The 2018 Game Developer's Conference will feature an exhibition called Alt.Ctrl.GDC dedicated to games that use alternative control schemes and interactions. Gamasutra will be talking to the developers of each of the games that have been selected for the showcase. You can find all of the interviews here.
Your spaceship is falling apart in CLUNKER JUNKER, a game where two players have to crank tools to provide power to various parts of their constantly-breaking ship to survive. With four parts that need repairs, limited space for players to move around each other, and having to actually crank the tools to create power, players will be in for a frantic task to keep the ship in one piece.
Developer H N R Y had a chat with Gamasutra about creating this fast-paced cooperative experience, talking about the thoughts that went into designing the stations players need to keep intact, why they want players to actually provide the power with their actions, and why they wanted people to work together to keep themselves intact.
What’s your name, and what was your role on this project?
My name is Andrew and I'm the main Unity developer for the project.
How do you describe your innovative controller to someone who’s completely unfamiliar with it?
It's like a super futuristic screwdriver that interfaces with many different ports. It's like the gigolo of screwdrivers.
What's your background in making games?
No formal background, just a passion for making them. Started up making alternative controller games with Henry and Jaeseong (the team's other two members) in 2015 and kept going since.
What development tools did you use to build CLUNKER JUNKER?
The game is built with the latest version of Unity + Arduino for the controllers.
What physical materials did you use to make it?
Mostly plywood and aluminium and various other hardwares :).
How much time have you spent working on the game?
So far, around 30 hours. By the time GDC rolls around, it'll be closer to 50-60.
How did you come up with the concept?
We wanted to create a game that incorporated a cooperative multiplayer aspect, since it seemed to be the most fun for the conference visitors. After that, we began thinking of different interactions and movements the players could be doing, and ultimately settled on this 'repairing' behavior. Once we had the behavior settled, we focused on building an experience around that action and ended up with the spaceship-race-against-time concept.
What thoughts went into the design of the repair tool? In making it really power parts of the ship?
We wanted it to actually work! And it does! The repair tool actually interfaces with the various ports around the 'ship' and allows you to control them or operate them manually. We are using the voltage generated by the controller to receive input from the stations, so the cranking is not just for fun!
What do you feel having to physically generate power added to CLUNKER JUNKERS' frantic play?
It adds a sense of urgency and realism to the game. If the power generation was merely for show, you might not feel as in control of the ship as we'd like. The power generation ultimately plays a pivotal role in how successful you are, and we think it makes the experience that much better.
How did you create the four parts of the ship players needed to maintain? Their manual and automatic states?
There can be many different components of a ship, so we settled on four that we thought were most readily identifiable and made the most sense to people at first glance. Once we settled on the stations, we were concerned with making it too complicated for people to just casually pick up and be successful with only a 7-8 minute play time. We felt the best way to simplify the experience was to give each station 2 states, a manual state (where the player is interfacing with their repair tool) and an automatic state (which performs a function autonomously).
What made you make in a co-op experience? What does this cooperative play add to CLUNKER JUNKERS?
It makes the experience a little more hectic having to coordinate with another person. Add in a relatively confined space and an unfamiliar tool/group of stations, and what you get is a (hopefully) fun and anxiety-inducing adventure!
How do you think standard interfaces and controllers will change over the next five or ten years?
As the industry moves forward, I think we'll see more of the same, traditional controllers from the 'big boys' like Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo loves to do their own thing and certainly has some interesting takes on controllers since the inception of the Wii. As for everyone else, I think there will be a shift towards AR-based games as the capabilities of that technology improve. I wouldn't be surprised if in 5-10 years we start seeing some really immersive AR games that make us rethink what a video game can really be.