Games and prototypes by Ciro Continisio

Jammers Don’t Use Drugs

This weekend is Ludum Dare #33 but as much as I wanted to take part, I couldn’t really get inspired by the theme “You Are the Monster” (not to mention that 4 LDs ago the theme was “You Are the Villain”… imagination much?).

But I definitely got inspired by this tweet where a mythical beverage by Luis Díaz Peralta is mentioned. You see, for us in GMT+1 Ludum Dare started at 3 am, and many people around Europe decided to skip the night of sleep, and actually get to work immediately. Personally, after more than 20 jams, I’ve decided to take it easy and not to “jump into the jam whatever time it is”, but let things take their natural course. My plan would have been: go to sleep relatively early, wake up around 8 am, read the theme, shower, get breakfast and start brainstorming.

So I came up with this:

It’s a silly modification of the famous graphic that appeared in the 80’s arcade cabinets before games, where the FBI prompted young gamers not to use drugs. I don’t want to syndicate on people use of drugs, but if you’re going to jam, don’t use “drugs” (and by drugs I include coffee too) to keep you awake when you shouldn’t be: trust me, your productivity will be greatly enhanced.

The rebirth of the blog (and website)

Hey everyone! It’s been a long time and I’ve been neglecting this website for much too long… if you check, apart from a couple of recent updates, the sixth-seventh article (at the time of writing) is already from about 2-3 years ago!! That’s a long time!

And the layout and general look… I mean, look at this:

Old websiteIt seems like the website was made in 2010 or something… oh wait, it actually was!

So, I’ve decided today that I wanted to revamp the whole blog, website, graphics and contents, and I did. I moved everything to WordPress, chose a simple and free theme (named “Coeur”, which proved to be awesome in every respect) and made the switch. The Prototypes are still missing, but after 5-6 hours of fiddling around, I’m mostly done.

So, expect more and more articles soon, especially devlogs about FATAL ERROR!

FATAL ERROR is on Steam Early Access

The game I’ve been developing with Ennio Pirolo for the past few months has finally landed on Steam. Check the trailer:

FATAL ERROR is a local multiplayer shooter with a twist: everybody is looking at the same screen, but there is information that only one player knows. We achieve this through what we call “stealth mechanics”, which add a lot of spice to the matches and have proved to be kinda fresh, and a lot of fun.

Why Early Access?

FATAL ERROR is a game that has been shaped by player feedback from its very first days: before it went into alpha, it had already been showcased in 3 game events. We take feedback very seriously and that’s why we decided to bring it to Early Access: we have a clear idea of where the game is going, but we want the players to be able to shift the course of development, suggest new features and voice their opinion on the ones we have in mind.

We planned many tools to communicate with you players, and we intend to use them in full force:

  • We will use the Community Hub for main feedback and suggestions.
  • We have a public development board on Trello, where players will be able to vote on the features they suggest and follow the development closely.
  • We also have a dedicated public board for tracking bugs.

Finally, you can see the roadmap for future builds on our public Roadmap on Wunderlist.

UFHO2 is on Steam

It took a looong time and there were a few bumps on the road, but finally, UFHO2 is on Steam. As Steam would say, “insert confetti here”!!

For those of you who don’t know what UFHO2 is, take a look:

It’s a delicious mix between a board and a strategy game. You play as an alien who is trying to navigate a maze-like UFO, in the effort of getting to the room where the gem of power is before your opponent. It’s a brainy game for puzzle-lovers, with plenty of content that will keep you occupied for a while and local multiplayer to challenge your friends.

On Steam you can get also a Deluxe edition which includes the soundtrack and a bunch of extras:

It just took 4 years, didn’t it? :-)

The Indie Speed Run is looming on us!

Just a quick blog post to tell you all that next week, I’m going to participate in the Indie Speed Run with two of the top-tier backers for UFHO2!

The original text of the reward description (among other things):

[…] we’ll have a brainstorming about a small game which then we will develop with your creative help.

As a part of their rewards, in fact, the backers of this tier were supposed to be able to brainstorm and create a game with me. We will use the Indie Speed Run as an excuse to do it, and to do it fast!

I’ll work with Bill, a musician turned web developer with years of experience, who’ll take a coding role – collaborating with me on Github. Nathan will join us, but since he’s very very busy with a day job in the game industry he will probably only be able to chime in for the concept part.
Here’s our team, Team Peach Pie (in honor of Bill, who’s from Ontario) follows my naming convention for jam teams, like GGJ 2010’s Team Focaccia or last year’s ISR’s Team Pastiera.

So, follow us on Twitter @ccontinisio and (if Bill feels about using it) @estrategylab, or on Tiny Colossus’ FB page. We’ll start around 23 GMT on monday, which will be midnight here in Rome and between 14 and 18 in Bill and Nathan’s timezones. Crazy!

UFHO2 is out on Desura Alphafunding!


After 9 months in development, we finally launched UFHO2 on Desura Alphafunding!
You have the chance to get it now at 40% off while in alpha/beta stage, and of course this purchase will become the full version when it becomes available.
You can get it for PC, Mac and Linux! Nobody’s left out!


What’s this “alpha100”?

