Mind the Trap

We made a treasure chest for Indie Prize!

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Next week we’ll be participating in the Indie Prize Showcase at Casual Connect in San Francisco, and this time around we wanted to go a little more all-out with our exhibit. What better way to start this than with a distressed treasure chest to hold our promotional giveaways. The secret sauce? Coffee.


Game Jams, Games


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DYSTOPOLIS is a run n’ gun shooter set in a minimalistic cyberpunk metropolis, where you have the ability to redirect bullets using an ability called the “Gravity Well.” The game is available on for free here, so please try it out and let me know what you think!

Coming up with the Idea

At the time of the game jam, my brother and I were obsessing over the latest co-op indie game we picked up, Broforce. We were a fan of the different ways you could play the game, whether by going rambo and lighting up the landscape with machine gun fire, or by using stealth to sneak behind the simple AI characters and hit them from beneath the ground. No matter how you decided to play, this game was a difficult arcade shooter, where a single mistake would¬†cost you your life. So while we were thinking of ideas for the game jam theme “rigging” we thought we could give making a shooter a try for this game jam, where you could instead “rig” your bullet trajectories through an in-game mechanic that we called the “Gravity Well.”


However, before we could get started on the game, my brother had to go on a vacation with my family, so I was left alone to work on the game solo. This gave me a great opportunity to practice some skills that my team usually handled such as the art design.


Mind the Trap
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We’re excited to announce that we’ve been accepted for the Indie Prize Showcase for our game Mind the Traps! woot! The 3-day event takes place as part of Casual Connect in SF, where attendees will have the opportunity to demo their game, sit in workshops, and network with industry professionals.

Credit for Beemo art goes to MeTaa

Mind the Trap

New Build Submitted for the IndieCade Festival | Fingers Crossed!

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The IndieCade Festival is an exciting opportunity for accepted developers to showcase their games, network with fellow developers and industry professionals, and meet with potential publishers. During these past couple weeks¬†we’ve been developing a new build for the application in response to all the live feedback we’ve received from the Indie Arcade Gaming Expo. Without further ado, check out some in-game footage!


Mind the Trap

2016 Sacramento Indie Arcade Gaming Expo

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This was the first time we’ve demo’ed at a community event for game developers and it was an awesome weekend. Hands up to¬†Gabriel Gutierrez,¬†Briana Aea¬†and the rest of IGDA Sacramento for such a great job¬†and for giving us this opportunity!

The event¬†was held¬†at the West Sacramento Community Center and featured four large rooms of video game developers, board game designers, cosplayers and shops.¬†Despite a rainy day, a lot of people came to play, which included elementary school kids, college students, parents and other developers. It’s also been a few months since the team has gotten together and even played the game with each other. The handsome devils from left to right:

Chris Ng, Conrad Fay, Kenneth Ng, Michael Lee
Conrad Fay, Kenneth Ng, Jordan Henderson, Chris Ng

It was exciting to see the creativity and variety of games from the Sacramento community alone. The players, which was an even mix of developers and casual gamers, were also really supportive and shared a lot of constructive criticism.


Mind the Trap

Week 16: Traps Stress Test

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Although the Unreal Engine automatically applies occlusion culling, a lot of the traps and mini-games we make have code, animations, and particle effects that run in the background, even if they aren’t in the camera’s view. Most of it is quite trivial, but given that the traps are the most frequently used asset in the game, we thought this was an excellent area¬†to perform a stress test on several gaming computers and see how it would impact performance in terms of frame rate, frame latency, and online networking.

For this build, we procedurally generated the entire dungeon from the beginning (as opposed to generating and deleting on the go) and spawned roughly 300 traps. All the in-game meshes were¬†placeholder and do not have any materials. We’re fully aware that materials and textures are an entire field of its own that needs to be efficient, but that’s a topic we’ll handle later on when we have official assets.

While¬†we were at it, we wondered if¬†it’d be fun at all to have a dungeon crawler that went to the extremes and had nothing but traps at every step of the way. Would it be so painfully punishing and yet rewarding that players would call it the “Dark Souls” of multiplayer party games?


To get a fresh perspective on our game, we invited a friend of ours, Alex, an avid gamer, to playtest with us. Here’s some gameplay footage.

So, it was definitely not Dark Souls-like at all. In fact, it was such a pain to get through the pathways, especially with the poor visual cues and the inability to move an inch without falling off the platform.

Back to the main goal at hand…

Frame rate and frame latency were great and stayed steady throughout the playthrough, even when the camera view zoomed out and a significant number of traps were being rendered.

Online networking, unfortunately, suffered and issues with server-client desyncing made it unplayable at times. The players on the client side would report walking through the trap meshes, teleporting across the screen, and getting damaged by a trap before it even activated. By the end of the playthrough, the server saw all the pendulums moving, but none of the clients saw the pendulums moving.

Basically, a lot of the remote procedure calls (RPC)‚ÄĒmulticasts and rep notifies‚ÄĒwere getting lost in the lag. As we got further and further into the map, it became more apparent that the later traps and mini-game rooms were missing some RPCs that should’ve been called (e.g. the pendulums moving only on the server side). This is likely due to how our procedural generation works at the moment, where the entire world is generated at once, making the number of remote procedure calls¬†to send from server to client quite large in such a small amount of time.

This week we’ve made some great progress and resolved a majority of those issues by running periodic checks, using a blueprint interface to communicate values calculated from the server’s end, reducing the number of remote procedure calls, and reworking the procedural generation to create and delete the world as the players move forward, rather than all at once.

Mind the Trap

Week 14: Debugging in All Its Glory

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Roughly every two weeks we do a check-in with each other on the game’s progress. We sync up all the work we’ve been doing, make a build, and playtest the crap out of it to make sure it’s still headed in the right direction and to prevent any game-breaking bugs from carrying forward.

This week’s build consisted of over 15 different pathways, 10 mini-game rooms, and 3 bosses. To no surprise, we playtested it over 20 times and found a whole bunch of¬†game-breaking bugs, such as gates closing on the players before they could leave the room and items not getting deleted when the mini-game ends. Now we have this massive list of things to fix before our next build. Yay!

An interesting finding was that platforming, specifically jumping across suspended platforms, was not good for pacing. It was really frustrating to fail the jumps over and over, and it became something only the more skilled players could pass through quickly. For a party game with a low skill cap where players gain enjoyment from messing with each other, this was not a desirable outcome. As a result we removed all the platforming-heavy pathways.


On the upside, good progress was made on a few things. The procedural generation is efficient and very speedy. Online networking is working much better‚ÄĒnearly all the replication issues we had previously are now taken care of. Lastly, the mini-games are turning out to be a lot of fun.