Super Hamster Havoc is a game about hamsters surviving in a world past the age of man, where anyone can be either friend or foe! Super Hamster Havoc features an over the top versus mode with up to 8 players on one screen, and a fun shoot-em-up survival mode that can be played alone or with up to 4 people!
Super Hamster Havoc started out as a simple 4 player split-screen shoot-em-up with procedurally generated maps called Hamster Battle Royale that was developed in a 48-hour game jam. The game was well-received at the game jam as a fun, juicy and highly replayable local multiplayer game, which prompted me and the other participants to choose to continue the game further as a commercial project under Soulcade Interactive, my game studio. In light of the feedback we received at the game jam, we decided to expand the game with more split-screen competitive game modes (Free-For-All, Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag), a cooperative survival mode and creating a map editor that allows players to create, share, and play user-generated maps.
When we started the project had procedurally generated maps to increase the replayability of the game, but I found that during playtest sessions, the maps generated didn’t facilitate enjoyable gameplay because of “hamster tunnel” nature of the levels giving rise to players simply finding long-range weapons and shooting down them tunnels at players with limited options for mobility. Due to this, we decided that handcrafting levels would be a better approach but still wanted the replayability of new levels regularly being produced without us necessarily developing them, which prompted me to look into developing a level editor. Easy to use and fun was the goals in mind when making the editor and is why I opted to make the tool simplify the Whitebox and tile pipeline of the game down to simply painting the world into existence, and adding optional game-like feedback into the system. Once the level editor was developed, I then looked into how maps would be shared and distributed. I explored using Steam Workshop, developing my own solution in Node.JS and landed on Mod.io due to it being platform agnostic and being able to communicate with the developers fairly easily.
When playtesting the game, the importance of feedback became more and more apparent as we conducted each session. Players not being sure if they hit the player gave rise to particles, hit flash, and the shaking of the hit player’s controller. Player issues with positioning and perspective (due to the isometric nature of the player) gave rise to the silhouettes and shadows, and kickback and inventory visualization were added to reinforce the shoot-em-up nature of the game.