Making Fake Slap!

Fake Slap

When Donald Trump won the election we all thought to ourselves that he might not be that bad, right? That everyone should give him the benefit of the doubt and give him a chance… Then he started his presidency…. After the initial disbelief and shock in the first weeks of the Trump presidency, all I could think to myself is that if the situation weren’t deeply deeply troubling and sad, it would be hilarious. Everything about the orange man and anything that comes out of his mouth (or Twitter account) is so ridiculous and completely and utterly unpresidential. Then the idea of Fake Slap was born.

It started off as a joke. Oscar said that it would be awesome to make a game where all you do is slap Donald Trump, and show charts that correlate his actions as President with the amount of slaps he gets worldwide. We played around with the idea- but I was hesitant at first, I was honestly afraid that he might sue us! Seriously, if the game got even the slightest attention, it isn’t that far fetched, right? (Please don’t sue us, pretty please??). Slowly I was convinced that Trump is probably not going to sue us, as there are other games and such out there. And besides- if he did, it would be incredible publicity!

At the same time, the #Resist movement had already started, the Women’s March had happened and it seemed there were quite a few game devs that were doing what they can to join in. I found that very inspiring. I’m an American citizen, and I felt a want to do something too. So it was decided. We would make Fake Slap, and donate all of the profits from the first week to the ACLU, and maybe percentages of the following weeks’ profits as well, depending on how it goes (we do have to eat you know).

We decided that initially, Fake Slap would be a funny one-screen clicker game. You slap Trump as fast as you can to a typical Mexican tune, while he “trash talks” with his typical lovely phrases (it took me hours to find all of those phrases!). You can slap him with a variety of different colored hands, or choose to purchase a pussy(cat), crutch or trout to slap him with as well (I strongly recommend the pussy, it’s hilarious). Your total slaps are counted, so once we get enough people slapping Trump we can put in the statistics of world-wide slaps, and see how they correlate with what he does as president :).

Fake Slap

If the game is successful, we would love to develop the idea into something bigger- definitely add more slappable characters such as Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Benjamin Netanyahu, and see who gets the most slaps and when. And of course add combos, more slappers and customizable stuff. Show us if you like it so we can develop the idea further!

Fake Slap will be available next week on the App Store and Google Play (well, hopefully, still waiting for the app review, ugh).  So make sure to download it, and watch a lot of videos (or buy stuff of course), its for a good cause! And share it far and wide, we would greatly appreciate it!

Thanks for reading!

Liran

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Promo Video:

 

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Making Fake Slap!

Choosing Functional Programming for Our Game

In the last couple of months I have been learning how to program. The decision to sit down and learn how to code came inevitably despite my enormous efforts to avoid it up until now. As I mentioned in my previous posts, my plate is already full with 3D graphics, game design, marketing and business stuff, etc. And those nightmarish memories of the “Java for Biologists” course I took during my BSc degree might have also had something to do with it 😉 BUT I am the only one on our team that is working on the game full time, so I had to get over my distaste for ‘if’s and ‘for’s.

It hasn’t been easy. Extreme growing pains would accurately describe the situation- but I am getting to the point that I can handle our basic Unity scripting needs. I started off learning C# on Udemy (Programming for Complete Beginners and Learning to Code by Making Games which I recommend for designers interested in C# coding). The original idea was that I would script in C# and @spacepluk and @Morantron (our programmers) would script in Clojure. They LOVE Clojure- a Functional Programming language that can be used with Unity thanks to the Arcadia project (more about that below). Funny enough, I seem to find the logic of Object Oriented Programming a bit strange, and I naturally tend towards the Functional Programming way of thinking too. So we decided! Functional Programming it is.

Many programmers dismiss Functional Programming as a thing of the past (originally LISP was invented in 1958), or a strange aberration with weird syntax and tons of parentheses meant for academics alone. But we think that after the initial effort of learning the language, its benefits are well worth it and they pay off really quickly, especially in Game Development.

There were a couple specific features of Functional Programming that particularly appealed to us. First and foremost, simplicity. The code is shorter and more manageable. You express more with less code, and not by turning it into undecipherable gibberish but by making it more general and minimizing repetitions. That also means less room for mistakes 🙂 But when you do make a mistake reasoning about your code is a lot easier.

