The Scary October Jam #ScareJam

Boo! So it’s time for the first of my many little game jams that I’m going to be running at the University of Lincoln! Since it’s Halloween soon I thought it might make sense to make it a spooky-themed scary game jam of occult hi-jinks!

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So ‘The Scary October Jam’ will be coming this Friday (18th October) to the University of Lincoln. I’ll be starting it at around 5pm and it’ll be finishing 72 hours later on the Monday! Anyone at the university is welcome to come along, we’d like to see as many first year games students there as possible – you can use the weekend as a crash course in GameMaker!

Let’s make some games that make people jump. Make games with all those creepy things that go bump in the night. Make something terrifying that’ll terrify the judges!

This time around we’re having an online poll to decide on a mechanic to add into everyone’s games. This should give people an interesting challenge and push them to think a little outside of the box with their game ideas. (Let’s avoid having a thousand and one jump-and-run games, people!)

You can come in a team of up to five people. The event will be in Computer Lab B on the top floor of the MHT building. Don’t be afraid to ask me some questions about it: if you want some more information on the jam then send me an email or drop me a message on Twitter.

My Thoughts On: The Stanley Parable Demo

That was perhaps the cleverest ‘demo’ I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.

To be frank I’m not entirely sure if I can classify it as a ‘demo’ in the normal sense of the word. The developers have created an entire mini story in order to bring you into the world of the Stanley Parable without giving away any of the actual game.

I love the premise behind the Stanley Parable: A critical look at traditional game tropes. The narrator specifically makes fun of a great deal of these during this demo. Everything is surprising as it takes what you know and flips it on its head. Non euclidean architecture that could rival even Antichamber was one of my favorite things in the demo.

I’ve been following the Stanley Parable for a good while now and I was most pleased to see that emotion booths are in fact there to be used in the game. It was an amusing nod to the Raphael trailer that myself and Alex have on loop during game jams.

I’m really happy that they’ve managed to invoke the same feelings of mischief that I felt during the original mod. I continued to want to fight the rules and do the exact opposite of what the narrator wanted – and his reaction to this never disappointed me.

All I can say is that the demo was great fun and I really am looking forward to playing the full game. I can’t wait to have my preconceptions of games challenged once again. And I’ve missed Stanley… he must be awfully lonely in his office, pressing buttons all day.

Also: I love that narrator’s voice… it’s smooth as butter.

My Thoughts On: A Machine For Pigs

I have a confession to make: I never finished the original Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

Why? Because of several reasons:

  1. I was a great deal younger and therefore my ability to man the fuck up was severely hindered.
  2. I was playing the game in the dark and with my best friend Mark, who was also unable to man the fuck up. In fact his jumping and breathing down my neck made things worse for me.
  3. We saw the first gatherer and after jumping out of the chair and yanking the mouse out of its USB port decided we’d come back and play it again later.
  4. We never came back to play it again later.

But I did get around to watching Jesse Cox’s wonderful play-through of it. So I didn’t miss out on the story or anything like that. I respected the fear inducing pursuits of the monsters and the creepy warping of the insanity meter. I loved the large levels with multiple rooms and paths.. and I really hoped that they’d make a new one.

So when I heard The Chinese Room were making the new one my first thought was “I don’t know if it’ll be as scary… but it’ll be damn pretty.”  When I saw it had a steampunk Victorian vibe I was pretty excited (I have a distinct love for steampunk…)

I’ve played it through now from start to finish. So I’m going to list my thoughts on it below – I’ve separated them into good and bad points to make it easier for anyone who reads this:

Good Points

I really liked the story (despite having guessed where it was going very early on…) It was creepy, sickening and macabre – it was definitely what I wanted from an Amnesia game. I’ve been told by a few people that they don’t think the ties between this game and the original are strong enough – but I think the references to the original game were just right without being too annoyingly in your face. I liked how they dared to be perverse in their storytelling  when so many games don’t dare to get anywhere close to that. I was engaged by it from start to finish and I liked the ending a great deal.

The setting of the game was beautifully done. I wouldn’t have expected any less from The Chinese Room, though. They really brought grimy industrial London to life. The levels were sufficiently terrifying and I was constantly impressed by the attention to detail in their grand design.

Enemy design was wonderful… the pig men were gross and their effect on the lights always made me think twice before going down a small corridor. There was one particular enemy type close to the end that REALLY caused me to panic in utter terror.

I liked the removal of the insanity, oil and health meters – it allowed to me focus more on the world and the issues at hand instead of fumbling around inside an inventory. Come to think of it the lack of inventory in general really helped to immerse me deeper into the game.

