On behalf of Golden Ruby Games, I am pleased to announce that the our first game, Hermit Crab in Space, winner of the 2013 PlayStation Mobile GameJam is launching today on PlayStation Store. When we first started thinking about what we wanted Hermit Crab in Space to be, we got hooked on the idea of adaptation on the fly. Andy Wallace (Lead Developer/Programmer) and I wanted to offer a thrilling and challenging game to players, but we also wanted to captivate them with great gameplay mechanics.
We got to refine this initial idea, over President’s Day weekend, when Andy Wallace and I, along with our good friends Jane Friedoff and Nicolas Cinquegrani, joined the Sony/IndieCade East GameJam competition. PlayStation Mobile actually had an open session the weekend before the competition to field any questions and allow us to get familiar with the tools provided in the PlayStation Mobile SDK.
As with all GameJams, you are given a theme with which you are supposed to use to help you design and build your game. The theme that we received was “evolution” and we were instantly drawn to the idea of creating a game that allowed the player to evolve their gameplay based on the challenges that we threw at them. We also loved working with the PlayStation Mobile SDK and built the game around using every feature that was made available to us. From the moment that we started the competition, our goal was to create a complete game to publish.
When it came to the style for the graphics and game play, two popular games came to mind: Minecraft and StarFox. These are the games that we mostly borrowed our ideas from, but others influenced us as well. What we wanted was to give gamers a cute character that they would feel compelled to go on a journey with. The game’s look is very cartoonish, and that was deliberate because we wanted to make players think that the game was going to be easier than it really was.
As with any GameJam, you have many challenges; the size of your team, the time to produce a polished title for judging, and having the right people to get the job done. Given the size of our team, and the limited time that we had to get the game ready, we had to think outside of the box on a number of occasions. For example, none of us had experience with sound design, so we had to find the easiest solutions possible, which led us to use a free randomizer from BFXR for the sound effects. We also had to find license-free music that was publicly available online.
The GameJam was intense, with 12, highly talented and creative teams competing for four semi-finalist spots. We were thoroughly excited to have been selected as one of the four semi-finalists along with Team Snakesss, Team Dozen Eyes and Team Back Pedal Games. We spent the next month fitting in all the additional ideas we couldn’t get to during the GameJam, including a ton of additional animations, modes, and gameplay tweaks in order to make the game much more polished. We had an additional month after being announced as a semi-finalist in order to cram in as many features as we could into the final version of the game that would be judged at GDC in San Francisco. We added animated sprites, an Endless mode, an updated shield component, and more.
Thankfully, our hard work paid off and at GDC we were announced as the winners of the GameJam competition. After coming off of that high – and having a bit of a freak out — we went back to work on the game and made as many tweaks as we could in order to prepare to show it off at E3. At E3, we were right up there talking about our game alongside many other great PS3, PS Vita, and PS4 titles and got to see the public try it out for the first time. It has been a surreal experience within our first year of business and none of us would’ve imagined we would be at E3, rubbing elbows with some of the biggest names in the industry.
All in all, we are incredibly pleased with the final product and hope that we can continue to expand the Hermit Crab universe in the future. PS Vita owners can download Hermit Crab in Space from the PlayStation Mobile section of PlayStation Store for $2.79; Owners of PlayStation-certified devices such as the Sony Xperia Z smartphone, Wikipad or Sony Xperia Z tablet, can obtain them through the PlayStation Mobile Store for the same price.