Global Games Jam 2018

One of my New Years Resolutions is to take part in at least one games jam each month. This was a goal I set myself so I could develop more variety of games for the year of 2018. For myself, the games jam of January (and first games jam of the year) was Global Games Jam 2018, taking place on site at Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent.

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I’ve regularly participated at GGJ since 2013 at the Stafford Campus, however in 2016 the Stafford Campus eventually closed its doors and all the departments (Computer Science, Game Development, Web Development, Film, TV and Music etc) were all moved to the Stoke Campus. I skipped 2017 after a lot of regular GGJ attendees were put off by travelling to Stoke and hearing that because of security issues they couldn’t allow overnight stay. Near the end of 2017, one of my friends asked if I was interested in going since she was going as well, so I thought “Sure, why not?”.

Stoke Campus has improved a lot since I went there on rare occasions as a Student, and GGJ became a lot more organised on that site. Gone were the days where getting a table or a PC being a free-for-all, as people had to get tickets in advance for what kind of room they want, and each room had plenty of machines with the latest software (especially for Unity and Unreal Engine 4 developers). Gone were the days of little to no security or support since all rooms required a badge to get into (all attendees received badges at the start of the day) and the jam had volunteers available to provide support for the entire 48 hours. Gone were the lack of food and drinks on site as free fruit, tea and coffee were available on site, and with both Subway and the University’s Student Union Bar open all weekend and a short walk from the site.

The games jam began with a keynote, featuring tips & tricks from Unity, an ad for the Amazon Appstore, a celebration of 10 years of GGJ, a talk from Robin Hunicke and an 80s style workout video from Thorsten S. Wiedemann. The audience was riffing the whole keynote up until the theme announcement, which was fun and all but I did feel bad for Robin’s talk as she was giving an inspiring talk that was meant to encourage interesting stories and concepts, but the six minutes of nonstop talking with an unchanging shot of the San Francisco Bay Area bored almost everyone.

The theme was Transmission, and the theme announcement segment implied this could be anything from communication, to mechanical to passing one thing to another. Our team consisted of myself, my friend Kira, programmer James and two 3D modellers, Benz and Matt. We came up with the idea of a twin-stick shooter where you move along sound waves. James did an incredible job of generating sound waves visually using vertex shaders and lining up the player position with the line, Kira created a tone generator for the game to use, and I worked on enemy behaviour, management, bullets, GUI and main menus, and we all chipped in where we could to get the game in a finished state. Benz and Matt worked on the in-game models, as well as a nebula skybox. Here is the progress in tweets:

So we managed to finish with about an hour or two to spare, which is very good for us. I hardly post much about what I’ve worked on at GGJ because in most of the events they end up not finished, but this is the third out of five GGJs that ended up being finished. So here’s our game: Formants

Let’s see what the games jam of February will be.

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Feeling Superstitious?

I would make this my obligatory “I’m in” post, but I thought I’d make this a bit fun and tell you some weird or crazy fact when it comes to me and game jams, and in particular Ludum Dare: I’m cursed.

Now here me out, I am aware this sounds weird and possibly crazy (because it is), but even if it’s just a sheer coincidence or just bad luck, there is an unusual pattern that has occurred whenever I take part in game jams, and this has been happening through most of the game jams I’ve taken part in since 2013.

The “curse” goes as follows: Every game jam with an even number will either lead to no completion or failure.

That’s not to say that the jams with odd numbers have lead to roaring successes but the majority of my game jam participations which lead to finished and submitted games and some have had much more positive reception than I’ve hoped for, which is saying something for someone who hasn’t (yet) reached the top 100 in any Ludum Dare category. Heck, on my own Ludum Dare author page there are only entries from odd numbered LDs.

So if you are interested, I will show you my evidence and also add in some lessons that were taken from them.

Ludum Dare 28:

Most of why this jam went wrong for me can be summed up in the post mortem I wrote. The short version was that I was collaborating with another person, and we left pretty much everything from what tools we would use, to our game jam idea to the last minute, and as a result we made an unfinished game that we felt embarrassed to keep online so I reached out to Ludum Dare to have that game removed. I don’t have any criticism to give Code_Assassin, but we pretty much agreed that if we were to collaborate again, we’d definitely need a week or so to prepare what games we could make and what tools we would use.

Lesson: Prepare well in advance.

Ludum Dare 30:

So this one I did announce I would participate, and I was joined into a team this time. So how come I didn’t submit a game at this one? Well the answer was that a game was made, and submitted by the other programmer, LiquidBrewing, the game being Cardboard Giuseppe. However as you can see, no one voted for it, and only two comments, reasons why I’m not so sure. During development there were some issues, namely that one of the artists dropped out (meaning I ended up doing some artwork in order to finish the game up) and it didn’t help that I was away on Friday and Saturday. I guess it wasn’t a surprise that the majority of the code that I wrote never got used in the game.

Lesson: Leave some days free to work (especially in teams)

Ludum Dare 32:

I couldn’t participate in this one, although I cannot find a reason why. I can recall telling people I could not take part because I was going to be away somewhere, but I cannot recall what event prevented me from taking part.

Global Games Jam 2014:

Just to show this doesn’t just occur at Ludum Dare, here’s Global Games Jam. I’ve participated at GGJ for three years running and 2014 was the only year that had an incomplete entry. This one had a much larger team of seven people, and yet the reason we never finished was once again, down to tools. We all agreed to use Unity, a great choice if it wasn’t for the fact that most of us never used Unity before, and our venue actually had rooms with didn’t permit the use of Unity (although Unreal Engine was accepted). It was a shame, since we had an idea of an RTS where the visuals and language of the game would depend on what side of a revolution you chose (kinda like Command and Conquer, now that I think about it). On the plus side, I managed to write a sophisticated and fully designed graphical user interface, just a shame the gameplay never became fully realised. I later wrote a post mortem of the jam so you can see the full details of what happened near the time it occurred.

Lesson: Use and prepare tools you know how to use.

So whatever reasons of this, I’m still taking part in this LD, even if it’s number 34. Whether or not the incidents above are the cause of an actual curse, and these aren’t the only ones, I still enjoy the learning process and hard work I put into making small and quick games every year. I look forward to seeing what cool stuff gets created and I hope, despite already having a planned trip to London…Ah well, going to London to see friends during a Ludum Dare didn’t stop me at LD31!

University and Glow Drop DX Update

So as of today, the first semester of my final year of University is down, two more semesters to go! All exams are finished, and three assignments are done, all that’s left so far are the marks, two assignments due in second semester and a Final Year Project (which I also did a midpoint review yesterday). This is awesome for me as it means more work for the FYP and other game dev stuff, and I can schedule out the other work that I need to do.

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Global Games Jam 2014 Quick PostMortem

For another year, Global Games Jam has ended, and what a time was had at Stafford Campus during the event. After 48 hours of work we were able to pull off most of what we had hoped and it’s time for me to give you my report. I will explain what happened, what problems were faced and what we produced.

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Global Games Jam 2014 and other updates

Hey everyone! Just thought I’d like to give a shoutout to all those who have been supporting me and following me on all my channels, you have no idea how much it all means to me. This also includes those who write about my stuff or make videos, I’m really thankful for the amount of effort some of you people have in showing your interest of my work.

Here’s one recent example that I’d like to show you, Gerry from MyGamesAreFun did a lets play of the first demo I did of Secret of Escape!

Don’t forget that if you want to do any writeups or videos of my games, feel free to do so and send them my way. Now onto the main part of this post, the Global Games Jam! Continue reading