The first game I made professionally, U.F.H.O. – or more conveniently UFHO (Unidentified Flying Hexagonal Object) – was an online Flash game that I worked on in 2007/2008 while at a web agency in Rome called Visual.
UFHO was an online 1vs1 game, and at its peak it was played by some players… quite a lot. But this was also 2008 and, at the time, we didn’t even know where we were going with this, and had no monetisation plans in mind. The game was in fact completely free.
Despite this, the development of UFHO taught me a lot, and also showed me that I was actually capable to make games that people I don’t know could appreciate. It also eventually led to its sequel UFHO2, which opened the doors to indie development for me, and to so many opportunities.
In UFHO, two players compete in an hexagonal spaceship (the titular UFHO) on who gets 11 gems before their opponent. The UFHO is a maze made of 49 rooms, all interconnected by narrow corridors. Taking turns, the players can either choose to spend moves to move themselves – if rooms were connected, or to rotate the rooms, to create or remove connections. They have 6 moves per turn to spend.
On top of that, we added some powerups to spice it up, and we broke the UFHO in 7 main rooms (called “areas”) which would cost 2 to rotate. But in general, this was the main gameplay: move, rotate rooms, move, and catch the gems to score points.
Here’s a shot of the playing board, enhanced by AI to a higher res (hence the artifacts):
There are actually some videos of gameplay on YouTube, though at a crazy low resolution, and with some crazy loud music (beware). This is one of them.
The backstory of the game is actually funny, so allow me to tell it. While working at this web agency, I managed to convince the manager to try and develop a videogame. Initially, we were set on a story-driven game. One day, my manager came up with the idea of having the story units be like cubes, interconnected to each other and able to rotate and move around (much like the movie The Cube, that he watched the night before). As he was telling it to me, it quickly became clear how a dynamic story like this would have been waaay over budget.
So I convinced him to shave off the story completely, and just retain this rotating room mechanism and make it a puzzle game. And to make it in 2D, from top down. To make things more interesting, I thought of using hexagons instead of squares.
UFHO was born 🙂
All works and words on this website by Ciro Continisio, except otherwise specified.