ue4jam

Mind the Trap

Week 12: New Minigames and Pathways


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Happy New Year to you all!

*cough* We’ve been slacking off a little on the weekly updates—new year resolution duly noted—but we’ve been hard at work! Here’s what’s been goin’ on since December of last year.

Minigame Rooms and Pathways

As some of you may recall, Mind the Traps is a dungeon crawler designed around pathways and rooms. In each room the players duke it out in fun Mario Party-like minigames yelling at each other and gawking spit from uncontrollable laughter. Between each room are sets of connecting pathways, a highly varied assortment of pillars, floating platforms, bridges, spikes, hidden traps, obvious traps, monsters, etc. etc. This is where all the devious fun comes in muahahaha.

Jodie has too many coins? Let’s smack her into the pit of lava. George winning too many minigames? Just let the monster snatch him up and feed on him until his pockets are empty of coins.

During these past couple weeks, we’ve been planning out all the minigames, traps, types of monsters, bosses and pathways and have been gradually crunching them out. The plan is to have a fully playable version by the end of this month, featuring 5 bosses, around 12 minigames, and about 30 pathways. Here’s a screenshot of us playing with fog and new procedurally generated pathways.

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Here’s a teaser for one of the boss concepts we’ve been playing with.

Spring traps boss (Twitter)

Story

We wanted the story and narrative to scream Stanley Parable and Battleblock Theatre—ridiculous and sarcastic humor. The team got together this past week and spent a good day chucking out a narrative. For now, let’s just say it involves puppy treats and squirrels, but we’ll reveal more later on. 😀

 

Mind the Trap

Week 9: Online Networking Works, Next Year’s Plan, Profit Sharing Plan


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Online Networking

Our UE4 guru, Michael Lee, just finished his finals last week and of course couldn’t wait to get back to work. In a few days, he got the online networking to work! Woo! Trying to get this to work has been a huge pain for Chris this past week; apparently, it’s because of the way our router is set up.

Integrating online play is still up in the air. Mind the Traps is a party game that you enjoy with your friends, and if your friends are around you as opposed to behind the screens then it’s even more fun. Playing online actually does more damage than give convenience. There are a lot of games out there that only offer local play, e.g. Towerfall Ascension, Spelunky. It’s not an all-or-nothing option for the player.

Plan for Next Year

Chris and I will be finishing up the technical portion of Mind the Traps by the end of January, and our artist will come onboard around the February timeframe to touch up the game, add in new characters, design the bosses, etc. His artwork will be a strong tool for marketing and building up hype for our Kickstarter campaign in the summer.

Profit Sharing Plan

The elephant in the room. Running a business means everybody has to get paid! We’re very fortunate to be working with a flexible group of people that isn’t worried about being paid in the immediate term. Kenneth has been working on a profit sharing plan, which is a payment model in which everybody is compensated only when the game makes a positive profit. Everybody takes a percentage of the profit sharing pool based on how much time they can commit to the game’s development.

Ludum Dare 34

Judging is still ongoing for another week. If you’re a current participant, it would be an awesome Christmas present if you vote on our game!

 

Business & Marketing, Mind the Trap

Week 4 Updates: Kickstarter Analysis, Networking Fixes, Weird Play/Pause Bug


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Almost 100 Twitter Followers!

We’re currently at around 90 followers. Help us get to 100 and you’ll get endless kisses from Chris!

Kickstarter Analysis

by Kenneth

Like I mentioned last week, we’ve been doing some preliminary planning for Kickstarter next year. This week I came across an interesting article by Joey Daoud (sorry for butchering your name), which looked at the behavior of Kickstarter funders for film projects. I thought: since I did a short job as a data analyst and there’s no public analytics on Kickstarter video game projects to my knowledge, why not do a little analysis myself? This past week I compiled over 90 video game projects that have been successfully funded, are recent, and have a goal in the $1k to $100k range. I choose these criteria because I see these projects as being more “moderate”—they don’t come from AAA studios or developers who already have a huge backing. I’m sure there are many small studios out there like us who don’t have a huge social media presence and need to figure out how to mesh Kickstarter with their marketing plans to attain more followers.

In this analysis, I will be looking specifically at quantitative data, such as the number of backers, funding goal, and pledge levels. My goal is to figure out the average amount a backer pledges for a video game project and how that relates to the funding goal and number of backers. My findings will be published sometime next week on various sites, starting with reddit where I can get some feedback. My hope is that everyone will find this helpful for their own Kickstarter planning.