Bad Points

It was too damn short… I was surprised how quickly I managed to plow through it. I was even taking regular Facebook and food breaks to ensure I didn’t die from a heart attack or something.

The really terrifying enemy type I mentioned earlier is only used right at the end of the game for a few encounters. This is a real shame because it was a damned good heavy hitter. Now I know that using it more might have made it lose its impact… but it seemed a shame that it came and went so quickly.

The levels in the game were far too linear… it lacked a great deal of the exploration that made the first Amnesia so interesting. This linearity made the puzzles exceptionally easy too as the solutions to problems were normally a room or two away instead of far on the other side of the level. Hiding from the pig men was something that I would only have to do in order to progress past a certain location instead of in the original Amnesia where they were an ever-present threat. I think this made the game less scary as I knew there was always bound to be an obvious way past the creatures because I needed to get to the area behind them.

Man pigs raping small children is never going to be okay. You hear me? Never.

This Little Piggy Had A Conclusion

A Machine For Pigs is a most excellent game, I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was genuinely terrifying at some moments and thats what I expected from the game. The story was most interesting and enthralling and was played out quite nicely through the use of notes and voice recorders. I would definitely say it lacks some of the things that made the original Amnesia so nerve-wrackingly terrifying but it does a good job of making you jump once in a while. It feels like a decent successor to the first and in an age where sequels never live up to the originals it does hold itself quite well. Nice work The Chinese Room… nice work indeed.

Time To Say Goodbye!

My three years at university are up! It’s time to have a look back on the years and see what I’ve learnt and reminisce on both the good times and the bad. It’s a time for me to immortalise my love for my friends in one giant blog post of epic proportions. (You should listen to this whilst reading…)

Lets start with first year: Perhaps my least favorite year of my university life! I met some awesome friends that year and learnt that even if you get on well with someone you might not necessarily be able to live with them! I first really got into anime this year and I had no idea how deep i’d be into the university’s anime society by the end of my time at university. This was the year I also decided to swap courses from Games Production to Games Computing – one of the best decisions of my life and I shall always thank Oliver Szymanezyk for giving me that last little push to do it! I didn’t particularly enjoy the drama that occurred in my first year – it left me very stressed out and upset, but I got over it!

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My second year was… quite eventful. Having secured my place on the JAMS council as the media and comms officer I was very busy making newsletters and posters – I also developed an unhealthy love of banners and all their beguiling ways. Second year was also the year I went to Eurogamer Expo… where after having a chat with a girl at one of the booths I ended up in contact with Andy Goff… who has played a major role in my life ever since! I realised that I loved to teach people and I really wanted to encourage others to start making games, which lead onto several events I ran in my third year and a games computing club at my old school. I had a rough time that year in my council role because of occasional stressy drama, but I learnt a great deal about running a society – which pushed me to run for President. My 21st birthday occurred that year too, where we celebrated with my first cigar and plenty of fine wines!

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The third and final year of my university life was where I think I met some of the best people I know. It was the year I made things official with my current girlfriend after an age of being on-and-off again. My presidency at the anime society was practically dream-like, my whole council did their jobs wonderfully and we didn’t often have any real problems to deal with – we kept the focus on member fun and it paid off in a big way. I set up several game jams this year to encourage the new first years to make games and I’ve met some amazing games designers this year – specifically Alex Saye: who is one of the most talented programmers I know. I also founded my first games company, “Top Notch Studios LTD” of which I am now the managing director! Finally all my hard work paid off and I am about 90% sure that I’ll be coming out with a first overall for my three years here at university – which is sweet!

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Last weekend I went to the MCM expo with my anime society – it was my last official role as president. It was an alright day for the most part although I did get lost in the morning and couldn’t find any friends until we were about to go… that put a dampener on things. I was expecting to get back on the bus and fall asleep – but nothing could have prepared me for what happened next: the majority of my members had chipped in to buy me presents and then I was given a book filled with goodbye messages from everyone… it was one of the happiest moments of my life so far (I was crying tears of joy for a good one and a half hours).

It’s  truly breaking my heart to leave every friend I’ve met at university, but I know that I’ll see you all again and I’ll do my best to keep in contact with you. I will miss Tuesday sessions at JAMS and Wednesday nights at LGS, I’ll think fondly back on all those nights wasted doing very little in The Shed. I’ll perhaps even shed a few more tears if I look back on those pages in that book I was given.

I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my university journey – you’ve made it great!

