“Duck Eat Dog” – 1st version released

 Time: on and off over 4 weeks

Team: Me, Ben Wertheimer, Julia Himmelstein, Jean-Christophe Letraublon
Another project for  Runaway Parade. This time the theme was “decoy”, and Ben and I decided to make a Django web app to run it. I had never uesd Django before, and found it pretty cool- though finally I’m not sure if Tornado wouldn’t have been better…
Anyway, the theme got me thinking of the  classic icebreaker “2 truths and a lie.” What would happen if you made that into an online game? In a way, the lie is a decoy. But to make that fun, and not so much about learning about people, I thought it would be better if there were more lies than truths. So it because “3 lies and a truth”.
As I was talking this over with my sister Julia over vacation, she thought it would be fun if you “shot” the lies with a gun, like you were going hunting. She photoshopped up a little screen showing a few wooden panels and a gun at the bottom. The gun image was of a pistol, which didn’t look quite right for a hunting theme, so I did a little google search on hunt gun, and somewhere saw an image of the good old Nintendo zapper!
Before long, Julia and I just came up with a whole new design that plays with Duck Hunt. Of course, not only can you watch youtube videos of duck hunt (including funny ones where people go past level 99 and stuff gets crazy) but you can also load emulators to see how the old game use to work. And watching the old game gave us some good ideas that we could bring into ours.
One thing that seems to work well so far is to have people create their own levels. What’s tricky about accepting input, of course, is how to weed out the bad ones, and mostly how to deal with spam! I looked up the voting and ranking algorithms used by sites like Reddit and Digg, and have tried to use the Wilson score interval, as proposed by a few different sources. It has been hard to incorporate voting into the the game, though, without breaking the flow of play. We’ll have to see how that works out.
Another fun thing has been to work with lots of different people on these game projects. Ben and I had done SporksUp together, but this was the first time that he was programming- and he’s a quick learner! Also, JC and I had wanted to do a game before but it didn’t take off, so this is our first real project together too, and he really knows his photoshop! Same goes for Julia, actually, despite the fact that I make her discuss game ideas a lot with me, and she’s always very helpful.
Of course, we have a bunch of new ideas, which we really didn’t have time to put into the current version. That is, to have more animations and sound (of the bird, the dog, and so forth) but also include a timer. When the timer goes off you lose…
JC is helping me tons with this new version, and I’m hoping that we can get it out before we show up on Runaway Parade and people start playing.