I hate talking about myself. Nah, who am I kidding, I just hate typing about myself. Kind of a newbie at game design. Looking forward to participating in my first game jam.
About marvinhawkins of Indie (twitter: @@MarvinHawkins)
Every year, for the past 3 years I have used the October Challenge as a way to motivate me to finish Sky Hawks. I originally started this game to teach me how to use Unity. I learned a lot of hard and soft development skills. I will be forever grateful for that. After 3 unsucessful attempts, I’m releasing this game as a free vertical slice. It’s currently free on Itch.io. I’ve had a lot of fun making this game. It feels good to mark a game as ‘done’.
I ended up cutting a lot of content. While this was painful, I realized that I could either work on this game forever, or I could pursue some other projects. There’s stuff I’d want to add, but it’s time to just finish things.
Finishing is a skill, and it is a state of mind. This game is done, for now at least. Anyway, even though it’s a day late, would you mind giving it a play? To complete the challenge, feel free to tip me a buck. Thank you to this community! It pushes me to try to be awesome everyday.
- Screen searing special attacks
- Unique enemies that attack in waves
- Giant Bosses that fill the screen
- Power ups that allow the player to perform different attacks
- Fully 3D Rendered backgrounds
Up Arrow or W – Forward
Down Arrow or S – Backward
Right Arrow or A – Bank Left
Left Arrow or D – Bank Right
B- Shoot Bombs
Space Bar – Shoot Guns
OOOOOOOH I Almost Had it
See ya next October!
Today I worked on another new boss. This one is a giant aircraft. It was really easy to implement using Unity Playmaker. The gameplay is simple: The enemy moves using a Math Ping pong function. The health and attacks are handled by a simple Finite State Machine. One FSM runs the health, the other, the attacks.
I originally thought of only doing one boss, and a few levels. By reusing code, art, and Playmaker FSMs, I’ve been able to cut my development time in half. My new goal is to finish setting up ground enemies. I also need to redo some of my level encounters. I am aiming for at least 3 mission areas (unique environments) and 5-7 levels. If I can get one more boss going, I’ll do 4 areas. I think that should be enough content for a free ish web game.
After that, its the generic polish polish polish. I think I’m in good shape to release this before the end of the month.
Here’s a quick update on my October Challenge progress with Sky Hawks. I’m getting close to finishing this up. I’ve decided to release this game, with a few levels on Kongregate. I originally aimed for PC/iPad etc. It’s probably better to focus on one area for now. Kongregate is the easiest, and requires the least amount of tweaking to get this to a polish state. Hopefully I can get enough people to play the game to equal a dollar.
New Boss: I’ve been creating a second boss for the rail yard area of the game.
New Enemies: I’ve added a second air enemy to the rail yard area. The Mig 27 fires two bullets, and features a new zig zag pattern.
I also added a turret that shoots missiles that follow the player.
Screens: I continue to play with the UI component of the game. I added a mission briefing screen before the start of each new mission. This gave the game a more complete feel.
So after a bit of radio silence, and a fun late night session: I fixed a major bug with my GUI and menus! I know menus aren’t that exciting, but in the context of a finished game its great. I now have 3 levels with one boss encounter.
This represents the first mission of the game. As it stands now, I can release this game on Kongregate, and maybe my own web page. My plan for next week is as follows:
1) Post Demo to Kongregate
2) Finish enemy layout of rail yard level
3) Complete a second simple boss
4)create briefing screens for mission 2
It’s close. And I’m tempted to do more, but in the spirit of finishing, I will FINISH the project. This is the push I need to put this baby to bed. (For good, for now at least)
It’s amazing how something as simple as a main game screen can make your game look more complete.
TL DR: Kinda need advice. (Any insight on people who have successfully done this would be great)
So this is the third year in a row I’m using this challenge to push Sky Hawks out the door. As a background, I’ve been working on an arcade style shooter off and on for about 3 years. For some reason, I just can’t seem to push this game to completion. I always find some type of reason to ‘fix it’ before I can let the public play it. (Especially for a product asking for money)
My biggest challenge is content. I just don’t think I have enough levels to ask for money. ( I have 2 plus a boss level, working on another tile set)
If I do this Challenge, here are my goals:
- Publish Game to Desura
- Publish Demo to Kongregate
- Maybe by the end of November (Ouya and Android)
The advice I’ve been given is ‘get it the F Done’ but I believe half done isn’t done.
