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Global Game Jam 2013 game: Eat Your Heart Out

The Auckland Global Game Jam is over for another year. It's late and I'm sleep deprived so this blog post might be a bit rambly, but I wanted to get it out of the way with before I go to bed.

Proudly presenting my 5th Global Game Jam game: Eat Your Heart Out

Play it on my Dropbox, preferably with as many players as you can find.

It's a multiplayer JavaScript game with Gamepad API support (ie, you can use the XBox 360 controllers for Windows if you're using Chrome. We playtested with four XBox controls to great effect). The theme is Dark Fantasy, and the gameplay involves three players trying to find the fourth before he/she turns into a monster and goes on a rampage.

The gameplay is a little hard to describe since it's asymmetric multiplayer that takes place across several phases, but here goes:

  • The player that is the "Heart Bearer" (chosen at random at the start of the game, but the winner of the previous rounds later in the game) chooses their starting location on the screen. The first button press sets the location under the cursor, the second starts the game (this is necessary to disguse the starting location from the other players).
  • The other three players (the "Seekers") try to capture the Heart Bearer. The one that does becomes the Heart Bearer in the next round. While the Heart Bearer is disguised as an NPC, a number of cues give hints to their location. For instance, the Seekers flash rapidly as they approach the Heart Bearer, and the Heart Bearer itself will flash once a Seeker has almost reached it.
  • If, after a certain amount of time the Heart Bearer has managed to evade capture, the Heart Bearer becomes an enormous monster and can kill the Seekers (killing NPCs gives the Heart Bearer more time to do so). If it manages to kill all of the Seekers, it wins the round and becomes the Heart Bearer again for the following round.
  • However, if the Heart Bearer takes too long to finish the Seekers, it'll die leaving behind it's heart. The seeker that captures it's heart becomes the Heart Bearer for the next round.

The idea was the brainchild of lead designer Barnibus Soon, imagined as kind of a multiplayer variant of Pacman (specifically, the part where Pacman eats the Power Pill to reverse the gameplay). Coding duties were split between myself and Michael Schaeffers (former colleage that I also worked with on Noah More Heroes). We wrote the game in Monkey, specifically for the HTML5 target.

Unfortunately we had to take a lot of shortcuts with the project, there wasn't a single artist or sound engineer on the team (forcing us to look for Creative Commons licenced work to use), and the AI is lackluster, I didn't have as much time to spend on it due to several appointments on Saturday, but otherwise I'm really happy with what we came up with - definitely head and shoulders above my attempt at a game last year!

Gameplay with four players was a riot, there's definitely a lot of replayability to it, even after hours of testing and tweaking we were still having fun honing our skills. The balance between the Heart Bearer and the Seeker Team is reasonably good too, it doesnt' feel as though there's a large advantage to either side which is difficult to achieve when the gameplay style is different. If there are less than four players an AI substitutes, it's still reasonably fun 2-3 players but 1 player is rather easy and only really useful as training for the multiplayer game.

I definitely recommend you check out the games made by the other teams. I think this year's crop was easily amongst the finest to come out of the Auckland Global Game Jam. These are four in particular that took my fancy.

Awkward Adventure RPG

A JRPG type game with a curious and original twist - instead of fighting monsters and trying to rescue the girl, you're a socially inept nerd that tries to shirk out of awkward conversations (generally by trying to weird out the other person). While there's no violence per se, conversations that turn out badly will raise your heart rate to the point where you could suffer a heart attack.


A short remake of McPixel (one of my favourites from last year) except that it's a multiplayer game - three players use Keyboard, Mouse and XBox Gamepad - and they have to co-ordinate their actions to prevent disaster. I thought it was a brilliant concept that could definitely work as a full length game.

Heart Beat Box 5: Heart of the City

A stylish and fantastically well drawn game about a rap battle in "Nega Toyko" in the future(?) year of "20FF". To advance through the rap battle you have to sing the last words of each rhyme. The "game" itself is short and I found the voice recognition awkward (apparently an English accent is required for optimum recognition), but worth checking out for the aesthetic alone.

Pulse Vision

A Puzzle/Stealth game that features an interesting look, feel and mechanic. Your "character" emits a heart beat pulse that lights up the surrounding area. The slower your heart rate the more you can see, but you'll often need to run to escape dangerous situations, which will increase your heart rate. The game is nicely polished and it's already available on Kongregate.

And, that's it! have fun.

(P.S. If you didn't catch it, the theme this year was the Heart Beat. Specifically, the sound a Heart Beat makes.)

(P.P.S Should I do one game a month and count this as my first game?)



Joshua Smyth (not verified)

Well done!

I think I can improve the recognition by adding phonetic variants to help with accents. For example the word list for "done" is "done" "dun" or don".

Joined: 05/05/2009

Hrm. The game didn't work quite righ on my PC. I get music, and a whitebox on a black background. :(

Earok's picture
Joined: 02/06/2009

Bugger, sorry to hear that! What OS and Browser? Also, were there any Javascript errors in the debug console?

Joined: 05/05/2009

Ubuntu - latest. 64 bit. Chrome - latest.  Then when I open it to get javascript errors, none occur and the game works.. Maybe it was a resource loading issue.

Earok's picture
Joined: 02/06/2009

Possibly, it does take a tad long to load all of the media due to file sizes (also I guess it didn't help that there's no loading screen per se!)