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Ragdoll Acrobats: GCG Interviews IGF Finalists

CarneyVale: Showtime, a student-made game about a circus acrobat, was just named a finalist in the IGF 2009 main competition. GameCareerGuide has just posted an in-de
GameCareerGuide, Gamasutra’s sister site for education and career advice about the game industry, has just posted an interview with the student developers of Carneyvale: Showtime, which was named a finalist in the 2009 Independent Games Festival. The game is about a circus acrobat and uses ragdoll physics to fling the character through a pinball-like environment. Players can manipulate a wide variety of props to get the main character through the game environment, catching and flinging the acrobat using trapeze-like grabbers. Carneyvale: Showtime also comes with a map editor, allowing players to create new maps and levels. In the interview, Bruce Chia, a programmer on the team who is also a student at the National University of Singapore and is professionally affiliate with the Singapore-MIT Gambit Game Lab, discusses a number of technical issues the team hashed out in making the game, from optimization to ragdoll physics: “The theme of CarneyVale: Showtime was based on a previous game that was developed under Gambit called Wiip. In that game, you played as a ringmaster, trying to tame your animals by whipping them. We decided to develop this game in the same world, but instead base it on circus acrobatics. This led us to the idea of using a ragdoll as the acrobatic main character named Slinky. We tried out various ways to make the ragdoll perform tricks and stunts including gaining points by crashing into the surrounding environment. However, the idea did not turn out to be very fun so we decided to invert the controls such that the player controls the environment instead of directly controlling Slinky. We were much happier with the change, and although some work was discarded, it turned out to be the best decision we made. Development started around March 2008 and we developed the game in four months of full production time. … Fang Liang was concentrating on the ragdoll physics for the character. The difficulties there included getting the ragdoll to shift into different poses upon interaction with different objects. For example, a dash move in our game will make the ragdoll spread out its limbs, while another game object the ragdoll can interact with will turn the ragdoll into a sitting position like a ball. As for myself, I concentrated on optimizing the game the most. This was especially tough because there were many parts to the game, including the physics, graphics, and particle effects.” In the interview, available in full on GameCareerGuide, Chia also discusses how the team took cues from games such as Pinball, Super Mario Galaxy, and even the sport of soccer, to get the gameplay just right.

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