Updating The Blog! (It’s been a while…)

So its been quite a while since my last blog post… theres a good few reasons for that and I’ll list them below. None of them are bad of course – in fact I’d say all the reasons for me being off the radar are pretty awesome and cool. It’s been a very eventful university semester.

Firstly, I completed and handed in my dissertation on visual variety in crowd simulations. I’m pretty happy with how it went… the project was completed on time and the results gathered by the evaluation supported the changes I’d made to the agent’s model in the world. You can read the full project report here, hopefully you won’t find any mistakes in it (if you do… please don’t tell me as it’ll make me panic.)

Secondly, I completed my last two assignments of the year:

  • A games design document for a ‘critical’ game looking at illicit gun-running, capitalism and dictatorships. The player assumes the role of an unscrupulous arms dealer who travels to a fictional island in order to make money off of the war brewing between two countries.
  • A pathfinding assignment in which I implemented a pre-baked pathfinding solution in order to simulate more agents at runtime… it allowed for the simulation to have 20,000+ agents moving around all at once.

Thirdly, myself and the rest of my wonderful council at the university’s anime society (JAMS) put on a big event in the university’s bar called ‘LinCON’ – we had a load of things going on such as an artists alley, a sumo suit arena, sushi, origami and calligraphy. It was a great night and from all the feedback I’ve received everyone had a great time. I’d specifically like to thank Pia Davison from Lucky-Con for taking a big chunk of her free time out in order to help us get ready in time!

Fourthly, it was my birthday last Friday so I had a wonderful party at The Shed, my local student pub. We took on the theme of “Steampunk… like a sir.” and I was most impressed with how good everyone looked in their shirts and dresses. I like my parties to be classy and with whiskeys and victory cigars this was no exception to that.

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Fifthly… and I think this is the biggest and most awesome news of this entire updateI’m lucky enough to now be the managing director of my own games company! I’ve literally been buzzing this whole week after receiving the news that I’m now in such a position at the age of twenty two. I’ve been in touch with a couple of initial clients and hopefully in the future Top Notch Studios will grow to be a well-known development company here in Britain!

Thank you for reading! I’m sure I’ll be doing more updates soon about other things I’m working on… and I’ll be typing up the next Laundry RP files soon when I get chance to!

The Laundry RP (Entry #3)

Bear in mind that this entry is being written up about a week later than it should have been (mostly because my dissertation and other work got in the way) – as such: the overall accuracy of this particular story is highly suspect. Here is the next entry in the Laundry RP series… I like to call it “HOW NOT TO DO A MISSION” for obvious reasons:

It was an early morning for the Charnwood Laundry Branch. All the members of the group slowly dragged themselves out of their beds and to their workplace underneath the town’s monument. Ethel welcomed two new members to the group: Jemerald Smith, a reasonably attractive young woman, and Lesley Bian, a huge woman who was ‘built like a brick shit-house’.

After a quick coffee to wake themselves up, Reginald called the group into this office. He thanked them all for coming along at such short notice and started to explain what was going on:

“Recently we’ve been contacted by head-office to investigate some suspicious activity in Wales. I’ve not been told much be I know that you’re all being sent to investigate what’s going on. Oh, and Penelope is off on another mission right now – she’ll be dropped in via parachute as and when she becomes free.”

Reluctantly the group left the building and walked to the train station… caught the early train to East Midlands Parkway and then walked into the airport to await a flight across to their destination. It was at this point that most of the guys went and bought some duty-free junk: Bruce bought matches and deodorant, Jemerald bought a giant packet of Smarties and Dr. Smedley grabbed himself a bottle of very strong alcohol.

Bruce was rather unsettled by airports – his simple mind could not fathom that not everyone in the world was a terrorist. He glimpsed a shifty-looking man loading a black duffle bag into a nearby storage bay for their plane. Reacting instantly: Bruce yelled “Bomb!” and ran at the man… rugby tackling him to the ground. The poor man turned to Bruce and said “I’m one of you guys! I was just loading the damn plane!”

After a few minutes of calming down the airport security with various warrant cards and fast-talking, the group of Laundry operatives wandered onto the jet and took off towards Wales. Inside the plane the group opened up the duffle bag and pulled out some interesting equipment: a tillinghast resonator (a machine that shows magical energies to those around it) a few bags of the powder of Ibn-Ghazi (a powder that shows up invisible things) and a black plastic bag with some kind of gun inside it (attached to which were orders that it was not to be opened unless the team were specifically told to).

