Competition H: T-minus Seven

Competition H: T-minus Seven

Les Jeux du Jour
Current Entries, in Alphabetical Order

The Credible Machine - @Fengol - Link
My Plane Leaves in 7 - @FanieG - Linke
Princess - @cairnswm - Welcome back cairnswm!
BubbleGrab! - @WilliamHK - Linque
Shape Shooter - @vince - L'inque


Many of us have spent tens, if not hundreds, of hours finishing and mastering games that we loved, whether they be grand RPG epics like Mass Effect or technical combat masterpieces like Dark Souls. We also know games that are prone to padding themselves out to artificially extend play time, or games that over-rely on overarching progression (such as XP unlocks) to make dull, repetitive play sessions more bearable. Creating a compelling, self-contained play experience that lasts just long enough seems to be quite a design challenge, doesn’t it? Let’s see if we can do something about that.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a game that ends definitively within seven minutes. In other words, any given play session of your game must conclude in seven minutes or less, whether in glorious victory, crushing defeat, or with a stunning conclusion to your story. In addition, play sessions must be self-contained - although the player can replay the game as much as they like, meta-progression elements are NOT allowed. This means no character persistence, no “legacies”, no cross-session XP-based unlocks, or any of that jazz. Anything that happens in your game, happens in those seven minutes. Make the most of ‘em.

(Yes, you can have a menu system and difficulty levels and options and such. Just make sure anything else relating to actual gameplay stays put in its seven-minute slot.)

  • Competition starts on 1 June 2016.
  • Deadline for entries is 30 June 2016, 23:59 (UTC+2).
  • Use whichever language, tool or development system you are comfortable in.*
  • Ask for help when you get stuck.
  • Your game must follow the theme.
  • Your game must contain all files needed for it to run and should not require other bulky systems to be downloaded or installed, exceptions are browser plugins like Flash and self-contained DLLs distributed with the game.
  • Your final game entry must include a readme.txt that EXPLAINS THE CONTROLS, RULES and any other information you want to get across to your users. If you have web builds, make sure the page serves as a readme.txt!
  • Competition is open to entry for South African citizens, current residents of South Africa and South African passport holders.
  • You retain all copyright to your work.
  • The use of copyrighted material will not be tolerated. Do not steal!
  • All risk or liability in case of copyright infringement or other legal issue resides with the entrant, MGSA takes no responsibility for entered games.
  • The organisers’ decision is final and no negotiation will be entered into.

To enter the competition, start a thread titled “[Comp H] NameOfYourGame" in the forum’s “Online Competitions and Jams” category and post your design ideas and game releases there. As you release files, edit your first post to point to the most recent versions available.

Other people will reply to your post with their feedback and ideas. Please do your best to take any and all feedback as positively as you can and use it to make your game better. Consider releasing your source code and/or original files, it helps us pinpoint problems that you might be having and benefits the community as a whole.

Once you’re finished with your game, we suggest you write a (optional) mini post-mortem. Try to answer the 3 questions: "What worked well?", "What didn't work?", and "What would you change or do differently?". Note that this is completely optional, but we think it’ll help you.

  • The idea is to see how you can use the time limit to drive your game and make things more interesting and fun for the player. Please try your best not to simply slap an arbitrary seven-minute time limit on a game that could exist without one.
  • Seven minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but with some clever design you’ll be surprised how much compelling gameplay you can squeeze in. Think carefully about the objectives and progression of your game and how you can use the time limit to increase tension, or introduce predictable milestones that allow clever forward-planning on the player’s part.
  • You’ll want to ensure that those seven minutes are engaging without being overwhelming or inaccessible to the player, so frequent playtesting will be essential. Get a playable prototype out as early as humanly possible and get as much feedback as you can to fine-tune as you go. Don’t stress about people “stealing your idea” - they’re too busy with their own. ;)
  • Just because you only have a seven-minute window doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up a bit. Procedural generation and randomisation are very handy tools for making each play session feel unique, but beware: without a good understanding of what makes your gameplay work, even the best procedurally-generated content will fall flat on its face. Procedural systems and randomisation also require a great deal of tweaking and balancing to produce consistently acceptable results - make sure to take that time into account.
  • As always, don’t be afraid to approach other community members to contribute to your game, whether it be art, audio, writing or programming. Alternately, don’t hesitate to contribute your talents to an entry that catches your attention!
Any questions or discussion regarding Comp H and its theme can be made in this thread, and we'll chip in with answers whenever we can. Any other concerns regarding the comp can be raised with @francoisvn or myself ( @Gazza_N ) via DM, where we'll be happy to discuss them with you.

Good luck and enjoy the competition!

