Bunny Splash’s Trio and Incredible Jam Games! • Status Report – May 2021

Bunny Splash Casino Main Character Trio and Social Media Plans! Two New Jam Games and Monthly Recommendations • Status Report for May 2021

April’s out, and it’s time to make May shine! 🥳 Our anniversary month went great! As far as we can tell, ever since the foundation of our studio, we don’t recall having as good of a month as this past month has been! It certainly feels like we’ve just had the perfect kick-off into another amazing year!

If you’ve missed our announcement from last month’s anniversary blog post, going forward, we will be writing monthly status reports like these! They will be dedicated to going in-depth about our current plans and doings. 

Collage featuring highlights from April!
Highlights from April!

We have a lot of news to cover this month! Starting with Bunny Splash Casino progress, we’ve just finished the concept artwork for our trio of main characters. Additionally, we’ve released two completely new jam games as Treasure Projects. And finally, we cap it off with our new Whales Of Culture recommendations from this month! There’s a lot to get into so let’s dive into it! 🐳

Voyage Journal

Progress with Bunny Splash Casino, our adults-only management simulation game, continues underway! We’ve been working on the game’s core prototype these past weeks, and we’ve recently finished making some new experiments with the art direction that we want to give to our characters!

While we will still have to further test how this style will adapt to the in-game sprites and backgrounds; it’s really motivating to see these characters coming together in such a polished fashion.

As such, we would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the first three characters from the game! This will be the trio of characters that will accompany you right from the start of the game! Here’s your first look at them! 🐇

Starting Character Trio Concept Art for Bunny Splash Casino
Starting Character Trio Concept Art for Bunny Splash Casino

From left to right these are Cheqmate, Dally and Jack!

  • Cheqmate, who you have been introduced to through previous posts, is the main character of Bunny Splash Casino! She’s your narrative point-of-view for the game and a playful and assertive former real-estate agent turned casino-owner by luck. She’s best-friends to Dally and Jack, which she invited on-board for the mission of getting the casino going! Her clothes are themed after the suit of hearts.
  • Dally is a quirky upbeat and party-animal woman. She immediately jumped aboard the casino idea when she was first asked to join. Formerly a retail worker, she’s full of energy and easy-going. She enjoys getting tipsy and will bring a whole lot of fun to the casino and its customers. Her clothes are themed after the suit of clubs.
  • Jack is an overly theatrical hunk of a man. While he originally wanted to be an adult film actor, life played its cards. Instead, he had to get through small acting gigs and one-time jobs in the Eden Strip. Despite his somewhat prince-charming looks, he’s known to exaggerate and overreact. Just like the other two, his clothes are themed after the suit of spades.
Bunny Splash Casino Twitter
Follow Bunny Splash Casino on Twitter!

This month, we plan to start using our social channels for Bunny Splash Casino to post news about it again! We look forward to posting work-in-progress regularly; and allow you to have a closer look at it as it starts taking shape! If you’re interested, you can follow Bunny Splash Casino’s Twitter and Discord pages, as long as you’re an adult of age of course! 😉

Other than that, we will also continue working on the game’s prototype and start getting a full game loop going! While our plans might always change, we hope to introduce you to the first full-look at the world and logo in the next report! Look forward to it! 👀

Treasure Projects

In addition to the work we’ve done with Bunny Splash Casino, this month showcased exactly what we look to achieve with our Treasure Projects! This month was punctuated with the releases of both Townseek from our Global Game Jam post-jam and Vast Trivia Of The Void from Ludum Dare 48! That was two games back-to-back! 👏

Townseek Screenshot

Beyond the incredibly fun time that it was putting both of these games together, the reception that both games have been getting has completely caught-us off guard! Townseek got featured on Itch.io and it quickly rose to our 4th most played game in just two weeks. Likewise, Vast Trivia Of The Void is already up to 90-reviews in Ludum Dare 48! Wowie!

While it certainly is an amazing feeling to get two games with this much of a fantastic reception in a single month, as you might expect, it’s also very tiresome. While we’re very proud of both of the games that we’ve put out in such a short notice, we won’t be doing any game jams during this upcoming month. Instead, we’d like to prioritize working on Bunny Splash Casino for this month.

