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PlayStation Mobile GameJam Spotlight

Posted by on February 19th, 2013 | 0 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’s a look at some of the games that still may see the light of day on the PlayStation Mobile platform, despite not moving forward in the competition.

Progeny

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What is Progeny?

When we started brainstorming last weekend on the topic of evolution, we found ourselves very interested in the effects of aging and the passage of time and traits through generations. We came up with a 2d platformer where the effects of age are experienced firsthand. Over time, the character gets older and with that comes the challenge of slowing down and having less strength. You start to feel sluggish and can’t jump as high or as far. Luckily, there are opportunities on the map to pick up offspring who then follow along behind you. If you fail to make a jump or fall into a pit, you can continue your journey as your progeny, the next in line. The younger generation is stronger and faster than your old character, but will continue to age as well. This lends a couple fun game mechanics; you can try to speedrun through the level and reach the end before you get too old, or you can take your time and pick up some kids along the way to help you out.

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

We’re still working on our plans for the game now that the jam is over. We ran out of time at the end on the programming side, so I have some unfinished business getting everything to look and feel great! We’d love to finish it and publish on the PSM.

Progeny is a 2D platformer where you play as a man whose age goes up over time. As his age goes up, his abilities (speed, jumping height, etc.) go down. You pick up kids along the way and have a tail of littleuns following you. If you reach a gap that’s too wide and you die while trying to make the jump, you respawn as the next kid in the trail, with newfound spryness and determination. It’s a really cool idea, and they plan to have some sort of generation counter at the Game Over screen. The team also mentioned attempting to do speed runs with just your starting man.

Horrible Planet

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What is Horrible Planet?

Our game Horrible Planet was devised to be simple, fun, and to visually look really great on the Vita. We wanted to make something with a whole lot of polish and try to wow people within the week. In the game you collect gems that are imbued with different powers, and after collecting discrete amounts, you can use them to gain new abilities. However, there is a catch. When you evolve, it picks randomly from the ability gems you’ve collected. As a result part of the gameplay is trying to game the randomness of the crystals by only collecting certain colors and trying to predict the outcome. Depending on the combination of gems you’ve collected you gain new abilities that stack on top of each other. Some examples are repelling asteroids, gaining jump height, reversed controls, and the ability to shoot fireballs among others.

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

We’re not exactly sure how the game will live on. It was prototyped in Polycode, and as a result it is already ready for deployment to mac, pc, and iOS. Together with the vita, we could launch on four platforms after this one week. We’ll probably refine the gameplay a little more and add additional goals before releasing it down the line. No serious plans yet, but who knows!

The team described their game best, but for the record I have to say that Horrible Planet was probably the strongest entry I saw at the GameJam. It looks like a ton of fun, especially if it’s a scorechasing arcade-type game. I’m hoping this one will release sometime in the near future.

Eddie

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What is Eddie?

From the outset we knew that we wanted Eddie to be about natural selection (the theme of the jam was Evolution). Originally, we had a lot of Eddies (the little characters you manipulate in the game) on screen that would run around and die lot, leading people to describe it as “Lemmings with eugenics.” As funny as that was, we realized we needed stronger goals for the player. It was really tempting to just throw some gates and switches in there for the sake of having a strong puzzle, but instead we decided it would be better to make the environment itself a puzzle with elements that affected Eddie’s progress in different ways.

– Water tiles are more individualistic–each Eddie must make it across on his own or else he will drown.

– Dirt tiles can be dug up, so one Eddie can unblock it for all the others.

– Jump tiles present a sort of fork in the road. If an Eddie has jumping ability, he will jump across the gap. An Eddie with no jumping will simply fall down to the ground below, and sometimes that may be advantageous.

– Fighting Dead Heads is a group effort. Unlike digging, multiple Eddies must be fighting at once in order for the player to get the benefit of defeating the Dead Head without any Eddies dying.”

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

I’m not sure if we will continue with development on this game, but we liked working with the vita and the folks at Sony so we might do something down the road.

At first glance, Eddie definitely did remind me of a Lemmings-esque puzzle platformer. You breed Eddies to get from point A to point B. Different Eddies have different abilities (fighters, diggers, swimmers, climbers) and when you breed similar types of Eddies, you get more purebred offspring. If your Eddies aren’t strong enough swimmers to get across a pond, they will die. If you breed all of the swimmers to make stronger swimmers, though, then the new ones can get across. The puzzling twist is that you have a certain number of generations to get through each stage. I hope the team continues to work on this title, as it seemed like a Lemmings for the Pikmin age.

Cybrid-7X

What is Cybrid-7X?

Cybrid-7X looks like a robot garden simulator. There’s a goal plan in the upper right-hand corner; your task is to combine different types of plants to get them to breed the goal plant as their offspring. As the plants breed, your playing space gets smaller and smaller. You play as what looks like a robot maid with a bow in her hair who walks to plants, picks them up, and places them in different spots. The two types of plants are mushroom and rose, and they’re colored either yellow or red. The number of different offspring reached 77 with this simple combination, so the team opted not to add another color (blue, for example). There’s an interesting concept here that can blossom into a solid game if more work is put into it. I’d hate to see this one wilt away.

Micro Medic

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What is Micro Medic?

Micro Medic is a twin-stick shooter that looks like it takes place inside the human body. You change your ships color in order to destroy viruses of varying colors. From seeing the game in action, it’s fair to say that Micro Medic is probably more fun than EA’s Microbot. I haven’t heard back from the developers about whether or not this game will continue being made.

We Came from Catfish

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What is We Came from Catfish?

To be honest, I have no idea what We Came from Catfish is all about. From what I saw, you play as a hand-drawn catfish that’s running underwater and there are manta rays that attack you from time to time. The art style looks like doodles in a kid’s notebook, which has a certain eye-catching effect. No word from the devs as to if this game will continue on or be snuffed out of existence.