Tag Archives: review

2013: A year in postmortem, part 1- Hyper Gauntlet

It’s been a big year for me. Udell Games did not even exist in January, and yet here we are with a website, a domain name, some content and a heap load of free games! In the last six months I have been incredibly productive. Here’s a look back on everything that’s happened over 2013 as we look forward to 2014.

Hyper Gauntlet

The star of the show! Hyper Gauntlet started as nothing more than an idle play around while bug fixing the next big release of Fuse Breaker (my bad). I imagined a game with a third person camera, similar to Temple Run, and a character running and jumping over obstacles. I nixed that idea though, when I realised that being able to see the player meant not being able to see the coming obstacles. I tinkered for maybe 3-4 days, and ended up with a build that is remarkably similar to the one you can play today.

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 14.55.53

Well, except the UI perhaps.

I submitted that build (then called Speedrun) to Reddit’s GameDev Feedback Friday post, and it garnered a lot of praise. Besides the UI, people liked its punishing nature, how fast it felt, and how addictive it was. I felt like I was on to something and after a week of continued development, decided to shelve Fuse Breaker. A few weeks passed and interest waned. People were still enjoying it, but there wasn’t enough changing for them to feel the need to pick it up properly.

Meanwhile I made friends on Reddit and Twitter. Noble Kale, who runs an excellent website with guides on empire building, pointed out a dire problem – one that I’d been aware of but hesitant to change – the name. If you google “Speedrun Game”, as you might imagine, you are swamped with videos and articles about people attempting to beat a game as quickly as possible (“speedrunning” it). This pushed my poor little arcade game back ten or twenty pages in the search results, and nobody tends to look past page 1. Not one to rest on his laurels, Kale immediately offered to help “fix this” and started brainstorming like no tomorrow. Eventually we reached a couple of options. I liked “Hyper Gauntlet”, but he was a strong advocate for “Nozzlethruster” (which I figured might have slightly too much innuendo).

I decided to make a compromise. Go with Hyper Gauntlet, but keep “Nozzlethruster” in the subtitle. It’s eye catching and I can’t help but smile any time a journalist talks about it, and that’s the story of how Speedrun came to be Hyper Gauntlet: Legacy of Nozzlethruster III.

Screenshot of Hyper Gauntlet

More releases, and more positive responses from Feedback Friday, coupled with all the indie dev blogs’ incessant harping on the subject of marketing finally gave me the courage to give my little darling to the brave new world of reviews. I scraped email addresses and contact details from as many sites as I could find, in any language I could just about parse. I crafted an email to every one of them (all right, I kind of cheated. I had a base message and I personalised it for each person I emailed Any email that began with editors@ however didn’t get the personal touch), hit the magnificent send button and waited with hot breath baited for the Google alerts to pile in.

I got my first response the next day. Surprised and groggy, I woke up to read that the ever great Chris Priestman over on Indie Statik had picked up on my email and played the game, and what’s more he seemed to like it! It floored me. The first piece of media notice for Hyper Gauntlet was positive! I felt like I floated down the stairs to tell my girlfriend. I’d had a sneaking suspicion, all along, that I was secretly the only person who liked Hyper Gauntlet, that perhaps people were just being kind to me because it was my first real game, or because I’d posted it myself to Reddit. I think every dev feels this, and probably every creator. The deep, insidious doubt that what you’ve made isn’t good enough. A hyper-awareness of your project’s every flaw. I knew that Hyper Gauntlet still had bugs, it didn’t have much in the way of replay value. It didn’t even have a High Score table then, and yet here they were, professional games journalists, talking about my game as if it was somehow worthy.

And then in came the Rock Paper Shotgun article.

I’d tried every major outlet, Joystiq got an email, PC Gamer got an email, Rock Paper Shotgun, everybody did.  I didn’t expect any responses at all, but as the SAS will remind you: He who dares, wins. And I won that day. In an article titled simply, “HYPER GAUNTLET”, Nathan Grayson wrote about my game as if it were haunting poetry. I was overcome with a levity and sense of unbelievable warmth reading that article, there were genuine tears of joy in my eyes and if I could float before then now I was practically on my way to the Moon. I’d been reading RPS for over three years and there I was, on their front page. What’s more is it was picked up and redirected all over the globe. Hyper Gauntlet was worldwide.