But the real icing on the cake is Live Coding. If you develop in Unity you know the pains of making changes: compiling, deploying, checking the result, rinse and repeat. Again and again and again. It is a time consuming and annoying process. It really gets in the way of creativity because you don’t have an immediate connection with the thing you’re creating (you should really watch Bret Victor’s video “Inventing on Principle” on the subject). Live Coding allows for really quick iterations. You change the program while it runs and see the results in-game immediately (yes, even on your phone!). Without compilations, redeploying to the device, going back to the screen you were testing, etc. Its amazing. Once you have tried it you won’t know how you lived without it. See for yourself:

Live Coding with Arcadia and Unity:

Live Coding with Arcadia and Unity (Android Phone):

So, how do we use Clojure in Unity? Arcadia is a project developed by Ramsey Nasser and Tims Gardner. It integrates Clojure and Unity 3D. As they describe it: “It brings a live coded, functional, dynamic, Lisp to the industry standard cross-platform game development tool.” There is an ever-growing community that is pitching in to help develop Arcadia and bring Functional Programming to a Unity Engine near you 🙂 Check out their repository and community discussion to see for yourself. And let us know what you think!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Liran

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Choosing Functional Programming for Our Game

Chasing Rainbows (or: How I Chose my Palette)

It’s no secret that colors are a super important part of game design. They can create a mood/ambiance for the whole game (e.g. Limbo) or give each level a unique feel (e.g. Ori and the Blind Forest). Colors can also be used to guide the player or give him/her tips on which elements to interact with (e.g. The Witcher 3). And lets face it, colors can definitely get your game that extra WOW factor you are looking for. But sometimes choosing your palette can feel like chasing rainbows.

Limbo monocrhome
Limbo monochrome for that eerie feel
A level of Ori and the Blind Forest
“Happy” level of Ori and the Blind Forest
A level of Ori and the Blind Forest
“Scary” level of Ori and the Blind Forest
The Witcher 3 witcher senses guiding you
The Witcher 3- witcher senses guiding you

So, needless to say, I was stressed about choosing the colors for our game. I started by trying to read a bit about the theory of color. Now that, let me tell you, is a whole gigantic world in itself. It would have taken me a LONG time to seriously dive into that. And time, as you know, is never on our side. BUT if you do want to be thorough, you can check out “The Dimensions of Colour” by David Briggs recommended to me by Daz Watford. It looks scary but really explains the theory of color.

As I didn’t really want to dig too deep, I read a few informative blog posts about how to get started. This was one of them, by Creative Bloq; and this is another by Tyler Seitz. There are many more out there as well, especially in the world of web design.

So, as the blogs recommended, I started out by finding pictures that portrayed the look&feel I wanted in our game. From those I filtered the ones that were the prettiest 🙂 I uploaded them to Adobe Color CC to get the main colors I liked out of the pictures. I filtered a few palettes I thought could work nicely from there (easier said than done, of course, as you still have to select your color mood and such).

Another space landscape I liked
Another space landscape I liked
Space landscape I liked
Space landscape I liked

Then, I uploaded those colors to Paletton for additional shades, tones and tints. I selected the color rule here as well (chose Tetrad or Double-Split Complementary with four colors). I tested the resulting 20-color palettes on a few models I had already played around with for the game. And voilà! I had my palette. The colors aren’t written in stone, mind you, I do deviate from those and change things around a bit when a model doesn’t look good enough. But I generally try to keep as close as I can to it.

Our Palette
Our Palette from paletton

Below is an example of how the color scheme turned out (the picture is from an environment prototype). You can also check previous blog posts to see how it looks in game: here and here and here.

Environment prototype
Environment prototype

Once again, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for next week’s blog (and don’t forget to subscribe!).

Cheers 🙂

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Chasing Rainbows (or: How I Chose my Palette)

Playing Around with Game Physics

It has been ages since my last post, mostly because my brother got married last week (congratulations again if you are reading this!). Tons of family stuff going on means no time for game development unfortunately 🙁 But we are back! So I just wanted to give you a quick update on the game physics I played around with today- the ominous black hole vortex and deadly space mines!

Black Hole Vortex

The idea behind the black holes we scattered throughout the game is to dodge them without getting sucked in. At this point they only affect the player, but we are debating whether to have them affect the meteors, aliens and everything else around for that matter. That’s what black holes do, right? Let us know what you think in the comments.

The implementation was pretty simple- the script allows me to configure the radius and force of pull. Playing around with the physics was pretty fun- adding some videos so you can see the disaster at the beginning, and how it turned out in the end.

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That pull might be a little too strong 😉

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Now that’s more like it!

Deadly Space Mines

We tried to use the same concept for the mines. If you shoot a mine it will explode and send your UFO flying. Well, technically it doesn’t explode yet, but it will 😀 Implementing the same script we used for the black hole (in the opposite direction) didn’t really work- the black hole continues implementing the pull as long as the player is inside the defined radius. But when you shoot a mine it pushes you once. Making that play out nicely with the player’s input is slightly trickier, and is still work in progress. But it is still pretty funny to watch 🙂

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Now that’s just ridiculous lol

Thanks for reading our devblog. Make sure to subscribe to our blog in the top right menu and stay tuned for next week’s post!

