[Competition] E : 5 Minute Warning!

Comp E : 5 Minute Warning!

Games are time-consuming to make. They can be time-consuming to play too. Maybe we should play shorter games? Maybe there's a lot to learn from trying to make shorter games?

Make a game that ends in 5 minutes.

Your game has to end after 5 minutes. That means some sort of well-defined, understandable ending. Yes, your players can play again if they want to. No, you can't just go "Lol, you ran out of time! Hahahaha!" that would be silly. So, how do you build something that's fun in short bursts? Do you use random generation to give your players new things to play with every time they start? Do you make your game ridiculously hard like Super Hexagon? Do you break up a larger story into bite-sized chunks like Half-Minute Hero? What about a versus multiplayer game? What about a card game?

One thing you definitely shouldn't do is waste people's time with tutorials and loads of text to read... You're going to have to get things across super fast so that people can just jump right in. Or maybe reading fast is part of the game?

Check the advice section below for more ways to come up with neat ideas...

  • Competition starts on October 9th, 09-10-2013.
  • Deadline for entries is November 9th, 09-11-2013.
  • The use of copyrighted material will not be tolerated. Do not steal!
  • Use whichever language, tool or development system you are comfortable in. *
  • Ask for help when you get stuck.
  • Your game must reach a conclusion (win or loss) in no more than 5 minutes. It cannot continue longer than this in one session. (Yes you may stay in the game and restart it via a menu or something)
  • 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 entry must include a readme.txt that EXPLAINS THE CONTROLS, RULES and any other information you want to get across to your users. A 5-minute game should be designed to be easy to pick up though, so if your README.TXT doubles as a NaNoWriMo entry, you have a problem.
  • Yes, you can totally enter the same game into other competitions. PLEASE ENTER YOUR GAMES INTO OTHER COMPETITIONS! Here's one that might be relevant.
  • Competition is open to entry for South African citizens, current residents of South Africa and South African passport holders.
  • The judges' decision is final and no negotiation will be entered into. All risk or liability in case of copyright infringement or other legal issue resides with the entrant, MGSA takes no responsibility for entered games. (Other legalese included, implied and not intended to hurt)
To enter the competition, start a thread titled "E : NameOfYourGame" 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. Any offensive comments will be removed, that said 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, it helps us pinpoint problems that you might be having and benefits the community as a whole.

Having a hard time coming up with ideas? Try the following thought experiments to get your creative sparklies flowing:

Focus on the "right now" elements of your game - what is the player doing right this second? What are they planning in the next seconds? What goals do they have and what emotions are they feeling? How would you make someone's goal be to feel terror, or make their opponent smile?

Map out the ways to win or lose your favorite game. Notice any patterns that you could reproduce to make players win or lose a similar scenario quicker? Is there a game you like that's marred by "grind" elements? What happens if you take those out - is the game still interesting?

Skill games are a great way to have short, satisfying play-sessions. Players who are trying to master a skill really don't seem to mind losing as long as they're enjoying the process of getting better, so maybe if players lose before the 5 minute mark, give them encouragement to keep going? Or maybe show them statistics to help keep them motivated?

Multiplayer games can be pretty fast. In fact, 5 minutes is rather a long time for a fighting game to last. Can you make different genres play like fighting games?


Good luck and enjoy the competition!

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


  • Clarification:

    Your 5 minute limit starts from when the player clicks "New Game" or whatever and doesnt include time spent at an introduction screen explaining what you need to do right?
  • edited
    I think it just means theres 5 minutes of actual game play that ends coherently.

    "Your game must reach a conclusion (win or loss) in no more than 5 minutes. It cannot continue longer than this in one session. (Yes you may stay in the game and restart it via a menu or something)"
  • edited
    I think the concept that's being pushed here is that whatever you make is easily accessible and doesn't require a lengthy introduction... so imo the 5 minutes includes everything (except maybe loading time). I think that if you need an introduction, you may be missing the spirit of this challenge.
  • @Nitrogen: Menu = okay. Intro screen explaining stuff = part of game, thus starts time limit.
  • edited
    I will be entering this, the game I started on the weekend fits perfectly into the criteria too <3

    So if the menu is okay, would a level select or a multiple player joining screen be ok too?
  • @creative630: Level select might be pushing it - because it hints that there's more to play here than 5 minutes. Not sure really...