* (Downloading and using Game Maker is recommended for beginners or if you've never prototyped a game before)


  • edited
    7 Seconds? you mad? :D <3 Oh wait. 7 minutes gives us more time. That's okay then...
  • So basically just redoing comp E :p

    Also thang odd that no one mentioned "You can't play Super Hexagon for 7 minutes" since I'd probably spend my time on that instead of making a game…
  • Karuji said:
    So basically just redoing comp E :p
    And Game.Dev Comp 17 before it. :P Besides, it's a good 'un, with lots of good learnings, and I think three years is an acceptable buffer between 'em. ;)
    Chippit said:
    YESSSSS. Devil Daggers is a magnificent example of what can be done in such a short time.

  • Coincidentally... the average person takes seven minutes to fall asleep..... hmm.... I wonder if that's something that can be worked into a game. A bedtime story game.
  • edited
    I am SOO tempted to remake Froccer (my comp 17 entry) in Unity3D. And I can do so much more now than those early days with particles, shader effects and more experience.
  • Aaaaaaaaaah, I have so much to do and now I have a great idea kinda dammit whyyyyyyy
  • I really don't like time constraints in games... Oh well, will see what I can come up with :D does the time have to be 7 minutes real world time? Are we allowed to speed up or slow down time? Can I use time as a currency/resource? Time travel? Basically how much can I twist the theme? Or is it create a game that ends definitively within seven (real world) minutes
  • @pixel_reaper Oooooh, I really like where you're going with that idea. The overall limit requires realtime-equivalence, but nothing says you can't mess around with time flow while you're within that seven minute window. ;)
  • edited
    @Pixel_Reaper of course seven real world minutes, arguing that a 7 day game has each minute stretched out to a day is just silly :)

    Also, time constraint doesn't necessarily MEAN time constraint in the sense you're seeing it. For example each fight in Clash Royale is like 3 minutes or something - there is a timer that does hard cap the game, but the game design is so tight that games are usually over well before that. Devil Daggers is just so damn hard that seven minutes seem impossible anyway (the world record is 10 minutes or so)
  • edited
    @Gazza_N so a fixed time window. I don't want to make a game and just slap a timer on it. Don't think I will participate in this one, unless I come up with an idea that really integrates the time window. Good luck to everyone else though :) I'm excited to see what you guys make!

    @Tuism I was not arguing to stretch 7 minutes over 7 days, I was trying to see if I could do something interesting with the flow and sequence of time.
  • @Pixel_Reaper: As you wish, but "just slap a timer on it" is something I'd very much like people to avoid. The idea is more to see how you can use the timer to enhance or drive your mechanics, rather than "Oh well, seven minutes are up. GAME OVER, I guess."
    Thanked by 1Pixel_Reaper
  • @Pixel_Reaper, the idea of the competitions is to stretch your abilities by working within the constraints
  • edited
    I've actually updated the "advice" section of the OP with this point. It's very important - if you're taking a game that could exist without a time limit and just giving it an arbitrary seven-minute game over, urdoinitwrong.
  • edited
    @Fengol yeah I get that, and I think it's cool, I like working within constraints. But as I said, I dislike time constraints, so unless I dream up something that makes me very excited, I'd rather just keep working on my own project.

    Btw I think Devil Daggers is an AWESOME game, but a bad example of designing within time constraints. I think a good example would be Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
  • edited
    Keep talking is ONE way of doing time constraint, Devil Daggers could be easily tweaked to actually be impossible to get over 7 minutes, though of course since DD wasn't made WITH that constraint in mind it actually of course doesn't make sense.

    What's important is looking at games like Clash Royale and other mobile games where they are acutely aware that they want short game sessions, and thus actively design towards that goal. Heroes of the Storm was designed towards 20 min game sessions (as opposed to every other MOBAs of about 40 min), and while sometimes it overshoots, the design is tight enough to enforce that time constraint more often than not.

    So it's not about a timer. It's about a design that delivers a good experience in that time. If there's a timer to do that and it DOES do that, then cool! But it doesn't have to be.
  • edited
    @Tuism Interesting, in my mind making devil daggers harder to be impossible to get over 7 minutes is ==
    Gazza_N said:
    taking a game that could exist without a time limit and just giving it an arbitrary seven-minute game over
    Keep Talking uses the timer as pressure and a smooth and well explained conclusion, which to me is making good use of a time constraint, but I never said it is the ONLY way.

    Anyway, looking forward to see what you make :)

  • I didn't say you said it was the only way, I could only see the only example you gave so thus I could only discuss it from that one single point of representation :)

    I have NO idea what i'll make, let's see :)
  • edited
    @Pixel_Reaper I personally love the way Half Minute Hero deals with time. (And Super Time Force is pretty rad as well, and Super Hot is phenominal!)