This version of the game is called alpha100, and will be the base for the progress that will lead to version 1.0. Future alpha builds will be called alpha101, alpha102, and so on…
Speaking of features, here’s the changelog as it appears in the Desura build:

Added Commander palace stage
Added Void stage
Added a 2 seconds waiting time before starting the turn for the AI
Added a Quit button in the main menu
Added full galaxy map with missions submenu
Added interface animations in the main menu

Changed the banner for the resolution dialog
Changed the black overlay so now it’s shown on the very first turn as well
Changed the maximum player number for the Downed UFHO stage at two players
Changed the menu so it goes back to the last option after a match
Changed the stage selector in Local Match

Fixed the audio bug in the main menu

As you can see, there’s a couple of new stages to try in local multiplayer (both more or less dedicated to Commander Video), some tweaks to make the game more smooth, and a taste of what is to come in the story mode.

The game went live yesterday, and I already patched it once (it sported a nice game-breaking bug in one stage). I hope nobody encountered the bug yet, but anyway the guys at Desura were quick in getting the patch on the system during the night.

Kickstarter backers

If you backed UFHO2 during our Kickstarter campaign to receive the access to the alpha version (which means, 55$ and up) you already have a Desura key waiting in your inbox. Check the email (check the spam folder if you don’t see it!) or log into Desura with the same email you used during the campaign, and you will get the game.

We hope you will enjoy this first version of the game! Stay tuned and check the updates on Desura/IndieDB (or our Facebook page, or my Twitter) for more features coming!

New Alpha and IGF Submission

Submissions to the IGF 2013 are now closed, and we sent UFHO2 as an entry in the closing hours (so much near the end that we didn’t even receive the confirmation email :P).
The build we sent is also the new alpha version that I’m going to send to our backers of the campaign this evening, both on the iOS and desktop platforms.

Additions:– Tutorial!! An interactive and complete tutorial on the basics of the game.
– Voices for all the characters
– All the characters are unlocked
– AI is really though now, uses powerups LIKE A BOSS
– New improved Gem apparition, now 99% fair
– Posters on the walls in the main menu with references to our friend games (i.e. the ones where guest characters come from) – Can you spot them all 6?
– Minor improvements here and there, and also somewhere else

Also, on a side note, this morning the good folks at IndieDB/ModDB/Desura launched SlideDB, a new sister site specifically for touch/mobile games. And guess what, UFHO2 was 2nd in popularity right after his highness the Holy Minecraft! Cool!
(we’re third now, but well…)

So check your inboxes people, because UFHO2 is coming!

2D is not 3D (in case you didn’t know)


Hej hej! (swedish greeting)
I just wanted to tell everybody we’ve been working hard and have not escaped with the Kickstarter money.

No, really, today I want to talk about the switch of UFHO2 from 2D to 3D.
I was convinced that it was an easy change, and in terms of the overall work it is, because UFHO is ultimately made of simple geometries and the characters themselves are not humans with tons of bones, clothes, hair, etc – all things that are hard to render in 3D and that require a lot of work.
Our characters are mostly jellies, the UFHOs themselves are collection of repeated geometries (extruded hexagons :D) and so on.

This doesn’t mean that it’s all a piece of cake though.
One of the biggest issues I had was to port the point of view from 2D to 3D. Consider the old 2D top down view:

As you can see, the aliens were filling the entirety of the room that contained them. This was on purpose: there’s 49 rooms on screen at once, so they can have only a limited dimension. Making the alien as big as possible to keep its appearance interesting and meaningful, meant that he had to fill all the room.

When you port all of this in 3D, it doesn’t make sense. Imagine a room that’s 2,5 meters tall (I made it this tall so it can hold all the characters).
Now one of the first features I thought about when deciding to switch to 3D was the ability to rotate the camera a little bit to better appreciate the characters and the scenery. If you do, that’s how 2,5 meters tall rooms look like:

Additionally, if you see these rooms with the characters in them, it looks like they are in very, very narrow elevators where the walls are 2 cm from their faces. Which doesn’t make sense, because they are supposed to be rooms.

So a friend had a good idea: why not make the walls lower? Well, “lower” wasn’t the right word. But I could literally cut them, as if the player was seeing only a section of the UFHO.
This is a trick used by other games I guess, and it worked. First I cut them in half, getting this:

But it wasn’t enough. So I cut the area walls (the big hexagons) in half, and divided the rooms’ walls by 4:

This way, the UFHO looks like as if it had been sliced horizontally, while the characters, the gem and the powerups stand out beautifully and can be appreciated when the view is skewed. When you play normally, the camera stands almost perpendicularly to the playing area and gives all the clarity of the old 2D representation with a bit of the nice 3D depth:

The 3D is exaggerated with the help of external elements, which sit way above and below the UFHO to give additional depth of field. When you rotate the camera you see them on top of the UFHO, but if you just play they are arranged not to cover the playing area, so they don’t disturb the actual game (if you are a hardcore UFHO player you know you don’t want distractions).

A screen of another level, as you can see the virtual reality spotlights are mounted on structures that sit way above the floor, but you notice only when you rotate the view (as in this screen):

A lot of things in those screens are not final of course (the characters, first of all!). But you can get a hint of the direction where UFHO is headed.
Do you like it? Any suggestions? Voice them in the comments, we are listening!

Until next time.