Hatchlings Games

Web Gaming 2.0 Revolution

A Review on the rest of the MSC Malaysia Game Pitch Winners

A while ago Iris posted a review about two of the five winners of the MSC Game Design Competition. I’ll do the remaining two (not including us), since I stayed longer in the presentation room. Well… I was enjoying the air-conditioning.

My first impression of Riot HQ was that it looked too much like Command and Conquer: Red Alert, because of its urban warfare setting and semi-realistic graphics. However, it turned out to be a totally different game.

Riot HQ places the player as a dispatcher of riot-control robots. Whenever a riot breaks out in the fictional futuristic city, your job is to send in the robots to break the rioters as quickly as possible without resorting to violence. The aim of the game is to protect your citizens’ properties from being destroyed by the robots, thus generating revenue for your city.

There are several types of robots to choose from, unfortunately none that I could accurately recall. I also liked his underlying theme of solving violence without violence, as that is a very important message to convey when people ‘up there’ are viewing computer games as a cause of juvenile delinquence, violence and other social ills. The city graphics looked pretty good, and though the characters looked simplistic they blended together rather well. The game seems fun and balanced from first looks, and I wish Mark success in developing his game.

The other winner was Mystic Order, a card-based role-playing game intended for the Nintendo DS. I didn’t really pay attention to the mechanics, but it sounded original from what I heard. At least its non-violent setting differentiates it from other card-based handheld role-playing games like Yggdra Union.

Putting the game on the DS is very ambitious, especially in a country with high piracy rates like Malaysia. The judges were very skeptical about the developers’ ability to get the development license, and persuaded them to put it on the Pocket PC instead.

In short, all the winners looked very promising gameplay wise. Marketing, however, remains a big problem…

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December 28, 2006 Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Game Design, Game Development, Game Industry, Malaysia | Leave a comment

A Review on Winning Games of MSC Malaysia Game Pitch

The winners of MSC IP Challenge Series 2006: Game Pitch are, Encephalon Trading Card Game by Hatchlings, Cucumber Mosaic by Johaess Reuben Jozni, Urban Sprinting by Jason Khong Wei Siong, Riot HQ by Mark Hayden and Mystic Order by Project Caterpillar.

I need not to do a review of our own game. Just check this out:
First Post [introduction]
Web Trading Card Gaming 2.0 [vision and goals]
Life of a Pawn [game design]
Concepting Encephalon [setting & concept art]

Among all the winners, I only got to watch pitches by Urban Sprinting and Cucumber Mosaic. Wait, it is not because I fall asleep in between the pitch. Blame it on the organizer’s scheduling, they arranged all 3 pitches: Game, Comic and Mobile Content all on the same time. I was walking to one hall to another just to catch a glimpse of everything. So, I will just make a review on two winning games.

I personally like Urban Sprinting the best. In Jason Khong’s speech, he mentioned that the idea comes from a video on YouTube. The video featured a man sneaking around in the department store, snatched some product and purposely trigger the alarm to get security guards chasing after him. The chasing was very exciting because the man was making some stunts and fooling around with the security guards. In the end he ran into Burger King as a hideout I guess. Urban Sprinting is simple, fresh, fun and I think it would sell if it is well executed.

So, based on this video, he came up with this game idea and called it the “Urban Sprinting”. He wanted the game to be done in 3D and so and so… but I think for start(RM 50,000 grant is too little for something big), the game is better in 2D or even pixel art. (Pixel art is cool! Look at Habbo Hotel!) One thing I like about Jason’s pitch, he seemed enjoyed it a lot and like his own game a lot. Yes, I like it too but I wished he could focus more on “Stunts” rather than “Power-ups” in the gameplay. (Everyone likes creating new and cool stunts in GTA right?)

Cucumber Mosaic brought up some laughs. Johaess wanted to bring back some nostalgic arcade games and came up with this game idea. It is a classic arcade game where you have to stop enemies destroying your base by shooting at them. The enemies will surround and attack the base by “sticking” it. I guess that the enemies are sucking out energy from the base. The laughs rained when every one of us figured that the enemies (sperm-like-creature) that attacked the rounded base looked like…
Just plain shooting to hit the high scores ain’t fun or new anymore. So I really hope that Cucumber Mosaic could shift its focus to humorous game rather than a mixture of some classical arcade. (Well, is the Sperm-Like-Thingy that caught all of our attention!)