The team landed in Wales and were picked up by a man named Rennie. Rennie was a grumpy looking man with messy hair, wild eyes and dirty-looking hunting clothes. The group sat awkwardly inside the welshman’s four-by-four as it drove off into the middle of nowhere.

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Eventually after an hour or so the car stopped and the group got out. They had arrived at a restricted military testing area, similar to Salisbury Plain. Rennie took them to some strange looking tracks near the edge of a forest, he mumbled that there were ‘strange things’ in the forest. The group turned on the tillinghast resonator – a strange feeling of nausea hit the group hard as the world warped around them, they could see a creepy glowing trail into the forest: they decided to follow it.

After a few minutes the group turned off the resonator due to it making them feel too sick. They continued to follow strange tracks in the ground – which Rennie identified as mostly sheep… Eventually the group came across a field, in the corner a bunch of sheep were huddled together in fear.

It was at this moment that Penelope Tittington drifted down into the field, behind her a giant union-jack parachute billowed in the wind. She probably should have said something bad-ass at this point, but she couldn’t think of anything.

The group noticed that three of the sheep were dead, drained of their organs through nasty-looking slits on the back of their necks. They were shocked to see this but decided to continue following the tracks on the ground. Rennie continued to mutter to himself, but he was interrupted by the sound of a little girl singing.

Following the sound of singing the operatives came across a small clearing in which a girl was sitting. Jemerald walked up to the girl and offered her a Smartie; the girl said she loved Smarties and her invisible friend would love them too. Lesley (or as she preferred to be called “Lez”) asked the girl what she meant by ‘invisible friend’ to which the child replied “My invisible friend: Yog-Snuffles… he’ll be here again soon.”

Almost instantly Bruce went into action mode – he picked up the girl and punched her in the face to try and knock her out. The group looked on in confusion as their fellow agent span back around with the girl in his arms, an inane grin on his face.

Bruce’s grin dropped quickly as a loud roar from seemingly nowhere echoed through the forest. In an instant poor Rennie was lifted off the ground by an invisible force, he neck was slit open and the group watched as his body was drained of its organs.

The group pleaded with Bruce to let the girl go before the invisible creature killed all of them. Bruce refused so an irritated Dr. Smedley shot him in the leg with his pistol. Bruce fell over and dropped the girl, she ran off into the forest without the team’s notice.

In a moment of genius, Smedley ripped a piece of Penelope’s shirt off, stuffed it into his bottle of powerful alcohol and lit the end with one of Bruce’s matches. This makeshift molotov splashed all across the invisible monster before them, making it run off screaming into the forest.

The group spotted a large concrete bunker nearby and ran into it for safeties sake. Bruce refused to go into the bunker with Smedley, so he stood outside in the cold, wet air. He was fed up of Dr. Smedley shooting at him every time he did something silly.

The rest of the group investigated in insides of the facility. It was completely abandoned… it looked as if there had been a break out by one of the experiments. Upon turning on the resonator, the group were shown images of ghostly shadows experimenting on long-forgotten experiments: tentacles growing from petri dishes and people running from something down a corridor.

At this moment Bruce was still waiting outside despite hearing the sounds of the approaching monster. As the monster approached Bruce attempted to burn it again using his deodorant and matches – but due to taking far too long to think about it… he ended up losing his arm to the creature’s attack.

Jemerald dragged Bruce kicking and screaming into the bunker before the monster could devour him. She left him by a wall and went back to the main group to see what was going on.

The operatives all entered a large summoning chamber in the center of the complex. Inside a man and a woman were chanting in an unknown language: they appeared to be opening a portal to another universe. A tear in space-time floated in the center of the room, inside  which unspeakable horrors laid in wait.

Smedley pulled out his pistol and shot the man in the head, Ernie Nybble followed suit and shot the woman. With both the people dead, the portal closed quickly, but not before something behind it could speak:

“You will not stop the coming of me and my kind, Laundry. The walls grow thin and we shall feast upon mankind! The girl still lives and she will summon us through! My creature will find her!”

Upon searching the bodies the team realised that the child that Bruce had maliciously attacked earlier was the daughter of these two people. After feeling bad for a few minutes the group moved back to Bruce.

Penelope ripped another piece of her shirt off and used it to bandage Bruce’s wounds. Lez then picked up Bruce and carried him for the rest of the mission as he groaned in pain.

Ernie deduced that the girl would head to the nearby hill in order to summon the portal once again. He partly guessed this based on a book he’d read and the fact that there was a dark spinning hole in the clouds above said nearby hill.