    I think if you're inspired to do that kind of thing, then you should do it. There are so few games that manipulate time as part of the experience of the game, it'd be a shame not to explore that space.

    Also, it can be an interesting commentary on what @Gazza_N mentions in the original post, that developers keep adding time to their games to make them longer, while not adding compelling reasons why the game should be that long. Really scrutinizing the use of time in a game, or making time precious, something the player has to fight for, can buck the trend that this competition is set up in response to (and buck the trend in a potentially more self-aware way than just making a short game).

    You might have to explain your thinking to the judges, but if you've made an awesome game you've already won!!!

    (P.S. Broforce was made for a jam where the theme was "Small World". It didn't end up mattering that the theme didn't feature in the game, even if we were scored low for theme at the jam.)
  • Damn you @Gazza_N I have too much work to do, why did you have to make such a tempting comp, why why why :)
  • MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Blame @francoisvn for the theme. I just agreed wholeheartedly. :P
    Thanked by 1tbulford
  • @pixel_reaper ooh, time as a currency, that sounds interesting..
  • edited
    mattbenic said:
    @pixel_reaper ooh, time as a currency, that sounds interesting..
    That idea came just...

  • Will the judges be able to install and play an android build (unity)?
  • edited
    @FanieG: Yeppers. Feel free to submit Android builds. iOS devices are a little less common amongst the judges so we'd advise against that particular platform for now, if only for reasons of sheer practicality.
    Thanked by 1FanieG
  • I'm doing a game that will be local multiplayer with 2 or more game controllers. Will you guys be able to play it, or do I need to find some workaround to make it playable by one person?
  • @farsicon: we should be able to work something out. If you can deploy the final build to more platforms that would probably help
  • edited
    I'd expect one or two of the judges should be able to cover local multiplayer, and any local multiplayer entries would be assigned to those judges.
  • Erk. Been busy with an art test this week, and working on improving my game for 67 games for next week, then visiting family that weekend too. But I'm mulling over something to do for the remaining week or so!
    Thanked by 2FanieG francoisvn
  • edited
    We're nearly at the halfway point, everyone! We've already had some intriguing ideas presented so far, so don't be shy to contribute to them. Remember - playtesting is super important for refining your gameplay, so the sooner you get something out there for people to mess around with, the sooner you can see what works and what doesn't.

    As is traditional at this point in the competition, I'll begin updating the first post with a list of all the current entry threads as they pop up. Feel free to take a look and comment, compo fans!

  • Hey everyone.

    I'm finally on vacation so I have some time, and I want to try and see what I can do in these last 2 weeks.
    I just have a question about the rules.
    It says any game-play must be confined to the 7-minute slot but menu's etc is allowed.

    So is the following fine:
    1. The game increases in difficulty as you complete a 7-minute session? (Same game, just numbers balanced to make it harder etc) Edit* I guess this won't be allowed as it does rely on previous sessions
    2. Scores are kept between play sessions. For example how many collectibles you've found, sessions completed etc. Won't affect anything in-game, but could be effective if you can get the player to care about these "stats".

    Thanked by 1FanieG
  • @vince: I think you already answered your 1st question: changing the game between sessions goes against the theme. For your 2nd question it's a bit more of a gray area. If you'd like to track stats I don't see an issue, but if those stats unlock stuff or the goal of the game is effectively to grow those stats, that would also be an issue. In other words, if the player actually cares a lot about those stats, that would go against the theme. So my advice would be to leave stat tracking like that until you've already found the core of your game, otherwise it might be too tempting to use those and they could easily cloud your game design.
    Thanked by 1Gazza_N
  • I should also point out that having difficulty levels that the user explicitly selects before the game begins wouldn't be a problem. It's linking them directly with previous performance/sessions played where things start getting fuzzy.
  • I regret to inform that I'm discontinuing development on my competition entry. The inspiration has fled me and the scope too great to implement my idea properly. I also wish to continue to work on my main project which I briefly demonstrated at the community night and I'm very keen to get to a point where some gameplay exists.
  • edited
    T-minus four-and-a-bit days. Thursday is coming, friends. If you've got any last-minute entries to make, now's the time.
  • Erk, don't think I'll make this one I'm afraid. Ticky Tocky's a higher priority atm, and the thing I considered jamming's a bit big for a weekend. Good luck to everyone else!
  • So my entry has been submitted in my forum post - all detail there!
  • Rad, thanks! I've updated our entry list with the new name. :)
    Thanked by 1WilliamHK
  • I wasn't able to make my prototype a game yet due to time constraints. Will probably only post by the weekend, so will have to bow out of H :)
  • Aaaaaand TIME. Thanks to all everyone who submitted entries. We'll begin judging sooooon, and you can expect the results within the next few weeks.

    Until next time, Compo Fans!
    Thanked by 1dammit
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