Townseek featured on itch.io
Townseek featured on the Itch.io Front Page

As such, the Treasure Projects we’ve got planned are in shorter quantity. Remember that all of the work and potential release dates that we have for these side-projects are extremely volatile!

  • Closing off the work that we’ve done with this Ludum Dare 48, you can look forward to a post-mortem on Vast Trivia Of The Void sometime in the coming weeks. Post-mortems detail our jam experience, our decision process and the lessons learned. Depending on how it goes, we might even do one for Townseek too!
  • While we’ll be skipping doing jams in May, we’re aiming to participate in Game Maker’s Toolkit Jam at the beginning of June! We’ve been looking forward to joining ever since they started, as we’re huge fans of Mark’s channel and videos. We’re glad to say we’ll be finally giving it a shot this year!
  • Last month we mentioned we wanted to introduce Community Roles to our Discord. Our goal is to motivate people to share more of their own content on our server! While we were not able to do it last month, we hope to retake that task again this month. We might even include some more server-tweaks alongside it!
  • While we update our Instagram regularly, we’ve always wanted to have a proper Art hub to gallery together the event and one-off artworks we make with our characters. This month, we’d like to create a proper art page here on the website!
  • If you understand the portuguese language, you can look forward to an interview we’ve got coming up this month with Pixel Glitch! Likewise, we will also be doing a a podcast with Café Mais Geek! We’ll be talking a bit about our fourth anniversary, things we’ve got planned for Bunny Splash Casino and beyond, and other casual questions!
Vast Trivia Of The Void Screenshot
Vast Trivia Of The Void

Overall, we will be keeping it chill this month with additional projects. That will allow us to work on even neater stuff with Bunny Splash Casino and to take care of smaller pending tasks! 🗄️

Whales of Culture

Finally, we’ve got our Whales of Culture recommendations from both of us for this month! 

While it certainly was harder to consume as much content with our busy schedule these past weeks, we’ve still got some recommendations for you! From sentai heroes to incompetent dads, here’s what we’ve got this month! 🍿

Chroma Squad Screenshot
Chroma Squad

This month I played through the super-fun adventure that is Chroma Squad! Made by the same developers that brought us Knights of Pen And Paper, the best way to describe the game is as an indie Power Rangers pixel-art strategical RPG! While it starts with a down-to-earth story about making an indie TV series and upgrading a humble studio, things escalate into absurd bliss. It goes over the top with robot kaiju fights, wacky villains and a really engaging story. It also helped that I named all the characters as Whaleverse characters, which only contributed more to the fun!

I didn’t really watch a lot of stuff this month, though I did have the opportunity to watch BNA: Brand New Animal. For folks that know Studio Trigger‘s work, this is another one season wonder. The plot revolves around a city where exiled human-animal hybrids go to live in the face of human discrimination. While I certainly wish there were more episodes to it, BNA does have its good amount of slice-of-life moments, an interesting developing mystery about Michiru (the human protagonist that suddenly became a beastman) and fantastic Studio Trigger animation work!

Bob's Burgers
Bob’s Burgers

I played Horace earlier this month. It has a great story with some funny nods to gaming history. It also has great gameplay (though very difficult at times). The pacing is a bit odd at times, but the bittersweet story of a robot that would do anything for his family and to play some more videogames will make you eager to find out what happens next, over and over. While there are better and more “mainstream” platformers out there, I can’t deny that this game has a lot of heart.

Also, I would like to recommend watching Bob’s Burgers. So many TV animated series are about incompetent dads or dysfunctional families. Yet, Bob’s Burgers thrives by giving the audience a lovable, wholesome family of relatable misfits, who would go to great lengths to support each other. The sitcom situations they encounter on each episode are hilarious. Things tend to go into unexpected developments, and usually wrap up with heart-warming lessons about family or accepting oneself.

May and Beyond!
May and Beyond!

And that rounds up this month’s worth of news! May will certainly be a calmer month compared to how hectic April was. However, we also need to have some chiller months so we can focus on our commercial games too!

