Making Games

Recently, I joined Asobo Studio to work as an engine programmer. Yet, since forever, I have been building small games as an excuse to explore narrative and technical development. In the past these were board-games, but as I got more comfortable with programming, I moved to video-games.

Game-jamming

I have been jamming for the past 4 years, becoming a monthy submission in the past 2 years. It is an incredible experience for creative expression and hacking, and it complements well the professional experience: the development-to-deployment process is a lot shorter, and the jammer community is great. In the past 2 years, the quality has improved, with most submissions being on the top 10%, with several first places. The next of the page describes the experience of most recent projects, but you can jump directly to the itch page containing all of them.

08/2020 Ancient (presentation 1st/53)

ANCIENT

A short narrative idle clicker, where you follow the story of a group of nomads that settle next to an ancient pyramid.

The good:  I’m quite happy with the concept. It combines already tested elements (god-game, timelapse), with new ones (idle-progression, vector graphics in 3d). I am very pleased with the degree of visual polish. Once again, I only worked half-time during the weekend, and that is always a plus.

The not so good:  The weakest aspects are clarity and balance. The numbers need tweaking, and the actions are quite obscure in effect. It works from a narrative standpoint, but it makes it a bad clicker. That said, the narrative itself is underdevelopped, and the AI was completely discarded in day 2, but for a weekend both are justifiable.

Done in 2 days for the Mini Jam 61, under the theme “Ancient Egypt” with “the game must be themed around two conflicting ideas“. The game got possitive reviews, and ended first in presentation, out of a modest 53 submissions.

07b/2020 BBB: Boost Boom Boots (winner)

cover.gif

A fast-paced Cyber Retro Climber Runner for casuals and hardcore gamers.

The good: It was the first time working with Darenn, and my first time half-participating as a collaborator in somebody’s project, with very positive results. It felt good to participate without being involved in coding, and only consulting the general design.

The not so good: Working part-time is great to also enjoy the weekend, but it still left me with the feeling that a larger involvement would have improved the final result.

Team: Darenn Keller (design and implementation), and myself (pixelart, design discussions).

Done in 3 days for the ScoreSpace 9 jam, under the theme “CLIMBING”. The game got very possitive reviews, and ended as winner in the Developer’s Choice category (1st out of 122 entries) .

07a/2020 Good Boy: Unleashed (top 1-3%)

Good Boy: Unleashed by Joan Sol ROO, Titwin, Saltadrow for GMTK ...

A scort mission where you play a dog, trying to have fun while your escort is your owner.

The good: This was a nice project. I am specially happy of the game feel, in particular the moment you free yourself. After years of working together with Pierre-Antoine and Thibault, we have striked a great team dynamic.

The not so good: The task distribution was not ideal, and even if the micro-game feel is nice, the challenge of matching this with a macro level progression was not tackled correctly.

Team: Thibault Laine (design, implementation), Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (design, sound), and myself (design,  implementation, and art).

The game was developped in 2 days for the GMTK2020, under the theme Out of Control. The game received very positive reviews ending top 1.5-5% out of 5419 entries.

06b/2020 Who let the mummy out? (4th/54)

A short Fez-like puzzle-platformer where you play a mummy trying to leave your pyramid.

The good: The art and visual polish is the strong aspect of the project.

The not so good: We felt trapped with the limitation, and we went for a concept that is clearly too complex for 3 days. The result contains many interesting aspects but rather unpolished, caused by the challenge of the 2d/3d navigation.

Team: fmlad (art and design) and myself (design and implementation).

The game was developped in 3 days for the Minijam 57, for the theme Underground yet single room. The game received positive reviews, ending 4th in presentation out of a modest count of 54 entries.

06a/2020 Dunk you (Top 6-15%)

DunkYou by Joan Sol ROO

A silly platformer where you play a discarded donut trying to be eaten.

The good: without a doubt the art. I spend a little too much time doing visual polish and adding juicy animations and particles.

