S-Bahn

I’m currently in Berlin, and everyone seems super nice. Yesterday, I asked a few guys for help with the train ticket machine. I ended up spending the evening with them.

Just now, I was getting tickets for the train (now I know how) and I asked a father of two, “Is this the train to Warschauer Straße?”. It was – and the train was almost leaving. My tickets were still printing and I didn’t get my change yet. I pulled my tickets out of the machine and ran off. With the doors closing behind me, I saw the father running after me with my change, tossing it through the very small opening of the closing doors.

Urban Spree

For science!

I finally bought my first telescope! Owning and operating a telescope was a wish of mine for several years, so last week I finally decided to buy a second hand TAL-100RM. I made my first ‘space photo’ as well.

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I guess the quality is good, considering

  • it was taken with a cheap compact camera clumsily held against the eyepiece
  • I had no experience in setting up and handeling a telescope
  • the photo was taken through my double glazed window in the light polluted vicinity of Utrecht

There’s room for improvement. But for now, I’m very happy!

Dark Day LA

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Last weekend, I participated in the Global Game Jam, at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) location. Our team consisted of Manuel Kerssemakers and Valentijn Muijrers, who I both knew beforehand, and Bob Jacobs and Tom Jacobs (unrelated). Thomas Kalksma provided us with a music track.

This was my first Global Game Jam experience. We were assigned a small room in the Utrecht School of the Arts. In total 150 people were jamming at this location. For the whole weekend, the school was filled with young game developers, energy drinks and sleeping bags.

Every team was assigned a small classroom.

Every team was assigned a small classroom.

Development

Brainstorming went very slow. 4 hours in, we still hadn’t settled on an idea. Many ideas were thrown around, but none really stood out. The only thing we all agreed upon was that there had to be a city, with people walking around.
Eventually, we came up with the following:

In a film noir themed gangster town, one player is the killer and has to mingle with the crowd. He must make his kills without being noticed by the other player, who is a cop with a sniper rifle. Overlooking the town from a helicopter, he has to watch everyone closely for suspicious behavior. The cop can take a shot at a suspected killer, but making civilian casualties will be punished.

After brainstorming, laid down the foundation for our game. Then we got a little bit of sleep.

Valentijn and me overlooking rejected game ideas.

Valentijn and me overlooking rejected game ideas.

There is one very important rule when jamming: Make sure your game works in the first hour. Then: polish, polish, polish. I think our development went very well because we stuck to this ethos. Saturday around 15:00, we did a play-test with some other teams in the building and realized the game was more or less finished.

Dark Day LA

Dark Day LA

We used the remaining 24 hours for tweaking game-play, visuals, getting some sleep and doing the GGJ requirements, like registering the game and making a trailer for it.

Reception

After the deadline, it was time for showcasing. Everyone had to show their game to the other teams and to the jury. Many cool games were made. I especially liked Derpy Dancing and Life in a heartbeat for their art.

People mainly praised the design, visuals and polish of our game.

People mainly praised the design, visuals and polish of our game.

Afterwards, we won both first prize and the audience award! This means we’re entered in a next round of judging, together with the winners from the other locations.

Victory pose!

Victory pose!

Download

For now, you can download the game at the jam page. You’ll need a Xbox controller (or compatible game pad) and a mouse to play the game. I’ll put a small website for DDLA together over the next few days. Edit: visit the website here.

Please let me know what you think!

Monthly Technical Art – January

To improve my skills as a technical artist, I want to do a mini-project every month. It can be anything, as long as it it both technical and art. My first one is a pixel shader for text (and monochrome shapes).

It does the following things:

  • Draw dark horizontal lines, simulating scan lines
  • Shift red and blue pixels in opposite directions, depending on a ‘glitch factor’

So glitchy!

That’s pretty much it. You can download the software here if you like.

Meanwhile at Abbey Games

At Abbey Games, we’ve released a new trailer for Reus, showing fresh in-game footage. This is an exciting time for us. Some cool websites have picked up on the news, like Rock Paper Shotgun, but also many Dutch websites, such as IGN Benelux, Control Magazine and gamer.nl.

Since the visual part of the game is my main responsibility, it makes me very happy that people seem to like it. Reading positive comments gives me a great amount of energy!

Here’s the trailer:

The first time when we released a trailer, comments weren’t all that positive. My favorite comment from that time was one posted on GameTrailers HD, which was, quoting from memory:

“I love how they give special ed kids the chance to do the art for this game”

The trailer and the art in it weren’t very good. We’ve learned a lot since. And even though there’s still much work to do, art-wise, I’m confident that we can do this.