As you may have read on the blog last week we in Antagonist participated in NM i Gameplay (Norwegian Championship in Gameplay). NM i Gameplay is a ten day long game jam (hosted by the Norwegian Film Institute) with a bag full of coins for whoever makes the best game. The contest ended on Saturday, so today we thought we would share some more stuff with you all about the game we made, as well as some thoughts post-mortem, and… the game itself(!!!)
You may want to start the download right now, so you can continue reading while it’s going (138 mb)! Please note that the game is meant to be played with a gamepad, but it will of course work with a keyboard! Just use WASD instead of the left thumbstick, and Space instead of A.
The game we made is called Ohminus, and is about a brave little electron on a quest to save his people from eternal incarceration. You see, when electricity enters an electrical appliance through an outlet much of the power is not allowed to flow through, and is instead throttled by resistance to keep the appliance from short-circuiting. The resistance (Ohm), then locks up the electrical particles to keep them from wreaking havoc. How terrible! This of course leaves the poor electrons feeling very unfulfilled, as well as very imprisoned. But such is the harsh reality of electrons. Cue our hero, Edward Lectron, a brave young electron with a mysterious immunity to the powers of resistance. Realizing he is the only one who can stand against the tyranny of resistance, he forms a resistance movement to free all of his enslaved kin.
We came up with the idea for the game last Saturday, which means we worked on the game itself for a week. This was the first project of its kind that we have attempted with the team in its current iteration, so we really got to test out the dynamics between members in new ways and figure out who to fire.
Luckily we’re not firing anyone! I had a ton of fun working on the game, and everyone else tell me they did too. We are all very happy with, perhaps even proud of, what we were able to achieve in such a short time. But enough of that. Something more informative: what actually happened.
One of the things we started thinking about pretty early was how to take advantage of the fact that we had three 3D artists working on the project, albeit two of them part-time. We thought we should probably go for an idea where we could use a ton of 3D assets to make interesting looking scenes. This was part of the reason why we stuck with the idea for Ohminus, although not really the main reason. We already had the idea for the game, and then realized that if we placed the circuit boards vertically in the game we could get some really cool looking background scenery. The core idea for the game came from the theme of the contest, which was “resistance”. One of the things we thought about quite early was resistance in electronics, and from there that you could play as electricity trying to win over resistance. Ole Erik came up with the original idea, and thought of lots of fun details about the world in the game. There is a lot more supposed to be going on there than we had time to make in a week, so we are seriously considering further development of the game. If you try out the game and like what we have made so far, be sure to let us know! It may very well affect whether we decide to pursue the idea down the road!
Sunday through Wednesday we worked relatively normal hours, and just kept the production of code/design/graphics/music flowing at a steady pace. Thursday and Friday was “Fun time” for the three poor fools working on the game in the office, spending up to 15 hours a day on it, and starving to death up to several times. Production soared, dreams died, and a beautiful baby game was born. Standard procedure, in other words. But really, in my opinion there are few things as rewarding as working hard and doing a really good job, so it was thoroughly enjoyable. And maddening.
In conclusion: like with any traumatic experience we are sure to remember this one for a long time, and looking back it there may even be some lessons to be learned. I believe the team took away two main lessons from working on Ohminus together! First of all, we learned that maybe we tend to worry a bit too much about what we are making. I am a big believer in thorough design and planning, but perhaps working on Through the Woods we worry too much about getting these things just right. It makes us second guess our work, and can sometimes make us less motivated to move forward. Working on such a small project, like we did last week, there’s not really enough time to second guess. Most of the time, even if something doesn’t turn out as good as we would have liked, we just have to accept it and start working on the next thing.
The second thing that I think we learned is the value of concept art! Having a visual reference to something we are all trying to imagine really makes it a lot easier to understand what everyone is actually thinking about. Normally we do agree about what to make, but sometimes when we’re done making it we realize we actually agreed to something other than what we thought. It is a bit confusing. So I think we are all eager to start using concept art more in making Through the Woods! And I think Dan is eager to do the same thing except with sound. Concept sound? But now I think maybe your Ohminus download has finished, so you should stop reading and start playing! If it has not finished, I am sorry.
Finally I would just like to give a huge thank you to Dan, Stian, and Kenneth for their amazing work. They put aside their real lives, full of real things, to work on a game about little wobbly balls. Thank you! You made Ohminus awesome!