Making of Super Mega Baseball No.8 – OrcaJam & Dan

The founders met the 4th member of the Super Mega Baseball team, an artist, at a local game jam - where they built an oil tanker sim together!

This is the 8th post in our series about the making of Super Mega Baseball. This post was copied over from our blog.



At this point in the story, it’s late summer 2012. Scott, Christian and Tobyn are still working away but starting to feel a little crammed, so they upgrade to a larger, 700 sq ft office space. But still without a playable game, they were ready to bring on more help – team member #4, Dan Lupton. And it all started with something called OrcaJam.


Liane: What is OrcaJam?

Scott: OrcaJam is an awesome game jam in Victoria. For those that don’t know what a game jam is, it’s where a bunch of developers and artists get together and build games really quickly over the weekend.


Liane: So how did you guys decide who you were going to work with and what you were going to make at OrcaJam?

Scott: I can’t remember…why did we decide to go to OrcaJam in the first place?

Christian: You wanted to go. I didn’t really want to go. We went, and it’s a really crammed situation where everybody brings their computer and sits really close together. And Dan was sitting to our immediate left. I don’t know if that was intentional or not.

Scott: Yeah, I had seen him there when we were setting up and recognized him because we had met at one of the other local meetups – shout out to LevelUp, IDGA Victoria. And the first thing we did when we went to the game jam was go to the liquor store. We walked over to get a beer and Dan was filling me in on his idea for a game jam game. By the time we got back with our beer – which we probably weren’t supposed to have – we decided to make the game. So it was Christian, myself, and Dan that made the team for the weekend.


Let’s bring Dan in now and get his perspective on the OrcaJam weekend.

Dan: So I pitched my idea to Scott, while we were running to the liquor store to buy liquor for OrcaJam, and he liked it, so we went back and had a beer with Christian and he liked the idea so we did it. We were in a room of like 50 indies, and there were some people there that I knew of, some famous indies out there, and I was like “oh my god that guy’s here! He’s like 10 years younger than me, but he’s my hero.” **Laughs** I’m such a dork. I was like super nervous, like terribly terrified nervous. I could barely raise a glass to my lips to take a drink, let alone make stuff. But it went over pretty well, I think. I think people liked it. It was fun. Either way, we worked really hard for three days. And we actually did make a game. It was broken, and didn’t have all the features. But it ran, and it was pretty fun to make.


Liane: The game you made was called Tanker Sim, right? Tell me about it.

Dan: I thought, there’s a lot of controversy over these oil tankers going over the coast of BC, supertankers. And back then there were like “No Tankers!” pins and stuff that everybody was wearing…at least all the cool granola kids were wearing ‘em. So there’s a whole campaign sweeping the city about these tankers and I was like, it would be kind of funny if we just made a terrible environmentally destructive game that was based on tankers spilling oil and destroying ecosystems and wildlife. In a very playful way.

Christian: So the current political event here in BC was this company was trying to build this tanker station, they had released a map showing that it was not actually dangerous to bring these big oil tankers up there, but they had doctored a whole bunch of islands out of the map so the channel was nice and wide open and super safe for passage. But if you look at an actual satellite image there are all these islands in the way they just conveniently got rid of. So the joke of our game was that you drive this tanker through this channel which was actually like the accurate map. We took their map that they released without the islands, and then randomly the real islands would just pop up in front of you, so it became almost impossible to drive the tanker out because it’s actually really narrow. You'd crash into these islands and spill oil into the ocean. I think you could hit wildlife, too. Yeah you could accidentally run over whales. So, that was the game. **Lots of laughter**

Scott: Instead of a score going up, your score started with a large profit, and then every time you’d crash into something your profit would go down. So this project together at OrcaJam was sufficiently awesome that we knew we could do some real work together after that.

Alright, enough talk. Let's see some actual clips from Tanker Sim:


Liane: After the game jam, what happened?

Scott: We basically just left it off that Dan would come by and visit the office. We showed him some stuff and he offered to help out, just to try it, just to give it a shot and make us a little bit of stuff. So we took him up on that, and went from there.

Christian: Yeah and I think he pretty much started concepting out some of the UI and stuff that we have in the game now.

Scott: Yeah he started almost exclusively with 2D stuff, even though he ended up getting into a whole bunch of other stuff later in the development cycle, he started on UI stuff.

Here's a screenshot of some of the early UI Dan built:



Liane: Dan, why did you decide to offer to help out?

Dan: The day I met Scott at this meetup group - and I rarely go to those - he had a really crappy video of Super Mega Baseball, what it was back then. And I was really impressed, because they had a full crowd happening. And it was the crowd that really impressed me because, sure they’ve got a baseball game and sure that’s hard to make, but I had already worked on crowds at Electronic Arts and our crowd tools were terrible. Scott explained how they did it, and I was blown away by the fact that two guys sitting in a basement could compete with EA. Just on that one little feature of the game. So it was like “wow, these guys know what they’re doing, they’re not faking it.” So I was pretty impressed with that. Something like that in Victoria was quite rare. Especially back then there was absolutely no game developing here, it was like a wasteland, so when I moved back from Vancouver and saw that people are actually building games here I thought “this is pretty cool, I can actually make a living in my hometown doing what I love, so why not work with these guys who clearly know what they are doing from this awesome cell phone footage.” 


Liane: So how did that transition into you coming and working on Super Mega Baseball?

Dan: I think Christian and Scott and I got along pretty well, during those three days at OrcaJam. We had a lot of laughs making that thing. I think we all kind of had the same sense of humor. And so, they knew I was kind of ridiculous and over the top and, kind of just dumb. And they kind of liked that. So, I don’t know how that actually transitioned to me getting a real job. I definitely wanted to come on and work for them, I had also seen what Tobyn had done and I was like, pretty into his art style too. And I think I just started working on things, and they were like “I like that.”


Liane: What was it like in the beginning?

Dan: I actually didn’t work in the office for a long time, it was a year of me working at home. I’d come in every now and again, but the majority of the time I was working from home, on a laptop. And Scott was getting me to do things that I had never done before. Like user interface, and character animation. And I was totally scared. Every time he would ask me to do something I’d be like “I’ve never done this before, I’m scared.”  He’s like “Don’t worry about it, we don’t know what we’re doing anyways.” So the very first things I was doing were UI stuff, and just 2D things. Like a lot of painting and drawing.

It’s been fun. Challenging. I’ve learned a lot of stuff. I love doing character animation, that’s kind of my thing that I realize I have a bit of a knack for, because I’m a bit wacky myself. That was one of the things that I picked up quite quickly, these little guys that we were making do baseball stuff, they were really fun to animate and I got to do really wacky animations. Half of them got used, the other half they just didn’t have time to put them in the game.

We'll end this post with one of Dan's wacky animations:

Coming up in the next post, we'll dig into the business side of things and the struggle the guys faced trying to fund the project.



This post was copied from our blog.


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