Main » 2013 » August » 17 » August Minijam (Diplomatic Desert Crisis)

3:05 PM
August Minijam (Diplomatic Desert Crisis)

The august minijam happened. The themes this time were: undercover, sandstorm and the world ends in 2 minutes.
Once again, it was great seeing everybody frantically getting something together in a funny chaos. Regarding the minijam I think the creative process and collaboration between different disciplines is more important than the result.
So here's what happened from my perspective.

How did we get from theme to game?
Starting out was a little more chaotic this time. There was a lot of networking going on which is a good thing but it's not for me. I just make games. Also I always try to work with different people and adapt my role to whichever discipline is needed most.
So I teamed up with a group of three programmers making graphics for our game.

Two of the programmers, Benjamin and Christian from shoutr, wanted to use their android multiplayer code in the project. So we started thinking about a combination of all the themes focused on multiplayer. Going through things like imagining what the game Journey played like, going through a sandstorm to prevent the end of the world, focusing on the sandstorm as a thing to hide behind, bomberman, and finally ended up with undercover.
The idea was that there were a bunch of people on the screen including the players and computer controlled characters. The players would have to kill each other. But, the players were undercover as these computer controlled characters, so everybody looked completely identical.
So, in this situation the task for the players would be to identify which people were real players and which people were not. Also, the player would have to take care to try and behave & move just like a computer controlled character would, to keep up the disguise of not being a player.

But most modern players would probably just ignore this and massacre everybody right? Sidestepping the whole undercover thing.
Which is why we came up with making all these people diplomats. You can't just kill diplomats, there'll be a diplomatic incident!
We set it in the desert because we had some ideas about how to integrate a sandstorm and a sort of "capture the flag" mode in which one player had to reach and press a button in under two minutes to stop the world from being ended.

So with the basic idea for the game in place we were able to convince Fabian to join us as well. Adding more programming power :)

(Yes it runs on android)

Lessons learned?
- As a programmer doing relatively little graphics work I blindly ran into the moment where I had to draw an animation for a character dying. And I like pixelated blood and guts as much as the next person. But only then I realized that the whole setting of the game reminded me of the massacres in egypt. I had already drawn the diplomat as a person with a proper sun tan from being in the desert and gave him dark brown hair and eyes. So he could be identified as egyptian probably.
But I decided that, since the whole setting flowed from themes and gameplay mechanics that had nothing to do with what was going on in egypt, it was enough to keep the disconnect intact.
If you want, then sure you can see it as a commentary on how egypt needs more diplomats and how they are killing (scaring off) the ones with nobel peace prizes.
So the lesson learned is that morality can come into play at unexpected moments, and that 8 hours is probably too short to adapt the game design to it when you're already halfway.
- This time as well, the focus on a core experience was good and pragmatic I think. Maybe it could have been even smaller but multiplayer android in 8 hours is pretty ambitious by itself.
- As a graphics artist I cannot work fast enough. At least I was able to visualize everything that was needed this time. But I am slow at animating, and also I seem to have a very limited drawing style. Maybe it's worth learning about vector graphics and tween animations in order to produce more. Any tips on how to produce graphics more quickly in general are very welcome.
- I instantly felt limited brainstorming because I brought up other games as comparison. It centers thoughts on what already exists and provides a common foothold or orientation point for the group. But it's easy to see how making games as a gamer can also keep ideas confined. I think it's ok to use them but don't be afraid to discard them as fast as you brought them up.

Free stuff!
This time as well, the graphics I've done are public domain, that means anybody can use them for anything, anywhere, anytime. You can get them here and at

Some examples:

Category: Experiments | Views: 130 | Added by: Garfunkel
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