So my question, IS my game ready to ask for money? What’s Missing? Here’s what I have:
- Powerups (Like 6 of them)
- Enemies (I have 7 different ones, including ground enemies)
- Bosses (1 Done, Can Do one more)
- Special Attacks
- Can Pause the game
How should I use this challenge?
So this is a postmortem on my experience with the 7 Day RTS mini compo. It was fun while it lasted, but real life (and another game jam) got in the way. I did experience great progress on my game: “Aircraft Command”. In fact, I experienced way more progress on this pass of the game than the original 2009 attempt. I credit my fast start with using a pre existing code base, and a scoping appropriately.
The initial concept was solid, a reverse Tower Defense. The player must escort bombers to a target using their resources (fighters and helicopters) to take out the computer’s turrets. With this concept in hand, I was ready to give this game a shot.
What Went Right:
Used existing code base: My main project is a shooter named Sky Hawks. Although the game is an action game, I was able to use a lot of the code for collisions, projectile instantiation and etc. A friend of mine had already had given me models from a previous project. This was a big help as it gave the game a nice look right away.
Scoped Appropriately: This is a bit debatable. Had I scoped really well I would have finished. I got the main game win/loss condition going by day 3. Unfortunately because of my week’s schedule, I only had about three days to work on the game. I am happy that I had something on screen. It’s imperative to get something going as fast as possible, Playmaker and using old code helped me get to the first playable fast. The only problem was, once I attended my second game jam, I lost the momentum that I had on this project. Suddenly the task list seemed way too much. Game Jams are fun but they are draining. In the future, I’ll make sure to get a playable demo on day one. Everything afterward should be polish.
What Went Wrong:
Spent a bit too much time chasing rabbits: I was trying to get Unity Playmaker to work for my game. One of the original goals was to use Playmaker’s visual code to simplify development. Like any new tool, the time saving is only achieved after getting over the learning curve. A short development cycle is not the time to learn new tools. Luckily, if a feature didn’t work, I reverted back to doing it through code.
2 Gamez Jams!!: (That’s a 2 Chainz reference. )I attempted to do two game jams in one week. Initially, I was going to skip the 7 Day RTS, but it is one of my favorite genres. I have wanted to make one forever. The only issue was, I had another game jam planned at the Field Museum here in Chicago. On top of that, I was taking engagement photos with my lovely Fiancee . Three of the original 7 days were gone. I tried to get a head start on Sunday. This helped a bit, but in the future I will have a one game jam at a time policy. (no matter how tantalizing)
I really like the original concept for this game. In the future i plan on pursuing this project using something like Game Maker. This isn’t the last you’ve seen of Aircraft Command. I think that this game has the potential to be really fun. Working on the 7 Day RTS project rekindled my energy in my main game. I learned that I need to get the game in a shoawable state as fast as possible. It’s not a game until someone can play it. I also learned to keep the game in a scope that allows you to finish. These things sound fundamental, but a game jam situation managifies that. I’m off to play more of the games. Jam on Jammers.
I’ve made it to day 3. That’s officially two days longer than I’ve done any Ludum Dare style thing hosted on this site. I have the basics of a game now. The player can “Win” if enough of his bombers reach the target. Right now it’s still set to auto spawn, so it kind of plays itself.
Two new mobs enter. (Side note, I never understood why people reffered to units as mobs, but it helps as a reference point now) I’m working on three new mobs, which is where the real strategy will come in.
Fighters: The player controls fighter jets. These can be spawned by pressing the GUI Icon marked build (I still need to come up with some type of cooldown, or money/resource use to prevent spamming) These mobs will only attack the enemy fighters.
Enemy Fighters: These are a second enemy of the bombers. They want to hunt them down as soon as possible
Helicopters: Great against ground targets. Absolutely imperative for taking down the turrets.
