Block Escape

Last edited: 7 February 2016, 10:00PM

Info

Okay... I'm not quite sure if it's Block Escape or Block's Escape. The first is what I remember it by, but the second is what it sounds like it should be. Block('s?) Escape is a reverse Angry Birds game about helping the trapped Professor Block escape from a cover of blocks. Using a number of tools and explosives, you must free Block's surroundings before his jet pack goes off and shoots him upwards.

This was another project where tracking down a build of the game was difficult. Again, I didn't have access to the repo as I contributed my art elsewhere. I did manage to salvage the game art from looking through our old Drive folder. Attached is a zip of the files. Not all of the files were made by me and some are still placeholder, but the majority is my work.

Background

After Interntainment, my game jam team at the time decided to break up. The code for our game was very messy and difficult to maintain, and the crew had other projects that they wanted to get to. Plus, as I think, the week-long game jam was well enough project making for some for the quarter. But for me, I was really excited to start working on other projects and wanted to get involved in the Video Game Development Club as much as possible and as soon as possible.

So immediately after the game jam ended, I started looking for any teams that needed any help. I mainly looked for teams that really needed an artist. I think I probably could have joined some more successful or experienced groups, but I suppose I wanted to help out those slightly more desperate projects that were short on members.

This led me to Block Escape, which was a game jam project that wanted to finish off for the quarter. Their reverse angry birds idea was pretty cool, and I liked it. They had barely any art for the game, however, because they were mainly composed of all programmers plus a couple designers and a producer. They were assigned an artist but after some time commitment problems and a quick farewell, he(or she? I don't even know) left the group.

That meant pretty much all the work was left up to me now, and I had about 5 to 6 weeks to finish what I could. I took up the challenge and worked my butt off to make a good impression on the team. The most important part of the game was to flesh out the main character and give him a proper body. I probably worked a little too hard with the designer, Will, to design something just right. I practiced a ton of iteration on character designs, making probably close to I don't know 30 or 40 designs in total and then narrowing it down. Most of these were shabby sketches, but there were some good ideas here and there.

This was a really lengthy process on just designing, what I feel like now, a smaller section of the game, but we eventually made a professor character that I think we're all pretty happy about. I then spent less time iterating but just churning out everything we needed for the game. Will and I worked together to think up of a bunch of different tiles and tools to interact with, and I drew them out when I could. I also finished all the menus and buttons that we needed for the game.

I don't know. There's not much to talk about. This group was pretty... dead I want to say. The programmers weren't making progress. They spent, I'm pretty sure, the rest of the quarter "refactoring" code. A large chunk of my art wasn't put into the game because of the slowness. To be honest, they probably accomplished more during the jam than the time remaining. Part of it, I think, was just inexperience, they were using C++ with SFML and Box2D, and hooking everything together can be tricky, especially for newcomers to the language and libraries.

My memory's a bit unclear about what the end product looked like, because I didn't really have a chance to play around with the last iterations of the game. Nevertheless, because of the slow progress, we agreed that we should end the development officially after fall quarter. Members in the group were also planning on leaving already to work on newer and bigger other things. I was a bit unhappy to see my first longer-term project end up this way, but I was satisfied with the artwork and design work I did for the game.

I think some people even felt bad that they weren't making progress when I was putting in a lot of time and effort to doing what I could. Triggering some of my feelings from First Reality, I did feel a bit annoyed with the end result. I think throughout this project, however, I learned to grow a lot of thick skin and just accept problems as they come. People have their own issues and agendas that they have to deal with. It's not like they're actively trying to damage me or the project. And I'm mostly okay with that.

Overall, Block Escape (or Block's Escape as I think it's called now) wasn't as fun as the game jam for sure, but it was a great learning experience, and I met, unknowingly almost, through this project a lot of friends that I'd get to know for years to come. Namely Will, Sean, and George would be familiar names to me in VGDC. It's really because of these new friendships and the budding community that keeps on enticing me back to VGDC. To meet and interact with all these and other odd, funny people on different projects is just a really awesome and welcoming experience.