BYOG Jam Games – Part 2

We put up our thoughts on a couple of the BYOG Jam entries yesterday. In this set, we came across some interesting concepts, mechanics and art, but it was a bit disappointing that people haven’t really given much importance to the themes and have just added on whatever seemed to sound vaguely like they might fit.

The Snail Tale – Themes: shell, environment, experiment

snail tale

Another game that took the idea of ‘shell’ quite literally, this is a competitive, dodge-the-obstacles game that is a race to the finish. The game puts each player in control of a snail in an area full of bouncing balls of fire and ice. Each snail is affected by one of the two type of ball – on contact it causes their movement controls to be inverted. There are a couple of walls along the way, and the snails’ positions are reset if they bump into them. Add these two mechanisms together and it leads to you trying to avoid a shower of fire and ice while making a dash (or the closest you can manage as snails) to take hold of the Ultimate Shell.

The game could potentially be a lot of fun, but as it currently stands it just isn’t very challenging – the chances of a ball hitting you are pretty slim, and even if they do, you have sufficient time to get used to the inverted control scheme before it poses a threat. Speeding the game up and making it a bit more focused by getting rid of empty space and making the paths tighter might help to make it a bit more exciting. Since the core mechanic is the control inversion, it would be nice to see it actually make navigating the level harder. Switching the walls around to be diagonal instead of aligned with the directions you travel in might help to make them actually pose a threat.

Blood Corporation – Themes: experiment, corporation

blood corp

In Blood Corporation, you are tasked with orchestrating a chain reaction of exploding bacteria. Biological accuracy aside, the idea of controlling and managing a chain reaction actually sounds pretty great – but it doesn’t really work out too well here. The entire point of the game is to ride the shockwave forward and help it spread across the map, but the level is designed in such a way that there are at any given time only a couple of paths that you can pursue, many of which lead in dead ends. The theme ‘experiment’ was definitely evident, but not in a good way – you have to keep trying again and again to find a route that doesn’t lead to you getting stuck, and this is neither fun nor satisfying. Even the act of clicking on bacteria to make them explode is tiring as you have to deal with the painfully animated explosions as they stutters unconvincingly outwards.

The idea behind the game isn’t well implemented, but at its core there is potential that could be made enjoyable with sufficient work.

Grab On – Themes: parenting, experiment

Grab onIn Grab On you play as a mother who is fed up with her lazy child, and is trying to teach him a lesson by allowing him to make himself sick on ice cream and sweets. She balances this endeavour with taking care of her cute little dog who has a voracious appetite, but who does not like sweets and cannot eat the ice cream since he is lactose intolerant.

The mother has used her engineering know-how to rig up a pulley system that lets her control two different baskets individually with a single crank handle, and has lovingly attached pictures onto the baskets that are to gather food as it descends from the heavens. The game is competitive, and each player controls a basket – one for the boy and one for the dog. The boy gets points when he picks up ice cream and sweets and loses points when he grabs dog food and meat, although, honestly, he’s a growing boy and he looks like he could use some protein. The opposite works for the dog, and he loses points when ice cream and sweets land in his basket.

The game tells you that the one with the highest score wins, but the true winner in this game is society, as the importance of proper dietary habits and exercise cannot be stressed enough. Plus, the world could use more well-fed, adorable dogs. Hopefully the kid will have learnt his lesson when he’s sick tonight.

Amalgamate – Themes: intelligence, parenting, travel

amalgamateAmalgamate is a well-designed and well-thought-out puzzle game. The majority of the levels have a single pair of cubes that you control in order to get them to overlap on a single tile, and later levels increase in complexity with the introduction of a second set of cubes, along with teleporter tiles. All the cubes apart from the one that you are currently controlling move in a particular direction, and it takes a good bit of thought (or a lot of experimenting) to figure out how to get them to meet up without the rest falling over the side and resetting the game. Even if it takes you a while to get through each level, it shouldn’t take you too long to complete all 16 – remember that this was made in just 48 hours though, for which it seems to be a pretty seizable amount of content. Hopefully we’ll get to see more levels soon.

The Eye – Themes: travel, parenting, beauty

the eye

This game really caught my…

(I’m sorry, but I had to)

…eye.

It’s a pity though that the gameplay wasn’t interesting or even vaguely fun. The game’s BYOG Jam entry page read:

The game is a tale of an alien mother all fired up with the never ending fuel of parenting on a mission to gain back the eyes of her children. Eyes not just beautiful but are considered to be the only way to visualise the importance of life and the only way for the mother to give her childeraliens(Child-Aliens) the power of visualisation is to give them back their source of life.
They eyes which are the heart of their life have been lost in the universe and motheralien(Mother-Alien) has to travel all the way down to the bottom to gain back the reason for her existence which is the life of her children. But its not as simple as it sounds every hit can be deadly and every eye can be healthy. Calculate your strategy, use the instruction chart and GET SET GO!
“HELP THE MOTHERALIEN TO GIVE HER CHILDREN THEIR LIFE”

Doesn’t that sound exciting? It managed to get me so pumped! The instruction pages, with their alien hieroglyphics that don’t actually explain anything are absolutely gorgeous as well:

eye2

eye3

But when you get down to it, the game just has you awkwardly shuffling to the left and the right and flailing around a bit as you slowly descend through a level that is a little too tight for you to fit through, while collecting eyes along the way that increase your score. The collision detection and health meter seem to be broken, and the game decides to reset without really giving you a reason why.

It would take a lot of work to make this game fun, but I hope that it goes somewhere – or if not, that the alien runes show up somewhere else in a different project.

Check out our thoughts on the remaining games here!

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