The Head Hunter Challenge Challenge
Our next game is a challenge, both to ourselves and other developers.
Firstly, we're writing this game in a week. Starting on Monday. Whatever's ready by Friday is what we submit for review. There'll be lots of updates along the way, and lots of development builds. If you want to get on the beta team for a closer look, let me know.
The other part of the challenge is that we want other developers to create versions of this on other platforms. Know someone who wants to write an Android/Blackberry/WinMob game quickly? We'll give you all the graphics, sounds and rules and a server API to manage games, plus tech support and QA along the way.
Here's an artists's impression of how a game screen might look, which we made from a butchered "Guess Who?" board game, followed by a copy of our announcement/job-advert.
The Head Hunter Challenge Challenge
Head Hunter Challenge is a new game by Lightwood Games. For our part of the challenge, we are planning to develop the game on iOS in just one week.
We are also seeking other developers who would like to take part, by creating versions of the app on other platforms, keeping to similarly intense development schedules. Developers will be provided with all the graphical and sound assets required, game rules and access to a server API for managing games.
We'd like to see Head Hunter Challenge running on other mobile platforms (at least: Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone) and as a browser-based Facebook app.
The initial game idea for Head Hunter was based on a multi-screen concept developed at the Game Hack event in London in April 2012. That game, Plasma Party, allows users to link together up to 16 iPhones, iPads and iPod touches using Bluetooth to create a single, enlarged playing surface for a "lights out" type game. However, while a multi-player game looks impressive, the app has not become popular because it can only be played when you are among friends, and requires several devices to be fully appreciated.
We decided to create a follow-up game using the same technology, but also extended to include a solo mode and a casual turn-based two-player "challenge" mode.
Continuing the spirit of Game Hack, we have self-imposed the one week time limit for the follow-up. Lightwood's team has two developers, Katherine and Chris. We won't start coding until the challenge begins - in the meantime, we're allowed to do planning on paper only!
Head Hunter is a hidden object game which presents a grid of unique faces and asks players to find all the faces matching certain criteria. For example, "find everyone wearing glasses" or "find all the women with brown hair".
Faces are generated procedurally from a library of face shapes, features and accessories that allows us to create billions of permutations. No two games will be the same.
The three modes listed below describe the scope of the iOS app.
Presented with a grid of 25 faces, the user is asked to find a number of faces meeting the same criterion, for example "4 people with blue eyes" . This game is played against the clock, with a 60 second overall time limit and a new challenge issued when each one is completed, until time runs out.
Scoring is based on the time taken to complete a sequence and a "combo" multiplier based on the number of consecutive correct moves made without a significant delay. Each face can only be found once, so a grid position is replaced with newly generated face .
Challenge mode is played online against a friend, or against a randomly matched opponent. Each player is presented with the same game board and the same series of five challenges and scores points based on how quickly they find the correct faces. When the first player has completed their turn, the opponent is notified and can complete the game in their own time.
A player can compete in several different challenges at the same time and the game will report their overall win/loss record, plus their record against individual opponents.
To play a challenge game, users must register. This is best done via Facebook, as it automatically means they can issue challenges to their friends. Non-Facebook users can sign up by entering a username and password and challenges can be initialised by username, or by requesting "next available opponent" for a random game.
Multi-device mode encourages you to link together a number of iPhones, iPads and iPod touches and have several people play together using the enlarged playing surface.
The game will fit as many different faces as possible onto the visible play area and issue challenges that can be solved in teams. One team is "male" and the other is "female", so when asked to find "5 who are smiling" the male team has to find 5 smiling men before the female team finds 5 smiling women.
Lightwood's challenge runs from Monday 30th July to Friday 3rd August. Developers will blog about progress regularly and issue test builds of work in progress at least once per day.
We are hoping that other developers will accept a similar challenge and produce their own versions under a tight deadline and offer a similar level of access to their development process.
The key objective is to try to include as many players as possible in challenge games. When an iOS user invites a friend to play using Facebook, that friend should be able to join in even if they don't have an iOS device. We figure that, with the head start we're going to provide, developers should need much less than our own 10 man-days time limit to complete this mode.
