Thursday, 13 January 2011

Ongaku…you know about it right? Part 1

It’s been 2 months since SmashMouth Games released Ongaku for PC, and so far what we’ve learned is that half the battle is making the game...the other half is trying to tell the world about it. If you’re reading this and don’t know what Ongaku is, then let me tell you how the game was developed and where it is now.

The Beginning

Let me take you back to 2006...well actually I wasn’t working for SmashMouth Games at that time :P. Ongaku was first demonstrated in a video of what the game could be like and was shown off to anyone and everyone, but more importantly people who could invest in us as well as the game. Check out what it looks like here...

A top tip when demonstrating a game idea (especially to any designers out there), is to utilize the tools and software around you to create something and anything that shows what your essence of your game is. Having a prototype is best, but having video, images, animated storyboards or even an X-video (that’s a video with loads of existing content snapped together with words that describe your idea), will work just as well ;) ). Just make sure if you get the chance to present it to someone important that they understand exactly how your game works and what it’s about.

After the video, a flash prototype was released on with the main intention to see if people liked the idea and test the waters...and they did with +100,000 views in the first week! It was proven that people liked the idea; the next thing was getting the concept developed for a true platform version. If you haven’t played the flash version you can always find it on our website here...

O.k. so now we began developing the full game in 2007. First port of call, a game engine was needed which was built specifically for Ongaku (not a simple process believe me). Next some basic gameplay and simple art to demonstrate a playable demo...check. Then there was a bit of a snag, (as is the way with indie development sometimes), the one fundamental thing you need in certain!

Time passes and the game and development on the game hits a steady incline, but it wasn’t till 2009 when development ramped up big time, and things started happening at speed. From there on in the game grew and grew to eventually become a fully fledged product with additional features that weren’t even in the game design document (although many other designs were also stripped out).

And it was also during this time SmashMouth Games went through major changes with a new website, new investment, new company logo, new game assets, new ideas, new equipment, new everything :).

The Game

The game was finally in full development and new content was coming in from everywhere. However during the time in development, especially since I started working here, many pitfalls and setbacks were encountered.

Firstly it’s always annoying (at least for me it is) when an idea is added in at last minute. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, but it did break flow and extend development milestones from time to time. This certainly gave me a challenge to make sure the team worked hard and got things in on time for approval. It was worth it in the end considering what is in the game now in terms of playable content, so I guess I can’t complain too much!

There have good times in development especially when a big mechanic is implemented, because the fun begins playing with the variables to see what can be modified. This is especially when the music analyser was integrated to Ongaku. It was also the second most tested component in the game with just about every form of music possible being used and analysed for gameplay value. Thanks to some clever Fourier Transform code and a BPM analyser, the Tune-A-Matic (as the music analyser is called in Ongaku) was ready.
In the last few months when the game was to be submitted for publication by Blitz Games Studios, other features of the game were also hitting the final approval stage. The final momentous occasion was fast approaching; the final installer is created, burned to disc and sent for publication. Needless to say, we were elated and overjoyed to see Ongaku finally finished in the form it was always meant to take.

The game was complete, sent to publisher Blitz Games Studios and the Blitz 1UP Initiative, now we waited for the cash cow to be milked... or at least that’s what I thought!

If you’re still wondering what Ongaku is about, take a read of the latest extract of our release article to get the full picture of the game:

“Ongaku is a 2D rhythm action game combining an original score and stylised artwork. Players take the role of the magic crystal Ongaku and progress through the fantasy kingdom of Melody by popping paint bubbles in time to the music. If successfully popped, the paint bubbles reveal an artistic masterpiece, bringing the canvas to life with its unique artwork. There are endless possibilities with a wide range of new features to customise and share your experience:
  • Enjoy 11 brand new lusciously animated levels, each with their own new music theme
  • Auto-generate playable levels from your favourite music tracks, pictures or videos using the Tune-O-Matic
  • Discover your inner artist with the ability to import your favourite media and create your own levels using the Melody Maker
  • Share the levels you've created with your friends and see their creations
  • Five difficulty settings allow you to enjoy playing, whatever your level of expertise
  • Ever-growing collection of new downloadable Theme Packs available, including Pop, Rock, Dance and many more”

Still interested? There’s a demo you can download you know :)

Check in for part 2 of this blog on Ongaku’s development.

Posted by Tim.

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