April Dev Blog

By | Dev Blog, Games, Happy Volcano, Internship
All work and no play

While Lisa works and hydrates in the background, the boys are beating our art director.

April was a very busy month with the client game and pitching on an open call. We haven’t really had much  time to work on Winter. We did find two great art interns who will join us over the summer to help on Winter. But more about them later when they join. Let’s talk about what we did do this month.

Super secret client project

Most of our time this month was spent on a client project. We delivered the vertical slice as planned. The game starts to feel nice. The gameplay is fun, we added some cool twists on the genre. But there is still a lot of work to be done on the animation side. Luckily our interns are doing some great work on the coding and animation side of the game. We’re happy to have them.

Again, we can’t really share anything yet, but I would like to leave you with a commit message of the game:

Added kitty death rays to make your special even more purrfect!

How about that. Doesn’t that trigger your curiosity? Stay tuned, we hope to be able to share some stuff soon.

Leuven, a healthy city

Leuven, our beloved home town set up an open call to make its citizens healthier. Every company or organization who is located in or around the city could send in a proposal. As a video game company this was a challenge we could not leave unanswered. Until the official selection, we can’t really talk about it, but let’s just say it’s a local multiplayer game with custom controllers. The project is called Extra Leuven which almost translates into Extra Life. Yeah, we’re funny like that.

Develop Brighton

We got the good news that Jeroen will be talking at Develop Brighton’s indie talks. The talks are free, no reason not to join and learn some do’s and don’ts about internships in the game industry.

Happy Volcano out, but not before this public service announcement. We’d like to connect with you, so join us on them social networks. Get sneak peaks of what we’re cooking up here at Happy Volcano, we’re happy to share.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/happyvolcanogames/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hvgames
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/happyvolcanogames/

 

March dev blog

By | Dev Blog, Games, Happy Volcano, Internship, Lava Fever, Winter

Since last month we have a full house of dedicated, smart interns at the Happy Volcano offices. And we love them dearly :). Lisa Janssens and Jasper Lemmens have joined us for a three-month internship. They will both be working on Winter. While the core team is working on a secret client game, new art, special effects and animations are going into Winter.

Winter

Jasper started working on bringing the world in Winter to life with some snow, wind and rain effects. Stylised particle effects in flat white colors go really well with the flat shaded 3D environment. He also worked on a few interesting shaders which we’re not showing yet because spoilers.

Winter - snowstorm particle effect
Winter - rain particle effect

Lisa on the other hand started creating the second level of the game, which takes place in the suburbs. She started out with a moodboard, followed by a simple blockout of the level.

Not soon after Jasper joined in and they started modelling simple environments to test geometry and colors. We’re doing a lot of different tiles quickly as an exercise to get a good feel about the direction the level is going into. We’re not sure if any of these tiles will end up in the final game. But in this stage quantity of and iterating on the models is more important than making detailed artwork.

Lava Fever

We hit a brick wall designing Stonebound and decided to let it rest for a while, in the hope of seeing it with new eyes and a fresh mind. So, while our two new interns got sucked into the cold world of Winter, Tom’s been working on our scorching hot mobile game Lava Fever. We always liked the gameplay mechanic, but the game itself was seriously missing some juice. Tom implemented new unlockable characters. They each have unique behaviours and lead to different styles of gameplay. (We wrote about the design process behind the original characters a while ago)

The witchdoctor

We also decided to make the game free, by adding advertisement. We know, we’re not a fan ourselves, but this is the way the mobile world works right now. But we’re good guys, so we added three unlockables to remove the ads. How about that, beatable ads: the better you play, the quicker the ads will dissapear. And finally, we added some challenges to keep you on your toes.

We’ve got an Android release planned as well, so you finally get to play it on the two biggest mobile platforms.

Secret client project

The new mobile game for kids we’re making is nearing the vertical slice milestone. The game is challenging and fun to play. It sucks we can’t show you more, but we’re having a blast making it. We should be able to tell you more in a few months.

February Dev Blog

By | Dev Blog, Games, Happy Volcano, Internship, Winter

February is a short month, but a lot happened in these 28 days. Most importantly our creative director David joined us again after a month long touring his motorcycle in Vietnam. He drove all the way from south to north Vietnam. Luckily north Vietnam is quite cold this time of the year so the temperature shock wasn’t too hard when he returned.

David Prinsmel - Happy Volcano's art director touring in Vietnam

David Prinsmel – Happy Volcano’s art director touring in Vietnam

Winter

Jet lag however was not as easy to overcome, but that didn’t stop David to make good progress on our upcoming game Winter. All but one level has been mapped out with rooms, objects and the puzzles.

Winter maps

A few of the maps we made to chart puzzles and objects in Winter

 

On the visual side, we also took a big step forwards. The intro level and house level are now completely modelled and textured and the first concept art for the forest and shopping mall are done.

Winter 3D Models

The 3D models of the house level

 

We welcomed our first intern of 2017, Tom Rigolle. Tom worked on visual effects for Winter. He wrote a fading in/out shader to darken the scene the further back an object is, played around with volumetric lighting and added mist and blowing leaves particle effects. It’s now up to David to tweak those effects to get the mood exactly right.

Winter fog and lighting

Winter fog and lighting in the forrest level

Stonebound

Tom’s already proven that he’s well on his way to become an in-demand gameplay programmer. He started developing the new gameplay prototype of Stonebound. After the negative feedback, we got from the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, it was clear that we had to change course. We need a more exciting and original mechanic. And with Tom’s rapid prototyping we have found a promising new direction. We’re far from what it needs to be. We have a slightly too difficult, but exciting beginning of the game, but it tends to get boring in late game. We’ll continue iterating until we nail it.

Stonebound prototype

Stonebound prototype

 

Peter worked on a fun little advergame for Happiness, a communication agency in Brussels. We can’t tell you what brand it was made for until the campaign is over. But we did have the chance to work with the incredibly talented pixel artist Igor Sandman. He came up with some very fun little characters and the animations just make you laugh.

Next month we have an exciting new mobile game we are doing for a client so we won’t have a lot of time to work on Winter ourselves. The mobile game is aimed at younger gamers and promises to be exciting, silly and fun. More on that later. We’ll also be joined by two new interns Jasper and Lisa who will be working on the models and visual side of Winter.