The Automatic Gentlemen, LCC were already running behind schedule for their trip to the Too Many Games convention in Philadelphia, and the game wasn’t downloading.
“Why does this have to happen now?” pleaded Matt Guido, one half of The Automatic Gentlemen. “What could possibly be wrong with it?”
The car was packed and ready to go and the iPad and Nexus 7 tablet versions were up and running, but the iPhone version of Lunch War refused to finish its download.
The problem was that the game file’s size was too big to download outside the range of a Wi-Fi network and Guido had walked just out of range.
Guido looked up at John-Paul Yunque, the other half of The Automatic Gentlemen, and motioned that they needed to go back inside to try and let Lunch War, the mobile game created by the duo, finish downloading before leaving for the convention.
While trying to reset the game’s download, Testflight, a program for mobile developers to use to test their games out before it’s available for purchase, stopped working altogether. The Automatic Gentlemen would have to show off their game without the ability to let anyone play it on the platform where it would likely sell more copies than any other.
Lunch War is a mobile “arcade shoot ‘em up” video game developed by Matt Guido and John-Paul Yunque, both second year Game Design majors at Mercer. Together, the two make up The Automatic Gentlemen, LLC.
Lunch War was initially conceived by Guido and Yunque as their final project for GAM120 – Game Theory and Culture, but work continued on the game outside of class. After some setbacks and delays, the game successfully launched on the Apple App Store on July 26, 2013 and is currently still in development for Android devices.
In Lunch War, the player controls a lunch lady who throws apples at students to prevent them from eating fudgesicles. As the game progresses the game gives the player increasingly more difficult waves of students to clear.
In class, Mercer Game Design Coordinator Ric Giantisco asks his students to create ideas for different types of games.
“One was for either a school themed game or a shoot ‘em up, like a Galaga or Centipede type of game.” said Guido.
“We came up with this idea for this lunch lady who would throw food at kids, we talked outside of class and agreed that we wanted to do it, we asked Professor Giantisco if we could work as a team because everyone else worked solo. He told us we would have to put in twice the effort if that was case, to which we said “Yes, Professor Giantisco, naturally.” Yunque said.
“Matt and JP were really into it, really came together, and really worked together,” said Giantisco. “They started out simple and gradually expanded. What was particularly impressive was how committed they became.”
While Guido and Yunque were able to get the game finished in order to meet the deadline for their class assignment, but more work was required in order to launch the game on mobile devices.
“We tried to get it to run on an iphone as extra credit for the final project, but were only able to get it running on flash on the computer before class ended.” said Yunque.
After class had ended, The Automatic Gentlemen moved the development of the game to a program called Stencyl which would give them the ability to launch the game on both Android and iOS mobile devices.
“There was a time, late last year, when it was done. We thought we were going to release it around Christmas, and we thought we were going to be submitting it.” said Yunque.
“There were problems out of our control with Stencyl that were going to end up holding us back.” said Guido.
“We figured since we missed the December release date that we might as well keep working.” said Yunque
During the extra time they spent working on the game, Guido and Yunque took it on the road to several game conventions to get feedback on how the game was coming along.
“We’ve taken the game to Indiecade in Queens, NY, and got a bunch of great feedback from PAXEast [gaming event] in Boston, so we figured it wasn’t all that bad that it got delayed.” said Yunque.
At a conference called “Two5Six” in Brooklyn, The Automatic Gentlemen were able to get Michael Futter, News Editor for Game Informer, to play Lunch War.
“As he was playing it, he seemed to enjoy it, and he played the entire demo, which most people don’t do,” said Guido.
Michael Futter liked the game and told the Mercer students that he would write an article about them. “ He told us it was really cool, and he started listing off things that he wanted us to send him, and he told us to expect an article up by monday night. We asked if he was joking, but he assured us he was serious,” said Guido.
In his article on Game Informer’s website, Futter said, “Guido and Yunque asked if I would play their game then and there.They were clearly nervous, but they didn’t need to be. Their game, Lunch War, is an addictive and enjoyable homage to the titles of my youth, including Centipede and Space Invaders.”
According to the Automatic Gentlemen, as soon as some Stencyl bugs are ironed out, they are expecting to launch the Android version of Lunch War.
“We made a game, got it out there, made some invaluable industry connections so far, we’re feeling motivated to keep on making games.”