Development

by Chris

The majority of this past week has been… gruntwork. I’ve been working with online networking a lot to get it out of the way but have been met with a lot of hiccups. We did some testing between computers using LAN and came across some lag. After doing some research, I found that replication, or specifically rep notify, is the least intensive on networking compared to multicast and server-run functions. So I’ve been replacing everything that has been using these less efficient methods with rep notify.

I came across a really odd bug that’s actually been quite annoying. Whenever I simulate 2 players (server and client) in the editor window and press pause, any timeline functions I’m using continues to run. Technically, EVERYTHING in the level should pause when I press pause, including timelines, scripts, functions, and animations. I submitted a bug report and should hear back from them soon.

Mind the Trap

Procedural Generation, Part 1: Looking Good So Far


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Mind the Traps is designed to be a fun-filled party game that you play with your friends for a few rounds, kinda like Mario Party and Super Smash Bros. For those reasons, it needs to be action-packed, short and replayable. Originally, we had a few options, such as creating a large amount of levels and adding character classes, but given that this would be our first commercial game we decided to go with a more risk averse approach—procedural generation.

So far, it’s turning out pretty good for the basic floor plan.

proceduralgeneration

If you had a chance to play the prototype, you’ve probably noticed that the game is broken down into pathways and mini-game rooms. We’ve continued with that method of level design and created a blueprint that procedurally generates pathways and rooms at the beginning before the game starts. It follows the simple logic of: for every 2 pathways (white colored blocks), a mini-game room (black block) is created. The final room (red block) is a boss room. 

All of this is kept uniform by following a simple set of rules:

  1. All rooms and pathways follow a simple grid system, where every 1000 by 1000 UE4 units are considered one “unit” in our grid.
  2. All rooms and pathways origin position are the centerpoint of the first 1 by 1 unit. So that if we have a room that is size 3 by 3, the centerpoint is at 1 by 1, the bottom-left-most corner of the square. This is so that calculating the entrance and exit positions of each room and path is uniform and easy.
  3. Every path and room is entered from the south, meaning the players only enter each room and path from the bottom of the room/pathway.
  4. Every path and room is exited from the north, meaning the players only exit each room and path from the top of the room/pathway.

Each previously created pathway and mini-game room is randomly chosen from preset arrays. Having arrays gives us the flexibility of adding more pathways and rooms in the future. (more…)

Mind the Trap, Tips & Tricks

How to Make a Game in One Week | Epic MegaJam Learnings


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Building a playable and presentable game in one week is no joke. In October we attended Epic Game’s biggest game jam to date, the Epic MegaJam. We would like to share our experience on how we accomplished it through scheduling, prioritizing features, coming up with the minimum viable product, and incremental playtesting. You’ll find that it applies to all forms of game development and not just to game jams. To see where it took us, here’s a gameplay trailer of our submission, Mind the Traps.

In the end you’ll find the download links for the winners of the MegaJam. I highly recommend playing their games for your learning.

Half of our team had school or a day job, so scheduling was key to get us started and to ensure we would finish the game on time. We listed out the phases of development, assigned what needs to be accomplished in each phase, and allocated the number of hours to be spent in each phase.

1. Choose an awards category (30 minutes)

Choosing an award to aim for helped create the framework for our game’s design. We wanted to make a game that we would enjoy making and potentially sell, so given our quirky personalities and love for multiplayer party games it made the most sense that we target the Addiction (most fun) award. (more…)

Mind the Trap

Play “Mind the Traps” Now!


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We’re happy to announce that our game jam submission, Mind the Traps, is now available to play for free! Download the game here.

Mind the Traps is a multiplayer dungeon crawler, but unlike games of this sort it’s a light-hearted and chaotic party game. Use your friends as a tool to clear the path so that you can get ahead. Oh, and by the way, there can only be one winner…

Since we received a lot of positive feedback so far, we’re committing to finishing this game and would really appreciate your thoughts. Any criticism you guys have will make this game better and better.

The current version is a prototype that came out of the Epic MegaJam last week. It is designed for two to four players in local multiplayer on a PC using gamepad controllers. This game is playable single player, but is highly discouraged.

Have fun!

Mind the Trap

Submitted Our Game, Mind the Traps, for the Epic MegaJam


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Pulled 3 almost all-nighters with some friends to submit a game for the #ue4jam (Epic Game Jam)! Stay tuned for more footage of our game, Mind the Traps!

Theme of the Jam:

“Standing on the shoulders of giants”

Gameplay:

Use your friends as a tool for you to discover the path ahead of you! While they sacrifice their lives, you gain the knowledge and pathway to the future. This game must be played with 2-4 X-Box controllers as multiplayer. Single player is possible but not recommended.

Did you make all your own assets?

Yes!  We made everything in the game.

The Team:

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