Global Game Jam 2017 – Chordbusters


||Online Multiplayer, Co-op, 3+ Players||| ChordBusters is a game about bustin’ notes with your pals whilst riding on a galactic laser-firing keyboard. Shoot down enemies by standing on the correct key and firing a “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Ghostbusters” beam at enemies. Some enemies will require a chord to take them down, so you’ll need to work as a team! Choose from a range of fingers to express yourself! Are you a pirate? Are you a cat? Or are your 420 blaze it A E S T H E T I C memelord? Show us with your choice of finger. Go for a high score as you try to survive for as long as possible!

Credits/Download here

[ GGJ Theme: ‘Waves’ ]

It’s that time of year again! Only this time, I arrived late, as my mad post-work dash to the venue wasnt fast enough – so didnt really do much brainstorming to contribute to the design side of things. The team I ended up joining was one full of devs from King, who were in need of a graphic designer – but I’m actually pretty glad things turned out that way because I was utterly amazed that we managed to get an online networked multiplayer co-op game made in under 48 hours! Amazing stuff.

base slanted.jpg

So, usually when I jam I try to get a rough concept if what the final game will look like done at the start of the jam, and then spend the rest of it polishing that sketch and making it into assets. This time round I decided to play it by ear, and concept as I went, blocking out the basics in smart objects and creating exportable assets from the offset – so basically the same way I concept UI and architecture, but with even less cheaty shortcuts.


My initial approach for the art direction was via the diversifiers of GGJ17

Old Masters
The art style of your game is based off of a master artist’s style (i.e. Picasso, Klimt, Van Gogh). – Art

I decided to use Kandinsky as my master as his work is very distinctive and pioneering – but as the jam went on the style started to bend in a new direction, fitting more closely to the way that the gameplay, audio and VFX were developing, to the point where it’d be hard for me to claim that diversifier.


The diversifier I did aim towards in the end was the idea of getting the information across in both a colour, and a colourblind-friendly way, which also would help people who are not familiar with keyboards recognise which key they should be standing on.


The enemies are differentiated by letters, colours and dots which show which key the note is to be played in.

BASE V1 enemies chords 4.jpgFour different kinds of enemies. The final game ended up having only 3 of these, though the third one only appears if you can get very far in!

BASE V4.jpg

When a key is pressed, it reveals a small spiky gun, this fires an awesome not ghostbusters ghostbusters lazer which was created by one of the programmers.

BASE V1 players.jpg

The size of the keyboard was changed in balancing, which changed the plan to have the player characters be fingers a little. This is where things started to get silly – the player fingers could have been minimal and abstract, but so much of my time was spent exporting and tweaking assets that, for the sake of getting the game ready on time, I thought I should go the comedy route, This also felt a little more tonally consistent with the mashing of synth sounds and the vibrant lazers than a sensible finger may have.


The characters were taken from suggestions in the team Slack. As nobody making the game would be able to publish the game for profit once it was done due to legal reasons , I grabbed images from google – this is not something I would ever usually do in a jam, as part of the fun is to create the assets, but part of the joke was the juxtaposition of photographs onto an abstract background.

That said, if I had had more time I would have created some more simplified graphic characters. One thing that tends to happen in game jams, is that the artists keep working and create a backlog that it never gets put into the final upload,  we all promise we’ll finish the game off later, but it never happens. This method was a bit cheap, but it helped to get the assets to the coders more swiftly so that they could integrate and test everything before the deadline.


The placeholder UI was replaced by something a little more on style, and a background was added. It was not my intention to have a background other than a black space originally, as minimal styles don’t always really need them, but people were asking about it enough that I found something fitting – this too was another google’d image.


You can download it and connect to your friends to play here !



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