Out In the wilderness!

*biggest sigh of relief*

31st of August marks the day launch of my first game under Hybrid Humans studio! What a frakkin awesome feeling, and terrifying at the same time. I’ve worked on the game for quite a while, about 15 months. ACHIEVEMENT 02 UNLOCKED!

The game is Hop Hop Away, read more about it here. It’s fully ready to be experienced right now on your favorite mobile app store. Play on iOS and Android. And watch our launch trailer

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In this game I wanted to shed some light on the animals abuse that happens in some entertainment venues like circuses. It’s a light-hearted game though, with challenging puzzles. It progressively gets harder, some people may be tricked because of the cutesy look of the game. I’ve heard that a few times. My team and I have worked our butts off to create an interesting game experience in Hop Hop Away. I hope it translates well in the public’s reception.

We’ve added some localization options in the game, one of which being Arabic, but in Emirati dialect. I thought it’s best to go that route, to personalize it. It’s rare to find games that speak your tongue, and not some generic Arabic words thrown into it so it “appeals” to a broader audience. Being an Emirati I felt the big gap in this, and I don’t care for games that try the localization option but it being so generic. English gets a different treatment in the localization, and I believe Arabic should as well. If we did get enough attention from a certain market that required to have their own Arabic dialect in the game, we’d be happy to implement it. It feels like it’s a tiny part of you reflected in that game, at least it felt that way for me.

And some updates on another front, we’ve got a few events coming up in the few months. We’ll be at GAMES15 in Dubai (starts 10th of Sept.) and in IGN con in Abu Dhabi (starts sometime in October). Check out our social media page (twitter/Instagram @HybridHumans) for more updates.

Also, in the words of Hop Hop Away, I bunny you! lol AND go get the game now and tell me how awesome or shitty you think it is.

Cheers,
Fakhra

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Ubisoft, Jam and Beyond

Yellooow!

I’m creeping up from my hide out with goodies. hehe

So, I worked at Ubisoft during most of my hide out. Yeah, fvckin Ubisoft! And it was fvckin fantastic. I learned a lot, met awesome people, did fun stuff. It was one of the most exciting highlights of 2013, along with my graduation from the Gaming Academy. It is a sweet win for all the hard work I’ve put in, passion gets you far! I can’t speak much of the game I worked on there, once it’s officially published, I’ll be doing a bit of bragging and talk about the level designs I did perhaps. I hope it’s a hit.

Here’s a photoshoot we did back in Movember, SEE AWESOME GIF,  can you spot me? I’m the one with the Rabbid lol

The Cake wasn't a lie that day

The Cake wasn’t a lie that day

Another new exciting experience was, participating in the Global Game Jam 2014. The theme was “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”. I didn’t expect such an abstract theme, but it’s a very interesting one. I love it. I came up with a few ideas, I won’t go into them. Maybe another post for that. But, I teamed up with my buddy from the Gaming Academy Arnaud, and Mithos whom I met at the event, and together we created Shaped Perception. Play it on browser here. I won’t say much about the game, I’d love for you guys to try it out and discover the world. =D If you do reach the end, please do tell me.

Some screen shots of the game, in-editor and in-game. And below a small description of the game.

Level layout in editor

Level layout in editor

 

World in Cube view

World in Cube view

 

World in Sphere view

World in Sphere view

 

A blocker, need to shape shift in order to progress

A blocker, must shape shift in order to progress

 

In Sphere form, notice the yellow textured sphere

In Sphere form, notice the yellow textured sphere

 

In Cube form, notice the yellow textured cubes

In Cube form, notice the yellow textured cubes

A little bit about the game, Shaped Perception, based on primitive shapes of a sphere and a cube. You experience the world in either on of those shapes, if the world object original shape was a sphere , it’ll function like a sphere as in it moves smoother unlike a cube would, but it will appear to be in the same form that you are in. So, the game in this world is trying to figure out what best form to be in to interact with the world objects to best solve the level and progress. This demo is just one level, to demonstrate the idea. I think it’s got potential to be a cool puzzler, and it does lack in some way. But, I am happy with what my teammates and I have accomplished in the 48 set hours. I will definitely participate next year. These jams are fun, makes my brain pop with thoughts like heated corn kernels. Making games is heavenly.

Which brings us to the beyond part of this post, my current game project in development. I decided to develop Candy Bunnies, a prototype I did back in the academy last year. It was part of rapid prototyping course, you can read more about in this post. I wanted to start with this project, because it’s scope is considerably small and I haven’t done any mobile platform specific game yet. I’m learning a lot, and I’m so glad to have a great team working on this project. José  Teixeira, the lead programmer and Shihab Aldeen lead artist/animator.