If someone wants to do a mixture or remake, I have a few advise for you.

Do’s
mixture 1 + mixture 2 + special ingredient(core concept) = new game

Don’ts
mixture 1 + mixture 2 = mixture 1 + mixture 2 = boring

It is fine to make a game by mixing 2 games but do make sure you have the core concept right that make your game stand out from the rest. Do not make a game that adopts old gameplay, mix it together, give it better graphics, technically better and call it new. Well, graphics will come into play if you intend to use your graphics as the special ingredient. For example, Super Cosplay War Ultra by Team FK is a 2 player fighting game that is similiar to Street Fighter. The fighthing characters are some familiar faces we see in manga and anime (Astro Boy, Doraemon, Hunter X Hunter, Tontoro etc). In the surface, this game is different from others in terms of the graphics but what made them stand out the most is their “core concept”, which is “Cosplay”.

Some equation (I’m sick of conclusion):

Urban Sprinting = Grand Theft Auto + Tony Hawk
Cucumber Mosaic = Space invaders + Battle Tanks

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December 27, 2006 Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Game Development, Game Industry, Malaysia | 2 Comments

MSC Malaysia Game Pitch

It was one day away from the Pitch but the Hatchies were still unsure of what to present. Anyway, things always changes in Hatchlings… and it changes FAST.

Game Pitch
(from left) Moy, Kuan, Iris, Jarod, John, YC, Andrew, Wong

In a small, stuffy and filled with softoys workspace at the Incubator, we created Encephalon the Trading Card Game. I will introduce the team and as well as the softoys later in the next post. I’m a game designer in the team. So far, I’ve designed the User Interface of the game… stay tune for more designs in the future of development… Oh, my recent work includes a short animated presentation of the pitch 🙂


“Message from the Dark King of Cosmos”

We presented the funniest pitch of the day and of course, we won tons of claps from the audiences. To know more in depth about the content of presentation, please click here.

Here, I received a late DKoC’s Christmas postcard for the all of you!
DKoC's Christmas Postcard

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December 26, 2006 Posted by | Game Development, Game Industry, Malaysia | 1 Comment

‘Tis the season…

It’s Christmas morning, and I’m alone in the office because I came back early. The others are all back home with their families.

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 25, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My first speech

So today’s the day of this game pitch competition that we got shortisted in. We went through a couple of presentations since the past week, and none of them were exactly too ‘perfect’ in our eyes.

So on Wednesday night, Slade said “Forget these crap, we’ll just do something different.”

And within 10 hours (4am – 2pm), we rushed out a still animation, a video, some nonsensical slides, and a speech about galactic domination. Our presentation was at 2.45pm.

You just had to be there to know what happened.

So I was the ‘voice’ of the Dark King of Cosmos, or DKOC (D-cock), and I was supposed to deliver a speech of utmost grandeur. 40 minutes in Notepad and Thesaurus produced this:

Salutations, fellow Gonorrheans, Syphilians, Chlamydians and six million other sentient races which I neglect to mention, a good day to you and may your aufgemischs are verlungen. I bring to you this message of the paramount urgentness from DKOC.

What followeth, is the spahnking new inter-intra-galactical domination scheme from our beloved DKOC. But first, the obligatory maniacal laughter, for your aural pleasure.

MWAHAHAHAHAA!

(ahem) Our propaganda will be spread through what-is-this Encephalon project, an addictive little game with a square board and little rectangular pieces of colorful electrons. We will first target the majority of the galactic consciousness, those little, mid-big beings with oily-ginous faces, and hairs coming out of areas best not mentioned for the integrity of this message. These little hairy beings spend most of their time, doing what they call ‘surfing’, on this galactic consciousness, much to the disappointment of the larger, hairier beings who try in vain to control their lives.

We will first scatter the seeds of servitude by planting little subliminal text messages throughout Encephalon, under Operation “Googly Adsense”. The googly eyes will see through the shallow hearts of these pitiful little beings, and display text ‘advertisements’ of their interest. These beings will unknowingly click on these ‘advertisements’, and thus putting virtual shiny coppery coins into our galactic coffers.

I would laugh maniacally now if not that my face is stiff from speaking in this manner.

