Interntainment

Last edited: 7 February 2016, 9:59PM

Info

Interntainment is a platformer about capturing interns around the map and using them to improve your company. You play as a company owner and throw the interns either into your company, to generate more money over time; into homes, to spawn more interns on the map; or into the mines, to boost your player fighting stats. Over time, parents, homeless people, and teachers start attacking your buildings, and you'll need to fend them off before they completely destroy them.

Other than the video (which could be gone in the future!) above, I can't find any other source of the game. I can't seem to find builds of the game, or even my original art for it. Without doing some deep, deep digging and asking around, I probably can't recover and host the files. Oh well, I can at least keep memories of the projects tucked away in this post. Sucks, but such is the nature of 4 year old games.

Background

Interntainment was a game jam project that I joined in the second week of my freshman year of college. Back then, game jams were a week long, and they basically consisted of throwing all the signed up members into the fire of game development and hoping they come out alive. For better or for worse, we've since much lessened the harshness of the jams.

Jams now only go on during weekends, to help curb problems with school, and we no longer hold any during the fall quarter, so we don't scare new members off too quickly. I was personally against these changes at first. Despite the immense pressure and difficulty of my first jam, I learned probably the most I ever had in a week's time. Over time, however, as I've seen the new system play out, I think it's definitely been a lot softer and welcoming to new members of the club, and I'd like to see this stay.

Interntainment started with a dozen random individuals put together of varying experience. A dozen, it turns out, is too big of a number of people, and the VGDC officers have since adjusted this number for the more recent VGDC age. We've found, as was the case with this project, that having too many members for a short game jam or even a longer project was extremely difficult to manage for students. Figuring out how to coordinate a bunch of people, mostly programmers (the heavy majority), together was a challenge. Nowadays, we want to ideally put half a dozen members max for a project.

In our case, we lost about maybe a third of our members right off the bat. They were either no shows, or simply left the project. Around half of the remaining members did not have much technical skills to help out the project, so they did some very basic design or QA work. The core of the team that did most of the work and sacrificed the most time consisted of 4 people: Chris, Christian, Pavan, and myself.

When we first got together, we struggled at length to decide what to do. First, we followed our limitations and went from there. The theme of the jam was no C#, to encourage us to step away from the common XNA framework and Unity that were used at the time. And next our limitation was the members themselves. Chris and Christian, both fourth year programmers, were incredibly knowledgeable and could basically do anything that programming required, but the rest of the problems basically fell on me, the only artist of the group.

Since I had a very bad time in the past with First Reality, I was very cautious and reserved in judging my skill level since I really didn't know the first thing about game development. I would say I was pretty nifty with Photoshop, but when my team asked me about sprite making and animations and the like, I backed out and said I probably couldn't help them with that.

So that meant they needed to grab sprites and assets from somewhere else. As we rattled off some game ideas, someone suggested maybe a generic fighting game of some sort. And then someone suggested a panda fighting game, because just a month ago, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria was released, and there were Warcraft models online that we could use as assets. The 3D to 2D conversion may be a little tricky, but it could be interesting to work on. And finally someone suggested we just call our game Pandamonium, and we ended the first night as that.

Most of these changes were to make my life easier since I wasn't that great at sprites. So my duties now were mainly just UI, making bars and menu things for the game. Not terribly exciting stuff, but I had a general idea of how to make these. I've only really had experience drawing (kinda crappy) characters. I was one of those cheeky anime drawer dudes back in high school, so I didn't really have much experience elsewhere. I knew Photoshop decently enough, however, and was familiar using a tablet.

Chris and Christian decided to work in Java and Android, as they wanted to get a chance to program for mobile. They ended up as the only programmers for the group since no one else had enough experience to really help out. Outside of me, the other two or three people ended up doing design to flesh out the panda game.

After a day's worth of work, I was making a ton of progress, finishing the core UI they needed very quickly. The most I had left was reiterating over whatever I had and just trying to make it better. The same was not true for the rest of the team. The game design was not making progress since the members assigned to it were pretty inexperienced and didn't really know what to do. Too much time was spent brainstorming things that weren't terribly important. Meanwhile, Chris and Christian were stuck on trying to make a particular Android library work, and they also had to figure out how they were going to fit in the WoW assets.

By day two, we weren't really sure about our idea anymore. The logistics of a panda fighting game were getting out of hand, and we didn't really have an exciting idea of how to put everything together. By this time, two senior members of VGDC, Stephen and Brenden, stopped by to see how their friends, Chris and Christian were doing. We chatted a bit and brought our situation up, and somehow, I'm not really sure, things happened.

Maybe we were talking about past internships or something, but I think it was Stephen or Brenden, one or the other or maybe both, that randomly brought up this game idea about abducting interns and using them like slaves to power a company. They laughed about it, we laughed about it, and we all really liked it, so we talked about how we could use the idea. Throwing interns into your company to make money, easy ways to make touch input make sense, and eventually, we just decided, screw it, let's do it. So we threw Pandamonium out the window and picked up Interntainment.

This meant that I would be doing sprites. I was pretty apprehensive about jumping into something new, but seeing how I was making good progress on the UI and was pretty enthusiastic about working on the project, my team assured me that I could probably handle the art without a problem.

There's a weird thing with VGDC artists, which is that I think teams tend to give them a lot of freedom to work with, maybe even too much, simply because there's so few of them. I would've liked a clearer direction for me to work in, but I think my team didn't want to push me too far, so I had a lot of creative freedom. Because of this, I want to say I ended up contributing quite a bit to the game design since if I wanted to do X or Y, my team allowed me to as long if it wasn't too crazy there.

So I started drawing the main character in profile, and turned him into this fat, top-hat-wearing, monocle guy with a cane. It turns out doing simple animation was very easy as well. All it took was a very basic transformation action and moving an arm or leg around here or there. I saved each of my frames as individual pictures since I didn't know how to do sprite sheets. The programmers had to do more work as a result, but that ended up fine since they were familiar with sprite animation.

It took me a few tries to get animation down correctly. When I first started, there were problems where the character was shifting all over the place when the animation played. A couple problems were present, mainly that my frames were of different sizes, and the character wasn't centered properly. Nothing too terrible I couldn't recognize, but just things I had to keep in mind for the future. After Interntainment, I felt confident in my sprite making and wasn't afraid any longer of making them in future projects.

I started then just exploding out assets to finish the game. I drew the interns, basically these kids that lay around in fetal position around the map to pick up. I made a bunch of enemies that attacked you. I hand drew some particles and effects. And I drew the background tiles, the UI, and made all the backgrounds and menus. Whatever I threw at the game, the programmers just put in. And also, I went to the bathroom one time and came back with the title of the game somehow.

I'm really proud of the effort and work I put into the project. For a complete newbie, it was definitely a lot of things to do, but I lived up to the challenge and did everything asked, if not exceeded what was asked for. Chris and Christian, now thinking about it, did a monster job of completing the game by themselves. Pavan contributed where he could, finding all the sound effects and music for us and QAing whenever possible.

I'm a little disappointed that we didn't place in the top game jam rankings, but what can you do. The top place, DayBreak, was an insanely good looking game and well deserved to be first. Interntainment holds a special place in my heart as it's the first game that really sparked my heavy interaction with VGDC pretty much to this day. Since this first project, I haven't stopped making games.