The group reached the top of the hill and destroyed the chalk summoning circle that had been drawn there… it was here they rang Reginald: they weren’t happy with the lack of information they’d been given for this mission.

Reginald apologised, he didn’t realise that the creature that had been created years ago by the Laundry scientists was still alive. He asked the team to take out the bag with the gun inside, he explained that it was a marking device that would call in an rail-gun strike.

Armed with this new weapon… the team came up with a couple of plans:

  1. Kill a bunch of sheep and wear their bodies as camouflage, then mark the creature as and when it comes to try and eat them. (Lez’s idea…)
  2. Use Bruce as bait to lure the creature to the summoning circle, then blow the both of them to kingdom-come (Bruce was heavily against this idea.)
  3. Lure the girl into the bunker and hope that the creature follows her – then blow them all up using the rail gun marker. (Lez’s other idea…)
  4. Re-open the portal and fire the rail gun through it, just to piss of the creatures on the other side. (Smedley’s idea…)

They chose plan number three. Using the large bag of Smarties that Jemerald had bought at the airport the team created a trail from the hill to the bunker. The group then hid and watched as the girl followed the trail into the bunker. They saw the grass around the bunker move as the creature moved in towards the girl.

Jemerald protested as the team pulled out the marker and pointed it at the bunker, she didn’t want to kill the girl. Smedley said that they’d already killed her parents, so it wasn’t exactly fair not to finish the job.

The rail-gun strike came quickly. A bright light decimating the area around the bunker and leaving a massive crater. Bits of the monster lay strewn across the landscape along with crushed pieces of concrete bunker.

Reginald congratulated the group on a successful mission. He asked if the group had seen a family at any point during the mission, as several soldiers had come across a people-carrier stuck in the mud in the restricted area. Robert replied with a simple “No.”

Guilt weighed heavily on the operatives as they boarded their plane for home. They hoped never to have such a botched mission again. Bruce sat in the corner grumbling, holding the stump of his arm and glaring angrily at Dr. Smedley.

What will happen next time? Will Bruce get his revenge on Smedley for the loss of his arm? Will he actually do something that doesn’t involve rugby tackling everyone he sees? Find out next time!

The Laundry RP (Entry #2)

So to get the new players into a basic understanding of how the laundry operates, I sent them to a basic training mission in Dunwich (one of the generic missions described in the book). We also had another two members of the group join the form of Ernie Nybble and Penelope Tittington… both of whom are certainly ‘characters’.

The story begins as the four Laundry operatives joined together at the carillon secret base. Both Bruce and Robert were surprised to see two new members for their team: Ernie Nybble: a depressed, anally retentive nerd and Penelope Tittington, a brunette bombshell of a woman, trained in subtle stealth and subterfuge.

Reginald was delighted to tell the four operatives that they would not be hanging around the facility for too long. It was time for the groups basic training in “sunny” Dunwich, a secret village somewhere on the coast of Norfolk. Soon the group were on a small plane and travelling towards their destination.

Upon landing, the team were greeted by a grumpy looking man with unnaturally bulbous eyes and pallid skin. He took them to a dirty-looking minibus and they all got in.

Inside the minibus, the group met a man called Bernie Goldfield. He was a rather sickly looking man, and was very jumpy when they tried to talk to him. Goldfield told them about how he was drafted into the Laundry and that he had no idea what was in store for all of them. Bruce attempted to pick-pocket Bernie, but failed… Bernie thought he was trying to touch him up.

Eventually the group came to a dull-looking quay. They hopped aboard a small motorboat that smelt of fish and then set off for the town of Dunwich. They group noticed a bunch of destroyed houses sunken under the water below… and upon closer inspection they noticed large, dark things moving around between the buildings too.

Eventually they came across the village of Dunwich, it was a miserable place with a series of ramshackle cottages, concrete administration buildings and a large white church-like structure. The team disembarked the boat and went on a tour with Leah Poisson, a Laundry HR Officer. She explained to the group how the Laundry operated and gave them a stack of paperwork to complete before dinner.

Dinner was okay… a watery fish soup. The group swallowed down what they could and then walked over to the pub. Whilst on their walk, Bruce decided to tail Bernie Goldfield, but was noticed – by this point Bernie was convinced that Bruce was stalking him for some sick reason.

At the pub, the group were introduced to Sergeant Laine, the man who would be training them over the next few days. He said hello, but was far too busy watching the football on the TV. Ernie Nybble attempted to tune the TV slightly in order to make the reception better… but ended up breaking the TV set completely. The group were thrown out by the barman and asked not to come back for the rest of the night.