    Multiple join screen would be fine - can't start playing without all the players.
  • Ok, well my idea was to have really short rounds of competitive gaming. Maybe it doesn't fit the criteria for the competition?
  • @Creative630: Naw, that works. I thought you meant level-select like there are 500 puzzle levels and you have to complete them all.
  • I will be trying my best to get something out there! Not fussed at all, but being a comp, what do you win? Bragging rights foooor days?
  • @RickyGC Bragging rights, and a completed (or semi-complete) game at the end of it. It's very much a case of the journey being the reward.

    Think of it as a way to motivate you to build a game, get a captive audience on which to test it, get feedback, and also as a stepping stone to something bigger. A lot of successful indie games started life out as competition entries which were then polished up.
  • Sounds epic. Now the hard part starts. Deciding on an idea that is achievable. This will be my first game... So I might be aiming too high :)

    Should I just come up with my idea and post it as a start, get some feedback from there?

  • @RickyGC Yeah, sounds about right.
    I'd give it some serious thought and weight all the potential ideas before settling on one that you like best - you dont want to be chopping and changing threads throughout the competition ;)
  • Yes I can think of so many possibilities. I try my best :D

    This might sound stupid, but I just want to make sure. With regard to copyright. In the Indie scene, what is considered "copying?"

  • The indie scene is the same as the formal sector. The laws still apply to us. @LexAquillia can confirm this. That being said you welcome to use other people's assets, if you have their permission.
  • @RickyGC said:
    This might sound stupid, but I just want to make sure. With regard to copyright. In the Indie scene, what is considered "copying?"
    Using someone else's work without permission.
    Thanked by 1RickyGC
  • I've got an idea, but I'm not sure if it'll work or not. Still, worst that can happen is I find out it doesn't work.

    Say it's a game that most people should be able to finish two or three minutes, but some people may take a little longer than five minutes? Is that still OK, or should the game force a time limit.

    I'm leaning toward making a lose condition that gets triggered after five minutes that's not an obvious time limit regardless, but thought I'd ask anyway.
  • @AlphaSheep: Prototype it, see if it works. You can always design around the not-finished-yet case.
  • Only 5 minutes you say?

    Thanked by 2Nandrew tbulford
  • Make your game 4 minutes and 30 seconds, just to drive that home.
    Thanked by 2Merrik Elyaradine
  • Sorry if this is a dumb question, but is it fair to assume that public domain works (ie: text of classic literature), clearly marked creative commons and open source are permissible? Again, provided the licenses, references, and attributions are met?
  • edited
    It's quite simple - would someone sue you for stealing their commercial stuff? If not, are you fulfilling the attribution requirements (if any)? Yes? You're free! :D

  • Eeeep! I'm excited! I've never touched Game Maker, but this comp could be a good way to jump into it! (Thanks Alec (@ProjectX) for reminding me of this)
  • I'm in! Gonna relive some nostalgia and take a break from what I've been stuck on for so long... Can't bear it for now...
    Thanked by 1DarkRa88iT
  • @Tuism, you mean can't chuck it now?
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • "Your game must reach a conclusion (win or loss) in no more than 5 minutes...."

    Ok so 2 minutes or less are ok I asume?
  • hey guys! I'd LOVE to be part of this competition! I am a composer and music producer - if anyone would like some original music contact me, im keen =)
  • @tuism: your separation will be unbearable...
  • If I couldn't, then maybe @LittleBear... could bear it... a little....... XD
  • Alright, the next person to make a bad bear pun gets chucked out the window.
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • What a grizzly fate that would be.
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • edited

    EDIT: *sigh* sometimes Vanilla forums suck.
  • Has anyone seen Discourse? I wonder if it would be a forum model for us?
  • edited
    Discourse actually looks very, very cool - *but* the site seems a bit pretentious. First they tell you it's Free on the homepage, then there is no download link, only a "Buy It". Then you click Buy It and they tell you you cant even buy it yet and beta testing is only open to a few select people.

