How is it that in two days time we created four games, while Reus is already taking more than a year? Last week we threw our time-consuming aims of polish and quality temporarily out of the window and hosted the Abbey Jam. The Abbey Jam is meant as a creative burst where everyone who normally works on Reus, instead works on something new, only constrained by three things:

  1. It should have something to do with either Reus or Abbey Games.
  2. You should enjoy working on it.
  3. It’s just those two days, then we stop the projects, and get back to our work on Reus.
The resulting games:
  • a point-and-click adventure,
  • a Wolfenstein rip-off,
  • a Reus-y version of ‘Red-light, Green light’ and
  • a 2D brawl fighting game featuring two of Reus’ giants.
If you want, you can take a look at a small dev log for every game, some screens, and it is even possible to play the games, although we did not have time to make nice installers/browser games, so you’ll have to do with what the download offers.

While reviewing the games, it’s interesting to note that the development team of Reus split up and worked on the projects in several sub-teams. Since we only work on Reus with 11 persons, this means that every sub-team missed one or more skillsets. In most cases you can probably guess which they were  😉

Abbeystein. by Bas, Tim, Manuel and Yme, (featuring Dennis, Maarten and Rick)

Strength: Lots of programming expertise

Weakness: No designers

Bas and Tim wanted to take the challenge of programming a 3D-game from the ground up (or rather from XNA up). The challenge mostly lay in the technical part, which is why Abbeystein’s design is a straight-up rip-off of Wolfenstein 3D. It should be mentioned though that the enemy graphics and sounds are custom-made from members of the Abbey, thanks to our faithful camera Lumix, and Audio guy Yme  :). Development of this game mainly meant Bas being in hardcore progamming mode to set-up the engine (the world, the player, wall collision, etc.), while Tim implemented gameplay elements like the gun and enemies. In the end I added a random level generator based on Binary Space Partitioning, and Yme used his audio recorder to record sounds of the vicious enemies in the game: Maarten, Dennis and Rick. Their voice acting is the player’s the main motivation of running around and putting enemies to silence. They’re that good. So forgive us the glitches, and start playing. (Unfortunately you will need the XNA redistributable to play).

Reusje. by Adriaan and Ronnie (sound by Yme)

Strength: Experienced with fighting games

Weakness: No programmers

Reusje, (Dutch diminutive of Reus) is the realization that Reus’ giants would work well in a brawl fighting game (think Super Smash Brothers). Ronnie and Adriaan teamed up for this, which meant that Ronnie used his expertise in 2D fighting game graphics to provide Adriaan with all the sprites he needed to create a rocking fighting game in Gamemaker. Since physics and destructive terrain were two goals of Reusje, there were lots of problems with Gamemaker’s collision system, but in the end this team playtested often during development and managed to create a fun fighting game. It’s based on Super Smash Brothers, which means that you hit eachother to do damage. The damage determines how far you fly away after kicks and punches and if you fly off the level, you lose. The funky part is that both heroes of the game, the Rock and Ocean giant, can destroy the environment with their punches and special attacks. Go try out the game, so you can see the animations and feel the gameplay.

Don’t Wake Sleeping Giants! by Marlies

Strength: Marlies!

Weakness: She worked all alone :'( without any programmers

Marlies, one of the artists of Reus, decided to a project on her own in Flash. However, it can be hard to make friends with Flash if you’re not that experienced with it, so after a day of work, she switched to Gamemaker. The result is a minigame where you sneak your way forward as a monk to safely reach the Abbey. But watch out! The rock giant sleeps lightly, and will startle awake to see who disturbed his slumber… Quickly cover up your presence behind a tree and hold your laughs! Cover up too late and the giant will smash you to bits! Once one of the four monks reaches the Abbey safely, victory will be yours – though maybe not for your smashed friends… Go for it!

Abbey Game. by Maarten en Rick

Strength: 100% Artist!

Weakness: Overestimate the amount of hours in a day

A point-and-click adventure about Abbey Games. Golden idea, quite ambitious too. Still Maarten and Rick started making this. Rick put his art skills to work to create some beautiful backgrounds as well as character animations. Maarten had the job to use these in a game, that he tried to make as visually pleasing as a graphics programmer expects. Of course the genre obliges to put some humour in the game, which they connected nicely to the fact that the game has only about 10% of the content they envisioned. Still, the graphics, the sound, the UI and the dialogue are worth a few minutes of your time, go play!
These were the four game projects that the monks worked on during the Abbey Jam. There were some non-game projects as well, which certainly deserve a description as well:

Credits, Dennis.
Any game needs Credits, Reus too. You can’t not ship your game with Credits. However, this is not something we put in our planning. Dennis had a great idea to implement the Credits as apart of the game (so people will actually read them  :)). To see this, you’ll have to wait until Reus’  release.

Lore, by Rick
Rick thought it would be nice to have some more lore around Reus, so he spent part of the jam to write background stories for the Forest and the Rock giant. Since he is a little bit shy about it, you will have to come by our office to read it  🙂

Genetic camouflage, by Manuel
I laid down the basis for a camouflage system, which uses genetic algorithms (a cool AI technique) to hide people behind trees and other objects in the game. It is set up in such a way that the algorithms learns to hide better, every time you find someone.

Lots of projects, lots of fun, but now it’s time to get back to Reus. Beta is coming!