FreeFall Games was honoured to be invited by AIE Sydney to showcase Natz & Boltz at EB Expo 2013 over the weekend. The game was received well by all, especially the kids, who thoroughly enjoyed the art/graphics/animation, as well as the challenging obstacles. We even got some of the parents to play the game, as they didn't find the controls quite as daunting as expected! In one case, we had a dad come back to play the game, not because his son wanted another go, but because he had to have another go himself! Below are some photos of people enjoying the game at the expo:
A few of the FreeFall Games team, who were "manning the fort" on Saturday night, were interviewed by Mark "Klink" Kalinic of From the Mind of Klink. He asked them about the development of the game, as well as what it's like studying at AIE. 
Natz & Boltz got great reviews from the other indie games developers at iFest 2013 on Sunday. It was truly an honour, as a group of students, to have our game voted 2nd out of all the awesome indie games showcased on the day. Cheers to SeeThrough Studios and their awesome game, Particulars for being voted 1st place. Well deserved! 
The FreeFall Games Team (left to right): Tom Mulray, Dave Sparrow, Rhett Mason, Kate Lyons, Connor Gibson, Noel Lopes, and Peter Chui. (Absent: Danny Pham, Matt Taylor, Joe Stephens.)
Matt Barker (Lead Game Art Teacher - AIE Sydney) interviews Dave Sparrow and Tom Mulray, of FreeFall Games, regarding the development of Natz & Boltz.
Today the game prototype was pitched to a panel of industry professionals (by Tom and Dave), in order to get their input and feedback on the viability and scope of the project. The feedback received was sound advice and constructive criticism, with the panel approving of the game's art style. However, there was concern with taking the game down the "puzzle-heavy" path, as some members of the panel did not believe a well-polished puzzle platformer could be achieved within the time-frame allocated to us. Hence, some quick decisions would need to be made, in order for the team to keep up the pace of development for the game. To listen to the audio of the pitch, download the file below:
File Size: 13310 kb
File Type: m4a
Download File

    Finished the fourth week of prototyping with a bang! The Natz'n'Boltz prototype was well received by teachers and students alike at the presentation on Friday afternoon. Hence, the team has decided to further develop this prototype for our final game project.  Some of the latest concepts can be seen below, as well as the prototype available for download.
File Size: 6660 kb
File Type: rar
Download File

The team is really having fun with this weeks prototype. The name of this weeks prototype is officially Natz 'n' Boltz. It is coming together quite well, with the programmers already having a decent prototype underway, and lots of concepts from the artists to boot. We have finalised the character concepts, in so far as, we know what the character are, i.e. a little girl, and large robot guardian. Environments concepted so far include: a prison, cavern, and forest/jungle. Enemies have not been concepted in any detail. At the moment we are just concentrating on the playable characters, and the obstacles in the environment. Dave Sparrow has also produced some awesome 3D assets for use by the programmers in the prototype, along with some cool lighting.
Feeling really good about where things are going in terms of the team and prototyping! In class today, the team discussed the prototype we would be pursuing this week, and we were all in agreement that it would be a  2.5D platformer, with puzzle and action elements. 
Discussion of the main game mechanic lead to the idea of a switching mechanic, where the player would need to switch the mode/stance of the character in order to solve puzzles, combat enemies, and clear obstacles. In implementing this mechanic, the team discussed what form the player character would take in the game. Ideas were put forward such as: 
  • A single character that could morph into different shapes by absorbing enemies, or by picking up special items;
  • A party of characters with different unique abilities, (e.g. The Lost Vikings), that could be represented on screen by a single character at any given moment, (that character being the one with the current selected ability, much like in Trine).
The idea for the player character that was agreed upon, was a duo of characters. A small (human) girl, and her large bulky robot. The idea is that the large robot would have high strength and toughness attributes for dealing with enemies, and crashing through certain obstacles. The little girl, on the other hand, would have speed and agility attributes that would allow her to avoid enemies, and overcome certain "hard-to-reach" obstacles that the robot could never get to. 
The characters would work as a team, with the player controlling both to progress through the game levels. The player will predominantly control the robot within the game, (with the girl either riding on it's back/shoulders, or piloting the robot). However, there would be moments during gameplay when the player must control the girl, having left the robot behind in order to solve puzzles, collect items, or toggle switches in areas otherwise unreachable by the robot. The girl would then be required to return to her robot in order to overcome the next challenge that would inevitably require the robot's skills. 
A support mechanic that was discussed, (which directly correlates to the switching of control from the robot to the girl), was that of the robot throwing/launching the girl into the air, to assist her in reaching hard-to-reach places in the game environment. 
With the fruition of a game concept, the team has commenced with gusto on programming, and concepting for this week's prototype! Concepts to follow soon! 
The team has been discussing this weeks prototype on Skype over the last few days, beginning on Sunday 23/6/13. Not all were present for the meeting, so further discussion will need to take place tomorrow at college.
The main topic discussed was whether the team wanted to pursue last weeks prototype, and take it further this week, or start on something new, thus giving us more options to choose from for our final game. All that were present for the meetings agreed that a new prototype was the way to go, the only question being, what do we prototype? 
Well, the idea of a Crash Bandicoot style platformer was brought up, (an idea attributed to Dave Sparrow). The theme would be prehistoric/fantasy. The protagonist, (put forward by Dave as well), would be a caveman. I suggested a cavewoman, (possibly carrying a baby/child). Danny Pham strongly suggested NOT having a caveperson as the playable character PERIOD! (Because it's been done before way too often.) Which is true. But then again we need to start somewhere as well. We also discussed the potential game mechanics for the platformer. Some mechanics included: pathfinding; character mode/stance switching; risk and reward; realtime combat; item collection; and powerups. 
No decision was finalised, especially as not all team members were present at the group discussions. As I mentioned before, further discussion, with the whole group, will take place at college tomorrow. Hence, we may not even pursue a platformer for this weeks prototype! Whatever gets decided, it is more than clear that all members of Team FreeFall are quite the enthusiastic and dedicated bunch that will see any idea through to prototype, and beyond!  
Below is a snapshot of Dave Sparrow's Maya mockup for a level in the prehistoric platformer:  
Platformer prototype game level mockup by Dave Sparrow (Maya)
Platformer prototype game level mockup by Dave Sparrow (Maya)