After a night of awkward sleep the group went to their first lecture with Dr. Meredith Holmes. She was clearly not in the mood for any of the group’s nonsense as she explained the methods behind summoning monsters from other universes. Meredith set up a summoning circle in the centre of the room and summoned a creature from another world, warning the group that it could easily possess any one of them if they were not wearing magical wards.

After the lecture had ended the group moved to the firing range to practice firearms in the form of glock pistols. Sergeant Laine was not impressed by their skills and as such he made them run across the town and up to a nearby cliff.

Poor Ernie ended up falling over on the run and he broke his leg. He was wheeled off to hospital by staff as the rest of the group continued to run on.

Bruce noticed a shiny thing in the bushes, so he walked over to investigate. To his horror he found a dead body in the bushes. He picked up the body and carried it over to his teammates. Penelope did what she did best and expertly searched the body: she found I.D. and two mobile phones. The group also noticed he had died from a heart attack induced by some form of magic.

Smedley picked up one of the phones and rang the number pre-programmed on it. It turned out that the dead man was a Laundry agent charged with tracking down an assassin from the Esoteric Order of Dagon – a secret cult that worships an old creature from beneath the seas. The man on the other end of the phone tasked the team with a mission: find the cultist and stop them before he/she can kill them!

They knew only one thing more: the assassin was probably one of the staff members working in Dunwich.

The group decided to keep the body hidden from Sergeant Laine and continue on as if nothing had happened. After the run they visited Ernie in the infirmary to alert him to the danger he could face, Bruce picked Ernie up and took him out of the building with them.

Robert and Penelope broke into Laine’s room and searched it for offending items. After checking a set of drawers, Robert cut himself on a strange-looking knife in the set of drawers. The two were convinced this was a sacrificial knife, and then kept it just to be safe.

Meanwhile, Bruce and Ernie managed to unlock the door to Miss. Poisson’s room, in which they found a huge amount of cosmetics and papers informing them that she may in fact be turning into a monstrous fish-woman!

That night the group met back up and told Bernie Goldfield about what they had found, he agreed that they should keep a close eye on Laine, as there was clearly something fishy about him.

The next morning the group had another lecture with Dr. Holmes, during which a thaumometer (a machine that measures magical energy) went off in an unnatural way. The group were unsure as to what this meant, but for some reason Bruce punched Bernie in the face anyway. Bernie called Bruce a madman and sat in the corner crying.

Sergeant Laine walked in and saw the scene in front of him. Angered by the violent behavior  he ordered all of the group to come with him for ‘evasion’ training. The operatives followed Laine to a nearby beach, Ernie stayed behind due to his broken leg.

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Laine pulled out a paintball gun and told the group that they had to reach him on the other end of the beach in order to complete this test successfully. If they got hit by a paintball they instantly failed.

Of course Bernie ended up getting shot in the arse and he fell over pathetically in the sand – getting a mouthful of it. He shrugged and wandered off back to the village. The rest of the group continued to dodge their way between rocks on the beach towards Laine.

Meanwhile, Ernie Nybble rested in his hospital bed. His eyes closed as he drifted closer and closer to sleep. He snapped back awake as he heard a set of footsteps entering the room. It was Bernie Goldfield, and he was holding a large sacrificial knife.

Ernie flopped out of the bed and clambered of the window, narrowly missing the slashing of the knife. He waddled into the fields and towards the beach where his friends were… falling into a ditch to avoid the sight of his knife-wielding pursuer.

Back at the beach Dr. Smedley managed to reach the Sergeant. The rest of the group unfortunately were peppered with paintball marks. Laine congratulated him and patted him on the back.

It was at this point that Ernie appeared over the salt-flats, waving his arms in panic. “I am being attacked!” he said in his nasally voice.

Smedley used this moment to confront Laine about the knife he had found in his room. Laine was livid that the group hadn’t told him about the possibility of an assassin… not to mention the breaking-and-entering. Penelope calmed him down and managed to seduce him… for some reason.

The group searched for Bernie but couldn’t find him anywhere in the village. Penelope and Laine shared a passionate moment  together in his room (…her stamina was quite legendary). Upon leaving his room, the two found poor Miss Poisson dead in her room, her throat had been slit.

It was at this moment that a loud crackling sound echoed across the whole village. A green light emanated from the Order Hall (the white building) and it proceeded to flow out and into houses nearby.

Bruce and Ernie were shocked to see the possessed body of the barman from the pub wandering around the streets, the green light was clearly a summoning gone wrong! Bruce threw a rock at the barman and knocked him off his feet, buying them a few minutes of time.