The project is in its early production stage, revamping the gameplay mostly, adding new elements, testing what works and what’s fun. Steady and slow progress. We’ll work hard to make this game kickass. =D

I’ll be doing more of the Dev Diary posts for Candy Bunnies when I’ve got something substantial and interesting to share.

*creeps back into the devving hole with a grin*

 

Cheers,
F

Dev Diaries: Candy Bunnies Project – Level Design

In this project, the game is designed to work on touch-input devices and web browsers (point-and-click) games. And initially it was targeted to primarily appeal to young girls between the ages of 5 to 10 years old, that was one part of the challenge/requirements of creating this prototype. But I think it should appeal for casual gamers as well for its puzzles.

Candy Bunnies is about bunnies that are trying to escape from the Evol Circus to get to the Happy Farm where the bunnies can live happily, as if they stay longer in the circus they turn evil. The bunnies go through a journey from the circus, to the city, to the forest and eventually they reach the Happy Farm.

This game is meant to emphasis how most circuses treat animals badly, it was a message I want to come across to young kids and the gamers in general.

It is a 2D puzzle game. The bunnies move on their own, players get to drag platform(s) to build a path for the bunnies to walk on to get to the goal of that level. In total there are 15 levels and 4 environments.

There are 2 main mechanics, 1)  when bunnies hit a wall they face, they walk the other way (flip direction), 2) when a bunny is on a dragable platform, timing your drag so the bunny falls to the lower platform is key. Also, there a sweet candies to be collected for extra points and make bunnies happy, and as a repulsive force there is the bad candy that is poisonous and it takes points away from the player’s score. Getting to a level’s goal adds points to the score and progresses to the next one. Getting into a cage will capture the bunny and he/she goes back to the circus.

CB_Grid

This is a basic grid structure built on Unity to help in building/designing the levels.

The image below is of a basic level design.

Bunnies spawning point in white,

The dragable platform is in blue.

Sweet Candy is in yellow,

Fixed platforms in grey,

Goal is in green,

Cages is in red,

Obstacle is in purple, for the initial design of the game. A jumping mechanic was used in the game, but after testing it didn’t feel right to have it and it was later replaced by adding a trampoline platform that makes the bunnies jump.

This is a basic level design.

This is a basic level design.

Paper prototyping [1] Levels (1 - 10)

Paper prototyping [1] Levels (1 – 10)

Paper prototyping [2] Levels (11 - 15)

Paper prototyping [2] Levels (11 – 15)

In the final version of the game, some of the levels are slightly tweaked from the paper prototype. I am currently polishing up the game, so I will be publishing the browser based version soon.

UPDATE:
This project has been put on hold, as I’m currently busy working on Nox Brain. I’ll get back to Candy Bunnies in the summer, polish it and publish it.

 

Cheers,
Fakhra

Dev Diaries: GRIM Project – Characters Concept Art

My latest project was titled G12-iM, reads as GRIM. It is a casual puzzle game.

It was an awesome group effort to bring this conceptual idea [by Ben Herron] to the state it is right now. Currently, the game is of 12 levels, barely scratching the surface of the story’s narrative. In this game, I was the art lead, and the level designer for most of the –tutorial-levels, I’ll go over the level designs in my next post.

G12-iM synopsis: 
An assembly robot that mysteriously gains self-awareness, and is thus curious to discover and explore his surroundings, which is in the factory he, and the other robots were created in. As he progresses, the robot will discover the ‘grim’ nature of his, and his fellow robots, existence. Through this narrative, the player will be indirectly invited to engage with the philosophical questions posed by the game in regards to the nature of life, self-reflection and the big questions of ‘Why?’.

Robots create robots, as it mirrors humans making humans. A factory, a hospital. 

As the title of this post suggests, I’ll be discussing the characters conceptualization in GRIM. There are four characters in this game, assembly robots, mechanical robots, spy robots and janitor robots. The main character of this game is, G12-iM, the assembly bot that gains self-consciousness. The other robots, are pawns for G12-iM bot to hack and take control over, help him solve the puzzles and therefore progress in the game. All character concepts went through quite a few iterations, I will only be featuring a limited number of them, in a compilation of images.

Assembly/ G12-Im Bot:
Are basic robots, they don’t need a range of functions to do. They’re built to assemble other bots, to be stationed by the assembly lines, They’re solid, yet flimsy robots. They’re built to move on a wheel, to limit their movement in the factory.