The not so good: the platformer controllers and level design was underexploited, as the base platformer mechanics were subpar.

Team: Camilo Abelayras (design, art), and myself (design,  implementation).

The game was developped in around 2 days for the Minijam 56, where the theme involved Sky, Doughnuts and Warzone. The game got positive reviews (except for our adherence to the theme), ending top 6-15% out of 119 submissions.

05/2020 ShadowPaw (top 5-10%)

Solo project, a micro puzzle game where you play a sneaky cat/thief.

The good: I am overall happy with the general results, and even more that I managed to do it part time and still enjoy my weekend.

Not so good: I never retook it to make an extended version, when it showed potential.

The game was developed in a relaxed way over 2 days for the Minijam 55, under the theme Stealth yet No violence. The game got very positive reviews (top 5-10% over a modest amount of 78 entries).

04/2020 Blood Runs (top 1-5%)

Blood Runs by Joan Sol ROO, Lisergishnu, Titwin

A classic GTA-style game, where you play a vampire with the midnight munchies.

The good: We got a very positive development process and task division, and it is one of the best jam experiences so far. I would have liked to have more time to take it further.

The not so good: The scope of the project (building a GTA-like engine) was very off for a 3 day jam. It was particularly challenging for the collaboration , as this jam took place during the quarantine of April’20, forcing us to work remotely, with Camilo being in a completely different timezone.

Team: Camilo Abelayras (art), Thibault Laine (design, implementation), Marco Benzi Tobar (audio and music), and myself (design,  implementation).

Created in 3 days for the Ludum Dare 46, under the theme Keep it alive. The submission got very positive feedback, with positive categories ranking between top 1-5% (out of 4959 submissions).

03/2020 – Captain Morgan and the Strawberry Pirates (winner)

cover.png(Click image or HERE to play)

A micro survival game with a Gameboy vibe.

The good: the game started from a brainstorming session that resulted in a Game Design Document in the first 2 hours of the jam, which was mostly respected except by some elements that were simplified. The team was more divided than usual, with a dedicated person in design and balancing. This enabled the rest of the team to dedicate to specific technical/visual features.

The not so good: most elements were positive, except that the starting point was broader than the final design required. Players mentioned a lack of clarity, and perhaps a simplicity in the strategy that could be addressed in the future.

Team: Damien Clergeaud (design), Thibault Laine (design, implementation), Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (art), Erwan Normand (implementation), and myself (design,  implementation, cover art).

Created in 3 days for the MiniJam 50 : Islands, with the restriction of single level. The game ended in 1st place overall out of 139 submissions.

01-02/2020 – Face Roll (1st/47, 11th/292)

FACEROLL [ffs] by Joan Sol ROO for Finally Finish Something 2020 ...(Click image or HERE to play)

A mini-puzzle game, where you play a sticky cube interacting with the world with its sides.

Initially created in 3 days for the MiniJam45 Pocket-Sized Dungeons, ending 1st place in Gameplay out of 47 submissions. An extended version of the game was developed over 2 weeks for the Finally Finish Something Jam 2020, ranking 11th overall out of 292 submissions.

06/2019 – Stompy vs The Monolith

An asymmetrical game, where one side (MONOLITH) plays a city builder/strategy game trying to stay safe, while the other side (STOMPY) plays a Beat ’em up trying to destroy the city and eat its citizens.

monster - teasergif

(Click image or HERE to play)

The good: I am very happy with the graphical aspect, and the original game design of asymmetrical keyboard vs mouse game.

The not so good: The gameplay feels unfinished, as some components had to be excluded because of the lack of time (progression & ability levels). The graphical UI is pretty but not well-designed usability-wise, particularly the ability buttons.

Team: Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (sound, monster animations, testing), and myself (design, implementation, visuals).