The group met back up and headed to the nearby armoury to get pistols, Sergeant Laine made a call out to Laundry HQ in order to bring in back-up. They then ran back to the Order Hall and attempted to get in through the door, but it was magically warded. Smedley broke in through a window, and the rest of the group followed (Bruce carried Ernie through the window easily).

Bernie Goldfield stood above the unconscious body of Dr. Holmes, he was chanting in tongues and lifting a knife above his head. Robert, Bruce and Penelope drew their pistols and took shots at him, stopping him dead in his tracks before he could kill anyone… sadly Bruce ended up with a nasty knife wound to his torso.

Meanwhile the possessed villagers congregated around the building, knocking on the windows and doors. The moaned loudly as the group looked around for a solution to the mess they were in.

Ernie hobbled over to a computer and attempted to re-program the system to stop the summoning circle, but unfortunately he made things worse – amplifying the signal to anger the villagers even more. Robert managed to rip apart the wires supplying power to the circle, stopping it from summoning more extraordinary phenomena.

Unfortunately the possessed villagers did not stop their attack and continued to smash through the windows. The group backed up towards the door as they waited for their much needed Laundry assistance. Their pistols did wonders to stop most of the villagers who came to attack them, but a rather bulky man burst in through a window and charged at them in a furious rage.

Ernie managed to put up a defensive forcefield at the very last second, stopping the man from crushing Penelope into a wall. The man slammed his fists against the barrier in a feral manner as it slowly weakened. Smedley looked up and aimed his gun at the chandelier above the man, he waited for the moment the barrier fell and then managed to drop the chandelier on him!

Bruce managed to overhear the sound of a helicopter over the deafening moaning from outside the building. The group heard the sound of gunfire and the moaning slowly became quieter.

The fallen chandelier had set fire to a nearby curtain and quickly the building’s more flammable artefacts ignited fiercely, the operatives needed to get out before they were cooked alive.

Ernie managed to unlock the door by removing the ward on the handle using the computer. The four people burst out of the Order Hall and into the bleak Dunwich air. Above them a helicopter hung in the air, inside they could see several black-suited soldiers with large rifles in their hands. A man in a suit walked up to them and debriefed them on the situation, he wasn’t impressed with the mess that had been caused – a lot of paperwork would have to be filled out because of this mess.

Next time the group will be heading to Wales! There’s been an incident with a flock of sheep and an invisible monster.

The Laundry RP (Entry #1)

Thus begins a new set of entries for my website: I’ll be chronicling the storyline of  a Laundry tabletop role-playing game that I’m  running as a game master. What is The Laundry? It’s basically the British version of the Men in Black… with more bureaucratic red-tape and a heavy heaping of tongue-in-cheek Britishness. Today I ran a little practice mission with two of the players… here’s how it panned out:

Dr. Robert Maria Smedley and Bruce Campbell reported for their first day on her majesties secret service, not fully knowing what their new job entailed or what the future had in store for them. All they knew was that they were now both plumbers, working at The Laundry: Charnwood Division. The two men walked into the Carillon, a local monument in the town of Loughborough, and through a door that was hidden behind a wall of shelving.

After walking down a flight of stairs, the two men were greeted by an old woman at a desk in a clinically grey room. They looked around the area and read through a few leaflets on a nearby wall, Bruce gained a deeper understanding of things to come by reading a leaflet on “Counter Possession and You“, Robert attempted to snatch the leaflet from him, but failed miserably.

The old woman, named Ethel, greeted the two men with surprising excitement for someone of her age. She signed the two men up and then pointed them down the corridor to the head of the Charnwood Division’s activities, Reginald Burton.

Robert, (who was irritated by Bruce not giving him the leaflet from earlier) attempted to trip Bruce up when they were walking down the corridor, Bruce avoided his attack and then lifted Dr. Smedley over his shoulder. Smedley grumbled in annoyance as they both entered Reginald’s office.

The head of activities ordered Bruce to put down his co-worker, he then went on to explain what their job was in its basic terms. Reginald was very reluctant to send the two men on a mission without them having been through basic training, but the division was relatively low on agents after an accident in the local leisure centre involving a rather angry shoggoth.

Robert and Bruce were tasked with investigating a paranormal disturbance at the nearby Wetherspoons public house: “The Moon and Bell”. They walked to the pub and Bruce attempted to talk to a rather shaken-looking man at the bar, unfortunately his lack of social skills left the man threatening to call the police, so Robert took over to try and calm the situation whilst Bruce went to get a pint and a curry.