We’re really stoked to continue working on Bunny Splash Casino and more that we’ve got scheduled ahead! In case we don’t see you in any other blog post we do this month, then we will catch you up ahead in next month’s report! 👋

Join our Discord Server Banner!

If you enjoyed what you’ve read and the games we do, we would love it if you could join our Discord community server! If you’re less keen on talking, you can always keep tabs on our progress through our Twitter or Instagram! Either option giving us a follow helps us to grow as well! 💛

As the pandemic starts loosening up, we hope that you’re able to start engaging in some community activities again. Even then, remember to stay safe, healthy, and take care of yourself! See you next time! Cheers! 🐳

Participate on the great game show with Vast Trivia Of The Void!

Vast Trivia Of The Void

What would an omniscient creature of the abyss do with all that knowledge? Well, host a trivia game, of course! Join the challenge of the Thing Of The Void (or Thothev for short) in Vast Trivia Of The Void and go deep into the abyss to win big! 👾

Put your knowledge of several topics to the test! Sports, history, science, anime, videogames and more! But since Thothev thought that just knowing wasn’t fun enough, move around in his playground, collecting cards and increasing your combo! Cash out or go deeper, for higher rewards but possibly higher risks! Monetary, of course!

Do you have what it takes to make it big? Will you come out as a winner in the biggest game show from the darkest pits of the universe?

Vast Trivia Of The Void is our brand new entry from Whales And Games for Ludum Dare 48! That’s worth three hectic days (plus porting to more platforms) of game development. And all of that was right after our release of Townseek last week! We may be super tired, but that’s not stopping us from hyping it around!

You can download the game, play it on the web or, as surprise, play it on your android mobile devices over on Itch.io! And if you were around Ludum Dare, you can rate our game here

In addition to our own questions, we’re also experimenting with allowing for users to make their own questions! For that, we’ve made the User Questions Manual with instructions of how anyone can make their own question packs! Neat! If you make some, or just want to discuss your own experiences with Thothev and his game, you can do so over at our Discord!

Joining us for audio this time around was Zak Blystone who has previously joined us while making Super Sellout and Petty Puny Planet, and his synth music fit our trivia game show like a glove! 👏

This month was truly packed-full of small happenings and games! We’re extremely proud and humbled by the reception that both Townseek and Vast Trivia Of The Void have been getting. We’ll be taking a few days-off to recover from all this jamming and play some of the jam’s games, but we still have Bunny Splash Casino and more on the horizon! We’ll talk about some more of our plans in our upcoming May’s Status Report, so we’ll be catching you then!

Enjoy Thothev’s crazy game show, and enjoy deepening your transdimensional trivia knowledge! 🌌

Results that make us bark with joy! Woofice Chair’s Ludum Dare Results!

Woofice Chair's Ludum Dare Results banner

Well, it seems that the dogs have come back to roost. (We know it’s a chicken thing, but accept the analogy, it’ll make sense)! And now, we can finally rest knowing we’ve got the Ludum Dare results for Woofice Chair! (told you it’d work). 🐶

Mock Office Chair Image before we came up with the final Woofice Chair

It’s always good to look back at and compare these, since they’re easy-to-understand metrics. They can practically show if we’ve improved or changed in certain aspects of development.

Before we getting into the ratings, we want to say that we’re humbled by the reception we got! We also got to play a ton of fun games, making it an all around fantastic period!

So let’s see how we performed with Woofice Chair! shall we?

Ludum Dare 47 Results

Ranking-wise, this is the highest we’ve got at Humour, which is fantastic! But here’s some fun statistical data, complete with our over-analysis of the situation.

At some point during a previous Ludum Dare, we made a Google Sheet to write down the results we’ve got in the past entries. It even got conditional formatting to give us better visual clues of important numbers! Gold cells represent our best at a jam yet, while red represents our worst:

Ludum Dare Rankings and Results since Petty Puny Planet

Rating-wise, this is our best Overall game with 4.15 (up from Wizsnooks’ 4.071). It’s also our game with the best results in Graphics, Humour and Mood. Yet, ranking wise, we’ve got past games that did far better in rankings.

