BYOG Jam Games – Part 3

The NASSCOM Game Developer Conference kicks off later this week, and 10 games from the BYOG Game Jam have been selected to be showcased. We’ve been putting up what we thought about the entries over the last few weeks here and here, and with this lot we finish up the remaining games:

Datox – Themes: parenting, travel Datox For a 48-hour game jam, this game was not only surprisingly polished, but the levels were also well thought out and executed. There wasn’t much depth to the game beyond ‘get through the maze, pick up yellow cube’, though, and apart from the fact that there was movement in the game, it had nothing to do with ‘travel’, or ‘parenting’ – the two themes.

It would be nice to see this team work on something that is either more challenging or interesting – they’ve proven themselves capable when it comes to presentation, but a bit more complexity would go a long way. At the moment there’s just nothing about the game that is particularly new and exciting.

Color Kabbadi – Themes: intelligence, parenting, shell

colour kabbadi The idea behind this game could have led somewhere interesting, but as it turns out, it didn’t really go anywhere – you click on the three primary colours (of light!) to combine then and repel a couple of secondary colours that fly at you. That’s about it. The game doesn’t get particularly difficult, and since you set colours up before you need them, you can just keep clicking on the colours to set up a defence line of sorts. The act of clicking on onscreen buttons isn’t very enjoyable either – maybe binding the controls to keys might help. If there is enjoyment to come out of this idea then it’d probably need a complete overhaul – at the moment it’s neither fun nor challenging.

ALAN – Themes: parenting, intelligence, shell ALANAlan is one of the few games we’ve seen actually try to deal directly with the idea of parenting. It has potential, but at the moment it’s not really playable – you just get to take a walk through the shell of levels without the game’s mechanics actually working. You are followed around the level by your son, Alan, who you hope will emulate you and learn what the game claims are ‘morals’. The problem is that the boy doesn’t actually seem to care very much, and he just mindlessly follows you around – to the point where sometimes he’ll block you in and you’ll end up stuck behind him. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t intentional, and it feels like the AI has just not been implemented as of yet – but as that is the most important mechanic of the game, it would have been nice to have seen that finished before other, less important things like the nice artwork that the game begins with.

The game is also very clearly unfinished in other ways – a few minutes into the game there is a door that refuses to open and you end up unable to progress further. It’s also very awkward when you’re denied access to the rest of the level due to your son having a sudden growth spurt. Hopefully we’ll get to see a more functional version at the NGDC.

Intershellar – Themes: experiment, shell, preference Intershellar With both attitude and a surprising amount of polish for a game that was made in just 48 hours, Intershellar’s take on bullet hell madness was possibly my favourite game to come out of the game jam – and I say this as someone who is exceptionally bad at bullet hell games.

The game puts you in control of a fightercraft that dances around enemies and hops from orbit to orbit. As opposed to most bullet hell games, you are encouraged not to continuously fire – holding back causes you to build up a charged attack that is extremely powerful and can help you bring down bosses with ease.

From the intro screen all the way through, the game looks and feels great – the music is invigorating and the art in the intro panels looks amazing. Adding in controller support was a nice touch as well. There is still a lot of room for improvement and balance – but it has a strong core to work with. The team has already moved forward, putting up a version with global leaderboards, but it should be noted that the version submitted to the game jam was still pretty solid. I’m definitely excited about seeing this at the NGDC and I can’t wait to see the improvements that have been made.

Legend of Swag-man – Themes: travel, propaganda swag This is a badly-executed platformer that needs a lot of work to even make it as a vaguely playable game. You have to restart the game every time you die, and you end up dying frequently due to bad pathing. There isn’t really anything particularly interesting about the story or premise either – you’re Batman who’s been playing in red paint and you run around a level picking up things because why not.

Mind Droid – Themes: intelligence, preference, travelminddroid After I played this game I had to sit back for a while and contemplate what I had just experienced. Mechanically, it might not have been the most fun – it’s a runner in which you switch from character to character to get past obstacles – but the way that it worked thematically was extremely creative – whether it actually stuck to the themes chosen or not.

The game definitely needs to do a better job of explaining what you are supposed to do, along with more polish, but it is still (reasonably) functional and is worth trying just to take a look into the creators’ minds.