But that! Is not the end of our plan. One would be preposterous to think that subjugating little hairless beings’ nervous centers would suffice to dominate the intra-inter-galaxisms. We will then approach the bigger hairy beings with the money, the moolah, and draw them into our grandicular scheme. Under the illusion that they will control whole planets, they will host copies of the Encephalon project, and be compelled to lure more little beings into playing this game to get more of those moolahs. In turn, those little beings will beseech eagerly for their littler friends to join them in this addictive little game. Pwned! As they say.

My dear Cancerians, Hepatitians, Arthritians and six million other sentient races which I neglect to mention, come join us in this bigtastic inter-intra-galaxial domination scheme. With Project Encephalon, DKOC shall rule the world, the galaxy, the universe, the infinity and beyond!

And well, we won the pitch.

Don’t ask.

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December 20, 2006 Posted by | Entrepreneurship, Game Design | 15 Comments

First post!

For a year-old gamedev company, it took us pretty long to come up with a shared blog.

This is no-wing from Hatchlings Games. I hold the fancy title of ‘Creative Director’, meaning that I’m supposed to be in charge of anything creative, from the concept document to the placement of plush toys in the office – Just kidding about the plush toys part, but we have quite a number of them lying around. I wish I could snap some pictures, but the camera isn’t around… a later update I guess.

Right now we have three other guys (two guys and a girl, to be exact) who’s working on this project, and I’ll just let them introduce themselves. It’s supposed to be top-secret so I can’t talk that much about it. So check out your nearest retail store next summer when our game is released for all three next-gen consoles…

Oh, who am I kidding.

Yeah yeah, I admit that we don’t have the cash to hire fifty programmers and 3D artists to make some generic MMORPG with the most realistic clouds and puddles. And in a time where it seems that graphics is king, we’re losing out quite a lot.

But then came this little concept called Web 2.0.

Here’s a quick development history:

So we decided that we’re making an online card game. Not your standard Texas Hold’e, but a collectible card game, like Magic: the Gathering (which I’m a big fan of) or Yu-Gi-Oh (not so). We didn’t want to make a cardboard version because we’d rather spend the little money we have to hire programmers to make the most realistic card-flopping action, than print a couple million cards to gather dust in hobby stores everywhere.

So we thought, since we’re going to make it online anyway, why not make full use of its digitalness… digitality… digitalitude… I mean, why stop at just making a clone of a paper card game? And while we’re at that, why stop at making a client-baed card game? In fact, why stop at making chat rooms when we can have a whole online community?

Being ‘the mechanics guy’, I drafted out the first list of cards to be put in the first set. While I was printing and cutting out tiny paper prototype cards for playtesters, something just felt not right. I threw away the scissors, fell on my bed and slept for three hours.

As far as I know, CCG (collectible card game) developers have been very picky about its playtesters. They just get a select group and ask them to playtest the hell of their upcoming card set. We don’t have playtesters – those ‘friends’ who so enthusiatically volunteered to help out eventually said they were too lazy.

So we brought the game back to the drawing board. “Look,” I told Slade, the head developer, “We don’t have playtesters. So why not we just release the cards online and let whoever test them out?” Now Slade, being a fresh Web2.0 convert, happily embraced the idea. We took another few days to mull over it, then Slade came up with a spark of genius.

“Since the users are going to give feedback anyway, why not we just provide them with the basic tools and cards, ad let them modify the hell out of the cards?”

OK, the original line was much longer than that, so let me give an explanation along with some opinions.

First look at this M:tG card:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Mr. Prodigal has 1 power (considerably weak), 1 toughness (dies to anything), has a damage-dealing abiliy and wears a goofy goatee. Ever thought that he deserves to be beefier… or had more fashion sense?

Why not?

We at Hatchlings don’t believe that game developers should be gods over their created worlds. There are tons of fans as well as aspiring game designers who’d sell their soul to be in a gamedev team. There are a whole bunch of great artists out there who never get to show their works resume after rejected resume. There are heaps of writers there who write fifty-thousand-word fantasies about their favorite characters.

What if you have a game, so customizable that you can have every one of them involved?

And out of laziness, a lack of resources and the eagerness to ride on this new Web2.0 wave, we took this leap of faith and never looked back.

Thus, [ ] the trading card game was born.

(We haven’t decided on the name yet… that’s a task we’re planning to throw out to our users. No really.)

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December 18, 2006 Posted by | Drama, Encephalon, Game Development, Web Gaming 2.0 | 2 Comments