 Launch: All Gold Everything

Zombocalypse 2 Launch: All Gold Everything

Play Zombocalypse 2 On Adult Swim Games!

That was one hell of a hiatus. But great news, Zombocalypse 2 for Flash is finished. It’s gold, it’s final, and you can play it right now! Just like our boy Trinidad James says:

“Gold all in our game.
Gold all in our code.
Gold all in our launch.
Don’t believe us, just watch”

              - Trinidad James, All Gold Everything

I mean what else would start your Halloween month off right? The Walking Dead season premiere? Does The Walking Dead have orbital strikes, zombies that drop coins, and light sabers? I rest my case (but AMC if you’re reading this I love TWD, let’s collab XOXO). Check us out on Adult Swim.com, front paged and personal (We in first place!):

Zombocalypse-Front-Page1

The past few months have been a whirlwind since the last time you’ve heard from me as I have been involved in two game companies as well as other projects, and they’re all full-time affairs with respective over-time. I’m not even sure myself how I cram a 48 hour work day into 24 hours. (Tim Ferriss what happened to that 4 hour work week??). One thing I do know is that it would’ve been impossible to bring Zombocalypse 2 to life without my talented team.

Like did you know that the music you hear while sitting in the Multiplayer Menu in Black Ops 2 was created by our composer Jimmy Hinson?

Did you know our artists created Knightmare Tower and Burrito Bison Revenge, two App Store chart topping hits?

Did you know our programmer Chevy created a freakin engine for other developers to develop their own games in?

These guys are beasts in their own right and little do they know but they’re helping me live my childhood dreams right now:

Chevy, thank you.
Yowan and JP, thank you.
Jimmy, thank you.
Michael, thank you.
Zach, thank you.
Everyone at Adult Swim, thank you.

There’s one thing I dig more than making games and creating things — it’s being grateful for the opportunities and people that allow you to do so.

Right now I’m just really excited for the launch of Zombocalypse 2 and to see months of hard work finally culminating into this moment. 10 months in the making to be exact. Game dev to me is like raising a kid and then seeing him go forth into the world (with the hopes of your kid taking over the world). Yeah, I’m that passionate about it.

Here’s some gameplay screens to help tease your excitement and temporarily quench your appetite for some zombie carnage (without spoiling it too much for you):

zombo2-gameplay1

zombo-gameplay-city-beta

Burrito-Bison-Zombocalypse-2

Oh and before you go, one more thing: pre-production has begun on Zombocalypse for iOS and Android. You’ll be able to survive the Zombocalypse anywhere you go come early next year. The cliff hanger — it’s going to be completely revamped and steroided up again. It might as well be Zombocalypse 3. Check back soon for some posts on Zombocalypse 2′s production and other extras!

Hope you love Zomnbocalypse 2 as much as we do. Cheers to a good launch! Time to go pop some champagne now.


Zombocalypse 2 Update #2: On The Road to Gold

We’ve come a long way since we started Zombocalypse 2 for Flash 4 months ago. Our programmer Chevy has done a phenomenal job of making everything come to life, while Yowan and JP have made sure the UI and Art is full of personality and is as sexy as ever. It’s difficult to fill you guys in without revealing too much, and the only way you’ll get something out of me is if you see me in person. Apologies to all of you in South America, Africa, China, etc.

“But wait John, what’s Gold? Why are you on the road to Gold? Why not be on the road to finishing the game?”

Ah, great question. For those not in the know (or not in the game industry) Gold basically means:

“Gold master is the final game’s build that is used as a master for production of the game.”
- Wikipedia

It means the game is finished and the Gold copy will be used as the final build for replication and retail sale. So yes, we are almost done with the game!

Idea + Vision + Action = Reality

As the designer and producer, I’m responsible for the vision and design of the game. So I make crap, and describe the hell out of what I envision for it, and my team makes it beautiful.

For example, they take my amazing sketches below (They’re my drawings, I can call them amazing if I want to!):

Zombie Sketches by John Funtanilla

And turn them into this:

Or I attempt to design UI and describe it’s functions in words:

And they make the original look like it was done by a 7 year old:

What’s even more incredible is when I can only use words to describe what I want, and allow breathing room for the receiver to add in their own ideas. This means more back and forth, which equals more time, which equals more money, but it also means that I trust in my team to pull it off. And got damn do they pull it off. This is all I literally said to our illustrator Michael Kessler:

“Would you be able to do something similar to the attached concepts as well? It would be great to have the main character’s back and slight angle of his face to the player, with zombies coming from the front in an expansive city scape + with orange hues. The main character should be in the lower right of the main menu.

I’ve attached some concepts for reference, but ultimately I leave it up to you! The main menu art is very important at the entire portrayal of the game, so please pull out all the guns on this one :)
- John

And after a few revisions and approvals, this happened:

Michael Kessler, thank you my good sir.

Ultimately, working with teams all comes down to trust. Of course, I’d first find and recruit the creme de la creme, the cream of the crop, the potato cream. For the project teams I put together, they have to be talented, diligent in their work, and absolutely love what they do to the point where they’re just crazy. ip information I’ll post about trust later this year when I reflect what it’s like to be in a producer / designer role.

Right now we’re pretty much almost at Gold and only have this much more to go:

  • Achievements & achievements screen
  • Map screen
  • Costume selection menu
  • Preloader
  • Main Menu Screen (Options, Credits)
  • Results screen
  • Pause menu
  • A few animation fixes
  • Tutorial level
  • Game flow
  • Final Game Balance
  • Global Online High Scores (cuz I know all you Zombocalypse fans are competitive)

I’ll be posting more updates as we go, with little leaks here and there of gameplay so keep checking in! For now, enjoy a snippet of Zombocalypse 2′s firepower. Have fun trying to figure out what the weapons are ;)

Cheers!

John


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