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New Game: Dude Icarus - September 16th, 2010

We made a game jam game!

Check out Dude Icarus, a game made with 5 people in 2 weeks. Use the arrow keys to move and the spacebar to jump.

He’s just a dude named Icarus.

In the middle of August, Indie City Games held its first game jam. The theme was “Things that Fly.” We split into haphazard groups and started designing games right away. A few scribble-filled hours later, we promised to regroup in 2 weeks to show off our finished projects.

Two weeks later, our usual attendance of ~20 had swelled to nearly 50. Not only did all of the game jam games get done, but two more appeared out of nowhere (read: the internet). I had a hard time containing my joy, which was fine, since I’m usually the emcee.

The variety and sheer weirdness of the games was a thing to behold. Rain of Terror was a game about a raincloud wreaking havoc upon a society of sponge-people. Circle of Life was a 2-player game where one player ties balloons to animals to hurl them into space, and the other player hurls animals at the balloons to pop them. None of these games are available online as far as I know, although you can view some sweet concept art for the latter here.

There’s also a gameplay video here to give you a taste of our meetings:

Special thanks to “Mark the Intern” from

The two mysterio internet games were Zip! and Acid Couch. Zip! is about a guy who likes to fly around on a jetpack with his fly open, but in the interest of common decency, must zip up if he sees another person approaching. You control the zipper by alternately hitting ALT and F4, with woeful consequences if you hit both at the same time. The screenshots are a must-see.

The only other game from the jam that’s available to play is Acid Couch. In it, you are confronted by a friend who says simply, “I have done acid. Will you babysit me, please? I cannot get off the couch.”

Hilarity ensues?

The takeaway of this event, at least for my team, was that a short timeline means game decisions get made quickly. I think this is a good thing. It’s far too easy to become paralyzed by choices when you’re starting a new project. But when you only have 6 days left and your game has no platform art, considerations like “art style” go out the window. And the game gets shipped, warts and all.

The beauty of this is that we now have a working prototype. The game takes about 10-20 minutes to play through, and we’re starting to gather feedback.

Dude Icarus was made thanks to the coding action of Bredon Clay (with help from Jake Elliot), zen music by Jake, and animations by Scott Roberts and Nicole Lenard. I did the level design and drew all the platforms. Making platform puzzles for a radial world was trickier than I expected. My solution was to design the level as though it was flat, so I was working with something like a bar graph.

All 5 of us would like to keep working on this idea. If there’s anything you liked or didn’t like about the game, now’s your chance to let us know. For instance, a few people have mentioned that the clouds seemed to move too slowly, or came by too infrequently. Any other thoughts?

7 Responses to “New Game: Dude Icarus”

  1. Matt Perrin Says:

    Congrats on Dude Icarus! Caught the link through Bredon’s Twitter feed.

    I loved the look, sound and feel. It took a minute for me to figure out that I needed to get feathers and that I needed to hop on birds to get more feathers. The sun was a little punishing at times. I tried hiding under the doorways and pillars to see if that would protect me but I kept getting fried unless I moved through it fast.

    There are a ton of neat mechanics you can add in if you wanted a deeper version. Off the top of my head I’m thinking using the Moon, shadow, wind, cloud control. Add in Icarus’s father Daedalus and you could include finding your way through the Labyrinth and avoiding the Minotaur (kind of takes the lighthearted fun away though). All in all, really excited to see what you guys do with it. Very cool game!

  2. Asher V Says:

    I just got through Kid Icarus. It was pretty great overall! I like the simple art and love that little *hop* in his walk cycle.

    I guess my main complaint about the game is that it really slows down near the end and becomes a waiting game. Speeding up the clouds would help, like you said, but I mainly wish there was some more variety higher up. I think you should reward the player for progressing with more interesting challenges.

    An example of a new challenge would be some ominous fire-clouds that you can never touch. You could also go down the positive reinforcement route and add little updrafts that give you a little boost.

    Also: I can’t really justify this one from a gameplay standpoint, but when I was playing I really wanted some static platforms in the sky as a place to rest and enjoy the view. (Maybe some hovering Pegasuses? Pegasi?)

    I think the core mechanic is a blast, though. Timing the flaps and catching clouds was really satisfying. Great work!

  3. Asher V Says:

    Oh man, I totally said Kid Icarus. Ignore that craziness.

  4. Ujn Hunter Says:

    I agree with the clouds moving to slow. Maybe there just needs to be more of them. Once you get to the top you’re just basically sitting on the cloud waiting for to catch up to the sun. Also, I didn’t notice it or not but… is there any change in the birds once you’ve gained a feather from them? If there was, I wasn’t aware of it, and I’d keep jumping on birds that I already jumped on hoping for a feather. I’d make some sort of “bigger” change in them signifying they no longer contain that magic feather.

  5. Vexelius Says:

    Though simple, Dude Icarus was a fun experience, I liked the sounds, physics and the main gameplay mechanic. Plus, it didn’t feel as the graphics were rushed, I personally liked the “cartoonish” look.

    Of course, this idea can be extended in a variety of ways: Different kinds of clouds, some may dissolve after a few minutes of standing on it, maybe some don’t like being stomped by a winged dude, so they shock him with lightning. Also, it would be nice to have a bigger world to explore, and add some goals that need to be completed before visiting Apollo.

    By the way, it would be funny to see the expression of this dude when he falls down from a considerable height!

    And well, while playing the game I noticed some funny details: It’s curious how you can ride on a bird for a long time, even after plucking out some of its feathers. Maybe you can make them drop off Dude Icarus after some time passes?
    It’s also funny how he can survive after falling from a cloud, but drowns in a knee-high water body… How about erasing the earth below so it looks like a botomless pit of water?

    Anyways, those were just details, the main game was fun and I’d definitely look forward for a “larger” version of it.

  6. Giovanni AKA Carnefrisca Says:

    your works are very cute…

  7. Dude Icarus Says:

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