Drink ‘n Drive!

 Global Game Jam 2014 came to an end last Sunday, 26th January 2014.

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I was able to join the event at the Bremen site, which is one of the biggest in Germany; over there, more than 80 jammers met and worked hard on their projects for 48 crazy hours.

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Since I went there without having a team, I joined on the spot a group of guys; luckily, our team got along really fast.
At 4PM the organization presented the Jam’s theme, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”. As such, the options for creating a game were almost endless, but we wanted to make something cool and kicking. That’s why, after a not-too-long brainstorming, we came up with “Drink ‘n Drive”, a non-politically-correct driving game based on the effects that alcohol can cause on drivers.

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The concept of the game, which sadly was not possible to take to full completion because the lack of time, was the following: there is a driver in his car who is in a big hurry; however, he does not feel like ignoring the speed limits, thus he drives quite slow. But, when he drinks and gets drunk, his inhibitions disappear and he starts driving much faster! In the meantime, his perceptions get altered and things start looking different; for example, a pedestrian might look no anymore as an innocent victim to dodge, but like a coin to collect or a zombie to slay.

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The game is, of course, pretty simple, but has a feature studied to make it much more funny and more similar to real life: to best appreciate the game, the player can use their Android mobile as a remote controller; thanks to its accelerometer, the device works as a beer bottle and, tilting it, the character drinks and gets drunk. The best way to appreciate the game is to attach the phone to a bottle and really drink to accelerate!

Last but not least game feature, are the real driving license question that are asked to the player! Evey time they start a race, a question is offered; if the player answers correctly, they get an in-game bonus! It was decided to add a small percentage of fake/funny questions, in order to confuse the player, but the time did not allow for that, even if I managed to prepare all of them.

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The game is realized in pure and awesome pixel art, in order to bring back memories of masterpieces such as Outran and Rad Racer.

 Likewise, the music selected for the game was supposed to be 8bit style.

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I would like to thank again my team for their efforts and great work and offer you, my good reader, the chance to try Drink ‘n Drive, by downloading it for free from the Global Game Jam website.
Maybe, one day, the rest of the team and me will decide to enrich this game and take it to its deserved accomplishment!

Two worlds, two souls: being a game designer today and tomorrow

The profession of game designer is probably one of the most recent job existing. Video games are out for a quite short amount of time and it took a few decades before they become an appealing product for consumers. However, at that point, creating a game was more a matter of programming than anything else; the real need for artists began when hardwares were powerful enough to support nice graphics.

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The need for game designers, instead, arose later, when market started to be more competitive and games more complex. At that time, selling any game was no more that easy, consumers started to be more picky. There is no need to explain what is a designer and which tasks he/she holds during the development of a game (although, still nowadays, many managers are not fully convinced of the need of a designer for their projects and do not understand the advantages that these professionals can take to the products they work on; many still think that anybody can be a designer since, to be a designer, the only requirement is having an idea (any idea) for a game).

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In the last 6-8 years, the video game market changed a lot, thanks to the introduction of the digital delivery, the online stores and the mobile and social gaming; not to mention the creation of free(mium) games. These really brought a revolution in the industry and in the market!

From this long and boring opening, finally we reached the core of this post: being a designer today and in the future. With the new market and the new mobile and social games, the game designer’s expertise have started to adapt and changed. This fact is leading to a real split in this profession, creating to different and parallel business roles: the “traditional” console/pc game designer and the “social/mobile” one.

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The former is exactly the same as before: not much has changed; he/she works on complete (or almost complete) products, sold the old way and with no need to create players’ retention and loyalty to the product (at least, no more than pushing the player to buy the sequel of that game).

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The latter, on the contrary, given the platforms on which he/she works (mobile and/or social), given the fact that he is giving away a game for free but the company still needs to make a profit of it, given the totally different customers (mostly casual gamers), given the reduced development costs and tons of other factors, he/she needs a complete new set of skills, skills that are often extremely different from those needed by a “traditional” designer. 

With the passing of time, the two figures are getting more and more separated: the “traditional” one going everyday more in the storyteller/movie director job direction, while the “social/mobile” is transforming the designer into a seller with psychologist/mentalist competencies.

Take a look at the nowadays game designer job offers; they already witness the upcoming change. In the next few year, these two jobs require so many different skills that they will truly turn into two different professions. Extremely good expert from one sector will be almost totally unable to move to the other, exactly like a skilled UI artist can not instantly transform into a seasoned environment one.  separated: the “traditional” one going everyday more in the storyteller/movie director job direction, while the “social/mobile” is transforming the designer into a seller with psychologist/mentalist competencies.  game-designer

Yet another wannabe fantasy card game goes BOOM!

Blam! Sbang! Sbram! KA-BOOMKa-boom-app-store

Ka-boom is the latest game made by those crazy guys at Broken Arms Games, a small Indie company originating from Italy and recently moved to Australia. (Meet them on their new FaceBook page)
The crew is very young and driven by a natural passion towards gaming and game development. It is easy to recognize this feeling simply by starting to play one of its games, especially its baby-born, Ka-Boom.
Ka-Boom is a free fantasy card game released for mobile devices (and available on the Apple Store) which features a great quantity of humor and a “simple to learn and hard to master” gameplay. To let you have a quick glimpse about what I am talking about, please take a look at the game trailer (which, unluckily, I was only able to find in Italian).

The game is structured for offering a very amusing card game for two participants, both playing on a nine squares grid.
giocoDuring their turn, the users place a card in one of the squares and try to conquer opponent’s ones by having higher values. To make the game more thrilling, each card expires after a certain amounts of turns: a player who was gaining the upper hand in the challange, might suddenly find himself in a bad situation. Needless to say that these features, together with a huge number of cards, a cool crafting system and a very funny art style, make this game something that any iOS gamer should, at least, try.ka-boom-2

Now comes the part “Why are you writing about this and not about GTA 5?”
The answer is pretty easy: everybody is already taliking about GTA 5,  I personally know the guys at Broken Arms and they are my friends. While they were developing this cool app, they asked me for any game design suggestion and, since I gave them a small (but, I hope, good) one, they wanted to add me to the game credits. The least I can do is to make a blog entry on this!

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Once again, great job guys! And have an explosive (Ka-booming?) success with this game!

Gamescom 2013: I was there

Here me back from Gamescom 2013. The event took place in Cologne this week and I was there with my company to have a stroll around and to advertise our products.

Here are some picture from the awesome convention:

entrance

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main hallwayIMG_0759

UbisoftIMG_0760

Xbox OneIMG_0761IMG_0762IMG_0763IMG_0766IMG_0767

WatchdogsIMG_0768

BatmanIMG_0769

A real tractor!
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NintendoIMG_0771IMG_0772IMG_0773IMG_0774IMG_0791IMG_0790IMG_0495IMG_0777

Square EnixIMG_0775IMG_0776

PS4IMG_0778IMG_0779IMG_0780

WOWIMG_0781

WarfaceIMG_0782

World of TanksIMG_0783

Firefall IMG_0784

Merc EliteIMG_0785

DisneyIMG_0786

Infinite CrisisIMG_0787

KonamiIMG_0788

GT6IMG_0789

Pokemon X & YIMG_0792

Balck Mage, Final FantasyIMG_0793

Saints RowIMG_0794

Killer instinctIMG_0795

just a tankIMG_0799

Retrogaming area!IMG_0801IMG_0800

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Delta Engine’s booth

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Sorry…

I am quite ashamed of not having written anything in such long time…

However, I should be able to post juicy posts during next month… or, at least, I hope so!

Anyway, this post is just to say: “Hey, I am still alive!”

See you soon!