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WIP Night #3: Round Up

We held our third WIP Night at the Game Plus co-working space in Ultimo recently. With great food, zines, and of course, games, it was a blast! Officially the last one for the year, we had the honours of co-hosting 4 different indie games made in Sydney.

Here’s a short recap if you missed out!

Screenshot of Honeycomb Festival, where Lynette the fairy is in the middle, of a field of trees, dressed in pink. In the area are some collectible honeycombs, her green coloured guide teddy bear, and a red and dangerous looking hornet.

Honeycomb Festival by Dom Parker (Vision Australia)

Honeycomb Festival is a simple 3D adventure game for the blind and vision impaired, where animal crossing sort of meets metal gear solid. You play as Lynette, a blind fairy who, with the help of her guide teddy bear, collects honey for a festival. 

A photo of Dom presenting in front of a crowd at Game Plus. Next to her is a large tv screen showing off a slide about her personal details: Such as her name and pronouns, position (Composer, Musician and Audio Engineer, Digital Marketing Manager at Vision Australia) and her socials (@DValkyrieMusic).

During the night, Dom, who works for Vision Australia, covered how she used her connections within the organisation to research accessibility, working with a colleague to create Honeycomb Festival for a game jam. The game incorporates specific accessibility features such as binaural audio, high-contrast colours and human elements (e.g. having everything voiced in-game and having audio descriptions of cutscenes and menus) in the game. In addition to this, she spoke about creating game modes where sighted people could play with a filter to simulate blindness, such as Diabetic Retinopathy, Glaucoma and blindness. 

A photo of someone wearing headphones as they play Honeycomb Festival on the desktop and keyboard. On the screen is a copy of the game, showing Lynette, a pink fairy, wandering across a green field. There is a blindness filter overlaid on the game, blocking out the edges of the screen in black, to simulate Glaucoma.

In addition, she also revealed plans for further development with controller input for braille displays, which involved mapping SDF and JKL keys to the Perkins Style layout. Potentially, even braille dialogue with a Perkins brailler!

The cover art for Bits & Bops. The title of the game is centered in the middle of the illustration, with various in-game characters surrounding it.

Bits and Bops by Evan Andrews (Tempolab Games)

Bits & Bops is a collection of original rhythm mini-games. It features over 20 mini-games filled with catchy music, snappy gameplay and gorgeous, hand-drawn animation! 

A photo of Evan presenting the Kickstarter Bits & Bops trailer at WIP Night. On the large tv screen is a shot of some robots and dancers dancing on a dark and neon dance floor.

During the night, Evan spoke about the challenges of making a rhythm game, using a traditional and digital drum kit as a reference for explaining the factors causing a time delay in audio feedback in rhythm games. His example included Dance Dance Revolution, which provided visual feedback but not audio feedback- apart from the sounds of your feet physically hitting panels, like a traditional drum. By contrast, keysounded rhythm games (Like Bits and Bops) are those where pressing a button plays a sample sound, alike a digital drum kit.

A screenshot of one of Evan's presentation slides. It shows the response time between hitting a key and hearing in a sound, via a soundwave clip. Next to it is a meme from Men in Black II with captions "Old and Busted" and "New Hotness".

In his tests in Unity, there was 160ms between key inputs and audio feedback- too much time! This resulted in the creation of a custom engine to achieve true real-time processing on an average user’s PC, taking the average time for keysounds to just 30ms. For this solution, Evan spoke about how an engine like Unity required game states to draw the visual frame a player sees, every time it checks for input. The custom engine he built circumvents this, with game logic so that all input event handlers are entirely thread-safe. TLDR, this resulted in wonderfully snappy gameplay in Bits & Bops- Applause well deserved Evan!

A photo of the Fire Noodle Eating Champs dice game container, sat on the various cards and die from the game.

Fire Noodle Eating Champs Dice Game by Jason Tam & Sara Teh

Fire Noodle Eating Champs is a 1v1 noodle-eating dice game, and the only board game in our lineup! A first at our WIP Nights! As an adaptation of a local multiplayer game made by Wombok Games, contestants roll dice to add toppings to their Korean noodles before eating, taking extra care against those spicy noodles! 

A photo of Jason presenting the early prototypes of the game, with sketches from his note book and early cards and die for testing purposes.

During the night, Jason spoke about his process of adapting a video game into a dice game. From early paper sketches to cardboard prototypes, Jason spoke about using  Launch Tabletop to create his Fire Noodle Eating Champs V1.0 in adorable little metal food containers. In addition, he spoke about his constant testing and iteration, bringing the game to Sabbatical Gallery for a launch party, as well as several other tabletop game events throughout Australia.

A photo of people playing the dice game at WIP Night.

With this additional feedback, he went back to polishing the game’s designs, the instructions’ readability and even some gameplay rules. At WIP Night, he hosted an 8-person showdown with his V2.0 game, with the winner taking home their copy of the game!

A screenshot of Too Many Sheep. It shows a green field with two pens at the bottom two corners. Various sheep and sheep dogs are scattered about. To the top left corner is a counter for the time that has elapsed in the game.

Too Many Sheep by David Lewis

Too Many Sheep is a multiplayer co-op and PvP sheep herding party game. After dressing up your sheepdog, wrangle your herd of sheep into the herding pen before time runs out!

A photo of David presenting about his goals with every Sheep game over the years. On the large tv screen is a blue presentation slide with a screenshot of the sheep in game. Next to it is text that says "One consistent goal with all the games".

For WIP Night, hobbyist Gamedev David shared a little bit about how Too Many Sheep has been a work-in-progress for almost 23 years technically. With humble beginnings as a 2000 Flash game, then another in 2018, and the latest made in 2023! That’s a lot of sheep herding games, and in each one came incremental improvements. During his talk, David spoke about how his core goal had always been to make interactions with the sheep feel smooth, dynamic and predictable. He revealed that the 2023 Too Many Sheep game was inspired by Boids, even adding to it, revealing the various types of interactions the sheep would take within their herds. 

Another photo of David talking about the Boids principles in game. On screen is a slide with the "Separation" interaction, with an accompanying illustration of 4 sheep in a circle. 3 green lines connect 3 sheep to the one in the middle, but the one in the middle as a red arrow pointing to the empty space to the bottom left corner of the circle. David was using this to explain how sheep would be less inclined to leave this circle, despite the space available in it, as the herds moved in groups.

To finish off, David also spoke about his plans for the game, including an Early Access variant, and then future levels that exploit the existing mechanics. We were particularly tickled by “The Lamb Shank Redemption” level, with the idea that you’re breaking some sheep out of prison! We look forward to crazier sheep herding challenges David!

Lastly, we want to give Liv from Game Plus a big thank you and shout-out for letting us take over the space, and preparing the wonderful spread of food! Thanks again everyone for dropping by! If you’d like to apply for future WIP Nights, submit your game here.

A group photo of all the presenters and organisers in front of the WIP Night screen. From left to right: Jason, Dom, Evan, David, Liv, Christine, Ann and lying at the ground, Rose.

We hope you enjoyed reading this! Have a question or want to chat more about game development? Reach out to us!

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