Here is the early concept art for G12-iM:
Early G12-iM Concept Art

Below is the final concept art:
Final G12-iM Concept Art
I was inspired by these miniature figure photographes I found on DeviantArt.

3D model of G12-iM:
G12-iM 3D Model
Please note: These screen shots of the GIF were taken in Unity, the free version, so the lights intensity and casting are different here from what is in the game actually. The game was built in Unity pro version. Also, the quality of the 3D model has been compromised by the creation of this GIF.  

Mech Bots:
Mechanical bots are advanced, they are equipped to interact with their surroundings in more ways than the assembly bots and the other robots. They have extended arms, with finger-like endings. They are built to be big robots.

Early concept art of Mech bots:
Early Mech bot Concept Art
Early concept was to feature a red beam of light covered in vertical bars to convey the harsh, mean personality this bot has, if it has a “personality” as can be seen above.

Final concept art:
Final Mech bot Concept Art
The personality of this robot has been altered from a mean character to an oppressed one. That is evident from the bars on the eyes, and the lock pad on his mouth. On the 3D model of the bot, the arrangement of the eyes and the lock pad has been switched from right to lift. I saw that this arrangement works better with the placement of the light on its right shoulder. That there aren’t too many similar shapes on one side of the design, so the eyes can see the space in between the eyes, and the light spot.

3D model of Mech bot:
Mech Bot 3D Model

Please note: These screen shots of the GIF were taken in Unity, the free version, so the lights intensity and casting are different here from what is in the game actually. The game was built in Unity pro version. Also, the quality of the 3D model has been compromised by the creation of this GIF.  

Spy Bots:
Spy bots are small, menacing bots. They have a spherical shape, a face covered in a mesh of metal bars, and metallic tentacles to interact with the environment. They hover in space.

Early concept art:
Early Spy Concept Art

Final concept art:
Final Spy Concept Art
This design for the spy bot gives it a hooded look for the face. Which fits the spy bot character. On the final 3D model of the robot, it only has one gear at the back, as 2 looked to crowded for such a small robot.

3D model:
Spy Bot 3D Model
Please note: These screen shots of the GIF were taken in Unity, the free version, so the lights intensity and casting are different here from what is in the game actually. The game was built in Unity pro version. Also, the quality of the 3D model has been compromised by the creation of this GIF.  

Janitor Bots:
Janitor bots are solid, rigid and oversized in comparison to the other bots. They are powerful tractors with a broad blade at the front for clearing in the factory.

Early concept art:
Early Janitor Concept Art

Final concept art:
Final Janitor Concept Art

Early concepts of this bot were to sport an unpleasant character, grumpy, mean. Yet, the same with what happened with the mech bot early concepts, having oppressed looking robots, fits the story much better. So, the final concept of the janitor bot features a hunched back, tired looking robot, has a big un-utilized brain, that clears the floor using its “tongue”, the blades coming out of its face. There’s a noticeably 3rd face plate on the bot, as the two-plated face was too small to occupy the 3-blocks allocated for the janitor’s movement. I tried minimized the stretch effect of it, by adding the 3rd face plate.

3D Model:
Janitor Bot 3D Model

GRIM Character’s Colors

Orange is the dominant color of choice for the bots. Firstly, it was for the Mech bot only, as orange, from the colors energy theory, is of an energetic personality trait. And since the Mech bot has multiple functions in solving the puzzle, turning on wall sensor switches and floor pressure plate switches. But later on, orange was incorporated on the other robots as well. Spy bots are yellow, it’s bright therefore making it more noticeable for its small size. Janitor bots are dark blue, to make it appear smaller and it’s a complimentary color to the orange. Assembly bots are aqua so they seem unthreatening, friendly and grey to emphasize the dull routine they live in.

I believe this wraps up this post. Next update will cover the level design aspect in GRIM.

Cheers,
F

Robots – Unity Game

I am currently working on a story driven puzzle game on Unity. The project is in its early stages of development. I’ve been working on preliminary character concepts, I’m at the stage where I’m testing the characters 3D models scales in the digital prototype of the game. There will be 4 characters, 3 of those robots are illustrated in this image below.

The following image is the digital prototype of the puzzle game.

The next stage of development would be researching the environmental concepts, as well as getting the tutorial levels of the puzzle done. Preferably, the players will be taught the mechanics of the game relaying on the proper visual feedback designed into the tutorials. Rather than going with in-your-face sort of tutorials, with the bubble text on screen as they take away from the experience of the player, preventing them from the desired flow and the uninterrupted experience of the game that this puzzle game is striving to achieve.

The final product of this game will be posted online, free to play. I’ll keep updating my progress throughout this process on this blog.

Cheers,
F