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PlayStation Mobile GameJam Semi-Finalists

Posted by on February 19th, 2013 | 2 Comments | Tags: , , ,

This weekend, I attended the world’s first IndieCade East. One of the main attractions of the exposition was the PlayStation Mobile GameJam. Upwards of ten teams were hard at work for about a week creating a PlayStation Mobile Game. On February 17th, the teams submitted and presented their projects to a panel of judges partially made up of Sony employees. The top four projects move into the next round of the competition, where they will be flown out to California to show their games at GDC. I saw some incredibly talented people hard at work all weekend. Here are the top four projects, according to the judges.

Hermit Crab in Space – Golden Ruby Games.

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What is Hermit Crab in Space?

Hermit Crab in Space is Star Fox meets Minecraft with a healthy dose of Captain Forever sprinkled throughout. You play as a Hermit Crab stranded in enemy territory. With only a tiny ship to defend yourself with, you must take discarded parts of your enemy ships to bolster your ship. You need to gather enough warp drives to get you that much closer to home, all while protecting yourself from the onslaught of space-pirates.

What are your plans with the game now that the Jam is over?

Since becoming a semi-finalist, we fully intend to continue with “Hermit Crab in Space”. As I write this we are implementing the all the things we didn’t have time to include last week, including shields, power-ups and various enemy ships. Other than that, we have our 2nd game, Worm Run coming out this Thursday for the iPhone and iPad for $0.99!

I saw Hermit Crab in Space presented on Saturday at a feedback session for the GameJam and was pretty sure it would be a semi-finalist. You start off in a basic spaceship with two thrusters on either side of your centerpiece and one turret tacked on the front. The thrusters are assigned to two different buttons (O and Square, for instance), and the turret is assigned to a third button (let’s say X). The gist of the game is you fly around in space, shoot baddies, and salvage parts from their spaceship after is explodes. You’re building your ship on the fly and assign buttons to the new parts as you collect them and attach them to your ship. When you kill all of the baddies in a sector, you collect a warp drive which gets you closer to your home hermit planet. A nice feature is the ability to zoom in and out in order to locate all of the baddies in a given sector. It’s inspired by Captain Forever and Star Fox. I hesitate to liken it to TerRover, as Hermit Crab looks to be a lot more fun, even in its early state.

Crumble – Team Snakessss

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What is Crumble?

The name and idea for Crumble grew out of the game’s primary mechanic, which involves a player square composed of smaller squares being sheared into different shapes by the game environment. At a very abstract level, we saw this as being relevant to the theme of evolution because it would require the player to “adapt” their shape to different situations and balance the risk and reward of sacrificing portions of their avatar to get to the goal.

What are your plans with the game now that the Jam is over?

For the future, I think it’s very possible that we might publish this or something like it on PSM in the coming year. We are really excited to iterate on the current design and see how it develops before GDC.

Crumble is an interesting project. In the game, you take control of a cube in continuous motion. Your objective is to navigate a labyrinthine stage. The twist here is that bumping into any of the walls makes part of your cube crumble off. Some potions of the map are completely closed off, though! No worries, because if you crumble onto a piece of grass, a flower grows and pollen shoots upward, breaking through the wall and letting you progress. It’s a great concept that should work well after some polish is applied to the puzzle portions and level design of the game.

Crystallon

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What is Crystallon?

In Crystallon, users create isometric cubes from faces with only two rules, all of the same elements for each of the 3 faces or all different elements for each face. The puzzle game confounds and challenges players to see all of the patterns in each level.
We were really spoiled by the theme. We went into the game jam already thinking about generative complexity. I’ve been making evolution and complexity games since I started making games in 2004 and Meg is a generative musician. One of the last games I created was with a Crystallographer, Marie Evelyn who introduced me to many of the core concepts of complexity in the context of game design. Her field of study is where the name of this game comes from.

What are your plans with the game now that the Jam is over?

Sleep – we need it.

We are publishing a few games this year; Crystallon will hopefully be just one of them. Meg and I have been working together for years. Now, we are making a game called Emotional Growth that explores the impact emotions can have on evolution and ecology. Also, she and I have a band called #000000swan and are planning to release another “codex” this year. The entire record is based on the generative pattern found in the fibonacci sequence. Ben will indefinitely be involved in ever more amazing things as he continues to make games with Babycastles.

Crystallon is a very tactile, abstract jigsaw puzzle game. You’re using the touchscreen to bring together shards to form cubes. I didn’t see much gameplay, but the concept art and other assets were enough to show me that this was one of the stronger entries in the Jam. I’m looking forward to seeing a playable build in action, as the concept is definitely intriguing. For some reason, I can’t get the image of Susan Alexander playing a Vita in a castle

Don’t Wake the Bear

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Here’s another game I saw at the feedback session. Don’t Wake the Bear is essentially Hot Potato with a bear in a Vita. The game reminded me of Frobisher Says! because it’s based primarily around pass and play multiplayer with the PSVita. Everyone is trapped in a cave with a bear. You pass the Vita when your turn is up, but if you jostle it too much, the bear wakes up. There’s a store with items that you can place in the cave to trigger the bear to wake up during another player’s turn. There are also counter items that you can place. For instance, the radio item’s effect may be countered by ear plugs; the stinky sock’s effects may be countered by sticking a clothespin on the bear’s nose. It looks like a load of fun that uses the Vita as more that just an OLED screen with buttons. (Apologies for the blurry pic. I’ll swap it out when the people behind the game get back to me with some proper assets. Until then we’re working on what my girlfriend’s iPhone captured!)