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United to Create - Over the Edge Entertainment
October 25, 2004 | Mark Satterthwaite
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In the last few years development of original games and engines on the Mac have wanned. Ever since Bungie moved to Microsoft there has been ever fewer, truly commercial Mac designed games. Only a handful of companies such as Pangea have continued to developed and produce high-quality games for the Macinotsh. Therefore, it is always a pleasant surprise for the staff at IMG to come across a new, enthusiastic developer that is developing their own Mac game engine. One such company, Over the Edge Entertainment , is readying to launch themselves onto the Macintosh platform.

Several months ago this small Danish-based company announced its upcoming products. They announced that they were developing a game-engine called Unity and a game based on that engine called GooBall. The first screenshots showed GooBall to be similar to Amusement Visionís Monkey Ball series of games with lively pastel colors and animals in transparent balls. Now with the game closing in on completion we recently had a chance to talk with co-founder of OTEE Nicholas Francis and discover more about the fledgling developerís first products as well how they came to be.

OTEE owes its existence to the meeting of their founders, Nicholas Francis and Joachim Ante on an Apple developer mailing list. They were discussing the development and use of shaders for games, both trying to create their own game engines for the Mac. After a week of discussing their ideas with each other, the pair came together to create a single, more powerful engine that included all of their ideas, which they could then use to create games of their own. Thus, the Unity engine came into being.

Nicholas then sought out an old friend from high school, David Helgason, to join the fledgling company as a Game Script Programmer. Joachim moved from his native Germany to Copenhagen so he could be closer to the team. Finally, Kim Hansen joined as the companyís Art Director, bringing with him a Masters Degree in Visual Communication.

With the final position filled, the quartet began work on their first game, GooBall. With their main influences coming from the console space rather than the PC, OTEE set about trying to create a game that captured their love for arcade-style games while still being fresh and original for Mac gamers. A mammoth session of Super Monkey Ball on Gamecube inspired them, the simple yet captivating gameplay epitomized their beliefs of how to make a great game. In effect GooBall is their take on what such a game should be like and should improve on the highly successful formula created by Amusement Vision, though it may also be written off as a simple clone.

Fundamentally GooBall is a clone. It shares the same basic gameplay: reach the end of the course without running out of time or falling into space. Crystals wait to be collected on each course offering extra lives and points upon collecting enough of them.

Each level also has a map. Since every course can be navigated in different ways it is possible for expert players to navigate to alternative exits, thereby moving through the game via different courses. In addition, it is possible to navigate the courses in novel new ways, as the Ďballí is capable of climbing by becoming jelly-like. As well as enabling the player to traverse hills and steep inclines, it also allows angled surfaces to be used to cross-gaps or cling to the underside of course sections/objects without the ball falling off into space. Such abilities open up a new world of possibilities when navigating the twisting mazes of the game, thereby enabling the designers to create ever more testing courses. Courses in the game consist of blocks, bowls, balls as well as platforms and walkways. Few of the different elements in a course connect to one another; most are only near enough for a quick jump and grab.



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