Great Dane Games

Great Dane Games

Great Dane Games - all things gamerelated

This weblog is the digital playground for Anders Højsted. I'm a philosopher, indie gamedeveloper, writer & all-round renaissance man.

Tryhart & Baby The Knife

Game DevelopmentPosted by Anders Højsted Sat, April 30, 2011 12:22

Hi,

I've been very inactive in here for a variety of reasons.


We did the Nordic Game Jam in the end of January and it was a blast. We had 300 participants and it ran smoother then ever. Greg Costikyan held the keynote and we had a board game track sponsored by LEGO & the biggest board games distributor in Denmark, so they had a ton of cool game bits to design with. All in all, it was awesome and we got a lot of great feedback from the participants as well.

Part of the succes is because we expanded the organizers team to double size and distributed a lot of responsibility, so each individual organizer had less & better defined responsiblity then previously. IGDA Denmark Chairman David Mariner & Vicechairman Dajana Dimovska was point on the whole event and managed to herd the organisers in the right direction for a great event.

However, I am leaving the Nordic Game Jam. I've been organizing it for 5 years (and assisted the Global Game Jam a bit) and I don't have the passion for it anymore. The event is pretty much defined now and there's not that much room for radical innovation in it anymore. Much of the work is just fine-tuning and a lot of negotiations with the various partners and I don't really have the passion for this kind of work. Plus I didn't really feel invigorated at the event; it was more a "same, same"-feeling.

I'm also leaving the IGDA Denmark board/organisation. I have a massive network in the danish games industry, but haven't been able to get a job in it. I don't feel that I need more network and the work in IGDA doesn't really help my resumee with regards to gamedevelopment (although it has gotten me a kick-ass eventmaking resumee). I need to go a different way now.

However, this doesn't mean that I won't be at the IGDA events in Denmark anymore. I'll just be participating instead of organising. As Gorm Lai, co-founder of Nordic Game Jam & Global Game Jam said: "I've created the event that I wanted to participate in, but I can't participate because I'm organising". I kindda feel the same way.

The new way is my our company Tryhart (website under construction) and our gameproject Baby The Knife. Baby The Knife was a project that came to me in a very intuitive way. I'll post about it on the project website.

At the Nordic Game Jam, I ran into Conceptartist Rositsa Dineva. I told the idea about a small girl with a giant knife and the whole philosophical & gameplay background for the project. She was hooked immidiately. Since then we have expanded the team and are now 5 people. My role is CEO/Creative Director/Busines Developer; I wear a lot of hats these days.

Most of my time will be spent on Baby The Knife and I've decided to use the Great Dane Games-name as a platform for my own hobby-projects, like TryFail and Amazing. Most of my updates will be in Tryhart.com and BabyTheKnife.com, so this blog will be even less frequently updated then usually.

I hope to see you in there instead :)

BTW: I've submitted TryFail to the Extra Credits Innovation Awards. Lets see what happens there.

Love,

Anders

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Amazing

Game DevelopmentPosted by Anders Højsted Fri, January 07, 2011 10:19
Hi, it's been two months since my last update.

The time hasn't been uneventfull, but very few of the things happening have been related to gamedevelopement, so I haven't really had anything to write about in here.

I 've been working for a while as a sysadm and haven't had time to develop on my game. I also took a week-long course about the Unity-editor; I'm considering using it for the next game.

Right now I'm (co-)arranging the Nordic Game Jam 2011 at the end of the month. Greg Costikyan is coming to do the keynote and I'm doing all the arrangements regarding this. If you can make it to the NGJ, you should. It's crazy and amazing mad fun (but in a good way).

On top of this it's election year in Denmark and I'm politically active in an attempt to get a new goverment. We still have "our" Bush-administration.

Since last I've made a few levels for the game, added some interaction (new challenges) and made a small demo. I need to focus on the gameplay-experience of the game and do content that will go into the final game. My original idea was to call the game aMAZEd, as it is a maze game, but this title is already taken for an Android-game, so it would confuse things somewhat. I don't plan to release it on Android, so I'll have a talk with the guy making the game to hear if he's ok with me using the title for a PC game.

So for now the title is Amazing (which is very pretentious; I like that); the demo is here: Amazing Demo. This is the alpha of the demo, so a lot of stuff is missing. There's no sound, the levels aren't balanced and the basic idea is just to make a presentation of what is going on. It's still a work-in-progress; I hope someone will give me feedback on it.

The design philosophy behind it is to take the ideas from my thesis about challenges, tools & flow, create the simplest interaction possible and se if the theories are adequate enough to make a good game.

The conclusion is so far that they aren't. I've learned the following:

Before a person can achieve flow during an activity, he needs a motivation to begin the activity and needs to learn how to master the activity before the difficulty can increase and he can achive flow. So the game needs to entice the player to play.

Disclaimer: I still have to figure out how to do this for the game.

Secondly, the game needs to be varied. Even if the player achieves flow, he will still get accostumed to the interaction and it will then get boring if the only change in the game is that difficulty increases. So the interaction in the game must be varied. I don't think the variation in leveldesign is sufficient. Every time the interaction changes, the players skill starts from (close to) beginner's level and the difficulty must be "reset" to adjust for this. Else the player will fail repeatedly, become frustrated and quit the game.

Disclaimer: the levels in the demo aren't balanced based on the player's progression in skill-level, so some of them will be insanely hard. Press Enter in the game to skip a level.

The game is controlled with the directional keys and my dad had a really hard time playing it when playtested the game during Christmass. I don't want to change this for this game, but are looking into mouse-controls for the next game (just need to finish & release this game before I do the next). Mousecontrol also translates easier into touch-screen platforms (Ipad, Iphone, Android) and motion-controllers (Wii, Sony Move, Kinect).

Another design philosophy is to follow the scandinavian design tradition of streamlining. Only things that are essential for the game should be in it. No unnessary filling, - whether it's levels, interaction, graphics or audio. This is actually harder then it looks; I'm constantly tempted to put stuff in that isn't necessary, but that will add a bit glitz to it. But I must to keep it clean.

Gamedevelopement continues and I'll try to keep you posted on a regular basis.

A.

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