Cheers 🙂

Playing Around with Game Physics

Inspirations for our Game

We found a name! At least a temporary one- Ufology (pronounced Yufology)!!

As I mentioned in my first blog post, both Oscar (@spacepluk) and I grew up when video games first started becoming popular in arcades, consoles and home computers in the early 80s. I used to spend hours playing on our Atari and Mac (later Nintendo/Sega and PC) with our friends and family. Oscar even remembers playing games on his Amiga (!!). Every stop at the mall or errand-run was accompanied by my brother and I begging my parents to stop at our favorite arcade. Games like Space Invaders, Galaga, Ms. Pacman, Frogger, Super Mario Bros, Tetris and other classics have a warm and fuzzy place in our hearts. So naturally, when we started thinking of making our own games, we wanted to make a tribute to those amazing pioneer games.

After the initial brainstorming phase (you can read more about that here), the idea we decided to go ahead with was a mobile F2P retro-style arcade space shooter. We wanted the graphics and gameplay to be based on early arcade games but with a modern look. In addition, we wanted Ufology to be in 3D, while most of the games we were inspired by were in 2D. A retro-but-modern looking 3D-but-based-on-2D game was a big challenge for me, as this is my first project as a game designer and CG artist.

The main inspirations for Ufology were Galaga, Gradius, R-Type, Axelay and Xenon 2. Many of the enemies in Ufology are based on the enemies from those games. Here are some of the adaptations, would love to hear what you think!

 

Gradius by Konami, 1985

 

Our version of Gradius' Moai
Our version of Gradius’ Moai

 

Galaga by Namco, 1981
Galaga by Namco, 1981

 

Our version of Galaga's Deathmite
Our version of Galaga’s Deathmite

 

Xenon 2 Megablast by The Assembly Line- 1989
Xenon 2: Megablast by The Assembly Line- 1989

 

Our version of Xenon-2’s horseshoe-crab-looking-alien

 

Let us know what you think in the comments below- suggestions are always welcome 🙂 We would love to hear about the inspirations for your games!

Stay tuned for some more development logs coming up in the following weeks.

And don’t forget to subscribe in the upper right menu!

Liran

 

Inspirations for our Game

How to Kill Your Babies. Or: Letting Go of Ideas That Don’t Work

When sitting down to brainstorm for game ideas, you are sure to come up with dozens. Easily. When we brainstorm, we usually start with relatively “normal” ideas and as we warm up and let our creativity loose the ideas get wackier and wackier. It’s tons of fun and we laugh our asses off. The truth is this is my favourite part of the long and complex creative process called game design. Well, I’m sure having millions of people play your game beats that, but I’ll have to get back to you on that matter. But putting the fun (which is very important!) aside, finding a viable idea for a game among those dozens is not that easy, and almost all of them are discarded immediately or shortly after the initial brainstorm. Deciding to throw an idea away or put it aside takes a lot of willpower as we get emotionally attached to our ideas. But it is very important to be able to do that. You can’t possibly develop them all!!

We started developing our current game idea along with a couple other ideas we had. We really wanted to do something with sheep (who doesn’t love sheep?), so all of the ideas had that element in them in different shapes and forms. This is our first game as Mooi Studios (and my first game ever as I mentioned in the last blog post), so we wanted to keep it simple. We made a couple of simple prototypes on paper and noticed that all of the ideas were relatively complex, except one: Sheep in Space. I really liked the name “Space Sheep” (like spaceship, but sheep, right??!!). So we started developing a space shooter with sheep, and left the rest of the ideas on the side burner.

Sheep prototypes
Some of the first sketches and prototypes of the sheep

We developed the idea of “Space Sheep” for a while. We decided that we wanted to make a retro-style space shooter (more on that decision in next week’s post) with top view. The sheep floating in space looked kind of ridiculous in that camera view, and we just couldn’t make it work. Putting the sheep in a spaceship or UFO didn’t help because then the player couldn’t really see the sheep. That is how the sheep became obsolete. It doesn’t really make sense to have the main theme of a game unnecessary for the actual gameplay. So somehow “Space Sheep” became just “Space”, and my beloved “baby”- the concept of making a game about sheep- disappeared. It wasn’t easy letting “Space Sheep” go, but common sense won. The sheep will have to wait.

Example of the top view and spaceship, as they look today
Example of the top view and spaceship, as they look today

It is very important to be able to let your ideas go if they aren’t solid enough, as much as you love them! Many people get stuck trying to find a way to make their idea work. But like they say- it’s like trying to milk a dead cow. The sooner you realise that your idea has too many holes in it, the better. Don’t throw the idea away- you might find a way to fill those holes in the future, but now you should focus your energy on an idea that has more chance of becoming a fun and playable game.

