The amazing community of GameMaker developers over on the r/GameMaker subreddit have hosted another one of their quarterly game jams called GM48. This is the 24th edition of the jam. It requires developers to use GameMaker to create a game in just forty-eight hours, from scratch, with similar rules to the strict ‘Ludum Dare’ Compo. The theme for this GM48 was ‘One Shot’.
At the end of the forty-eight hours, entrants submitted their game and voted on everyone else’s. The winners were determined by these votes and YoYo Games graciously supported the jam, once again, by providing prizes via desktop licences for Game Maker Studio 2. You can play every game submitted to the game jam here, and see the results here.
This specific GM48 took place right after GameMaker Studio 2 came out, so participants were given a trial of the engine to create their game with! I have interviewed the top three games for this jam, focused on the new version of the engine, GameMaker in general and their awesome game. This is going to be a three-part series, as each game has their own interview article.
In this specific article, we’ll take a look at first place. Let’s get into it!
CRUNGUS 3: Mrs. CRUNGUS
by Tomato Tavern
CRUNGUS 3: Mrs. CRUNGUS, the winner of the jam, was made by a three person team: Moo, Elko and MajorWipeout. For this interview, I spoke specifically with Moo. CRUNGUS 3: Mrs. CRUNGUS is a puzzle platformer where you are able to possess various inanimate objects. You are a female CRUNGUS, looking to get your husband back from the stomach of a monster. That monster lives inside this big mansion, but it will be quite a mission to find them — you must possess specific objects dotted around each room, using them to move further. Some objects work differently than others; smaller objects move faster and some can only fall downwards or just stay in place, for example. Objects also have subtle animations and sounds which don’t do anything other than look awesome, but each can only be possessed once. Once you leave it, it is stuck where you left it!
“Admittedly, this mechanic was a bit inspired by the new Mario game, but I like to think of this as more of a puzzle game whereas Mario is an action-platformer.”
CRUNGUS 3: Mrs. CRUNGUS has ‘3’ right in the title. The developers behind this game have been making stories about the CRUNGUS creatures for GM48 for a while and are now onto the third part of the series. With this in mind, I asked Moo about it!
All of your games have a slight story around a character called CRUNGUS. What inspired this character? Why have you both made the decision to continue the story of CRUNGUS through your games?
“CRUNGUS was inspired by the design of the Purple Pikmin from the Pikmin games. This is something Elko (the artist) still doesn’t know, even at the time of me saying this. I forget the exact conversation we had, but I pretty much just said something along the lines of, “Dude, we don’t have a whole lot of time to make art, so lets make this character something simple. What if he was just one dark color, really plump, had stubby little bulldog legs, and two beady little white eyes?”
The story of CRUNGUS himself was spawned out of my sleep-deprived mind at 4:00 AM. We didn’t originally have plans to make a whole story or three sequels to CRUNGUS (one of these sequels is in development as of right now), it just sort of happened. I think we decided to continue working with this ever-evolving story because it’s a good way to make your game feel like it has a whole world built up around it, and frankly I have a lot of fun thinking of all the stupidly silly ways we can expand this story.”
Sleep-deprived minds come up with some really unique ideas from time to time. CRUNGUS is one of them and continuing the story through a quarterly game jam made this team stand out in my mind. Hearing the ever-changing adventures of this weird creature — it makes you want to hear more about them.
CRUNGUS 3: Mrs. CRUNGUS’ protagonist is able to possess a variety of objects to solve the level, however there are many objects that are just for fun — how did you find time to put in this level of detail?
“As a game, CRUNGUS 3 is fairly short. We wanted it to be that way from the very start, as we learned from our first project that a short, cohesive, and fun experience is way better than a long and poorly made one (this goes without saying). We tried to keep the development of the main game short so we could take time to focus on small details.
