6 Prototypes in 6 Weeks, with 2 Developers
We are an indie game development company, currently made up of 2 creative coders, experienced Unity developers and musicians - Matt and Mal. We formed the company at the start of April 2020, are taking part in Northern Ireland Screens year long “Platform Programme”.
Fun fact! We only met in March 2020 - and because of the current Covid 19 situation, have yet to work in the same office together!
During April and May 2020, 6 of those 8 weeks were allocated to creating prototypes within a week. The structure was as follows…
On Monday morning, we were given a theme
On Friday at 3pm, we had to give a presentation and demo a working prototype of a game designed around that theme.
How we broke down the week
By the 3rd week, we had formed this routine*
On Monday, we broke the theme down into around a dozen potential types of games. We then agreed on three of these, and the both of us individually put together a presentation pitch of each of them.
On Tuesday, we presented the pitches to each other. We then agreed on the best game, and combined the best of our ideas from our pitch of that game into a more detailed description that we could use during development.
On Wednesday, we finally loaded up Unity!
Thursday was a continuation of Wednesday, giving us two full days of development!
On Friday, we started putting our presentation of the game together. We added any small tweaks, such as audio and basic menus. At 3pm we gave our presentation and listened to the other teams presentation. Then, we cracked open a beer and enjoyed the weekend!
* At the start, we were too keen to get implementing and started jumping into development on Tuesday, partly to ensure that we had a working prototype by Friday. We soon realised the benefits of that extra 2nd day of design, and having a more detailed description gave us a more focused approach during development!
The prototypes that we have completed are described below along with info on how to get links to the prototypes...
One Inch Punch (Week 1 Theme: 80s and 90s)
“Slapstick, fully destructible Beat ‘Em Up with a custom built voxel conversion engine”
Defeat all the smaller enemies in an area to absorb their voxels
Reach map area BOSS characters with special abilities, defeat them to absorb said ability
Gain all special abilities (can be done in any order) to unlock final stages and defeat Lord Voxel and gain the secrets of the one inch punch
Bespoke voxel engine which turns game meshes into grids of cubes/spheres to allow for everything being destructible, creating voxels that can be absorbed and weaponised by the player
Playful story and tone about the mythical one inch punch which can be played single player or cooperatively (multiplayer one on one fights too)
Inverse Kinematic fighting engine so that the fighting is flexible and not reliant on animations
Band Clicker (Week 2 Theme: Idle)
Set up basis for profit generations
Leave to run to gain resources
Improve systems to increase resource collection
Can be left idle and picked up with many resources being gained
Costs scale exponentially whilst value scales linearly
Light hearted tone to appeal to casual markets
“Take a potential superstar from busking on the streets to selling out stadiums”
Suffer A Witch (Week 3 Theme: Humans and Nature)
“Dark, adult farming simulation were sacrifices and witchcraft can be used to boost crops”
Plant/grow/sell/upgrade farming cycle were the grow phase can be boosted by either witchcraft or good charms / pious activity
Community simulation were players must watch their PIOUSNESS meter, affected by donating to the church or sacrificing animals and humans
Become the lord mayor of Salem, in any way possible, with the town under your thumb and working your vast lands for you
Dark adult tone and a constant sense of unease like in the recent films The Witch and Hereditary incorporating the concept of faith and asking the question, ‘Is there actually anything supernatural going on here..?’
Risk/reward farming simulation were engaging in witchcraft activities can boost your crops, but can also get you burned at the stake (can also gain boosts other ways, eg by praying)
Community simulation were players must appear pious by going to church and can accuse neighbours of witchcraft to steal their land and/or gain a cult following of local villagers to work the land for them
Crooks Like Us (Week 4 Theme: Co op with a Twist)
One player must navigate levels on foot whilst receiving information from the second player on what to do
One player is driving the escape whilst the other is telling them to turn left/right, avoid chasing cars and disabling tracking bugs
One player is trying to win a high stakes poker game whilst the other is helping them cheat by relaying the other card players decks. However the cheat cams are poorly set up and partially obstructed so things aren’t going to plan...
Co-op gameplay were both players have totally different perspectives (one in the van with maps, CCTV, dossiers etc and the other in the action with no information and a restrictive first person viewpoint) and must work togethers.
Very playful, humourous and completely non-violent tone. These criminals don’t have the slick and fancy James Bond-esque gadgets, what could go wrong will go wrong here and the gadgets will never behave quite right
Level design incorporates multiple solutions to reach the goal
“A cooperative, comedic, crime caper (starring the world’s unluckiest criminals)”
A Polite Exchange Of Bullets (Week 5 Theme: Board Game)
Initiate a duel by insulting a potential opponent
Engage in single combat where the weapons are chosen by the challenged party (can be ranged or melee)
Win duels to increase renown and improve your gear, allowing you to challenge players with higher renown
Turn based ‘pose your character’ mechanic
Ridiculous skill shots
Light hearted tone with slow mo dodging and creative insulting
“An absurd pistol dueller with acrobatic bullet dodging, physics defying skill shots and inventive insulting”
Something Wicked This Way Comes (Week 6 Theme: Free Theme)
Shared Hub is also a level
The games are all linked by a shared visual style and a mysterious, recurring character...
The games are short, replayable where death is final and there are randomised/roguelike elements
See No Evil is an asymmetric multiplayer where one player is invisible and the other is armed
The Sins Of The Father is a melancholy story about keening, sin-eaters and Banshee using a unique theremin style control method
Your Health Is Your Wealth is a casino sim where the currency is youth
Jackie’s About is a branching narrative game about the frustrations of an extreme split personality (especially when your brain is harbouring a serial killer!)
So What Now?
We now selected two of the above prototypes, and spent 6 weeks on each of them in order to create a vertical slice of the gameplay, as well as a more detailed game design document.
After those 12 weeks, we selected one of the games, and develop it into a releasable title over the following 6 months.
During this whole process, our aim is to make connections with potential publishers, and build up the awareness of our game, our team and our company!
We ended up choosing "Crooks Like Us" as the game to take forward. After our 6 week prototype, we pivoted on the design. Instead of a co-op game like "Keep Talking And No-One Explodes", the new game can be described as "Overcooked meets Worms, with a dash of Jenga"
You can follow the progress of this game on it's twitter feed at https://twitter.com/crookslikeus