Turrets will attack the Player’s fighters as well. So far I have two new GUI buttons on the screen. When clicked they spawn the units described.
REAL LIFE Incoming!
So it will be a stretch to finish this. Despite it being ‘done’ I still want to add polish, and actually replace the art. But, starting tomorrow, I’m doing another local game jam. (Okay that’s not real life) On Wednesday, I took awesome engagement photos with my lovely Fiancee, and Monday, I’m having friends over for a BBQ. All this is exciting and fun, but this 7dayRTS challenge, may turn into the 10dayRTS Challenge. Hopefully, I can still submit something. This is fun idea, and I definitely want to hear the community’s feedback. I already plan on expanding this post jam. PS. Does anyone know how to make Unity’s GUI less fuzzy? I’m looking for a smoother/crisp font. Any GUI elements I upload, always end up fuzzy. Thanks!
My game build is Oscar Mike! Okay. Sorry, I’ll stop the modern war talk. Yesterday I made some nice progress on the game. I have a basic win/lose loop.
I decided to make the game work on a timer. The player has a set amount of time to get his bomber mobs to the target. I made the bomber mobs automatically spawn, and go to their target. To defend itself, the computer has towers that shoot homing rockets. If I add more than 3 turrets, the bombers have no shot.
Now I work on the strategy part. I’m going to give the player units to fight the turrets, and give the bombers more of a fighting chance.
After, I’m going to create enemy fighter mobs to defend their turrets. I’m trying to set the game up as a rock v scissors interaction. The strategy is in how soon/when you deploy your mobs. If you deploy your fighters too soon, they may not be able to defend the bomber waves. I may expand the game with rounds.
For now, I’m trying to start small, and work outward. Usually my projects suffer from mental feature creep. Game jams tend to enhance my usual bad game design habits; so I’m happy that I’ve made it this far with this approach.
Forgot to mention, my inspiration is kind of a mash up between Flight Control and Clash of Clans.
I couldn’t resist this challenge! RTS Games is one of my favorite genres. I actually created Warcraft 2 Levels back in the day; which is part of the reason why I got hooked on creating games.
Aircraft command is a tactical time management combat game. That’s what I wrote back in 2009. Basically the game is a reverse Tower Defense game. The player must successfully lead a group of bombers (which he does not control) to a series of targets. To do this, the player has access to a different units. These units will eliminate the turrets and fighters that are trying to kill the bombers.
Get enough bomb mobs to the target. ( I may do some type of other element like a ticking timer)
Lose too many bombers, or let time run out (This may change)
- Unity 3d
- Playmaker (Unity Plugin)
- Expand knowledge of Unity Playemaker
- Finish an old idea in 7 days
- complete a damn LD type challenge!
- Port game to Ouya
- Port game to ipad
Luckily I’m not starting from scratch per se. A lot of the work I’ve done for my main project can be repurposed.
I also have some art that a friend made for this very project a few years back.
Here’s my progress so far:
I got the main bomber mobs going to the target. I’m working on making the first turret fight back against those pesky invaders. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with my progress. ( @MarvinHawkins) I’m also going to post here!
After 3 attempts, I completed a game for the October challenge. Ironically, it is not the one that I set out to make when the month started. It’s also late, but I digress. I’m sharing it now because I got to work with a bunch of awesome dudes at the begging of October. We met and finished this game in one weekend in Chicago.
This is how it feels to RELEASE a game to the public:
Presenting ‘Bells of Steel’ a Christmas Tower Defense Game. In the game, elfs must sacrafice themselves to save the north pole from an alien invasion. Not fast enough? Santa will handle the job himself. The game is now live IN THE APP STORE! The gameplay is sort of tower defense meets action. It’s ad based, so would love some taps of the banner, but it is free otherwise. Enjoy, share with friends. Team Krampus FTW!
Thanks so much to this community! It shows that making games(and completing them) is possible. Thanks for lighting the fire under my butt daily.
App Store Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bells-of-steel/id570914908?ls=1&mt=8
Two of my teammates from this project have other game projects going on. They both look cool. Give them a look if you’re interested in Bells of Steel.
