Hungry Hungry Heroes
Porridge Eating Mayhem
When the Grim Tales’ Little Pot gets out of control and the world is filled with porridge, only the combined strength of three unlikely heroes can save the day! Control Tremendous Johann, Industrious Olga and Revolting Werner on their quest to stop this sweet madness from drowning everything they love. Move from island to island, find the Little Pot and shout out the magical phrase to make it stop before it’s too late!
Be warned, though: Overeating porridge can lead to sticky and pukely situations!
Platforms available: Windows and Mac (iOS, eventually)
- Point-and-click with your mouse button to do every action
- Arrow keys to move the camera around
- The objective of the game is to get all three heroes from their starting point to the exit rafts (each hero can occupy only one raft)
- To win the game, you have to move from island to island until the Little Pot is found and then plug it by moving to the pot’s space
- Heroes cannot move through porridge, but can eat it (it partially fills your stomach)
- You digest a little porridge in the beginning of every turn
- Eating porridge over your stomach’s capacity will make your hero vomit around him
- Vomit works as a impassable wall, and the only one who can eat it is Revolting Werner
- At the end of every turn, pots will spew more porridge, but they can be plugged by having a hero move to its occupied space
- Tremendous Johann: Once per turn, get an extra action after eating porridge
- Industrious Olga: When her stomach is above a certain threshold, Olga can build fences to protect other heroes and stop porridge’s flow for a while
- Revolting Werner: Get an extra action every time he eats vomit (can be done multiple times on a turn)
Wow, what a project! Thanks to our good synergy during our last work, Alec, Elyse and me decided to stick together again and work on a 4-month long project for Game Studio 2. This time, we were joined by Matthew Chen (and undergrad at NYU) and the objective of the project was to create a digital version of a Game Design 1 board game designed by a few of our friends (Elyse being one of them): Porridge Purge.
A little bit of trivia: Porridge Purge was inspired by Sweet Porridge, one of tales written by the Grimm Brothers in the 19th century. In that story, a poor family received a magical pot (called Little Pot) and by using a activation phrase, the pot would cook as much sweet porridge as they wanted. One day, however, the mother decided to activate the pot while the daughter was away, only to find out that she no longer remembered the phrase to stop it. Soon, the whole village was flooded with porridge until the daughter came back and stopped it. From that point forward, those who wished to go back to their houses had to eat their way through!!
Dark stories aside, the premise was very interesting to be used as a board game concept. In Porridge Purge, each player had a character (Industrious Olga, Tremendous Johann and Revolting Werner) that they could move around on a hexagonal grid while trying to reach the little pot on the other side of the board. On the end of each turn, the little pot would spew more porridge, pushing players back unless they were protected by barricades or on top of houses. Also, players who ate too much would vomit around their current position, creating a disgusting and impassable wall of vomit, hindering their progress even more.
This basic concept was the core idea of Hungry Hungry Heroes: Players had to move around islands made out of hexagonal spaces to find and stop the little pot, while doing their best to stay alive (vomiting or being pushed by porridge into solid objects did damage) so they could plug it. The biggest hurdle found by our team was to create a simple and elegant hex grid system that would generate random levels to make the game infinitely playable. Thanks to Alec’s amazing programming skills, the hex grid system was swiftly created, but we unfortunately had to drop the procedural generation because of time constraints.
By the alpha deadline we had the core system working and a few placeholder sprites made by Elyse. The overall reception was very good, but tons of but and dominant strategies were found, which meant that we would have to double the amount of work we were expecting to put in the project. From that point, the team split the functions so we could speed up the production process: Alec took care of programming the very complicated stuff, Elyse was responsible for the majority of the sprites, Matt was tasked with designing levels and campaigns using Ogmo Level Editor and I was the jack-of-all-trades (did programming, all the audio and a few sprites).
The game improved significantly after that and by the beta deadline we had a very nice and solid product in our hands, which meant that the last 3 weeks before the gold deadline could be spent on polish and bug fixing instead of trying to squeeze in missing features.
The version of the game presented to the faculty, staff and other students had overall very good reception. Josh from Rockstar Games even considered ours to be “essentially ready to be shipped”! How cool is that!! Of course, that version was also not free of bugs and a few dominant strategies, but the progress that we made was tremendous. With a week left to work on it (before being displayed at the NYU Game Center’s End of the Year Show 2014), we intend to change a few features and make the experience smoother.
Now, a little about my part during the development: I consider Hungry Hungry Heroes to be the project that I decided to tackle almost every aspect of the development. While the majority of my work during RMS Rumble was programming and adding juice (particles, effects, etc), the longer length of this project allowed me to be fully responsible for the audio, a few art, overall juice and programming systems.
- Audio: I’m very satisfied with our audio design. People loved the sound effects and the voice overs we had for our game. Sure, I will never be able to play Day of the Tentacle again because we used its music as placeholder and we still didn’t have time to change it, but the overall sound structure of the game made me very proud and also allowed me to believe that yes, I can do it!
- Art: Oh man, I finally did some art! And not only art, I did sprite animations!! It was not a lot, but the work I did with the rafts, clouds sprites and creating animations for the heroes when they leave on the raft was an absolute blast! I was always afraid of trying pixel art because most of my attempts ended in failure, but the results proved me wrong. I will definitely keep trying to make more of those from now on!
- Programming: Once again, I was the secondary force behind the programming. I do believe, however, that I learned a lot of important stuff about it, which allowed me not only to create little nodes inside Alec’s systems, but to CREATE new systems. I can’t remember them all, but the raft’s system and the cloud’s system are examples that took a lot of courage and a few hours of banging my head against the wall. And I finally learned about singletons (holy crap they are so useful)! Yes!
- Juice: Ohhhh… So much juice in the game. This was the most praised feature of our game and I’m so glad I took charge of it! I love doing this small things that buff up the game’s value by so much, and I do believe that I’m getting progressively good at it! Flow particles, smoke visuals, sound cues, animations… I love it!
Now, what went wrong…? I guess we were able to quickly scope down the project, so we didn’t lose a lot of time with stuff that were impossible to do because of time constraint. I guess the one thing that went “wrong” was the very fact that we already had a board game to be used as an inspiration. While this helped us a lot to cut down the time that would be used to prototype an idea from scratch, this also led us to rely too much on the board game instead of being more open minded and adding more stuff into it. This made the design become too tight and not very welcoming of “outside stuff”. Thankfully, we go a lot of comments about that during the alpha presentation, so we were able to fix those issues quickly.
I could spend hours writing here about the development of Hungry Hungry Heroes, but I think I talked enough about it. It was an amazing experience (first time I spent so long in a single project), especially because it was also a proof that me, Elyse and Alec work very well together. Will we work again together? I have no idea, but I really hope so. I believe that every time that we try something together we get better and better, and the final product is usually amazing.
Onward to the next project!!