Chemical Snail – Themes: experiment, shell, travel chemsnail Chemical Snail puts you in charge of a poor little snail that is subjected to all sorts of experimental fluids that mess with him in strange ways – some make him larger, some make him move even slower. You guide him through pipes and help him escape – there are items to pick up along the way, but I honestly couldn’t care about them – how could I when the poor little guy was being subjected to all sorts of torment?

Though the game is well-presented and has very nice artwork and graphics, its control mechanism of having to hold down the mouse button to lead your character around is incredibly irritating and frustrating. The system itself isn’t too complicated, but when combined with a scrolling camera it made maintaining control extremely different – and not in a challenging or fun way – more like painful and unnecessary.

Pick it up – Themes: intelligence, corporation pickitup Apart from some really nice work with the music and sound, this game doesn’t really have much to do – it appears to be a point and click adventure of sorts, but with just one level and one clickable object, I don’t think you’d be able to call it that without a lot more work.

PrayogShala – Themes: experiment, preference prayog For all practical purposes, this is a semi-functional, unpolished Jetpack Joyride with nothing particularly creative or unique added to it. It’s a bit disappointing to see people attempting to make clones in a game jam!

Resistance – Themes: experiment, corporation resistance Continuing with the not-particularly-inspired games, Resistance is a game in which you defend against what seem to be virus that are attacking your brain. It isn’t particularly fun or creative – you spin around and shoot at things that slowly drift towards you. Once in a while you get a powerup that lets you clear a portion of the screen of enemies, but this isn’t even required as you should be able to handle all the enemies without any problem even without them.

Space Shell Mayhem – Themes: environment, shell Space shell mayhem Another unpolished game that seemed more familiar than it should have – you fly around in Space Shell Mayhem and pick up gems to increase your score. The enemy AI is sporadic and unpredictable at best, and they aren’t actually attackable – the weaponry on your space craft seems more like a mining tractor-beam of sorts with which you shoot the gems you are trying to mine.

Nothing particularly exciting to note, although the sudden jarring increase in volume of the music did remind me of the feeling of being assaulted by sound from the first time I walked into the Afterlife nightclub in Mass Effect 2.

Space Taxi Fusion – Themes: travel, corporation space taxi Breaking about a dozen important rules of taxi services across the galaxy, Space Taxi Fusion could use a bit more polish, but after getting a hang of rather unwieldy controls I actually found I was enjoying myself. I really like the visual style, and though the game lacks sound of any sort and doesn’t have the best design when it came to menus and interfaces, I can see a little effort going a long way to make it playable, and even possibly popular.

The goal in the game is to make money, and to do this you try to pack as many passengers as you can into your little rocket while grabbing space money that happens to be floating along on your way out of the atmosphere. After a while you end up collecting everything you can on the level, and I’m guessing at this point you’re expected to use your profits to expand your business. I guess with a bit more work we’ll get to see how that plays out.

Electro – Themes: experiment, corporation electro This game didn’t work particularly well, wasn’t really any fun, and didn’t have anything to do with its themes.

Taxi Run – Themes: corporation, travel, preference taxi run In Taxi Run you try to direct your taxi across the map using arrows that you drag onto the screen and ram your car into. It’s an interesting take on control mechanism, and leads to you always feeling just a little bit out of control – not something you want to feel while driving, but maybe one of the devs had a bad experience while learning to drive.

Though it is functional and somewhat challenging, the act of having to drag a direction over in front of the car feels unwieldy and unnecessary – it is the core mechanic of the game, but it’s a bit confusing why you’d want to build around something that feels forced. I’ve got a feeling that this would feel a lot more satisfying on a touch-screen device as opposed to a mouse.

The Tueur – Themes: travel, corporation tueur It’s a pity that though this game had some really nice artwork, it was unsatisfying and not particularly fun. You play as a hired killer who seems to take jobs from shady men in alleyways and you scroll across the game’s level shooting at bodyguards who are spread across it. Neither the shooting nor the dodging mechanic are particularly creative, and in the middle of jumping over your enemies’ bullets you must also dodge falling crates – because every game has to have crates. The game ends with you killing the boss – who appears to be a scared but well-armed furry.

One of the games, Stealth Hacker (themes: parenting, intelligence, environment) described itself as a “top view stealth game”, which sounds great, but it wasn’t actually functional.

There was one more game that was submitted to the jam – Chysel (themes: intelligence, shell) that we weren’t able to try out.

That wraps up our take on the entries to the BYOG Jam! We’re going to be at the NASSCOM GDC this weekend, so if you’d like us to take a look at your game then get in touch!

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