Maracaibo Game Jam 2017: The most wavy Game Jam!

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Teams at Gamejam

This past weekend was really fun! We managed to run and organize the Maracaibo Game Jam 2017, a local take on the international initiative better known as Global Game Jam.

From January 20 and running through to January 22, over 30 jammers gathered together to create games in less than two days. The theme for this year’s Global Game Jam, was Waves. Ocean waves, waveforms, sound waves or “waving” hello, were used as inspiration for the games.

The games:

Teams were formed as soon as the event started. Programmers, designers, musicians and more joined their talents in order to develop new and creative video games. After a lot of hard work, many snacks and sodas (and pizzas!), 8 wavy games were developed at the Maracaibo Game Jam.

Blindless PainBlindness Pain
In this maze-like game you play as a blind person that uses sounds to “see” the walls and escape the labyrinth.

Caught in the WavesCaught in the Waves:
Help Apo to survive to survive in his island by pressing the correct keys.

monkeypawChimpy and the Golden Paw:
Chimpy is a monkey with a special Golden Paw that let him “see” and grab onto the waves emanating from nature itself.

Lost ControlLost Control:
Find the right timing to change gears so your ship don’t crash into the walls.

pizzaM I C R O W A V E _ S I M U L A T O R:
Have you ever wanted to be a Microwave? Now you can make your dreams come true.

sayhellofixSay Hello!:
A game where you greet other people by waving a different salute each time.

Wave DashWave Dash:
You control an electron that must escape the oscilloscope. Very difficult game!

wavepsace2Wave Space:
Take control of a spaceship and evade the waves that come out from the black hole.

Overall, it was a great experience for us since we’re always looking to support the local gamedev community, and the Maracaibo Game Jam was a perfect opportunity to do this. If you would like to get more information about the event or download and play thousands of great games created all around the world in less than 48 hours, head over their website and learn more about the Global Game Jam initiative.

Spectrum has gone gold!

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spectrum-poster-gone-gold

Hello everyone!

That’s right! We’ve submitted and received approval by Steam on the latest build for Spectrum, which will be out on Steam on September the 22nd for PC, Mac, and Linux. The game will cost $4.99 and we’ll have a 10% launch discount for a week, so make sure you add it to your wishlist, and get a copy when it comes out next week!

We also want to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about the BulkyPix situation, which affected our release plans for the Steam version of the game, but gladly this is mostly settled now. We were going to do a bit more promoting, but because we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to meet our September 22nd deadline (bunch of paperwork and lack of communication from some related parties), we didn’t want to do a very aggressive announcement on the date, only for it to be delayed. Luckily for us, the awesome people at Valve helped us sort everything out in time for the planned release.

Anyway! We’re in here to celebrate now, and we are VERY happy and relieved that the game is coming out through Steam in all its glory next week.

We hope you really have a chance to play the game, and enjoy it as much as possible.

We’ll leave you with the trailer and hope to see you again real soon, later fellas!

Road to Steam Release

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Hello everyone,

As you may know, we are on the path to releasing Spectrum on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and we wanted to share with you some of the improvements we’ve made to the game over the past few months after we released the game on iOS and Android.

Improved Graphics

We’ve added some post-processing effects that have made the game look a lot nicer. Some enhancements include: sun shaft, bloom, depth of field, and anti-aliasing. We also added a new video settings menu, so you will be able to adjust them depending on your system. We also enhanced the illumination on all levels, which helped us achieve a better aesthetic overall.

blogscreenies

Upgraded Game Camera

With a nice smooth and dynamic camera tilting and zooming on some sections of the game, you’ll be able to see further ahead the deadly obstacles in Spectrum.

Camera Tilt Gif (Optimized)

Camera Zoom Out Gif (2)Nicer particles

With particles you can accomplish a great look in games, they are amazing eye candy, and also make the world feel alive, but they can also hit performance quite a bit, so we were careful with these. You’ll notice many cool particles floating around the levels, and other sections of the game. We made improvements even the smaller things, like picking up orbs around the levels.

Idle Camera Zoom Gif (Optimized)

Particle Orb Gif (Cropped)

Animations

We’ve added and revised some of the animations in the game. Below you’ll see the juicy chapter unlocking animation.

Unlock Chapter Animation Gif

New User Interface

We revamped and simplified the entire user interface, everything from the game’s main menu, chapter and level selection screens, and the in-game interface has been improved and made more intuitive. We believe this change will enhance navigation throughout the game, and it’s one of our favorite new features.

blogscreenies2

Other improvements include the addition of an ending cut-scene (it’s super cool!), improved gamepad support, an easier to understand tutorial, nicer credits, sound settings, enhanced and optimised many of the levels, and fixed many bugs. We also started buying fruit at the office instead of candy, which should translate into a healthier (but low morning productivity) team!

