TeamTMT: The Student Developers Behind Snow Fighters

By Kevin McVay [02.11.20]

As we've had a great number of readers proclaiming their wishes to create their own action games, I've been speaking with some true craftsmen of the action genre to find out how they make their own titles. Our third installment features TeamTMT.

@SnowFightersTMT

SnowFighters Game Introduction

TeamTMT comprises a pair of students at Hokkaido Information University: Takimoto and Toshima. The team is currently at work developing the game SnowFighters. SnowFighters is a snowball fight game in which you make and throwing snowballs, in case this wasn't hella obvious. It's being hailed as a "snowball fight e-sports game". While the basic game system - making and subsequently chucking snowballs - is simple, the characters can move freely in all directions, and there are "EX" techniques that can totally change the course of battle specifically made for each individual character. We spoke to the team about the various trials and tribulations they've encountered through the development process.

Takimoto:

My name is Takimoto. We formed TeamTMT in order to join the game development contest held every year at our university. The two of us participated in last year's contest as well, but we ended up burning out and the results weren't as fortunate as we'd hoped. This year, we're back to hopefully make up for that. At this point, I've got about six years' experience in game development, and this is the second time I've worked on a collaborative game like this.

Toshima:

Toshima here. I got started in game development after starting college, so for me it's been about three years and change so far. We formed TeamTMT in 2018 to join the yearly game development contest held at our university. Continuing from the previous year, I decided to enter again this year, thus rejoining the team, and later scoring our own booth at the 2019 Tokyo Game Show.

How SnowFighters Began

Takimoto:

The concept behind the game was to create a simple competitive game that could be easily picked up and played even by people who don't usually play games that much. From there, we decided on the "snowball fight" theme, since it's a pretty much universally-known thing.

Initially, we had planned to implement a turn-based puzzle game-like system, but we switched lanes to "action" pretty early because action generally looks better and the speed of the snowball fights would shine more. Since the basic "making and throwing snowballs" system has not really changed since the start, I think it's safe to say that we've thought the concept out pretty thoroughly at this point.

Toshima:

I think I was doing something like adding little things onto Takimoto's suggestions. Most of the basic proposals were Takimoto's.

When the general characteristics of SnowFighters began to take shape, Takimoto explained them to me, and then we thought about which game would be easier to make, which tools and which approach would be best, etc., eventually landing on Pixel Game Maker MV. I personally had no idea what tool would be best, but it was strongly recommended by Takimoto so we decided to go with that.


Where to Begin Making an Action Game

Takimoto:

The first thing I created after coming up with the project was the six character designs. I designed six characters simultaneously in notebooks I used for lecture notes, and then moved on to making dot graphics without any real elaboration. Since pixel art was a sort of hobby of mine, I created all the pixels myself. Once the characters' pixel images were done, I made an ad hoc system that generated snowballs and threw them, and Toshima put everything else together.


Toshima:

Yeah, I put together the ad hoc system that Takimoto made. The first thing I worked out was the system-side character behaviors. First I made the basic character behaviors, then the character selection screen, and then did the fine tuning and adjustments on the various characters themselves.

Takimoto:

After that, I made the stage chips, backgrounds, UI, standing images of the characters, and finally the music. I also like making songs, so except for some sound effects, almost everything sound-related is my own.

Little Tips for Making Action Games on Pixel Game Maker MV

Takimoto:

I recommend adjusting the number of sprite frames when creating animations to make them sharper. In SnowFighters, the number of character frames is basically fixed at 4-5f. However, explosions for super moves and beam animations are made to move quickly by switching at 2f, and at the end of the animation, the number of frames is reduced by 2f → 6f → 7f.

Also, there is a character that uses a snowboard to move around, but I wanted to make it "slide" more in order to have it stand out from the other characters, so I checked the acceleration/deceleration item in [Movement and Jumping][J1]  to change the movement spee, which worked out perfectly.


Toshima:

There's a kid who throws a big-ass snowball as their special move. The snowball moves around the screen indefinitely, ignoring the tiles on the screen, but I had to tweak it so that it would only recognize the bottom tiles and bounce off of them. Although it uses the same graphics, the configuration of the collision detection is different, and I think it came out as a good-looking special move.

Also, there's another character that multiplies for their special move, so I used the controller ID variable setting to prevent snowballs thrown by their alter ego from hitting the character's main "self". I set the controller ID of the snowball to be the same one as the parent object character, and had it ignore collisions with the same controller ID.

Big Trouble in Little Game Development

Takimoto:

This was our first time using this software, and we had been dealing a considerable number of bugs, partly because I built the system in a really "Mickey Mouse job" way until I properly understood the various specs. In terms of graphics, implementing collision detection was problematic, as it was pretty difficult to get a good balance with six pixel-based characters. Since the size of each character in this game is the same for each person, I remember having trouble adjusting the size so that the graphics wouldn't feel weird.

Toshima:

As for difficult points, I'd have to say "bug removal". It took quite a while because there were quite a few bugs. In particular, all the characters have different special moves, so there were many bugs there and it was hard to catch them all. For example, using special moves could turn you permanently invincible, or make your character disappear.

Actually, it was even harder finding the bugs than getting rid of them. I had to play the game with other people to try to figure out how the bugs popped up and why, because I couldn't do anything without knowing what was causing them.

This has been our interview with TeamTMT. We feel that this could be helpful for those just starting in game development, showing where to start and with what. We hope you find this as informative as we did.

SnowFighters is set to launch to PC (Steam) this winter. Currently, it only supports two- to four-player matches. The team plans to add single player vs. CPU features, more animations, and improved controls, and are hard at work getting the game finished. For more info on the game's release, etc., be sure to follow them on Twitter at @SnowFightersTMT to keep up with all the latest info.

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