Moby Dick Revenge: https://www.facebook.com/MobyDickRevenge
Hidden Treasure Games: Old School Adventure game; https://www.facebook.com/HiddenTreasureGames
I’m tossing my hat into the ring for a November challenge. I didn’t devote nearly the amount of time needed to make the October challenge a success. One big issue is, I didn’t really plan out my time/tasks. I hope to remedy that, and my goal is a first playable by the end of November. In early december, I’d like to either do a first release, or some type of pre order scheme. I need to sit down, and actually write this plan out.
I posted the game to the unfinished section of this site. I will post the link below for ease of finding. I’d love feedback on how to build on what I have. For November, I will be posting to indiedb.com, and Facebook. Also, I’d love to hear notes on how those that completed this challenge did it. When did you know to cut? How did you priortize stuff? All in all, i’m glad stuff like this exists. It’s great to have a community to share/get feedback from. Now I just have to finish the game…
Feel free to follow me on Twitter as I’ll post updates there as well.
Indie DB page: http://www.indiedb.com/games/bonus-stage-inc/news
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/BonusStageInc/218713654894051
Game Demo: http://marvinhawkins.com/SkyHawksv10.html
I posted a larger update here: But as to yesterday’s word, here’s some media on my project. Again, my focus now is build the foundation. We’re close to getting close to a playable demo. This week’s update is more art heavy. We are getting some good contributions from the art team. My challenge this weekend is to start to get that in the game. The biggest indicator of progress is the main player ship (above) is close to ready. It’s an exciting moment!
In the mean time, here’s some photos. By the end of the month, I want to have an alpha done. I might try to get preorders (thus fulfiling the challenge) But I want to make sure I’m doing it right. My thought is, I’m making a single player game, what can you give a player in that case? its not a game like mine-craft or some other sandbox experience. I welcome any insights. Either way, Sky Hawks will be released soonsih. If not by November, then by December. If anyone has any insights on how Alpha Funding works for non multiplayer games, I’m all ears.
Here’s some pics:
Hi All! So I’ve been hustling everyday. (Cue Rick Ross) But it’s not looking like I will finish by the end of october. I am getting some great progress. My goal is at least an alpha by the end of this month. I’m still laying down a lot of foundation. This contest is still providing me with that fire under my butt that i I desperately needed.
So for context: Sky Hawks is an arcade shooter. The game is a fixed scrolling game that is reminiscent of 1942. The funny thing is, I started this project as a way to finish something with a more manageable scope. (This was 2009.) A lot of this project has been solving problems that I assumed would be easy. The first large one was dealing with off screen enemies. Having enemies in the game world was one thing, but they would be long gone by the time the player arrived. The solution was to place the enemies inside of a trigger. When the player was close enough, the enemies would appear in the world. My coder is a rockstar, he got a level tiling system to work. This will allow us to swap out different art titles. This will also make it easy for us to have a level that lasts forever.
I’m rambling, this weekend is all about incorporating more gameplay stuff: Turrets, Getting the bomb working better, and maybe sounds. Overall, it IS starting to come together, but we haven’t even touched the boss routines yet. I’ll also post some of the art that the art guys have been working on. For now, here’s a link of an older build. I’d love some feedback. Thanks!
Since Kickstarter has made ‘stretch goals’ popular, I’m giving myself two stretch goals for this challenge. They are both ipad games that are close to release that I worked on. Both are going to give me a chance to work on my marketing skills. Game 1 is a game completed for IGDA Chicago’s Game Jam. We had so much fun making it, that we decided to make it a full featured game. The theme was sacrifice, so naturally we made a game where you defend santa from space aliens… With suicide bombing elves. We made the whole thing in Game Salad, and will probably just add a few levels, and clean up a few code issues. Right now, the biggest challenge is just figuring out how to monetize it. We can just put it out for a buck… Luckily the holidays are coming so $1 should be ‘easy’. It’s probably just the lack of sleep, but we thought the game was funny as hell. You can play a demo of our work now. Here: http://arcade.gamesalad.com/game/106271
Here’s a write up on the Jam itself here: http://marvinhawkins.wordpress.com/blog/
The Second Game is Steam Golf. I’ve actually been working with a couple of industry veterans on a second ipad game. The game is like Angry Birds mixed with Platfomers, Mixed with golf. I guess it’s simpler to just call it a golf platformer. I did game/level design. For October, the push will be to finish a website, get a trailer going, and write up copy for iStores, and probably the IGF. Ironically, its just as much work as level design. What’s great is, I’ll get a chance to work on my game marketing skills. Here’s a screenshot, hope to post a trailer soon.