Check out the trailer we made for Steam below.

Spectrum will be released on September 22nd. You may add it to you Steam wishlist by following this link.

Make sure you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we’ll keep you posted about our latest news. Thank you for reading 🙂

Spectrum. A whole new chapter.

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Today we published an update for Spectrum on the AppStore which includes a whole new challenging world.

spectrum_2016-1-18_h14-m40-s14_edit

One of our goals for this world was to use mechanics we already had, but in a whole different way. For instance, you’ll find air vents that help you beat obstacles instead of offering resistance. Another example is that in previous episodes you had to use triggers to get through levels, where now you’ll actually have to avoid triggers, since they’ll activate deadly obstacles. But we don’t want to give everything away, make sure you check it out.

spectrum_2016-1-18_h14-m27-s24_edit

We’re working hard on getting Spectrum ready for the PC. The game is looking better than ever (you can check the screenshots above), and should be available soon. You should hear from us very soon. Make sure you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we’ll keep you posted about our latest news.

Spectrum is now available for iOS and Android

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Our latest game is now available for everyone to download on both iOS and Android. We are extremely happy and proud.

Spectrum is a platform game set in an abstract world of stylized shapes and bright colors. Control a dark three-eyed entity attempting to reach portals while avoiding unforgiving obstacles and elements. Escape from 60 levels spread in 6 mysterious environments each with their own unique identities.

Master gravity by acing exclusive endless jump and dive mechanics to make it to the end. Two control modes are available to suit every styles: tilt-based or touch-only controls.

Here’s the trailer:

FEATURES

– Colorful minimalist aesthetic
– 60 challenging levels with 3 objectives to complete on each
– 6 appealing environments
– Two control modes: Tilt or Touch-only controls
– Compatible with MFi controllers
– Leaderboards & Game Center integration
– Ambient IDM Soundtrack
– Infinite Jumping & Dive mechanics

Download on Google Play: http://bit.ly/1AvjSzb
Download on the App Store: http://bit.ly/1451tuK

Nanomites Post-mortem

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Nanomites was our first game, and we felt we learned a lot from its development. Not only was it the first game we developed at 3D Avenue, but for most of us, it was the first full game we were developing at all. As a programmer, my only game development experience had been following a tutorial to make a Baloon Popper game for iPhone, and some failed attempts to make Half Life and Quake mods back when all the cool kids were doing it, and I say failed because I never actually dedicated enough time to do it. Our artist had been the one with the most experience working on bigger gaming projects, having worked on a couple of popular Half Life mods (Sabaneta 2050 and Front Line Force). His work on those mods however, was doing 3D stuff, Nanomites was a 2D project, so this was new ground for him as well. For our game designer, it was the first time he’d make calls on the direction of a game, the gameplay, the mechanics, adapt to the technical restrictions, to the knowledge of the team, and adapt to hardware liminations, many things from an early Nanomites design document didn’t make it into the game, because of time constrains and team expertise limitations, and this was something that the game designer had to adapt to and learn.

When I talk aboout hardware limitations, I have to mention, that even though the power mobile devices have nowadays is incredible, it’s still not where we would have wanted it to be for Nanomites, specially for older devices like the iPhone 4 and previous generation iDevices, but this was something we did fully realize at the moment, in fact the reason we wanted Nanomites to be 2D was because we thought that it would be easier to make a 2D game, but after having to deal with textures, memory liminations for big texture files, atlases, sprites, frame by frame animations, now we know it’s not neccesarily easier to do 2D instead of 3D. There were many things we didn’t know.

The original Nanomites idea didn’t include the characters, and it was much simpler, it was just called Nanosplit, but when we commited full time to it, instead of working on it “after hours” i.e. after our day jobs, we thought we could add more stuff, and so the design document grew. The small balls, became shapes, the shapes became characters inspired by the Worms series, and the name was changed to Nanomites. Then, someone suggested that the name sounded like small robots, and we thought it was cool and accurate, and so we started working on robotic concepts.

screentest7Nanomites early concept.

The plan was that our first game would be simple, a game we could develop quickly, one that wouldn’t take too long to finish, the idea behind Nanomites was “a game where you’d draw lines to separate bouncing balls”, it SOUNDS simple, but for about three months of development, all we had was a nice looking screensaver with almost no gameplay at all other than the “bouncing balls” part. During that time the team became very frustrated, one of our programmers left because of this, and it wasn’t moving forward as fast as we’d have liked, but luckily as awesome as the the Unity 3D community is, we were able to find help on the forums, and the first mite was finally captured, with the right rules, three months after development began. Hadn’t it been for the incredible input from the forums, Nanomites wouldn’t have happened. And we are beyond grateful for their help.

