Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Free Fall Interactive - Game Hack 24 Hour Event!

Hello Everyone,

Sorry I have been MIA, I've had a very busy time this past weekend and its taken a bit of effort to bring myself back to reality. My company Free Fall Interactive Limited has been gaining interest and actually achieving commissions itself so I have been contributing a bit to that as well.

I haven't forgotten my priorities with Unit 6, it's just we've been trying for years to get our company out there so I kind of have to be there for any landmark success. This particular overnight event was brought to us by a third party who thought we should demonstrate our skills and possibly enter the competition as applicants - we did this.
What was the task? - To make a game in 24 hours

We were given coupeous amounts of caffine and a goal after being stuck in a studio at pinewood with quite a few other like minded programmers and games enthusiasts. We had the problem of having no programmer so we were stuck with a guy who wasn't really a programmer - much to our disgust.

The image above is me in the background and my business partner Ross working his but off on animating a 2D Cogman. I was involved with project planning/editing as well as animating a few fish and some ocean. I wanted to leave the more complicated stuff to the more confident 2D animator (plus Cogman is and has been Ross's baby for years I didn't want to obscure his image of Cogman).

The image above is the entire room shot in a panoramic view - I wish I knew how to do this it looks so cool, sadly you cannot see us as we are on the other side of the room. Let me know if you actually can spot us.

We actually started alot of this stuff the night before leaving for the event, suffice to say it was a little hectic when we arrived - a little overwhelming also. The image above is how we worked out the throw animation - following the flow curve. This acted as a guide for what would eventually become the throw animation for the game - the final can be seen above in motion.

The concept began with a basic block model (shown above) after jotting down a few ideas. We wanted to do our original idea which was a hunting game involving Cogman but time constraints plus the inexperience of our "programmer" forced us to consider a quicker more low key concept - Caveman fishing. I started out the experience by creating simplistic blocks and animating them to do things, once my business partner concurred I moved on to creating the environment.

The image above shows the completed article. I began fleshing out the rocks and then moved onto the sea which was a more simple 3 frame animation (there just wasn't time to refine) It was basic enough to consider it an active sea setting. The background was drawn in a previous piece of Cogman artwork which I fashioned into a makeshift setting. It wasn't ideal but I think it worked. The GUI was easy and very basic just to catch as many fish as you could in a minute before a monster would eat you...

At this point our programmer told us that he needed sheets of equal length to accurately plot the movement of Cogman in the game so I had to grid him evenly apart from one frame to another. I understood the process but afterwards he ended up asking for separate frames (I guess he just couldn't do it that way). Suffice to say the guy was totally useless he even went to bed and left me and my business partner up with no game to show on the final day, at this point I was already considering countermeasures to our "dilemma".

The animatable fish (shown above) were all derived from the original red fish just altered slightly to once again save time for the deadline of the games event. Our game was to be flash based using action script but alas our programmer was completely useless.

The monster that eventually eats Cogman (at the end of our 1 minute game) was a touch of complete innovation by my business partner. The sketch was evocative from minute one and it had a seamless transition the frames were all close and ideal. The finished animation is above and yes I know he looks completely bad ass!!

The final moments were comprised of Cogman throwing a spear into the water - we did this when we realised our programmer wasn't going to be able to create a game in the remaining allotted time (we stayed up all night he went to bed at 11pm). This was when we decided to take the work we had done and create something of worth in the remaining time (this was planned at about 3am of our 24 hour deadline). I knocked up a rough as nails trailer idea and pitched it directly to my business partner I jotted it down in the space of 5 minutes and he gave me an immediate thumbs up.

From here I stayed up all night (3:00am - 11:30am) in premiere pro trying to comprise our animations into a trailer idea, something that would at least show how we saw the game painting out. The Trailer is below:

The silent HD video of our trailer was then packaged and sent to our on site musician Rob Northcott of Spooky Castle Music (who actually did do his job). If I was being picky I'd say that some of the sound doesn't link up with the intended action but hell I gave him it when we had like an hour until the final deadline (at which point I was exhausted). We had this in time for our pitch and Ross even managed to resurrect our programmer for a little more development on the actual game.
It was too late though we didn't have enough time and this told us that we cannot rely on these off the cuff teams. We have to learn programming in flash so we can make our damn games. To think we worked our asses off and he slept the night really angers me, experience as taught me that If I want something out there I have to do it, at least I know it will be done...

For those that wish to hear an audio/visual journal which I made throughout the event the videos are below. I took them when I actually got a break which was few and far between. I wanted to film our pitch as well but my business partner wanted me up there in front of the damn judges, so I couldn't film as I had to operate the tech as he spoke. Don't worry they are in order.

Above are my personal videos of how the experience was going at the game hack event. I originally decided against it but I thought I would record some of the other games pitches that happened throughout the day. Sadly I did not manage to record ours as I think I mentioned somewhere in this post that Ross wanted me up there to handle the technicality of the projector etc (Ross hates technology). Anyway other peoples pitches are below:

Well this concludes this little update, I thought I had to post something about this as it has been a busy time and my company is me as much as anything else. We didn't win the competition thanks to our lack of a decent programmer, this has taught me that we have to learn programming which we will be doing over the course of the summer break. We will get a game on the app store and it will probably begin with Cogman's Fishing Trial.

The trailer was a last minute idea but I thought it was a good thing, at least we know what we want and we know how to get it. We are not going to be relying on other people, we have to do this at least I know if we do it it will be done right and to its very best calibre. I could put the game that was made on here but tbh it's not worth it I want to be proud of what I post.

Now I will continue my day job looks like I got quite a bit of catching up to do on Unit 6, but I would hate myself if I didn't celebrate the achievements we made in the space of 24 hours. The game when we sit down to make it will be seamless and programmed in flash action script to be used on mobile solutions :P

Let the games begin...

Over & Out,

1 comment: