High five! I mean, ten!

Last week, I updated Gonna Catcha to v.0.7.4. It was pretty much a knee-jerk response to some issues I encountered when playtesting it last night at Bento Miso. It added an option to toggle a fullscreen mode, to hide your desktop and other windows behind black while you’re playing, and a few bugs fixes. Unfortunately, being a knee-jerk response, I didn’t test it properly and there are a couple of bugs with the fullscreen mode, though the bugs don’t interfere with normal game operation.

In addition to fixing these bugs, the next version, v.0.8.0, will replace the single high score of the current version with a high score table (or two). Here is a screenshot of what it looks like so far:

In addition to keeping track of the top ten scores, it will keep track of the other standard high score information: player initials and the highest round reached. I am considering a second, separate high score table for co-op mode, which will also keep track of which character the player used.

Well, that’s all I can do to make this sound bigger and more important than it really is. I’ll be doing another meatspace test this Friday. I should really try to finish this before then.

In other news, when I woke up today, I was greeted by this on /r/gamemaker:

As someone work mainly works with vectors for higher-resolution artwork (i.e. not low-res retro sprites), I am pleased by this turn of events.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

My time at the ROM and Gamercamp 2013 – Part 2 [Updated 11/19/2013]

UPDATE 11/19/2013 – For some bizarre reason, I linked “Samegame” in the description of Pyramid Party to the Wikipedia article “Banshee” instead of “Samegame”. That has been fixed. Also, I totally left out one Gamercamp Official selection: A Fishing Game with Actual Water. You can now read about it at the bottom of this post.

Last time, I talked about my experiences playtesting Rise & Fall at both the Royal Ontario Museum and Gamercamp. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the other games that were featured at the two events. Sorry for the lack of pictures; all the ones I took didn’t do these games justice.

First off, I’ll describe some of the other ROM Game Jam games. Unfortunately, I forgot to make note of the teams’ names that made the following games.

Pyramid Party

Sort of like a cross between Wario’s Woods and Samegame. (Note: you’ll be seeing me use these fusion-of-two-games comparisons a lot in this post.) One or two players each take control of a pharaoh who run and jump around a SameGame-like playfield to give commands to their workers to run, jump and move blocks around. When four or more blocks of the same color are joined together in any way, they become fixed brown blocks that fall and acculmulate at the bottom of the playfield, while the blocks below them bubble their way to the top of the stack(s). The goal of the game is for the player(s) must build as much of a specific structure (shown before the start of each level) on the playfield out of brown blocks before time runs out. Each level has it’s own specific structure and quota that must be met.

This game is quite addicting and also difficult if you don’t have some sort of strategy planned out.

Relic Ravage

A multiplayer competitive platformer for up to four players that’s divided into two stages. In the first stage, players play as warriors who must fight and defeat each other to score points. When a player is killed, they drop an artifact where they died. After a time limit, the first stage ends and the game builds a pyramid on top of all the dropped artifacts. In the second round, the players play as archaeologists/treasure hunters who must dig into the pyramid to collect artifacts and other treasures and bring them back to a pack mule for points, the artifacts dropped in the first round being worth the most. After a second time limit, whoever has the most points is the winner.

What really made this game special is the enthusiasm of the dev team behind this game when there were playing it with the patrons of Gamercamp.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Afterlife

A trivia game that’s pretty much exactly what it say on the tin. You play a recently-deceased character who has to navigate the underworld while answering trivia questions from Anubis and Set, the latter being fond of trick questions. When you answer a question correctly, the weight of your character’s heart decreases, and conversely, an incorrect answer make your heart heavier. At the end of the game, you meet Osiris and he weighs your heart against a feather (as per the myth). You win the game if your heart is lighter than the feather, otherwise, you get a bad ending.

Next up, here are some of the games from the Gamercamp official selection that really caught my attention. I have also provided links to the games’ and developers’ websites.

Toto Temple – Juicy Beast

A multiplayer competitive platformer (these seem very popular) made during TOJam 8. Players scramble to grab and hold on to a goat. The player with the goat continuously accumulates points for possessing it. The longer the player holds on to the goat, the more points it generates. The other players can (and should) use a dash attack to steal the goat. When the goat is stolen from one player to another, it lays a bunch of eggs that hatch into coins which provide a secondary source of points. The game ends when one player reaches 3000 points.

The game got pretty frantic when I played it with three other people, with the goat exchanging hands very frequently. I also learned quickly that grabbing as many coins as possible helps with maintaining your current rank even if you can’t hold on to the goat for very long. The game also has a very polished look and a colourful cartoony art style.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had played another game, Knightmare Tower, by the same developers before. Small world.

STARWHAL: Just the Tip – Breakfall

A very neon and somewhat surreal multiplayer game where players take control of technicoloured narwhals and must stab the other players’ hearts with the tips of their tusks to defeat them. The last narwhal standing wins. When a narwhal’s tusk tip gets close to an opponent’s heart, the game goes into slow-motion, allowing the players to fine-tune their strikes/dodges, and allows both players and the audience to clearly see what lead to the successful strike or dodge.

