SQUAKWARD

Overview:

SQUAKWARD is my fifth round team project in Building Virtual World. This project was developed on the platform independently designed by ETC: Jam-o-Drum. The platform supports four players at the same time, and each player plays a raccoon throwing bombs. every guest's goal is using bombs to scare chickens in a farm to collect as many eggs as possible within a limited time. The game is made for 'BVW Festival',  which is an exhibition of the best games selected from BVW course, and there's always hundreds of gaming professions came to visit. SQUAKWARD became the only game on Jam-o-Drum platform being selected. It attracted nearly 300 guests during the Festival Night and received uncountable praise.

Roles: 

Programmer, Mechanic Designer, Animator

Other Teammates:  1 * Programmer,  2 * Artist,  1 * Sound Designer

Platform: jam-o-drum | Engine: Unity 3D  |  Language: C#  |  Time: 2 Week

Project Requirement: 

This is the fifth as well as the last team project in BVW course, which is treated as the "For Festival" round. Every team needs to build a world that is qualified for playing by all guests from the profession. Therefore we need to use all the skills we learned in the previous rounds, and the game should be naive guest friendly, immersive, structure-solid and funny. In other word, this round doesn't have any limitations on mechanics, and every team needs to try their best for an excelsior game experience in 2 weeks. 

Development Process: 

We built this game in 3 weeks as a project for “Building Virtual Worlds” Round 5. It then got selected into the ETC Festival, an event where over 500 guests visit ETC and play our games. I share it today because someone just made an awesome video about it, and also because I finally decided not to be lazy.

What Is Jam-O-Drum?

You’ve probably noticed that we have a very unique game platform, the Jam-O-Drum. It looks like a table, but you can play games on it. It has four corners and in each corner, there is a wheel. Players can spin and hit the wheel to play the game, as you can see in the picture below.

Our professor told us that there are only about a dozen living Jam-O-Drums in the world. So they are endangered species. Luckily we have it here at ETC, and every year some crazy teams will bring it back to life by making some crazy games with it. This year, it’s us.

How To Play This Game?

“Squawkward” is a four-player game, it can do two or three players but it would be so less fun. In the game, players act as “raccoons”, whose goal is to go inside a farm and steal as many eggs as possible.

But where do the eggs come from? Good question. Our raccoons didn’t come unprepared. They brought bombs. Raccoons(players) throw bombs at the chicken and scare them into laying eggs so they can collect them.

“That sounds dangerous.” Sure it is, raccoons(players) should be VERY careful about the bombs. Once a raccoon gets bombed, he/she will lose half of his/her eggs, no raccoon wants that.

Players stand in the four corners of the Jam-O-Drum, each person controls one wheel. They spin the wheel to control the direction their raccoon is moving, it’s like driving a car. And they hit the wheel to drop bombs.

At the end of the game, whichever raccoon collects the most eggs wins the game.

Here’s a video of the game experience.

Theming

As I mentioned before, the game was selected into the ETC Festival, which means, we got our own room to show “Squawkward” to guests!

Which means also, more work to do. We were given one week to decorate our room. We have a budget of $100, and “unlimited ”cardboards.

We spent many hours in the ETC paint room, designing props, cutting cardboard, painting grasses, and trying not to get killed by the hot glue gun. Oh, and that was fun.

Grass made out of cardboard

A piece for our photobooth

When I accepted the admission of a master degree in “Entertainment Technology”, I certainly did not expect that I would do things like making fake eggs out of foam or cutting wood to make fences.

Grad school is weird, what can I say?

But everything was worth it. Look how beautiful our room is!

They say we couldn’t make a photobooth that big, but we did it.

If you want to know more about the theming, check out my teammate Jue Wang’s post.

The ETC Festival

The festival was a huge success, both for ETC and for our game. So many people came to play our game. During the festival, I served as a host for our game, explaining the rules for guests, cheering with them, and helping players who lost their raccoon in the game.

It was exhausting, working non-stop during the whole event, but very exciting as well. It’s always great to see people love the thing you made.

Guests playing our game

My best memory is when some kids told me, “Squawkward” is their favorite game at the festival. And they keep going back to the waiting line every time they finished one game. One kid really wanted to win, and he was so close every time, but his friends always beat him in the last few seconds. I feel so sorry for him, it was not his luckiest day.

The Team

None of these would be possible without my wonderful teammates:

Programmers: Jiming (Jimmy) LiChang Liu
Artists: Jue WangJingya Chen
Sound Designer: Yang-Che (Brian) Teng
Producers: Jingya ChenChang Liu

One reason I choose to study at ETC is that I want to meet and work with amazing people. And I did.

My teammates are all so talented in their field. Our artists, Jue and Jingya, created all the beautiful art assets. They are super creative and really hard-workers. Chang, my co-programmer, is a very smart guy. He knows how to make things work. The sound designer, Brian, brought the game to life with his music and raccoons voices.

It’s my greatest pleasure working with these guys.

My Personal Reflect

I remember the team sitting at the table outside RPIS, brainstorming a game idea. We were stuck and didn’t know how to move forward. At that time, we saw a group of gooses pass by, and Jue said, “Hey let’s make a game about goose!”

That’s how everything started. I forgot how we went from goose to chicken though, I guess they look similar?

It was a great journey, starting from nothing and watching a simple idea grows into a real game that people actually play and love. We made many prototypes along the way and gathered feedback from playtesting to determine where the game should go. We went into wrong directions once or twice, but in the end, we got it right.

In the team, I was a programmer and a co-producer.

It’s my first time being a producer, now I know how hard it is to be a good producer, to keep the team always on track, and to make other people’s job easier.

I wouldn’t say I did a fantastic job as a producer, there are many things I would do differently if I had the chance. Sometimes I was too stubborn on my idea, and forget to listen to other possibilities. I’m working on that right now. And I find the “yes-and” technique I learned at improv classes very helpful.

Teamwork is hard, I know, but once done right, we can achieve so much more.

CONTACT ME:

Tel: 412-758-0526

Email: jimingli@andrew.cmu.edu

4500 Centre Avenue

1423, One on Centre

Pittsburgh, 15213

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