I knew that October would be a big month, I’m hoping this challenge is just what I need to have a portfolio of 3 games out in the wild, no longer trapped on my hard drive for all to enjoy.
Oh! We also have a PartlyCrazy Facebook page. I will start to post stuff there (as opposed to spamming you fine folks)
I just shared my first prototype with my team. It is in rough shape, so I want to pretty that up before sharing with this group. So far this week has been about functionality. My main programmer is working on a tiling system for the background. This will allow us to ‘stream’ in tiles as the level progresses, thus giving the sense of an infinite level. I did create some environment art for this game last year, part of my weekend will be spent giving the background some proper (programmer) art. The stretch goal is to share a slightly less rough build here (or at least some screenshots) For now though, here’s a very WIP shot of the first stage..
Updates are sexy. I have one, but its just a prototype build of the game. It’s less Sexy than a giant crab monster. Some of the Art is starting to come in as well. I tried out a new technique. Working with my other programmer remotely, I created a list of to dos. I next wrote down our outstanding tasks, and broke them down into sections. I then broke that up a little further. For example Gui was broken down into ‘fix player lives script’ and ‘delete player life from game controller’ I know that this is very Granular, but its benefits are twofold. One, completing small tasks helps with momentum. Two, seeing tasks written out helps to limit procrastination. When I get distracted, I tend to procrastinate since the tasks start to pile up. Anyway, here’s what i got done with a 4 hour push: Lots more to go, but hope for some sexy screenshots soon.Shot out to my entire art team, they are awesome. It’s good to have art that’s not ugly placeholder art
- Add GUI Lives game object – Complete
- Add Shilloete of aircraft to represent lives – Complete
- Move object on screen to top or out of the way (reposition gui lives) – Complete
-Assign Score when enemy dies – Complete
-Add ‘Player Lives’ Gui element – Complete
- Create New Enemy prefab with mig object – Complete
- Curved enemy path – Complete
- Add buildings to background. – Complete
- Add Textures to Mig Enemy – Complete (In Dropbox called: MigWithTextures)
- Add Texture to building - Complete (Prefab called: Building A)
- ‘kill’ player when he collides with an enemy -complete
- Title Screen Scene should lead to level 1
- End of Level Trigger – Should handle changing levels, cleaning up scene – Complete
-Fade out when level ends: Complete
It’s a little messy, I guess that means the real work is yet to come. SkyHawks is a top down shooter similar to games like 19xx or 1942. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while. It’s time to push it to at least Alpha. The plan is to finish ‘episode 1′ and release with some type of donations, or pay for episode 2 now model. Either way, I’ve got some more things on dev side to figure out before the business model. There’s a ton to do, but here’s what we have so far:
- A few models done
- A home screen
- A Gamecontroller that allow us to set the number of lives, levels, etc.
- Enemy spawn points
- Enemies follow a path
- My coder is a genius, and is getting an procedural tiling system going.
- Texturing Enemies
- Making a graphical representation of player lives
- Incorporating the start screen from the previous build
- making a ‘basic’ level
- Handle ‘player death’
I’m trying to essentially incorporate a bunch of things from an old build, to a new build.
So I’ve watched this twice now, and didn’t enter. My idea was for my game Sky Hawks, there was no need to actually say anything, and by the end of October, the game would be done. Easy. To date, that hasn’t worked. While I have experienced a ton of growth as a developer, in the past year. I still don’t have a finished game under my belt. So this challenge, I’m aiming to break that trend (or at least get enough footage to beg for money via kickstarter or donations). I’ll post more later as I’m at work, but I’m looking forward to frequent updates. I appreciate any and all feedback as I build this. Thanks!
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