The narwhals seem to be programmed to be difficult to control. Even though I had played this game before online and knew the controls, more often than not, my narwhal ungracefully flopped and flailed around the low-gravity arena as I tried to skewer my opponents. However, this is what makes the game interesting; it adds unpredictability, excitement and silliness to the gameplay, which led me to play it over and over again.

I’ve played this game before at the Bit Bazaar at Bento Miso back in May. I’ve even posted about itLovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a two-player co-op game were both players operate a Death Star-esque spaceship to defeat enemies and rescue planets from invasions. The catch is the two players don’t control the ship directly, rather they control the two-member crew inside the ship. The control consoles for each of the ship’s systems (turrets, shield, thruster and laser) are spread throughout the ship, so the players must navigate through the ship’s corridors and ladders to switch between them. Some new things I experienced are powerups that boost the abilities of the ship’s systems and a boss battle. One last thing I want to mention is that this game has infected me with the “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” earworm.

Crypt of the Necrodancer Brace Yourself Games

A fusion of the music and the roguelike genres, Crypt of the Necrodancer is, well, a roguelike that is controlled by a dance pad and has the timing of its turns synced to the beat of the background music. I didn’t play it myself, as my experience with dance pads and roguelikes are rather limited; I only saw oither people play it. In any case, the game has a very polished pixelated art style and detailed animations. One of my team members kept commenting on how the enemies all danced as they moved around the dungeon. The music sounded pretty good, even though it was a bit hard to listen to carefully as a spectator.

Huskerball KPD Games

I would describe Huskerball as a cross between soccer and Mighty Milky Way. Up to four players each control a spaceship in a large arena. The spaceships adhere to and move along the curved walls and obstacles in the arena. The ships are also launch themselves away perpendicular from the surfaces of these objects. Each player also has a goal area, and in the middle of the arena there is a ball. Using Newton’s Third Law of Motion, players must push the ball into their own goals to score points. First to five points wins. Maybe it’s because I’ve played Mighty Milky Way, but I got used to the controls very quickly, though the four-player match I played and won was mostly due to dumb luck. 😛 

A parody of Cold War-era spy movies and old comedy movies, Jazzpunk is an open-world adventure game set in an alternate, postmodern, tongue-in-cheek Cold War world. I didn’t play the game for long, but from what I gathered I was send on a mission to infiltrate some building. However, I spent most of my time interacting with the environment and NPCs, reading the game’s humourous script. It seems that there are puzzles you need to solve to progress through the mission (I only solved one) and a few sidequests you can do as well. I would definitely want to continue playing the game once it comes out. Shut up and take my money!

A Fishing Game with Actual WaterFrancis “narF” Sheridan Paré

Another self-descriptive game for one or two players. At the bottom of the screen, each player will see three bowls in their colour; from the top of the screen, various fish fall downwards towards the bowls. The players must “activate” a bowl when a fish is on top of it in order to catch it and score points. Seems like a simple game, so what’s the catch? The answer: controllers that are made up of of three physical bowls of water. To activate a bowl, you must physical put your hand into the water, as if you were trying to catch the fish while it was inside of it. The goal of the game is to get as many points as you can.

The pace of the game is slow at first, but get much faster near the end, to the point where water get splashed everywhere. That’s probably why the developer covered the monitor with clear plastic and the developer himself wore a raincoat.

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

More public spectacles

Gonna Catcha has been updated to v.0.7.3. This update added a new maze to the game, allowing me to bump up the round cap to 12. This also had the side effect of unlocking an enemy type that wasn’t in the previous versions (because it didn’t appear until Round 9). NPCs now also gradually speed up after each bonus round after you’ve played through each maze once. Oh, and there are some miscellaneous tweaks and fixed here and there, yadda yadda yadda.

I will be showing off Gonna Catcha in meatspace at Bento Miso on two occasions:

Since I enjoyed looking at and playing all the games that were showcased at the last Bit Bazaar in May, I thought why not participate this time? The Bit Bazaar offered two options: submitting a game as part of the Arcade or getting a table, which requires you to sell something physical as well (e.g., merchandise, Steam keys or preorders printed on something). Since this is my first time showcasing at the Bit Bazaar and I have no ideas for what to sell, I decided to play it safe and go for the Arcade submission. Perhaps I’ll get a table next time. I’ll get you next time , Gadget… next time.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

My time at the ROM and Gamercamp 2013 – Part 1

In these past few weeks my team and I have been showing off our ROM Game Jam game, Rise & Fall, to public audiences at the Royal Ontario Museum and Gamercamp 2013. I wanted to write about my full experience at both of these sessions in this post, but it got really long. Therefore, I decided to break it up into multiple parts to be posted over the next week or so. In this first part, I’ll talk about my experiences with the playtesting of Rise & Fall

If you been to this blog before, then you know the deal with Rise & Fall. If not, click here and read. I’ll wait for you to finish.

Done? OK. The game was first playtested as part of the Ancient Arcade at the ROM for International Archaeology Day (October 19). Our game was displayed on a large monitor and played with two controllers.