Ludum Dare Ratings and Results since Hyper Holomayhem

Our “best game” in ratings is scoring lower in rankings likely for things mentioned before. The quality of good, fun games seem to be on the rise, likely as a result of people participating constantly. And that’s great! That only means that jams are getting better and better! There were also way more participants this time around that there were in any of our previous participants. Such increase is most likely the result of a certain ongoing worldwide unavoidable phenomenon. 😅

Finally, regarding the given ratings, we wanted to be more calm on this jam for a while. That’s why we didn’t rate as much as when we made Jazzy Beats. Because of the good words we received, we felt we needed to give back the good vibes and played a lot more games! A bit too late to catch up, but we still had a blast with your submissions!

Join our Discord Server!

For the time being, we’re rearranging some stuff as we get back on the commercial game development track. If you’d like to stay in contact with us, consider following us on Twitter! You’re invited to join us for a chat at our Discord Server as well! We’re preparing some Halloween goodies, so you should really stop by!

Thanks again for all the good will this time around! Wish you all the best of luck on the next Ludum Dare! 🐳

Polishing the Dog House! Woofice Chair’s Juice and Polish!

Polishing the Dog House! Woofice Chair’s Juice and Polish! Post Banner

Whenever we participate in a game jam, one of the core aspects people always compliment us on is on polish. With the release of Woofice Chair! those compliments came back around and we are very proud of receiving them again!

But what is this dark magical art that people call polish? And what about juice? While both are regarded as something to highlight in jam games, we believe polish is deeply connected with gameplay. Polish not only helps give a game a more complete-feel, but also helps making gameplay more satisfying to the player!

Continue reading

Working as a pack! Woofice Chair’s teamwork!

Working as a pack! Woofice Chair's teamwork!

Welcome to my pep talk, fellow jammers. I’m Moski, Whales And Games’ lead artist and I made the artwork for our team’s park protecting game Woofice Chair! 

For this Ludum Dare, we assembled a team of four. Two programmers, from Portugal and Brazil, an audio composer currently in the UK, and me, the graphics artist, from Mexico. For three days, we poured our hearts, soul and sweat into making what started as an inside joke about dogs and office chairs into an actual game. That meant, for me, three days of constant work and arm pressure!

Woffice Chair Tittle Screen

But I’ve got a confession to make regarding how I made art for the game. I did not touch the game until a day after it was finished and submitted. Yet, I worked with the team fluidly, like a well oiled and battle-tested machine. This comes as a result of a long time of mutual understanding, following certain guidelines and experience.

I want to make this quick, simple and digestible, so let’s quickly go through some things that have helped my team iterate and implement things fast enough. Whatever your role is in the team, this may be of use to you, and it can help pack and polish as much as possible during a jam!

Woofice Chair Gameplay Screenshot

Teamwork boils down to Communication! 💬

If you’re in a team, you need active communication between each other. It may sound obvious, but you may want to take a moment to think if you’re in the same channel as your teammates! Talk about when to cooperate and when to coordinate!

Our team is all over the world and are busy or sleeping at different times, meaning we need to know what everyone needs from each other as early as possible. Sure, you’ll talk about what the game will be about during the first hours, but the artist’s interpretation of the assets can be very different from the programmer’s plans.

Teamwork for coming up with a Concept Title in Affinity Photo

It’s important, then, to only start actually working in the production of the game when there’s a proper agreement of what’s actually being done. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of time making assets or concepts that won’t get used or don’t match the rest of the team’s vision.

Our team tends to make very quick ugly doodles to demonstrate what we’re brainstorming. This tends to include perspective, mock up of characters, gameplay screens, mechanics, and so on. These help immediately establish a vision across the team and which leads to my next point.

Early Concept Sketches for Woofice Chair

Total trust! Delegate and have faith! 🐕

Once everyone is on the same page, stay communicated, and share files around as they’re needed. In my role as the artist, my first assets tend to be placeholders for the bare minimum necessary that would allow the programmers to experiment with mechanics and playing area of the game. Simultaneously, they give me feedback on the things that are needed, like the resolution of the assets, the camera size of the area I’ll be drawing, and so on!