In next week’s post I will talk about the inspiration for the look & feel and gameplay of our Space Shooter (still nameless after the departure of the sheep). Sign up for update emails in the top right menu and stay tuned!

Written by Liran, one half of Mooi Studios

How to Kill Your Babies. Or: Letting Go of Ideas That Don’t Work

Me, A Game Designer?? Or: How the Hell I Found Myself Making Games

So who said a midlife crisis has to happen in your mid 40s? I think that it can happen anywhere from your mid-to-late twenties. At least, that is what happened to me. As part of Generation Y, I guess that is more likely to happen, but still, nothing could prepare me for an identity crisis in my late 20s!

As many of my generation, I was educated that I must succeed and make money in life, and in order to do that I need a certain education, profession, social economic status, etc. As an ambitious person I grew up wanting to be successful in the eyes of my peers, my family’s, and of course mine. I didn’t really put much thought into what kind of life would make me happy and fulfilled. I wanted to be a doctor (like my father the professor of course), and never let any other thoughts or doubts cross my mind. When I didn’t get into medical school and couldn’t be bothered to try and get into other schools, retake exams or do anything to actually change the verdict, I told myself that I actually never really wanted to be a doctor because I am actually slightly misanthropic, and what I like is the science (which is actually true, I really do find medical sciences fascinating…). So I began my studies in medical sciences to become a scientist.

I found the studies very interesting, and I couldn’t think of anything else that I could do instead, so I continued the academic route with a certain degree of inertia and laziness. Before I started my PhD, people would ask me if I want to stay in the academic world, and I would answer that I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, so I might as well continue, right?? Wrong. Things began bubbling under the surface, the doubts that existed in my subconscious for years were finally becoming conscious, and I knew something was very wrong.

To make a very very long story short, between my master’s degree and PhD I flew to India for a few months. And there, I met many people that I probably wouldn’t have met anywhere else. And I searched my soul. A lot. And I began to understand that I don’t like what I am doing. I am missing art in my life. I have always liked art, but it was always dismissed as a hobby in my house. I know it is so very cliché but that is what I felt. It will still take me years to understand how to make art my profession (and I am still hoping it will work), but the seeds were planted there. I flew back home, and started my PhD nonetheless. But, eventually, less than a year later, I decided to leave science move to Europe, because what the hell? why not.

For approximately 6 years after I left my PhD I was searching. Searching for a job I liked, a country I liked living in, a partner in life…. I had a lot of fun, but I was still confused. I worked in a lot of places, started to doubt my choices, was angry and depressed for a while, until I met Oscar, my soon-to-be-husband. He was the first to bring up the idea of making games and doing what I really liked.

I grew up in the 80s, so of course I grew up with the first video games and consoles. My brother and I used to spend hours playing classics like Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog and Tetris, and dozens of other games on our Mac and later PC, notably Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail, Sim City, Crystal Quest and Dungeon of Doom (nobody seems to know the last two but I LOVED those games). Somewhere in high school I became interested in other things like boys 🙂 so my gaming life sort of paused except for occasional bursts of playing Red Alert and Prince of Persia with my siblings. Then I bought my first smart phone around 2010. Once I started playing casual games, it was as if I never left gaming, and dove deep into all of the trendy mobile games and started looking towards new PC games. I was amazed at the artwork and the huge difference technology had brought to gaming.

At this point I still didn’t think of the possibility of working in games, as I didn’t study anything that was even remotely close to that. And of course you must study in the university for a profession, like I was taught. But once I was fired from my job in a biotech company and couldn’t find any other job I really liked, Oscar (who is a genius self-taught programmer) brought up the idea of opening our own game studio. At first I thought he was nuts. But he pushed me to start learning 3D design while I was receiving unemployment, and see if I like it. He figured I love games, I want to work in something more artistic, I am capable and intelligent, so why not learn and see if I like it? Games are the perfect combination between art and technology. He can program and I can do the art. Sounded reasonable to me, so what the hell? I started an online course in Blender (opensource 3D design software), and after about 6 months of trying to master Blender, Photoshop and Unity, we started brainstorming for our very first game and founded Mooi Studios!

I am still learning new things every day and my work is still far from perfect, but I am getting better fast. I do have days that I am crippled by the imposter syndrome which so many of us have but they are luckily few. This whole experience has left me amazed by human capacity to learn new things and by the online world for giving people the opportunity to completely change their lives with the right information. The long road to a successful business in the game industry is still ahead of us, but I am finally doing something I surprisingly love, and actually working with art. So I don’t have my big house, labrador and white picket fence I thought I would have at 35 (not!) but I am having fun and doing what I love. It is never too late to make a radical change, you only live once so why the hell not!

game designer

Written by Liran Grunhaus, one half of Mooi Studios

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Me, A Game Designer?? Or: How the Hell I Found Myself Making Games