Nanomites Alpha – A nice looking screensaver.

About four more months were all about polishing the game, adding more mites and behaviors, the line drawing mechanics (which at some point will have its own article, because it’s something I’ve been asked about by other programmers, and I have to say it was very challenging), the sounds, the interface, squashing bugs, the tutorial, the music… So many things go into making a game, and it’s not until you make it, that you realize the amount of work it requires. Loving what we were doing helped a lot. I guess the initial frustration was because we loved it so much, we were adapting, learning, and it’s probably like the start of a long term relationship, you are going to fight, you are going to disagree, but eventually, hopefully you can make it work, and get stuff done.

What went right?

We actually made the game. To be honest, after the first couple of months of development, we thought we weren’t going to make it work, it wasn’t playable and we had no clue how to do it all, but we persisted, we made it work, and we are extremely proud of how it turned out.

We learned a lot from the Nanomites’ development, how to plan better, we have a better idea of what smaller and simpler means in terms of projects, lots do’s and don’ts on the technical side, how to actually make games (which was very exciting), we learned a lot about ourselves and about each other, and even though we still have a lot to learn, we feel way more confident, we have a better idea of what to do, and what it will take to get it done.

What went wrong?

We feel the main issue with Nanomites was that the development of the game mechanics were too difficult and challenging for the experience and knowledge we had, it was definitely not for beginners. During development the project also got too ambicious and ultimately we had to cut many features from it because originally (when it wasn’t as ambicious) we had planned for a 6 month developement cycle, and we were getting close to 12 when the game came out, some of those features include adventure mode with a pretty cool story, many more mite behaviors, and boss fights. We thought the idea sounded simple and that we’d have time to do it all, but that was a huge mistake.

megaMite
MegaMite. One of the scrapped boss ideas.

If you are just starting, try as much as you can to know what you are getting into on the technical side, that was the main thing that dragged us back, but gladly, in the end, we made it work. To do that, just do research on the mechanics you want to implement, on all of them, before writing a single line of code, that should help a lot.

We also made some mistakes regarding marketing and publishing, which translated in Nanomites not doing as well as we wanted, but we are working on fixing those for our next title.

What else went right?

Nanomites received many positive reviews, and people really enjoyed the game, the top scores on the leader boards aren’t even ours, and that makes us very happy. Everyone that played it, enjoyed it a lot, and the game has solid ratings on both the AppStore and Play Store.

What is ahead for Nanomites?

We love Nanomites, the characters, the game, and we love that people enjoyed the game so much. We will do an update on the game to support some resolutions on some devices that have come out since the game was released.

One of the most requested features is to continue playing from the wave you are on when killed, and we are thinking of ways to allowing it, so that should come at some point. Right now we are focused on Spectrum, so it might be a little bit before we do more stuff with Nanomites, but we are not going to forget about it. We already upgraded the project to use the latest version of Unity 3D, and cleared some bugs that spawned because of that, so an update is on the works, but as I mentioned, our main focus is Spectrum right now.

If you have any questions please leave them on the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

What are we working on right now?

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At 3D Avenue, we are always trying to figure out how can we make our games great and fun, and that brought us to our current project. While working on the Android port of Nanomites and testing some proof of concepts, one question popped into our heads: “Does Unity 3D have accelerometer support?” and without knowing it, the core movement mechanic for our next game was born, and quickly implemented.

A very early version of Spectrum, then called Tilt and Jump

We figured this was a nice way to move a character around on mobile platforms, and decided to add a jump mechanic; then adding a dive mechanic was pretty much intuitive, and after playing around on some test levels, we decided this was the game we were going to work on. Other proof of concepts were put aside, and work on Spectrum officially began in June 2013. But it wasn’t named Spectrum back then, for a while we just called it Tilt and Jump, then just Tilt, and after many terrible ideas, including Tilanyun (a play on terrible spanish pronunciation of Tilt and Jump), we thought Spectrum fit the game well, it sounded simple, and matched the idea of colors having a role in the game. Since then,, we’ve been polishing the game a lot, by adding as much great content as we can, and making sure everything works as expected.

Brainstorming the game’s name

We are very proud of how the game is looking and we can’t wait for everyone to play it, and hopefully enjoy it as much as we do. I hate using cliché phrases, but it’s the truth.

We are pretty much at the last development stage with Spectrum, we are look forward to have an official announcement very soon. There’s still some details we need to figure out in order to have the best release we can.