Jamchester 2016

Last weekend I took part in Jamchester, a games jam that took place in Manchester (obviously) at The Studio in the city centre. What makes this games jam different from the other game jams that take place on-site is that this is considered a “professional game jam”.

Unlike student game jams (like Staffordshire’s Global Game Jam or University of Hull’s Three Thing Game) or amateur game jams (like Ludum Dare), Jamchester is a games jam aimed at professional game developers, particularly the indie game studios that take place around the Greater Manchester area. While there were some student teams (and a student category), the majority of entrants are all professional game developers with a variety of experience in the games industry.

I was encouraged to go by the team at Desk Dragons, and managed to get one of the last tickets to get in. I managed to leave work early in order to get to Manchester before the jam began, and I was amazed at how well organized the jam was. Every table had a branded notebook and “survival kit” containing shampoo, wipes, toothpaste with a toothbrush. There was a schedule with food provided all day with buffets and even a BBQ in the late afternoon. Almost all of this was possible with the amount of sponsors, as the money from the tickets went to the charity Special Effect.

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Gemstone Keeper is on Steam Greenlight!

Yes, it is finally time! The page has been published meaning Gemstone Keeper is officially on Steam Greenlight!

You can go vote directly on the Steam App by going HERE on the Steam Website HERE.

This is both an exciting and nervewracking day for me, as this is the proving grounds to see if Gemstone Keeper has what it takes for Steam. So for this week I’ll be checking every now and then, try to get the word out alongside with making updates to the game.

Updates such as more work with the level effects, I’ve gotten the wave effect sorted, however I recently found a bug when trying to capture the game so I may have to rework my method of applying effects. The challenge involves having the effect being applied to things within the game world (i.e. the player, creatures, level layout, objects and even the UI) while not being applied to stuff that isn’t involved with the game world (specifically the pause menu).

Another bit of progress that has been shamefully late (sadly I couldn’t have them ready for the video) are the items. These are secondary pieces that unlike weapons, are optional, but you may find them useful once you can have access to them. Certain items planned include medikits (regain health), grenades (explodes the walls and nearby enemies), gem scanner (find where the gemstones are) and more. These items are however limited per level so it’s important to use them wisely. At the moment I’ve got the triggering system for them ready, with one of the challenges being visualising them:

Unfortunately one thing I have missed out on is providing a playable demo. I want to have a demo ready but it’ll have to be in the next week or so while I check through bugs and ensure a demo build is stable enough to distribute. So watch this space for a demo of Gemstone Keeper!

Ludum Dare 35 Results

The results are online and I’m confident in saying I have improved once again!

As you can see, not only have I achieved the 100% Coolness ranking for the second time, but in all but one of the categories I have managed to reach the top 500! Compare this to Ludum Dare 34 where I only had one category in the top 500 (but then again, I didn’t do much effort and only allowed voting on four categories), and Ludum Dare 33 where despite having a better ranking in audio and fun, four out of the eight categories failed to reach the top 500.

So in a way, I’ve improved overall. I’m still aiming to get a category in the top 100 though, I was so close last year.

You can play my LD35 entry here on itch.io!

Ludum Dare 35 – Five Favourite Entries

I’ve managed to play and vote on over 80 entries so far, and while there is still a week left of voting, I thought I’d show my five favourites thus far, as there have been many developers who have pulled off interesting and creative ideas based on the theme, and this LD had a really good theme.

2ShiftDrift by 01010111

Very well polished game that combines vertical space shooting with racing, while tracks can eventually get repetitive there is a really good challenge with multitasking between going along the track and shooting down enemy choppers and the like.

Statis Core by Eshford

One extremely good looking boss battle, I love my bullet hells and this one was both easy to jump into but hard to beat, but actually succeeding is very worthwhile!

windowframe by managore

As soon as I saw this gameplay gif, I was immediately reminded of an entry back in LD31 called Screen Mover. I definitely like to say this game definitely expands on the concept of your game window having an effect on the gameplay, and seeing a real window move around on the screen is captivating to me.

CYGLiDE by ocarson

Some really nice low-poly graphics at work, this game does an interesting job at controlling flight that takes some getting used to, but feels great once you get the hang of it.

BlobWall by Sophie Houlden

It’s a shame that it doesn’t look finished (and I cannot rate it on any category) but out of all the entries I’ve seen which imitates the “Hole in the Wall” game show formula, this is probably the best executed one by design. Not to mention the camera work is brilliant, showing the perfect angle for each wall and position of the player.

You can go play (and rate) my entry Spinstar here. Have fun!