Developed in 5 days for the weekly jam 102, under the theme “One Big Boss”

05/2019 – Space Pirate: Tactics (winner)

A semi-tactical card game. Your objective is to destroy or board an enemy space pirate ship, while they attempt to do the same. Each side chooses the action to perform and both actions are solved simultaneously.

pirate tactics - cover
(Click image or HERE to play)

The good: I always wanted to do a digital card game, and I am particularly happy with the dynamism of the scene. We prototyped the game in paper first, which gave us a solid base for the mechanics.

The not so good: The game was too ambitious for a 2-day jam, and it required several post-deadline patches to improve the readability. The final result is still confusing regarding the rules (cards, win/lose conditions), and needs an iteration. The narrative component also needs some work.

Team: Thibault Laine (design, narrative implementation), Damien Clergeaud (design), Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (music), and myself (design, gameplay implementation, visuals).

Developed in 3 days for the minijam 28 under the theme “pirates” yet “no water”The game got very high rankings (top 10%), with 1st place overall.

05/2019 – BloedBad (top 5-20%)

Retro Metroidvania where Health is used to pay for weapons and to open doors (in order to make future runs easier).

cover
(Click image or HERE to play)

The good: it feels like the most polished 3-day gamejam we have done so far. Art, level design and sound feel quite polished.

The not so good: The controls are not smooth enough, and there is some quirkiness with the jump/attack/camera mechanics. The enemy progression needs tuning.

Team: Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (art), Anna Loeff (art), Thibault Laine (design, implementation, level design), Erwan Normand (implementation, sound), and myself (design, art, implementation).

Developed in 3 days for the LudumDare 44 under the theme “your life is currency”We are very happy with the amount and quality of feedback (top 5-20%).

04/2019 – Ghost & Whiskey

Single level shooter, where the spirit of an angry outlaw is brought back thanks to the accidental spill of whiskey on his burial ground. Now, he needs to move forward (mostly right) shooting other ghosts and drinking some more.

d27V0L.png(Click image or HERE to play)

The good, the not so good: it is a solid work for a solo project and I am rather happy of the results. Given the amount spent on main mechanics, art and animation, the resulting game is rather short.

Developed in 3 days for the MiniJam 25 under the theme “spirits”. It received positive feedback (7th/50 in gameplay, 11th/50 overall).

03/2019 – Matt’s Opportunity

A simple space simulation game where your objective is to wake up Mars Opportunity Rover, and that requires to send Matt Damon (or another actor that looks like him) to Mars.

The good: The physic implementation of rocket/gravitational dynamics was very fun. I am particularly pleased with the trajectory prediction.

The not so good: the UI is quite bad, and the gameplay is short. I would like to do a second iteration to polish these issues.

Team: Solo project. That said, I got lots of ideas and feedback from Thibault Laine.

Developed in 2 days for the Mini Jam 24 under the theme “Space”The game got positive reviews, particularly for the gameplay (9/60).

02/2019 – We want to believe (demo)

A short interactive fiction concept based on X-files. You make simple decisions in order to advance the story.

xteaser.png

(Click image or HERE to play)

Team: Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (design and storytelling), Maelle Le Montagner (3D models and textures), Anna Loeff (text redaction and correction), and myself (design and implementation). Thanks to Amazon Amy, which was used for the text-to-speech.

The good: It was the first time working with Maelle Le Montagner, and thanks to her the game assets are beautiful. The narration and illumination work very well together. We used a bottom-up approach, from a text description into a game, and we tried to use this to create an accessible experience.

The not so good: Even when the game-jam was 2 weeks long, I was super busy so the implementation is rough. We created support for accessibility profiles, yet they are not exposed to the submitted version. In general, deploying the game was a nightmare because of the incompatibility between compute shaders and WebGL.

Developed sparingly over 2 weeks under the theme “tv shows”, for the TV Game Jam 19, 01/02/2019 to 15/02/2019. The submission got surprisingly positive reception (top 10-40%) for the degree of competition.

12/2018 – Schadenfreude

A very French game with a German name. It explores the price of laughter. Strongly inspired by Yann Frisch’s “Le Syndrome de Cassandre”. Developed with Unity3D.