Early Mock-Up Area for Woofice Chair

But when this inevitably happens and people need to go to work or bed, those that are still available should still have the tools necessary to continue working. Once we had the basic assets, I had the opportunity to work on more dogs, more weapons, more enemies, make changes to the map and even make some UI with little to no input from the other members. Since drawing was my sole role, it meant three days of doing just that.

However, remember that you’re working with a team. Mind other people’s needs and skills, and adjust accordingly. Preferably, make some rules and protocols!

Park Rules in Clip Studio Paint

Some mild organization goes a long way in teamwork! 🗃️

There’s really very little time to work with during a Ludum Dare. You should use the opportunity to develop your skills and learn methodologies! With some agreements about file names, adjusting assets to constant sizes and organization, you can save on time that would otherwise be used in tweaking, fixing and finding files!

Squirrel enemy in Clip Studio Paint

Our team was able to easily add the assets into the game and tweak them without issues because of our consistency and methodologies. Most files were properly named, organized and sent in batches. All the sprite sheets of the same category had the same size for the panels and canvas. We knew what UI assets we’d need since we’ve done this before. We’ve found out that we can do a lot more when we have basic discipline.

This discipline is learned with time and practice! As you participate in more jams, you’ll find better ways to organize your archives, make folders, share them with your group, and adapt to whichever project is pursued. Talk constantly with your team, learn what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll soon find out that you’re doing plenty of the tasks without even thinking about them!

Grid of Assets in Clip Studio Paint

Working multiple times with the same team has its merits! 👷‍♂️

There are merits to learning to adapt to different teams. Experimenting is always a good thing! But knowing the people you’re working with is also a fantastic experience and can go long ways! This goes beyond getting along, having fun or synergy. Actually knowing how others work already helps a lot with avoiding common team-struggles, and helps push the project even further. 

Whalechan and Polite in Woofice Chair

For example, I know what my team is looking for when they need animations, or when they need particles, elements for UI, the project resolution, and many more. In the same vein, they know the kind of assets I can make, how I can deliver them, how to ask me for tweaks in small mistakes and the like. I didn’t need to play the game to see if my assets would work because I know what to send them to experiment with. In bigger projects, I may need to have a direct input on how things are being used, but on jam games, this connection with the team works great!

But one may think, a bigger team should be able to make a bigger project, right? Well, not necessarily.

Woofice Chair Logo in Clip Studio Paint

Too-many-cooks syndrome! 🍳

Our team of four has done wonders. I’ve even experimented with another short team at one point and had a great time! But the one time I joined a larger team, things didn’t go so well.

Communication is very important in teamwork, but it’s more difficult to manage on larger teams! I thought that a big number of programmers with plenty of artists would result in a lot of artwork being made and implemented. However, there were clashing styles, mixed ideas and people went missing for long periods. 

I’d recommend being practical and sticking to a smaller team for jam games! While a big group can make a lot more content independently, when put together, there can be a lot of miscommunication, overlapping and it becomes harder to control scope. To some, working with bigger teams may be fantastic, but I would suggest sticking to smaller ones for your first few jams!

Fun Weapons in Clip Studio Paint

Wrapping this post up! 💪

This was likely the jam where I had the best balance of quality and quantity of assets, and it was only possible because of fantastic teamwork, mild organization and methodologies!

Woofice Chair Screenshot

I believe that these things I’ve mentioned before can do wonders to you regardless of your role in the team. Not everyone needs to be doing everything and constantly supervising at all times. There may be moments when “all hands-on deck” may be necessary, but constantly needing everyone’s input will reduce everyone’s independence!

While this post was more about team experience rather than my usual actual art insight, I’ve posted in the past about artwork design before! Consider giving them a look!

Join our Discord!

Now that it’s all said and done, in behalf of my team, Whales And Games, I would like to invite you to hang out with us at our Discord server! Come share your game, your experiences, and maybe prepare for the spookiest time of the year! Cheers! 🐳