Bachelor Thesis – Making Citizens in a City Building Game Memorable: Burghers

Burghers

Burghers is a 3D real-time city building game set in the medieval era. The player is the leader of a new settlement, and as such, aims to grow the settlement’s population and wealth.
It is a direct continuation of Warriors and Serfs, but with different design goals. Where Warriors and Serfs was always intended to have combat as integral part of gameplay, Burghers is about the citizens. The design goal for the game was to make the citizens interesting (memorable) through randomly generated properties.

The written part of the thesis explored methods of making that happen, and proposes a list of possible features to implement. In order to create the list I analysed recent games as well as other media.

I am very satisfied with my work on the written part of the thesis. I gathered an interesting collection of properties that have shown to be effective in other games.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the progress of Burghers, however. At the beginning of the three-month period I had for the thesis, I decided to fix some of the technical debt that resulted from the dirty fixes I made in Warriors and Serfs. I greatly improved a lot of the architecture for implementing new items, buildings or types of citizens, however doing so took me around three weeks. These improvements made no direct difference to the player, and in the remaining time, I could hardly make use of the improved development flow.
The final result is that Burghers doesn’t feel much different from Warriors and Serfs, and citizens are hardly more memorable. Instead of focussing on improving for the long term, I should’ve focussed on the immediate goals at hand – making the citizens more interesting. I wrote more about this in the Documentation about Burghers, which is part of the Bachelor Thesis.

Watch the Gameplay Video:

Here are download links for the thesis:

Semester Project BA6: Rescue Tactics

Rescue_Image

Rescue Tactics (previously Force of Nature) is an educational game about natural disasters.
The player takes on the role of a local first responder in the event of a natural disaster. They need to navigate a city full of hazards retrieve a citizen in danger, and get them to safety.

We made Rescue Tactics in our sixth Semester of Studying at CGL. Besides me, the team consisted of Alicja OssowskiCaterina BöhmTatjana EngelsAnna Rosenkranz (Artists), Dmitry Borovikov (Programming) and Andreas Gefken (Design and Management).

I was the main programmer during this project. I setup the project and prototyped the two gamemodes. During the project I still did most of the programming work, including everything relating to the levels (except sound). I also guided Dmitry in his work, as it was his first time using Unreal.
Since the game needed to be in german and in english, I also handled the technical aspect of localization.

This video shows off pretty much all of the content and features of the game.

Download the game HERE.
You can read more about the development Process HERE.
The Game was published on the University of Cologne’s Website for Geography didactics, see HERE.

Sound Design BA6: Sonic City Map

SonicCityMapScreenshot

The Sonic City Map is a small sonic experience we did in a day. The player can move around a small part of a city and switch between modern and Victorian times to experience the changing soundscape.

This game was created for our Sound Design Task. Armand had the original idea which I joined in on, and Patrick made the unity prototype. I only adjusted some scripts for more varied audio file playback, and I did the sound design for the street performer (top left corner) and the market (bottom right corner) locations.

You can download the Game HERE.

Self-Initiated Project BA5: Warriors and Serfs

Warriors and Serfs is a 3D real-time city-building / strategy game for PC with a focus on building a settlement with a functioning economy, set in the medieval era.

Warriors and Serfs puts you in the place of a Count in the medieval times. Your king has given you the task to build a new settlement and defeat his enemies, so you set out with a few loyal servants and materials to do as he commands.
Warriors and Serfs allows you to gather a multitude of different resources and refine them into food, building materials and weapons.
Every item exists physically and can be transported by your ever-diligent Serfs to construction sites, the weapon smiths, or the warehouse. Therefore the placement of your buildings is a major factor in the effectiveness of your economy.
The goal is to accumulate enough resources to construct the Palace Building.

This game was a solo project I made during my fifth semester at Cologne Game Lab, as part of the Exchange & Practice Semester. We had pretty much complete freedom of choice on what we would do for this Project, so I chose to make a game I had been wanting to make for the previous year or so, but knew I didn’t have enough time to really work on it otherwise.

During this project I learned how to use Unreal Engine, and I used Behavior Trees for the first time. I wrote the system for delivering items in C++. I made a (dynamic) tutorial for the first time, which proved quite successful, judging from the final exhibition of the game!

This gameplay video is of a later version of Warriors and Serfs, Burghers.

