JournoDevSwap: The story of Love Octopus' auto-runner

JournoDevSwap: The story of Love Octopus' auto-runner

By Mark Backler

October 6th 2012 at 12:30PM

18 hours in to the UKIE 48-hour game jam, Develop looks at the emerging game, Split Destiny: Minions of an Unnatural Machine

[For their first challenge of the second day our developers-cum-journalists were tasked with previewing one of the jam's under-construction games – You can find all the JournoDevSwap articles here.]

Team Love Octopus is made up of journalist Dan Griliopoulos and student Luc Shelton. Split Destiny is an auto scrolling platformer with a perspective switching twist.

The first night saw the team only getting a couple of hours sleep and Luc wrestling with getting the perspective swapping to work.

This was followed by a slow morning where getting the mechanic, and therefore the game, functioning properly had still proved regrettably elusive. That all changed 16 hours into the jam though, when Luc excitedly announced, “It’s working”. He ran the game and, rather poetically, hit the Shift key to switch perspectives, altering which platforms were visible.

While there is still a way to go before the game is fully playable (the auto-running isn’t working and the level is currently just a few randomly placed blocks rather than one of the levels from the team's paper plan), the design is already very clear.

As you race towards the next precipice, which promises certain death, you must judge whether you can make the jump to the next platform or whether to swap your perspective, revealing a completely different set of platforms.

The game takes the formula of successful auto-runners such as Canabalt and adds the need for repeated judgements and split second micro decisions to determine whether to jump, switch perspectives or both.


It’s a solid mechanic for a game jam project – nothing too over the top that it’s likely to be unachievable in the allotted 48 hours but one that has the potential to have enough depth to ensure a fun and demanding game.

‘Floating’ artist Jake Woodruff (who is helping out all four teams) has been busy crafting Tron inspired artwork for the game.
 

When asked about the project early on in the jam, Dan jokingly responded, “It’s all about mind-body dualism”.

As the game has progressed though it has become clear how directly it embraces the theme of ‘swap’ in the same context as the dev-journo swap up itself.

Switching the perspective will change you from a game developer in the Tron styled world to a game journalist running through a journo themed world. Regarding the look of the journalist environment, Jake states that, “I wanted it to be grounded in reality but abstract. Whereas the developer one isn’t grounded in reality - because a lot of coders aren’t”.

When asked about the game, it's hard to tell what Dan’s thinking behind his beard and thick glasses. On being questioned whether there are any other features planned for the game, he responds in a quiet, measured tone as he states the team’s wise intention to focus on getting the basics working effectively first before worrying about any additional details.

Team Love Octopus is aiming to deliver a small but well refined game with Split Destiny: Minions of an Unnatural Machine. The question though, is whether there is sufficient time remaining to finish, balance and polish it enough to ensure a compelling experience by the end of the 48 hours.

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