The Icehole Narwal

I’m pleased to announce that Icehole Narwal, the game that Zaxxon built, was a success.

TitleIcehole - screenShot 2Team 6 - Zaxxon

Yes, there were some ups and downs. There was some drama with the distribution of tasks for our engineers and some frantic coding near the end. Which, always seems to be the case I’ve noticed, no matter where I’m working or what I’m working on. Something I’m going to work on with my next group.

During the pitches, everyone seemed to really liking the game and there were great comments and feedback. We were told that all we needed was a background and we could possibly publish this. Talking with Omey our engineer he wants to get it up on some flash and browser game sites. Which I think would be awesome.



Aggressively Patient

hurry-up-and-wait1So now is the time that all we have to do is finish the game. A tall order, but there’s not too much for me to do.

True confessions of a producer in the EAE. I do what I can, and I’m more than willing to do anything, but the engineers have a good grasp on what their doing. The artist are doing well and getting the assets done. I really have to try hard to find something valuable to contribute to the project.

I have taken upon myself to put together some music, which when it comes to rapid prototyping, it doesn’t always end up getting in the game. But hey! I’m learning something new, and trying to add. Audio engineering isn’t easy.

This is the game that Zaxxon built

Well, last I left you you might be thinking, “oh man, I hope that Zaxxon remake works out for them…”

I have come to inform you that after we had our internal pitch review with Bob and Roger, we have changed our game almost completely. Roger explained to us how generic the space shooter is for student projects, and I agree. He just wasn’t buying what we were selling.

So, we had a pow wNarwalLaserow session where we came up with a whole new game. We’re keeping the isometric design, but now we’re Narwhals, rotating through different rotations, think tetris pieces, to get through ice walls coming at you.

I want to talk about our brainstorming session. It was interesting. As a producer and fledgling game designer, it’s really easy to start talking big about your idea, or to take a certain aesthetic and run with it, anyone can do that. But what I needed to do was step back and look at the base mechanics. While thinking about what you want to change, you must not think about the end product but the simple actual mechanic.

For example, I came up with the idea to have rotating swarm of space ships and the “human tetris” idea. But we kept getting off track and started talking about “instead of space ships how about this! or that!” And I got frustrated that we were losing the point of the session, that we got lost in the “weeds.” All we really need to do was find the fun and define the new base mechanic.

Also, there is this term or ludo narrative dissonance.  A critique that came up in my first game. Basically, why would there be bananas in a castle and why would the bat want them? The fact that the game makes absolute no narrative since.

People! This can be fixed later! We just want the fun gameplay now.

Game 2 – Zaxxon


Alright this time around I have decided to “apply in my daily life” the lessons I learned from my last project.

We have been tasked with creating a game, based of and arcade cabinet game from before 1983. All the game is allowed is an input stick and one button.

My new team got together and we immediately started brainstorming to which I thought, brainstorming like this doesn’t work. I proposed we take 10 minutes to ourselves to find and game and then bring it to the group as an idea.

This worked out SOO much better. In the end it came down to two games, Zaxxon and Arabian. Two vastly different games. I also wanted to incorporate the idea of, NO LOW HANGING FRUIT ideas. Zaxxon is a isometric scrolling shooter, and Arabian is a Donkey Kong Jr clone.

I was playing devil’s advocate in the discussion and really making people think about what we’re doing. With Zaxxon, remakes of these shooters are pretty generic. With Arabian I wanted to add a whole new fighting mechanic akin to old school RPG and random monster encounters all based on rhythm button fighting. After all, we only have one button.

But it was apparent that half the team was really really really set on doing Zaxxon. So, I split us up. Half took Zaxxon the other half took Arabian and we came up with internal pitches. Zaxxon won out because we were able to get an isometric engine for HTML 5, and with that we’re off to the races.


Now, mind you, we only have 3 weeks to do this. Not 4 and I only hope that that doesn’t come back to bite us in the end.