If you wished to also produce a solo mode, of course we'd be delighted to see that! But this challenge is focused on being able to deliver a great two-player experience to as many people as possible.
We are not expecting a multi-device mode to be produced on any other platform. This works on iOS because - at present - only two screen sizes are required. Deeper fragmentation of screen sizes and pixel densities on other platforms makes such an implementation much more complex. If you're interested in exploring this technology, we should speak separately after this challenge is over.
We will provide all the graphics and sound assets required to build the game, along with complete game rules and scoring system. You'll also get access to our server API, which is used for registering and authenticating players and for managing challenge games.
We want you to create a polished app that implements challenge mode using Facebook (and, optionally, solo mode) and publish it as a free-to-play game. The game must contain a Lightwood Games credit as co-developer, but you retain ownership of your own code and can feature it in your own portfolio as your own work. You may monetize the app using banner ads and interstitials and you will keep 100% of the revenue.
We'll be there every step of the way to provide technical support with the API integration, feedback on the gameplay, monetization advice and final QA testing before release.
How to Take Part
The platforms we're most interested in are: Facebook, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone - but if you want to suggest something else, please do so! Still loving Touchpad? Want to do a version for Kinect? Let's talk!
You can make a universal app or specialise. Focus on Android tablets, or on Kindle Fire in particular if that's what you're into.
We don't mind too much how you get to the end product. This is a hackathon-style challenge, after all! The Facebook app could be written in HTML5 or Flash; you could use something like Marmalade or Unity to create an app that deploys to a number of platforms. It doesn't really matter, as long as it's as awesome as our version!
We're also interested to see how you want to challenge yourself. If you fancy doing this as an all-out 24 hour hackathon, that's super news. If you want to make it over the course of a working week, or can only commit evenings, that's good too. We know it's not easy to drop everything and work on this on our choice of dates, so we're trying to be flexible. There just has to be a time challenge element.
Lightwood's challenge ends on August 3rd, when we will submit our app to Apple for review. To ensure a coordinated release on all platforms, we need your app to be complete and ready for distribution no later than August 17th.
If you want to take part, email us and tell us which platform(s) you want to develop for and your proposed timescale. Ideally, send us an example of something you've done on that platform before, and if you already write a blog we'd like to see that.
We'll begin our selection process immediately, so don't delay! Hack together an email right now!
This is an opportunity to develop a game quickly to boost your portfolio and to benefit from the cross-promotion and viral marketing opportunities that come from being part of a large, social multi-player game.
Everyone selected will also receive some amount of advertising credit to help give their app a boost when it's first released. We're currently working on the finer details of this with a few ad networks.
In addition, Lightwood is offering a $500/£300 cash prize to the app they consider to provide the best user experience. In reality, that probably means the one that most looks like our app!
Contact us with any questions. We know the technical details are a bit sketchy at present so feel free to ask anything in the meantime.
On Friday we had a meeting with our artist, Richard, and discussed theming for the game and what assets we would need. This was followed by an afternoon of sketching all the important screens for the game. Here you can see those sketches in all their glory
If you'd like to see the images a little larger, you can see them over on our blog.
As you can see, if you look closely, there’s still some questions on there which we need to discuss Probably most interesting for us, is the desire to have a character and to give the game a bit of a story rather than just being a puzzle game
What do you think of the sketches? Are you going to be following our crazy challenge attempt and watching our live blogging? Would you want to watch the live webcam which Chris keeps threatening me with?
We started our challenge on Monday and we've got a couple of videos to show off our progress
The first one shows the random face generation:
Youtube link | Pop Up
The second shows the multiscreen game in action
Youtube link | Pop Up
Today we'll be working on getting the turn based 'challenge' mode working, then tomorrow the solo mode, leaving Friday for intense testing and bug squishing
Want to read more? Go visit our blog - http://lightwoodgames.com/blog
Want to get involved? Send me a PM
At the end of Day 3 we have the online multiplayer game working!
Check out the video to see it in action!
Youtube link | Pop Up
It is much easier to play when the device is actually in your hand and not the other side of a precarious tripod!
If you're on the beta team, you'll have a copy!
If you're not on the beta team and want to have a play, send me a PM!