Tag Archives: level design

I Survived the 2018 NGDC!

Well, I survived the 2018 Northern Game Design Challenge (NGDC)!

As I mentioned, my team decided we were building a platformer.  We were hoping we’d get something like “cyborg ninja” (which was one of the six possible themes we were able to work with), but the NGDC community voted on “the stock market” for us.  So we made a platformer based on the stock market.

One of my team members made the quip that our main character was a “trader by day, ninja by night.”  And so Hostile Takeover was born!

hostile takeover start screen

In Hostile Takeover, you play the ninja Martin Ryker who lost all his money and has been working as a stock trader.  He gets the chance to get even with Claudius Capital, the company that bankrupt him, when he hears they are being audited tomorrow for suspected insider trading.  Martin Ryker decides to sneak into Claudius Capital to plant evidence of insider trading, insuring the company will go down!

I was responsible for creating the character backstories for the game.  I also wrote the dialogue/cinematic stuff at the beginning of the game, designed the levels (I designed four in total), and found a lot of the sound effects used in the game.  Oh, and I created the Twitter account @ClaudiusCapital for the game’s villain, Michael Claudius the 3rd.  Claudius’ tweets were used to justify some of the things in what became our game’s demo (we managed to get only the first level working, and a lot of the mechanics/graphics are missing).

Here’s the video we created for the end of the NGDC.  Shaun, one of my team, put it together including the trailer.  I’m the one who played through the game for the demo part at the end of the video.

If you want to play through the game, head to hostiletakeover.ninja.  Everything we made so far is there, including links to the video and Claudius’ Twitter account.  The rest of the team wants to finish the game, so I’ll post more updates as progress continues.  🙂


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Last Post of 2015!

I know I said that most likely I wouldn’t be blogging anymore in 2015.  But I couldn’t resist writing one more post!

Yesterday and today I really wasn’t feeling well.  I had planned on going to a friend’s house tonight for New Year’s Eve Rock Band and whatnot, but I honestly wasn’t feeling up to it.  So instead I ended up spending most of the day working on Tears of the King!

Apparently I haven’t worked on the game since September.  So here’s my first new map since then:

Witch House Grove

This map may look familiar – it’s very similar to the Fairy Grove map I posted back on September 11th.  One of the things I’ve been struggling with is how you’ll get back to the Witch House Hub (that’s this map, which has been finished since I posted this screenshot) after you get different ingredients.  The big concern so far was getting back from the Fairy Grove because you get there through the Fairy Forest, which is a map I intentionally built to be confusing.  I also had an extra path leading from the Witch House Hub, having previously decided that one direction will lead to one thing, the other direction will lead to the King’s City (which I today renamed the Imperial City).  So why not have some sort of magic teleporting system from one grove to another?

Once this map was completed, I set to work on the actual challenge I’ve been struggling with since September: what will things look like off to the West of the Witch House Hub?  Today I’ve largely answered that!  I’ve got another map that’s the size of the Mountain Forest (which means huge) that’s going to connect the Witch House Hub to another village and a mine which is going to have one of the ingredients in it.

So even though today was disappointing because I wasn’t able to go play Rock Band, I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished.  Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this momentum going and finish Tears of the King soon!  So Happy New Year to everyone, and see you in 2016!  🙂

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Game Setting

Over the weekend I was away in Ottawa for a one-day workshop (it wasn’t game related).  While hanging out in my hotel room, I started designing the world of the as yet untitled game in map form.  I enjoy drawing maps so this was sort of a logical thing for me to do while working with this new game’s setting.  Of course, I decided to draw in pen rather than pencil, so I ended up designing the map on three separate sheets of paper; none of those were really the finished product (and one is more of a listing of words rather than an actual map now).

Brainstorming my Map

My plan was to redraw it once I got home and then scan it.  But somewhere along the way I had a better idea: why not just find a map-making program and draw it on the computer instead?

I looked into several programs, including Campaign Cartographer 3 (which looked pretty neat) and Dundjinni before deciding on giving AutoREALM a try.  Of the three, AutoREALM is covered under the GNU General Public License and was available as a free download, so having never designed a map using anything more complicated than Paint I decided it was the one to try for now.  I may consider giving one of the other programs a try in the future, but until then I’m going to play around with AutoREALM.

So anyway, after downloading the program and checking out a quick tutorial, I was able to successfully recreate the map I designed in Ottawa:

Untitled Project Map

I know the map isn’t perfect.  Some of the areas are tough to read and the edges of the map are just white space because I didn’t design them.  But I had a lot of fun drawing this (both in pen and on AutoREALM).  I didn’t actually come up with all the names for things either; my programmer friend helped me brainstorm the place names while I was in Ottawa.

The best part about this map is that it’s helping me visualize the set-up for the game, particularly with the story and levels.  It’s giving me a great starting point for character backgrounds.  What’s more, the map also has some of the unique level-specific features of the game on it.  The final game might not be laid out like this, but at least I have a starting point.

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Developing a New Game

Apologies, I’ve been pretty quiet on here over the last few months.  But I’ve been leaving some updates on Twitter so I thought I’d give a larger update here: a couple of friends and I are designing a game!

Last night, my programmer friend, artist friend and I sat down and really worked out the details for the game engine.  I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I got nominated the lead designer when we started this, so I’ve been pretty busy trying to figure out the game mechanics and the art direction.  My artist friend has done some great concepts and has started working on the character models (they’re going to be 3D).  We just got another friend on board to create the music; he’s already got one piece finished (which sounds great!) and we’ve started discussing what the rest of the music should be like.

I’ve never actually designed a game from scratch like this before, so the experience is pretty exciting.  Along with mechanics, I’m going to be developing the story and designing the levels (all with help from my three friends who are making this with me).

Unfortunately this means that my RPG has been put on hold indefinitely.  This also means I’m going to be readjusting my year’s Writing Goals as I definitely didn’t plan for this.  But it was an exciting opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up.  So wish me luck as I tackle designing this game with my friends!


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