As you can see from the picture directly above, I only had one Xbox 360 controller, so I had to use an old Logitech controller as the second one. Unfortunately, it was so old that the game didn’t detect it automatically; I had to use Joy2Key to make it work. Another unfortunate thing was I didn’t bring my male-to-male 3.5mm audio cable to connect my laptop’s headphone jack to the display’s PC Audio In jack (to be fair, I didn’t even know the display had one of those), so I had to turn my laptop towards the players (from behind the display) and crank up the volume to maximum. Even then, the tiny speakers on the laptop couldn’t overpower the ambient noise of the crowds at the museum. The only fortunate thing that happened that day was the discovery of a VGA input port on the display. My laptop, being 5 years old, doesn’t have HDMI output (which would have also fixed the audio problem), only VGA.

The game generally received positive feedback from those who played it (especially from the kids) and some even suggested improvements that could be made. There was one kid in his group of friends that managed to quickly figure out the optimal strategy (read: exploit) of the game and remained undefeated. Later during the day, another gentleman found the same strategy exploit and won a lot of games. One player noted that the game favoured the player who was further ahead, since that player’s artifacts would provide ample cover and making it very difficult for the other player to hit them.

Taking those into consideration, we moved and changed the properties of some of the artifacts to balance the game before we showed the game at Gamercamp. We also added a fifth artifact on each side that don’t serve as platforms or cover, but as an indicator that one side has won. This changed the objective from:

“Defeat your opponent to restore all your artifacts then defeat your opponent once more.”


“Defeat your opponent to restore all your artifacts.”

which to me is much less confusing (and less explaining on my part).

The setup for “debut” of Rise & Fall at the Gamercamp Ancient Arcade (November 2-3) was largely the same as the setup at the ROM, except I bought and brought an additional Xbox 360 controller so both players had the same controller to play with and I brought my audio cable, hoping that they would be using the same type of displays as last time, which they did. Even with the audio coming from the display this time, it was still hard to hear the audio amidst the crowd and other games’ audio. Oh well, at least I tried.

Not everyone who played the game gave feedback, but those who did gave positive feedback. Kids seemed to be the most excited of all the playtesters (that’s not to say they weren’t any adult that weren’t excited). We had to compete for attention with the games that were part of the Gamercamp Official Selections, which were being showcased in the same space opposite of the Ancient Arcade games. They had way more time to be polished, so it was a bit intimidating, but overall I think we did pretty well out there.

I would like to thank my team members Shmuggly and Goombaguy for helping me helping people learn to play our game at both the ROM and Gamercamp. The next public showing of Rise & Fall is tentatively scheduled for December 6th at the ROM again. We hope to be there again to show off our game some more.

In my next post, I will be writing about the other games at Gamercamp in the following days. Stay tuned to this blog.

(Terrible photography provided by Quadolor Games. With over 2 weeks of experience, DON’T rely on Quadolor Games for your photographic needs.)

Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.

Greetings from Gamercamp!

It seems like a long time since I last wrote a post. Since I’ve released the beta demo of Gonna Catcha, I have been less compelled to write about it since it’s much easier to learn about the game by playing it than sitting here reading about it. Also, I was going to post about the International Archaeology Day playtest session with Rise & Fall, but the post ended up being not very interesting on it own, so I’m going to combine it with the Gamercamp playtest session post I’ll write about after Gamercamp, which is happening right now. Yay.

In the meantime, I suppose I can talk a bit about what was added to Gonna Catcha since it’s release. Aside from several major bug fixes that somehow slipped through my keen eye, the biggest update to the game is the inclusion of several new options in the game’s Service Mode (fancy arcade talk for “Options Menu”).

Well, there’s your problem.

I feel like I’m being very thorough with the amount of customization you can do with the game, and I haven’t even put in the sound test or let the player customize gameplay settings yet.

During the development of the co-op mode, I had difficulty deciding how to bind the controls to what keys on the keyboard without the two player bumping their hands into each other. Also, what might be the ideal key bindings for co-op might not be for single-player mode and everyone has their own preferences on what the best key bindings are. In the end, I decided to let the player(s) figure out what controls work best for them and put in a key configuration menu.


This is the first time I’ve made a key binding system for a game and it turned out to be less trouble and error-prone than I imagined. GameMaker: Studio has built-in functions for rebinding keys, but I ended up creating my own solution.

With great power comes great responsibility.

I have received some feedback from people who played the demo. Aside from pointing out the bugs, most have praised the retro arcade art style and audio of the game, saying that it’s quite accurate and devoted. One thing that came up was some people had trouble getting the game started because they couldn’t find the “Insert Coin” key. So to help new players, I added “key reminders” on the title screen to help them get started.

I don’t understand your crazy
moon controls!
I also made the list of default key bindings clearer in the manual (if people actually read that thing). for those acquainted with the controls, there is an option in Service Mode that allows you to turn the reminders off for a more authentic arcade experience.

Oh man. *tap* *tap* Which button is it?
*tap* *tap* *tap* *tap*
What would make it even more authentic is an entire arcade cabinet, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Copyright © Quadolor Games. All rights reserved.