(Click image or HERE to play)

Team: Damien Clergeaud (design, implementation, and sound), Thibault Laine (design, implementation) and myself (art, design, and implementation).

The good: the team focused on iterative forward design, and it was the most productive game-jam so far. We managed to use half-a-day for internal jamming of possible ideas. By the end of the second day, we had all the full working game, giving a complete day for polishing.

The not so good: the final art works well, but ideally it would have a full visual upgrade. The gameplay is too restrictive, reducing replayability.

Developed in 3 days under the theme “sacrifices must be made”, for the LudumDare 43, 01/12/2018 to 04/12/2018. The game received mixed reviews (top 15-35%) but positive comments, given its cryptic style.

07/2018 – Cattuccino Express

A new-retro coffee making game. Developed with Unity3D.

(Click image or HERE to play)

Team: Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (design and sound), Leo Cousin (concept and art) and myself (design and implementation).

The good: it was a good excuse to explore 2D fluid dynamics and post-processing shaders. The ambiance is great, thanks to the music (by Pierre-Antoine Cinquin) and art (by Leo Cousin).

The not so good: We started with a completely different idea and changed direction mid-jam, so we had very little time to polish the game. The final result is aesthetically pleasing but the gameplay is badly tunned.

Developed in 7 days for the Coffee Jam 1821/07/2018 to 28/07/2018.

03/2018 – Quality Assurance 

A meta-game, where you fix the bugs in order to move forward. Developed with Unity3D and MagicaVoxel.

(Click image or HERE to play)

Team: Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (design, sound, art, and testing), and myself (art, design, and implementation).

The good: the development was very enjoyable and the reception was great. As with other cases, the game started with an idea and progressively mutated (from a visual text-adventure to a zachtronics/resident evil-like game).

The not so good: This game-jam took place while I was moving to Germany, and the development process was full of challenges (A post-mortem can be found here PART IPART II). The final result is far from perfect, and both the implementation and the art could be improved.

Developed in 14 days under the theme “meta-games”, for the Meta-GameJam’18, 17/03/2018 to 31/03/2018. The game received very positive reviews (top 5-30%), and ranked 5th out of 113 submissions in uniqueness and quality of metaness.

11/2017 – XKCD’s Antique factory

An XKCD-inspired game, where you balance growing antiques (by waiting) and enjoying your family. Developed with Unity3D.

(Click image or HERE to play)

The good: It was my first solo game-jam, and I enjoyed the process. Playing with the timelapse effect was fun.

The not so good: being alone, I had no time to create my own art, let alone creating animations, so the final visuals are sloppy (except for the day/night shader).

Developed in 3 days (plus some bug-fixing post deadline) under the theme “do an XKCD inspired game”, for the XKCD game jam ’17, 17/11/2017 to 20/112017. The game received positive reviews (top 5-20%), as players particularly enjoyed the timelapse effect.

12/2016-04/2017 – GodShip

A Metroidvania game that gets harder the more violent you are. Developed using the fantasy 8-bit console PICO-8.

godship

(Click the image or HERE to play)

Team: Thibault Laine (design and implementation), Damien Clergeaud (design and implementation), Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (level design, sound, and testing) and myself (art, design, and implementation).

Initially conceived for the Ludum Dare 41, but slowly developed over 4 months given the challenge of implementing physics systems from scratch.

12/2016 – “Oh Dear, where are my keys?”

You are a grandma with Alzheimer’s, trying to leave your home. As you move, the world changes behind your back. Developed using Unity3D, drawn and animated by hand.

(Click the image or HERE to reach the download site)

Development team: Thibault LaineDamien Clergeaud, Jérémy Laviole and Benoit Coulais.

Art team: Pierre-Antoine Cinquin (sound), Julie Gerardi (color) Léa Pillette (color, animation), and myself (illustration).

Developed in 3 days under the theme “One room”, for the Ludum Dare 37,  09/12/2016 to 11/12/2016.

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