Developing StallSTEAL – Developer’s Game Jam 2.0

Here comes another game jam season for me! I participated in two game jams one after the other. The Epiphany’s Developer’s Game Jam 2.0 and the Global Game Jam 2022!

This one covers the first jam. This time, all the participants were restricted to developing HCG or Hyper Casual Game only and the theme was FOOD!

We formed a team and named it Team Code Blooded comprising of M. Memon, Hassan, Ali Hamza, Sohaib and me of course. The first phase was brainstorming and the ideation phase where we looked at multiple HCG games related to food. Then, we gathered the ideas over at Miro and tried to make some sense out of them, blending some already existing ideas and creating our own.

1. Brainstorming on Miro – Look how rough it is…

We decided to go for a finite runner game where the player has to steal food from stalls while avoiding being captured. Some sort of robin hood theme is what we were looking for.

Play StallSTEAL on browser or mobile!

And so, I opened the asset store, brought free assets into the engine and started making the basic game. I used Spline Mesh for creating not just the player path but also the entire level (procgen!!!). I started out with the realistic look and Mixamo character + animations.

2. Spline Mesh and Base Level ProcGen

I made it in a way that the stalls are placed on an invisible tree-like pattern allowing for diverse path choices for the player. This also means that it is time to add player controls (or a way to select a choice/path).

3. Player Controls (Path Choices)

Obviously, a lerping T-Pose Player is NOT looking good at all! So, I replaced it with proper animations, angle/direction and linear movement.

4. Player is walking towards the stall now.

This realistic style wasn’t popping as much and it doesn’t have that ‘quick and fun game’ vibe. So, I tried a much warmer and low poly look. I asked others on Epiphany’s Discord server and majority liked this warmer art style. It seems to be much more engaging. And this also, made me changing the surrounding buildings.

5. A complete change of art style! Looking much better now…

Then, I added further props. Ali Hamza also helped me on that. Added the arrow for the sense of direction and removed the player pausing moment between choices to encourage a faster gameplay. All of a sudden, the game actually start to feel like a GAME!!!

6. Faster gameplay with more props and some game feel elements!

Unfortunately, THAT is too fast for players to make right choices. So, I added slow mo effect when player is very close to a stall allowing for easier path selection without losing the fast gameplay feel. I also added the patrolling bots that chase the player upon detection. And obviously, a lot more tiny behind-the-scene tweaks which would take me more than this post to explain haha!!!

7. Here’s the almost-final look of the game!

There were a lot of game design decisions made as well. For instance, taking up the fruit speeds up the character temporarily. Or when the player has crossed the amount of fruit needed to win the level, it becomes hard all of a sudden to add more challenge to the remaining level (basically, a sorta rubber banding effect).

Here’s how our submitted game is. I hope that you will enjoy this little clip. There’s a special focus on sound effects as well, most of which are created with my own mouth haha. 😁

StallSTEAL Gameplay

The game ended up getting 2nd (first runners up) in the Developer’s Game Jam 2.0. That’s amazing considering the fact that I am not very much into HCG stuff and that, many of the participants were hoping for my game to get the first place. Thank you! ♥

At first, it felt ambitious during the brainstorming session but overtime, we realized that it is all about breaking things down into tiny steps and then, focusing on each of the step rather than looking at the big picture. Brainstorming is for setting the big picture after which the execution part should simply be a step by step process without getting overwhelmed by that big picture IMO.

As for my perfect game, it is NOT perfect! There were a lot of bugs and issues that I haven’t talked much in here. But why don’t you play that game yourself and see it for yourself? 😉

Play StallSTEAL on browser or mobile!

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