Codevember III: Sheep Me Home
Sheep Me Home is a stylized puzzle game. Increase your puzzle-solving skills with this fun and easy to understand game.
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The Project Pitch
In Sheep Me Home you have to bring Whooley back to its barn. Show Whooley the right way to maneuver past obstacles on the way to the barn like fences, wolves or other sheep. Whooley doesn’t like wolves, which is why when you come too close to one, Whooley repells them and is forced in the opposite direction of them. Inverted attraction are in place when Whooley meets other sheep. Use this behaviour to your advantage when maneuvering. Whooley even can diguise himself as a wolf to change the attraction to wolves and sheep. In any case, combined with the force and direction given to the movement there are many ways to solve each level. But be careful, you only have one shot!
Development of Sheep Me Home
I remember when we first discussed possible ideas for the 2016-Codevember event: we sat together in a bar, drinking some beer and having fun brainstorming. Eventually the idea of a puzzle game arose with the following gameplay: transporting an object into an area – but there are planets in the way, that have a force field which changes the trajectory of the object. This idea could possibly be fullfill our goals of a typical Codevember game – simple in its gamelogic, realizable in a weekend and fun to play.
We liked the overall concept – but something was missing. Its premise seemed too common, too well known and too established to us. So we thought of a crazy setting: “How about we make this game about animals, that somehow have attraction or even repulsion to eachother? For example like a sheep repels a wolf?”. It seemed funny and unique to the group so we decided to go with it.
The next morning we met up at our coding location and further discussed some more details. In the end we decided to go with the sheep and wolf setting, with the players’ goal being to get the sheep back into the barn but taking into account that the wolves and sheep on the way have different effects on the sheeps’ movement. The amount of the attraction can also be variable for each object. We further wanted to implement a way to invert the attraction of the animals, to allow more complex puzzles and level designs. Of course the only way to implement this into the given setting is by transforming the sheep into a sheep in wolf’s clothing, so that the sheep can get attracted by the wolves without being eaten alive and repell other sheep.
As in the previous year, there were no other projects and all participants planned to work on Sheep Me Home. Teams and their tasks looked roughly as follows:
- Game designer and programmer worked on gameplay and game-mechanics
- e.g. optimizing for touch inputs, arrow indicator, gravitational behaviour
- UI-programmer created the interfaces and menus
- e.g. integrating the story, when and how to display overlays, define bahviour of buttons when clicked
- Diverse creatives created fx and music
- e.g. visual effects when the sheep hits game over, background music in menu and when playing (see below for more)
- A few “nerds” tried to figure out automatic level creation (experimental)
- more on this a few paragraphs later
Look and feel
We got a lucky hit when deciding for an artistic style for the game. Patrick – one of our members – created a 3D model prototype of a sheep just for the fun of it and we all liked it straightaway. This model ended up being our final version of Whooley and set the foundation of how things should look. We created a similar cartoonish-looking skybox, grass and farm environment. Pretty much all out of one hand – Patrick! Obviously you can achieve much more detailed and sophisticated graphics in unity (even in 2016) but with the constraint of having only around 2 days, the simplistic style was just fitting for our purpose. With the game mostly being played in the top-down view, it was important to have high contrast on the relevant objects – therefore black wolfs and white sheeps. Even in a fancy 3D-third person view, higher details in faces or movement animations would simply have been unnecessary.
The music of Sheep Me Home should match the general look and feel of the game. Therefore we wanted to use relaxing sounds associated with a farm life and animals living there but also have a certain kind of tension to their movement. Have a listen at our main menu background music:
Now that’s a music snippet worth of an endless loop ;).
And now listen to our gameplay music, which starts as soon as the player hits start:
While researching for this article, I also found another version of an upbeat, background beat for the gameplay. I figured it must have been a bit too intense for us and the player to have on repeat while playing the game. Even the version we ended up with, can get repetetive over time, I have to admit. Have a listen to the alternative gameplay music:
Automatic level creation – gone wrong!
Ido and Tobias had the idea to create a automatic level creation tool. With that we wouldn’t need to design each level manually which would have been a chore. The idea was to create a simple simulation environment in which obstacles (like wolves and fences) randomly get placed all over the map and “shooting” a lot of sheeps with different forces in different directions to see if any sheep would reach the barn. If so, the level with the selected set of obstacles would be playable.
(Disclaimer: this gif was taken in an unfinished state of the simulation, some objects are still missing in it)
Unfortunately we couldn’t bring the simulation to a productive state and due to timescramble we just went ahead and designed the levels by hand. Nonetheless I thought it was a crazy and really cool idea to solve the problem of “making enough playable content”, which we sometimes struggle with in our games.
Sidenote as always: Since this game is for free and this whole project is on a voluntary base, we would be happy if you could spread the word, drop us a rating and review or just enjoy our games with a smile!
All links collected: