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Making Super Bit Boy in 24 hours

26/03/2012

Super Bit Boy

Hey, I was at the 2nd Game Dev Party, a game jam in Lyon. It was a first for me. And it was totally worth it!

The challenge

Make a game in 24 hours playable in a web browser.

The team

Level design with Tiled, the game designer's best friend

Level design with Tiled, the game designer's best friend

There was a lot of interesting projects and I decided to join a team of 4 developers for three reasons :
– They had a home made web-based game engine prototype to build the game on
– I wanted to make the graphics and the animations rather than code
– They were planning to make a Super Meat Boy clone !

The team was composed of :
Paul (@padenot) : co-writer of the game engine / sound
Nical (@nicalsilva) : co-writer of the game engine
Adrian (@adrigau) : code
Louis-Rémi (@Louis_Remi) : code
And me on the graphics.

The project

First main character concepts

The first concept sketches for the main character. I have a thing with peaked nose!

I was OK with the Super Meat Boy part. However, they explained me that the hero would be a network admin who must repair his servers.
At this moment, I understood that I had to be in charge of the creative side 😉
But as it was their project, I did wanted to keep the theme of their idea. So we agreed on a little character I drawn. he was supposed to be a anti-virus program controlled by a sys admin to kill the virus in the computer. The name “Super Bit Boy” came up just like that!
We also agreed that he would have a lot of bits coming out from his head. This is when Louis-Rémi has been assigned to code a particle module for the game.

Also, I wanted to add something new to the Super Meat Boy formula to spice up the challenge and not having to make a complete clone. We decided to make the platforms in different colors. And the main character would have the ability to change his color. If his color was different that the platform he was touching, he would simply dies.

The graphics

Super Bit Boy

Concept sketch for Super Bit Boy

I tried to come up with a graphic style that would be cool and quick to execute. I took inspiration from Tron for the platforms and the background. For Bit Boy, my inspiration came from some lamp you can find in designer shops.

While it was obvious that the game should be in pixel art, I prefered no to. I’m done with pixel art. Please stop making pixel art games, please!

The approach I had when developing graphics for Space Disorder was to make it look retro with HD graphics. And I wanted the same for Super Bit Boy.

The animations are crazy simple, just two frames for each movement (walk, jump, standing). The character was so simple that it would have been stupid to waste time on complex animations. Also, it fits the lo-fi mood beautifully.

Also, I really like the bits coming out from his head!

For the background, I wanted to represent the computer’s CPU as a mystical monument floating in the air. I took inspirations from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis… I guess!

The gameplay

Super Bit Boy

First rendering of the final graphics

We quickly found out that changing the color of the character while jumping, wall-jumping and grinding would be very difficult to handle for a not supernatural person. There was just too much things to do. We tried several key bindings but nothing was convincing.

So we had to re-think the gameplay. We had this idea where the player would bounce all the time and the player would just have to tap the right color before hitting the platforms. An other proposal was to make the player find color orbs to change color.

We finally decided to scrap all of that and go back to the basic gameplay of SMB. But! If the player is landing on a platform with a different color, he must jump again immediately or he dies. This has two consequences :
– It forces the player to reflex jump , making the gameplay pretty nervous
– Also, the character takes the color of the platform and puts the player in funny and crazy situations.

We wanted to had more features but we didn’t have time.

The experience

It has been refreshing teaming up as I’m working by myself for a year now. I’ve been lucky to find some coding beasts to build up the game so quickly!
During the marathon, we made checklist, briefs so we could handle the project correctly.
Everybody was extremely motivated (and talented). And everybody was working at an extremely quick rate. Nobody has been left behind.
Yeah, I can say it was a fucking great experience!

The game


You can play the game in your browser here.
It is best played on Firefox and It’s not optimized for Mac.
Chances are we might update the game in the future with new levels, new features and some better performances.

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