Robert learnt that recently the pub had been experiencing strange occurrences from the scared man, these claims were backed up by the barman. Both then went on to say that a group of students had been recently frequenting the bar – about the same time as the paranormal activity started.

Meanwhile, Bruce overheard a group of students from the LUPS (Loughborough University Paranormal Society) chatting about a cool book that they had found in the archives at the library. Bruce went over to investigate, but was shrugged off by the group. It was at this point the ‘leader’ of the group left the table and walked off to the toilet – Bruce tailed him.

Robert sat down at the table with the student group and managed to convince them after a long debate to give him the book. He was unable to discern the origins of the damaged-looking book, but he could tell it was missing a great deal of its pages.

Meanwhile, the leader of the group of students had noticed Bruce tailing him, so he assaulted him in the bathroom with a knife whilst yelling out possessed cries of madness. Bruce was stabbed in the shoulder, but managed to knock out the possessed student with his fists. He picked up the young man and carried him out of the pub, “He drank a little too much, I’m taking him home.”

Robert awkwardly followed his co-worker out of the pub, the students glaring at him as he left.

As the two walked back to the carillon Dr. Smedley decided to read the scraps of book a little more closely, unfortunately for him the knowledge he gained from the papers caused him to lose a considerable amount of sanity… he had accidentally stumbled across some excerpts from the Necronomicon.

Reginald congratulated the two men for a job well done and waved them on their way – telling them to get some rest before they headed to Dunwich for basic training. Robert went for a spell of therapy over the coming week and Bruce read up on some esoteric history.

Hopefully you liked this entry… I’ll be continuing this story on into the near future based on how the RP continues into the future. I’m sure things will get even more strange and twisted as I introduce more elements, characters and stories! What will happen next? Who knows?! Who cares?! We shall see!

#CanJam13: Post-Mortem

Well… I can honestly say that was perhaps the most stressful and tiring jam I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. I should have known not to go to a 24 hour long game jam with a horrible cold looming in my sinuses.

The jam itself was incredibly well run, shout outs to the Lincoln Computing Society and everyone else who ran the show, you definitely trumped last year both in terms of turn-out and quality. Plus, the pizza wasn’t as spicy this year… so I didn’t spend most of the night gagging for a drink!

So myself, Amelia, Alex and Craig got together to make a game based on the randomly chosen themes of “Uranium” and “Madness”. We all went downstairs to the pub in order to discuss what our idea was to be… but unfortunately the pub was closed (at 11 in the morning?! What?!). We decided to make a game similar in style to Oregon Trail, Warioware and Super-Wagon Adventure… and we kinda succeeded… in a way:

Not going to lie, both myself and Alex have agreed it might be one of the most generic games we have ever made. It’s mechanics are stale, old and overly-used. It is badly balanced… either making the game a cake-walk or a hellish, nigh impossible nightmare. It was a bitch to code for Alex… and a soul-crushing, time-consuming, pain in the arse for me to input the 150 odd elements that made the game up. On the plus side, both Amelia and Craig made some top-notch assets for the game.

What would we do differently? Choose to make a game with more unique gameplay would probably be the first thing… dodging and shooting games are a dime a dozen. We’d also probably avoid making such an complex and branching story in such a short period… and we’d also take more breaks. We both also agreed that the themes were a tad too easily attached to one another, which made it harder to come up with something unique (A great deal of the final games we saw made the radiation make the player ‘go mad’).

But… somehow it managed to get the Award for “Best use of Theme” and also an honourable mention for something else (I can’t remember what… I was far too tired.) I have no idea how, and I don’t really want to question it. But I guess I want to thank Rockstar and Crytek for finding something we couldn’t see by the end of the day-long dev session. Hahah.

#1GAM February – “Hideous” Screenshots

It’s been a pretty unproductive weekend – which is okay because Alex and I have worked our butts off this week on getting Hideous into its first-playable non-buggy state. Here’s a few screenshots from one of the last builds we made for the game:

HideousPic1

The screenshot above is the view from inside the maze. The one below is the “Summoning Circle” that all players need to stand in before the game starts – it is located in an ethereal realm above the maze.

HideousPic2

Hopefully this week we’ll be able to get the game completed before the February Deadline! We do have a contingency plan if worst comes to worst – both myself and Alex have some older games in the pipeline that we could release, an extra month on this game could get it really nicely polished. It is probably the most ambitious project I’ve undertaken as of yet… so I was prepared for a few hiccups along the way!