There is no creating games without working with tight deadlines. But every now and then you have to cope with some really REALLY devilishly tight deadlines. So what if you had to do everything from scratch to finish with a group of just 4 people and in no more than 48 hours? How would it be to produce all of the music and sound effects featured in such a project in the same time period? Former Critical Studio’s artist Erica Milhomem, programmer Caio Cesar Lima, game designer Mark Venturelli, and me banded together as Team Snail, and just recently found out.
Before knowing the theme of this year’s Indie Speed Run competition, only revealed to you the moment you activate your personal 48-hour countdown, we had already decided for ourselves, that our game would be both a shooter and a rhythmic game, besides featuring dinosaurs. Yes, that actually does make sense! We simply wanted to work on something we had never done before. (alright, we had a dino on Dungeonland, but just that!)
We hit the countdown button, and there it was… Theme: Cybernetic, Element: Vines. So a rhythmic shooter in a world of cybernetics, dinosaurs, and vines. Now that sounds like an indie game!
Since we quickly ditched the idea of working with rhythm, it became much easier to think about the music and sfx. At first we had no idea about how the mood or setting would be, but I thought to myself, that having dinos meant that there had to be some kind of tribal drums. I started laying out a few African percussion loops to get things going and soon came up with an unexpected funky guitar riff. At that point it was already clear that the game would be sci-fi, so the music sounded totally out of place. But instead of trying to come up with a new approach, how about pulling things toward the music? The concept art was still in its beginning, since our artist had to leave earlier on the first day, so there was still time to think about its direction.
In the morning of the next day, I was sure that we could join sci-fi-ness and funky guitars by making the game feel like a cheesy 70’s space-adventure movie. This only crossed my mind after having the idea, that the enemies could play some big band brass falls in the tune of the music every time they were killed, sounding like the POW!s and SMACK!s in the classic Batman series.
From this moment on everything went really smoothly. I had to produce 2 songs, one for the menu and one as bgm, and 12 sounds, the most repetitive ones having 3-6 variations, making up a total of 38 sfx. I left the funky guitar song aside, and started working on a new one which would take up almost all of my time of the second day. Before having to spend too many hours on it, I took a drum and percussion sequence from an old song I never finished, and refurbished it so as to work in my new song. Hey, it’s only 48 hours! 🙂
The last few hours of that day were very productive, and I managed to produce most of the sounds, especially the most important and complicated ones like weapon shots, special skills and pickups.
By the next day, everything was already coming to an end, and we had to race the clock in order to implement all art and audio, build the project and upload it to the website before 4 pm. Especially mixing was a problem, because our programmer had to create a little tool, so that I wouldn’t lose time going through code lines by myself. Until then I had some minutes to finish the few remaining sounds, and the funky song I started out with, which became the menu theme of the game.
In the end, we were doing the finishing touches literally 5 minutes before the countdown had reached 0, but apart from a few cool features, we thankfully managed to get everything into the game without breaking it. And thus, Dinomancer: Ghost in the Eggshell was born!
We’d love it, if you’d try it out sometime! Feel free to grab it at the following link: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/content/indie-speed-run/?game=501
Until the next post, have a nice week!