A gold vignette shown when the player levels up

With the hot fire of recognition burning at my soul, I set to work outlining exactly what needed to be done to bring Hyper Gauntlet to release. Since that day, there have been some major releases: power ups, the vignette system and the high score boards, and we’ve bolted closer and closer to the finish line. According to my list I have only one item remaining. Excellent!

So what happened then? The PSU on my development PC died. My computer can now no longer boot up for longer than three seconds. Thankfully, all of my code is backed up on Bitbucket, and I’m still able to get a hold of Hyper Gauntlet. Unfortunately my laptop is slow. I can add new code to projects, but bug fixing is a pipe dream. I’m doing my best, but now the best bet is to just get my old machine back up and running. Luckily a friend of mine runs a computer shop and is offering to do the fix for free in exchange for a copy of Hyper Gauntlet when it’s done, so all is not lost.

What does the near future hold? A fixed PC, that last bug shattered and a major announcement! Watch this space.

The Arbitrary Gamejam #2 Feedback and Winner

The Games


by Charles Gbadamosi, Jack Duckels, Luke Schnabel, David Fitzsimmons and Dylan Betts.


SHARK has you play a down and out loan shark, with just 90 days to get the mobster Al Paca Malone $10,000. You need to pick your clients carefully and make sure to give them a good deal, or they might not pay you back.


sharkSHARK has an amazing noir ambience to it. The music combines well with the art to really ground the game in a pre-established world. There is a large amount of content too, but with the team’s 5 members, I would have expected a little more. Game mechanics are solid, but a little too unfathomable for me. A help screen or a brief tutorial might have helped here. On the other hand, not knowing exactly how to get your money back makes the game very replayable. This is helped along by the wide variety of characters and dialogue options.

Additionally there’s some ambiguity about whether the dialogue options you choose are the truth or not. I like to think I’m playing a desperate guy up against a wall who’ll lie to a girl about his father dying days before he could visit him just to get some extra cash. Someone else might want to think differently though, and the freedom and ambiguity here is refreshing. Impressively, SHARK manages to incorporate all three themes successfully (although the use of defenestration is only a gimmick at the end). Particularly good is the fact that the conclusion draws inevitably closer all the time, making you constantly aware of the deadline and the desperate decisions you have to make to try to save money.

Overall this felt like the most complete game submitted to the game jam – but given the size of the team this was to be expected. It’s definitely worth a few play throughs. Maybe Matthew will win big in the stock market for you – he never did for me.

EDIT: I have since been informed that one of the reasons the team were not able to produce as much content as you would have expected is because Dylan had a serious medical situation during the jam. I wish him the best of luck.

Boss Duck’s Rampage

by AceHK


Boss Duck’s Rampage is a mad dash against the clock to throw the entire contents of your office out of the window.


bossduckThis is a simple game, but nevertheless complete. Picking up and throwing away computers, plants and seats is a strangely relaxing experience which causes internal conflict with your goal – to do it all as fast as possible. The controls are a little bit fussy, but not too difficult to master and the first person mode, while basic, is very useful. The art style is cohesive and simple, but that adequately conveys the arcade styles of the game.

One negative point is the styling of the windows, which look more like light patches of wallpaper than windows, and the fact that they don’t appear to be affected at all when a bench sails through them. The GUI needs re-skinning, as it uses the stock Unity theme. Adding in a font from the Google Fonts archive would do a surprising amount to make this game feel more unique. Randomised placement of the office contents might add to the re-playability, as well as a different office styles and perhaps some scared office workers running around in a panic.

Overall this was a fresh and fun game that, while basic, really took the idea of defenestration and ran with it.