It’s extremely important to think ahead when creating any project and work on what you need before you add the polish and detail that makes the game fun. Know what you’re going to need and when you’re going to need it, and once that’s all out of the way think about what you want. In the context of CRUNGUS 3, we needed to make a proper platformer first and add the possession mechanic as well as all the levels, and then after we added that, we moved onto creating the paintings with eyes that follow you and the spooky secret rooms that we wanted.
If you don’t take the time to plan ahead, you’re either going to end up with an unfinished game that has little details everywhere, or a “complete” game that lacks any polish. Are details and polish required for a cohesive and fun experience? I’d argue yes, but should you prioritize them over finishing the main game first? Absolutely not. If you don’t have a game that works, where are you going to put all of that polish and detail?”
The GM48’s theme, as mentioned, is voted on by the community. I am always very curious how developers react to the theme and come up with the ideas they create.
How did you feel when you heard about the theme and how did you go about figuring out a concept from that theme?
“I think our collective thought as a team when we first saw what theme we were dealing with was, “Well, what are we gonna do now?” We made a bit of a mistake and just assumed that the “Explosive” theme was going to win, and our plan for that was to make a game where your player character can possess objects and then explode them, which sounds a bit uninteresting in hindsight – and before voting for themes even began, we had another idea for a CRUNGUS-themed DOOM-style first person shooter that would appropriately be named “CRUNGUS 3D“.
So, almost right after the theme was announced all three of us hopped into a Discord voice chat and began planning. We immediately knew the game was going to be a platformer, but we needed to think of a way to apply the theme.
Eventually, I thought of the idea to carry over the possession mechanic from our previous concept, but instead of just being able to explode objects, you’d be able to interact with them in a variety of different ways. While that was an interesting mechanic by itself, it still didn’t work with the “One Shot” theme, so I just made it so once you stop possessing an object, you won’t be able to possess it again. From there on, it was relatively smooth sailing.”
Moo mentioned that planning ahead was necessary to create a finished, polished product, however when it comes with theme, it’s hard to actually plan ahead. There is always a chance that the theme you are thinking about isn’t the theme that gets chosen, which was the case here.
Thinking about the restrictions of the jam and keeping the timeframe in mind does force developers to prioritise, especially when using a new version of the engine. Since this jam requires developers to use the GameMaker engine, I figured it would be best to talk about that as well as the jam as a whole.
What is your experience with developing using GameMaker? How did it go?
“I did have a brief phase of wanting to make games and trying to use GameMaker to develop them a long time ago, maybe about seven years ago. I gave up on that pretty quickly because I wasn’t even a preteen yet. This was the first gm(48) I opted to use GameMaker Studio 2 for, and overall I’d say it was a very nice experience. Features like the new layer system and auto-tiling made it a lot easier to create rooms, especially given the time constraints.”
How was participating in the gm(48)?
“The gm(48) is one of only two jams I’ve participated in, the other one being the Ludum Dare. I’ve been participating in the gm(48) since the 21st gm(48), and I’d say this was probably the most fun one yet.
On our first shot at the gm(48), we didn’t really do too well. That was definitely a learning experience, as I did end up screwing that up a bit. The game was way too slow-paced and tedious; overall it wasn’t a fun game.
Fortunately, we took the feedback we got from that game and made the first CRUNGUS game for the 22nd gm(48). Making that game was much easier than making our first game because we had knowledge of what to do and what not to do thanks to the feedback from our first game. After that, we made CRUNGUS 2 for the next gm(48), and for the latest one we made CRUNGUS 3.
Overall, I can’t recommend the gm(48) enough, because every time you make a game for it, you have the firm knowledge that if you put the information you’ve gained from feedback on your previous games and a little more effort into your next game, you will do better than the last time.”
The GM48 is a community — the people around this jam are all very active in giving feedback, communicating with each other and even helping each other out. It’s wonderful when jams have such a community vibe around them and it really catches my attention, which this jam has done.
The next GM48 is on January the 13th, 2018. If you are interested in joining an amazing community of developers all using the GameMaker engine, I would suggest checking out this jam. It’s also a super good opportunity to make a quick game and test out new features in the GameMaker Studio 2 engine.