  • We're select people though, I'm pretty sure I'm as select as they come. I'm very selectable
  • edited
    @Fengol - Nah, you're more Choosable then Selectable
  • edited
    Sorry, not unlocked yet. You're an unlockable.

    400 x 300 - 20K
    Thanked by 2Nitrogen Fengol
  • Wooo, I'm Player 1!
  • To unlock me you need to find all the ponies in the game!
  • Looking at what I have created so far for this comp, and based on what others have commented, I would just like to say:

    "Making short bursts of fun is HARD!!!"
  • Quick question to everyone with tons of experience.

    I get that I should be growing by making lots of little things and I'm trying... But I would like to make a game for this comp.

    That means I must get my idea sorted and a story that will work with what I'm trying to build

    How do you decide on a story? Do you start with the first idea that excites you? What do you do when you start building and you move into a bit of a different direction?

  • @RickyGC, I don't have tons of experience, but I'll try to answer the questions in the way that I handle it.

    [quote = RickyGC]I get that I should be growing by making lots of little things and I'm trying... But I would like to make a game for this comp.[/quote]
    Doing comps like these are great for exactly that, they force the scope down for you. :) Similar to the way that game jams do.
    RickyGC said:
    That means I must get my idea sorted and a story that will work with what I'm trying to build
    I'm not sure what you mean here, but you don't actually need any kind of overarching story/plot to build something, for this specifc comp I don't think you should even think about touching story(only 5 minutes...) unless you have tons of experience with writing stories. But even then...

    The way I started with the quiz thing was trolling for art that seemed interesting and I found the monsters. But that only sparked an idea. Usually for these comps I try and think of all the different ways to interact with the limitation. So how many ways can you spin the 5 minute limit, and from there I try to get an idea that will fit one of the ways to spin it. From there it's just building one thing at a time and writing ideas down as I think of them to test them out later. In the monster quiz there are about 5/6 ideas I kept from about 20 that I tried. They weren't grand in scale but I had to test them before I could see if they worked...if the direction becomes entirely separate than what you had in mind at first, then think of a new name and BAM! you got 2 entries :P

    So in conclusion, stop worrying too much about how to start and just start.
  • I see :P

    I'm reaching the point where I want to add design to my shapes. So if I decide my character is going to look like this I need to rest to go with...

    I'll just soldier on. Can't go wrong :P
  • @RickyGC, I'm not following. Do you mean you want to add graphics/art? You can, I mean I enjoy doing things like that. I did it specifically for this comp(so far) because I wanted to play around with juice. But it's really not necessary to do it.
  • @RickyGC: Why do you need a story? Just ask "Would blah be fun if?" and then prototype that up.
  • edited
    @RickyGC - that is solid advice from Rigormortis. Think about what you are "able" to do "right now" and then try and create a game around that skill set and within the limits set by the comp. My first game was done as a windows form application in Visual Studio, because that was all I knew how to make. BUT MAKE A GAME. You really will learn more than you think through these comps. I learned like a ton of stuff just today because of my post for the comp. Don't get hung up on things like scripting languages, storylines, perfect graphics and engines. Use what you know.
  • Prototype going down without issues. I just want to work on the story and art, because I enjoy that part, but because I'm still working I don't know how it will change. That is all :)
  • @RickyGC - story, art, graphics, sound, all of that is superflous to a "fun game". Well, ok, not completely, but what you need to do is make something fun - and EVERYTHING ELSE must serve that and nothing more.

    Graphics only serve to show that there's something there to interact with. Sound only serve to tell you that this or that is happening, etc. Making more than the bare essentials is pointless for this exercise.

    If your shapes are fun, they'll be fun. If your shapes are not fun, no amounts of "design" and art will make it fun. Find the fun first, forget the rest!

    And post playables!
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