You can read the Dev Blog HERE!
You can download the latest version of the game HERE

Semester Task BA4: Crapmania

crapmania screenshot

Crapmania is a no-contact multiplayer racing game where each player races to beat the others’ and their own best times. As players will race around the same track for a certain time and restart every time they finish, the players will eventually come closer to driving the perfect round, in the absolute best possible time.
The game features LAN multiplayer with player login to a local wamp server. The game will show each player’s best time, and the server best time. The player best time is saved to an sql database o the wamp server, and will be checked when a player logs back in.

I made the game in the fourth Semester at cologne game lab, for the programming module.
The task was to make a multiplayer game with potentially infinite players live at a time, using a C++ Server.
I made the client in unity and the server in visual studio as a windows console application. The c++ server communicates with the sql database through php.
Everything that involves server-client connections as well as php and most of sql was new to me at the start of the semester, so I felt very happy with what I managed to achieve in the two weeks I spent on the project.

You can download the game HERE!

Semester Project BA4: Trash Chicken

Concept Art 1

 

Trash Chicken is a Top-Down Shooter Destruction Fantasy.
The player is a giant chicken bent on destroying the evil foxes’ city, and freeing the captured chicks from them. As the chicks are being freed, they join the horde following the player and attacking the foxes until they become an unstoppable force.

Trash Chicken was created in my fourth Semester of studying at CGL as the collaborative project, with Rick Hoppman, Caterina Böhm and Omar Ruiz.

You can download the game HERE (PC, Mac, Linux).
Or you can watch a Gameplay Video HERE.
You can read about the development process HERE.

Sound Design BA4: Blindflug

BlindFlug

BlindFlug is a cockpit sonification experience. The player’s task is to lift a plane off the runway and bring it in a stable position to activate the autopilot. However, the player is blind! They must rely on the Audio-Feedback of the engines and airflow to gauge their current speed and altitude.

This game was created for our Sound Design Task. I created the original Game Design and worked with Andreas on improving it. I built the prototype in around one to two days.
The most interesting aspect of this project was the playtesting afterwards, which gave so much important insight on how we could improve the game!

You can download the Game HERE.

Semester Task BA3: TwoVenture Game and Engine

TwoVentureGame Endboss

TwoVenture Game is a classical 2D Point&Click Adventure. The player takes on the role of a samurai who finds himself in a strange place, and attempts to find his way back home. The game is filled with silly references to different franchises and is almost more of a tech demo than a proper game, as I spent most of my time on designing the engine, rather than the game.

This game is the result of the Semester Task in my third semester at cologne game lab, and I worked on it alone.
The task was to create a Point&Click adventure using only C++, SFML, and tinyXML. I learned all of these things within one semester and applied them in the game to my best efforts, and I am very satisfied with the outcome!

Watch the Gameplay Video (choppy video, desynchronized sound from recording):

You can download the game HERE!

Semester Project BA3: Q®

QR Logo
Q® (“QR”) is a Collectible Card Game / Outdoor Card Hunting Experience for android. It features an original card game with a corporate theme, faction VS faction metagame, and physical-space card hunts. You are recruited by one of the eight corporations as an area manager to increase your corporation’s profits and public appearance. Win card games against players from other corporations to increase your corporation’s power. Team up with other players of your faction to find powerful cards to add to your decks, and become the megacorp to rule the world.

Q® was the third Semester Project I did in the CGL (Nov 30th 2016 – Feb 2nd 2017). I worked with Andreas Gefken, Caterina Böhm, Matthias Siegel, Owen Franke, and Sarah Engelhardt on this.

I made the Unity Prototype except for the QR-Scanning and collecting new cards. This included the entire card-game mechanics and deck-builder, as well as the menus. I also acted as the project leader in the second half of the project.

You can download the android apk, a PC and Mac build HERE.
You can read about the development process HERE.

Semester Project BA2: The Toddler Connection

TTC Title

The Toddler Connection is a detective game for the HTC Vive. It features investigative dialogue, with a unique dialogue mechanic, as well as two distinct perspectives on the world. You take on the role of a toddler in kindergarten who likes playing detective and solving mysteries. Once again playing his game of detective, he searches for the stolen bracelet of his crush, the kindergarten teacher. By talking to the other toddlers in kindergarten, or rather their film-noir alter egos, you find clues and hints about the missing bracelet until you can finally face the thief!

The Toddler Connection is the second Semester Project I did in the Cologne Game Lab, during May to July of 2016. I worked with Felix Schade, Pierre Schlömp and Dominique Bodden on this.

I worked together with Felix Schade on the VR controls and the “inventory” part of the dialog system, and made the dialog system itself on my own.

Watch the Gameplay Video:

Click HERE to read the development Blog, or download the presentation build of the game HERE.