Dear friends. Did you know I made a game? Well, together with Ruan Rothmann and some other contributors, we made a flippen’ game:
Download here for free! PC/Mac https://raithza.itch.io/frogsmashers
It all started in Mauritius when I joined Free Lives for their ‘Game Jam Island’. I was giving a talk in Joburg at Amaze Fest, and Evan Greenwood (Creative Director at Free Lives) was in the audience. I was talking about my excitement for VR, and Evan asked me during the question & answer stage whether I’d like to come with them to Mauritius to make games and where they’d also have a VR room. I thought the idea was beyond my understanding so I kind of didn’t even give it credence. But, so many people came to me afterwards and asked me if I’d be going. I was like ‘are you serious man? I dunno’ and they were like ‘bro, flippen’ go bra’ so I went.
I didn’t really have a game-plan, except to finish the work I had on my plate before I left so I could be free to ‘jam games’. Incidentally, I worked around the clock to finish a Goldfish video which hasn’t been released yet, so that’s something to look forward to. While in Mauritius I met Ruan Rothmann who said he had an idea for a game – kind of like Smash Bros / Samurai Gunn. I love Smash Bros, played it a lot on Wii and have it on my 2DS, but didn’t know Samurai Gunn. So, we played some of that and I set about doing some visual tests. Together with Ruan’s coding, we soon had a working prototype – frogs with baseball bats where the aim of the game is to hit the other frogs out the screen to score points. If a frog gets juggled, the frog is worth as many points as time it’s been juggled – ie, if a frog is knocked into the air 3 times, the frog is worth 3 points if hit out the screen. The first player to reach 10 points wins the level. Tactics are involved with more people – a frog that’s glowing a lot and worth 5 points is very valuable so everyone’s trying to hit that frog out the screen. Ruan coded the game in Unity on his PC, I drew the stuff in Photoshop on my Macbook Pro laptop. We just exchanged files via Skype. I tried Aseprite while I was there as an alternative to Photoshop, but it’s not quite as good. Aseprite on Mac has a bit of input lag, so that kind of made it a little unusable long-term for me. Our system was simple and worked well.
We worked on it more and more and soon we had levels, and then we added a ‘tongue’ as an optional move to pull other players closer or grab onto levels, and then an intro to the game, more rules, tighter controls, and in no time it was a really fun game to play with people dropping in and out to test-play it. It was great seeing it all come to life, and enjoyed challenging other people while we shouted at the screen (was also fun to watch other people playing. Evan and Ruan are the best at the game, I’d dig to see them play my brother because he got really good very quickly). When I play I swear (and sweat) quite a bit because when I lose I only have myself to blame, such is the tightness of the gameplay. Also in Mauritius was Ben Rausch who drew 2 levels, and Jason Sutherland aka Drift Prism who did the sound (he even sampled some sloppy pasta we had for foley sfx), and recently Stuart Coutts helped me design the logo and worked over a level to make it even more rad. It was flippen’ amazing being in Mauritius and working on this videogame, as well as playing other videogames including a bunch of VR games on the HTC Vive, including Ruan’s other game; ‘Gorn‘.
BONUS: Here’s an unused animatic for the intro I ended up not going for, mostly because of time constraints. At this stage the game was titled ‘Croak’, a suggestion in Mauritius from Olivié Keck. We had so many names we created a Google Docs spreadsheet to try get a popular vote. ‘Croak’ was actually the favourite, but I got the honours of the deciding vote and went with ‘Frog Smashers’, partly due to first exposure bias, but it’s been the working title from the start, it’s what we’d always called it and it’s simple and explanatory enough that I like it:
Hope you enjoy playing it, please leave a comment if you’ve tried it.