The Aberrant Gerent

by Robert Newton


Balance between storing food and coin in the castle or giving it to the peasants to keep them happy. Make sure to dispose of thieves and bandits when they try to get at your food stores!


tagThis game is a hectic sorting fest which feels overly difficult, until you master the controls and enter a zen-like state of organisation. Quick reflexes and good peripheral vision are rewarded in this game. The art is solid and consistent, and there’s plenty of it there – considering the short development time the game underwent. It’s very rewarding seeing your pile of gold slowly grow.

It is difficult, however to see when the peasants are going to become upset (there’s a thin green countdown line on turquoise). A way of telegraphing what the next item to fall will be would be nice, as well as perhaps a slightly slower start to the game for newbies. The controls could be better, perhaps allowing the player to redefine the keys would be best, but at least allowing a 2-hand control scheme would make managing the quick reactions easier. A brief tutorial might have been wise too, to let people ease their way into the difficult control scheme and to understand all of the icons on screen.

Overall I felt this game was one of the most fun of the offerings, with a manic and frenzied pace. The use of the scrimping mechanic was excellent, and overall incredibly impressive for only 8 hours.

2D Sandbox Game

by Arthur Ehrnrooth


2D Sandbox Game is a well-named 2D Sandbox Game that feels reminiscent of minecraft. You can add or remove 2D blocks around you and must make food to survive.


I made a house

The game is still in the earliest of alphas, but already there’s a fair amount of work you can see. There are player animations, rudimentary enemy AI, a hunger system, the beginnings of a tilemap system and the creating of new blocks by combining old ones.

Running around the randomized terrain is fun, but a lot of the game feels placeholder to me. The hunger system has no negative or positive effects I could discern, and the enemy AI doesn’t seem to affect you in any way either, although I could have been doing something wrong. It’s quite difficult to work out what you’re meant to be doing, because the text that tells you is one long unwrapped string trailing off into the distance. Chasing the guide text is a fun goal that lets you explore more of the world, but the day/night system can make it very hard to read.

The blocks are varied, and some of them have other functions, according to the guide text, but it was difficult to work out which blocks were which (Hamburger block?) but eventually I got it through trial and error. Some particle effects on TNT detonation would be fun, as well as some sounds for the game.

Overall it’s a fantastic start for what could be an incredibly rich and complex sandbox game. This will be one to watch in the future, but it’s just not quite there yet.

Brain Tumor Lawyer

by Brendan LoBuglio


Brain Tumor Lawyer has you playing as a lawyer giving their closing argument in a corporate fraud case, with one complication – a brain tumour messing with your ability to talk.

While your lawyer character gives his speech you must navigate the perilous scrolling blocks and through the right gates to get him to give a coherent speech.


introThe first thing you notice when you boot up the game is its sense of humour. You’re greeted with an intro screen that describes the game in a dismissive manner and even goes as far as to suggest you open a specific youtube video for background music (which I did – and the music fit perfectly).

The actual game itself is a fun blend of madlibs and infinite scrolling dodging games. Fly between blocks and through worded gates to get to the end of the speech. This gameplay is simple, but fun. My one gripe about it is that it is too easy to dodge the blocks, but not easy enough to work out which gate you should go through in time. Not that I’m complaining though, the best part of this game is when you lose. The mistakes your character makes when the brain tumour takes over are hilarious and made me feel a little bit bad for laughing at them.

The graphics are basic but consistent and coherent, and it’s easy to follow along with what is going on. One addition I’d like to see would be different types of obstacle to avoid, such as moving obstacles. I’d also quite like to see the game have you attempt to explain your mistakes instead of just carry on as if they’d never happened.

The game could also do with a bit of proof-reading. The video we’re compelled to search out on Youtube is actually Kennedy – Karate for a start and there are a few others besides, which wouldn’t normally be an issue if this weren’t a game that hugely revolved around text. I also think its use of theme was ok, but there have been some better examples in this jam.

Overall this is a fun, complete experience based around a funny idea and good execution, but try to include the music yourself next time, hm?

And the winner is…

Now without further ado, I am pleased to announce the creator of my favorite game of the jam and the Host of The Arbitrary Gamejam for October 2013:

Brendan LoBuglio

Congratulations to Brendan! Please leave a comment below or message me directly if you are unable to host next month.