#LincJam 24 Hour Game Jam

Hey everyone! Just a little post to let you know I’m running a game jam soon!

LincJam

Ever wanted to try your hand making a game in 24 hours? Find out by joining us for #LincJam at the University of Lincoln! Game jams are an excellent way of quickly prototyping games in a friendly and enthusastic enviroment. You’ll learn so much about game development in a ridiculously short space of time!

How does it work? You (or a team of up to five of you) come along to the jam in Complab B(3rd Floor, MHT Building) and at 10:00am you get given the jam’s theme – at this point you’ve got 24 hours to make something cool! These games will then get judged at 12:00 on Sunday by a panel of experts, they’ll then hand out awards for:

  • Best Use of Theme
  • Most Innovative Game
  • Juiciest Game
  • Best Overall Game
  • Best use of The Wildcard

There’s also the chance to be the first winners of the Hitpoint Trophy – which will be decided by Kieran Hicks and Sean Oxspring, developers at Hitpoint Games Ltd.

You can vote on potential themes via this link: http://poll.fm/5gxvn

LincJam is graciously hosted by The University of Lincoln School of Computer Science

You should be a university student over the age of 18+ to participate in this game jam! If you are a developer and want to come along then please contact the event organiser (Sean Oxspring) as soon as possible to ensure you are allowed to participate!

The main jam is at the University of Lincoln, but if you want to develop a game for the jam and upload it to the itch.io jam page from somewhere else in the world, feel free! Making games is fun afterall, and this jam is all about making games for the sake of making games.

If you’re a university student and you want to come along to the Lincoln site for #LincJam then please sign up for a ticket on this Eventbrite Page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lincjam-24-game-jam-tickets-19636258578

You can vote on the themes for this jam here:

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JumpJam!

I thought I’d write a quick post to let everyone know about the game jam I’m running over at The National Videogame Arcade in a few weeks time. It’s called JumpJam! and it’s going to be all about the miraculous form of movement – jumping.

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The game jam is being ran on the weekend that The National Videogame Arcade opens, it’s going to be tied in with the main Jump! exhibition that will be on show for the first few months there. The best games made at the jam have the chance of being shown alongside the exhibition… which is pretty awesome!

I’m also looking for people to help run sites across the globe for the jam, if you’re interested in running a site then please send me a message on Twitter or through the sign-up form on the link below.

You can find out more about the jam and sign up for it here.

#GGJ15 Post-Mortem

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So last weekend I had the pleasure of helping run the Lincoln site for Global Game Jam 2015. I worked with Kieran and we made a really odd game called “Big God, What Do?” which is about a tribal god and his little villagers. Here’s the little blurb taken directly from our submission on the GGJ website:

“Big God, What Do?” cry the tribes-people of a small, jungle village. The idol in the center of town stirs to life and an ethereal voice echoes around the near vicinity: “Okay, guys, you need to bring me some pigs and throw them in the fire.”

BGWD? is an experimental multiplayer game where one player assumes the role of an ever-present deity whose belief is slowly dwindling. This player has to yell orders to his followers in game through the shrine in the middle of the map, then the other players must go forth and collect the items he needs. There is a catch, however: the villagers can only hear their god when they are very close to the shrine, and the things that the god needs are constantly changing.

The game was really fun to make, it was quite a challenge to get audio streaming across a network clearly – the final result was still rather choppy which was a shame. Unfortunately we could only get the game working on local area networks, so the game only really worked in the computer labs.

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I learnt how to 3D model using a free package called Wings3D, I’ve never done 3D modelling before so I was very interested in trying it out. I don’t think I did an awful job either; apparently I went against a tonne of 3D modelling conventions, but I was bound to make some mistakes on the first attempt!

I think that after a few hours I had a reasonably good-looking low-poly art style going. I actually really love how the game looks, and I definitely want to use this kind of style again in the near future!

Oh… and I also managed to get a photo of me and Kieran where he’s not pulling a silly face:

KieranAndMe

It was very refreshing to work with Kieran on something other than Hashtag Dungeon. Working on a project for too long without a break can get kind of stale; I think this jam was exactly what I needed to remind myself that I love making games and that I can work on whatever I want, whenever I want.

It was definitely a great jam and I had a tonne of fun! Roll on the next game jam I’m hosting in March!

#LD30 ‘Going Postal’ Post-Mortem

You can play ‘Going Postal’ on your PC or on an android phone or tablet for free if you go to our Ludum Dare entry page! (I’d recommend the android version as it feels really nice to spin the planet with your finger!)

After a long week of making sure that Alex gets on with her final year coursework, building Minecraft server transport networks and making new enemies for Hashtag Dungeon; I thought it’d be nice to take part in Ludum Dare 30 with a few friends.

For those who don’t know, Ludum Dare is a big, weekend long game jam where loads of people from around the world come together and make games and then show them to one another in order to be judged. It’s pretty awesome and this is the second time I’ve managed to find time to do one.

I called up my friends Mark Boyde-Shaw and Amelia George to see if they wanted to join me in making a game, they accepted and joined me at my house for a weekend of excellent game development work!

After waiting up till 2am on Saturday for the theme to be revealed (the theme was ‘Connected Worlds’) the three of us spent a good hour or so discussing possible ideas. These ranged from a horror game where you slowly bring more ghosts into a house by destroying wards, to a crazy planet destroying simulator. Eventually we all agreed on an interesting idea and swiftly moved to our respective beds to sleep.

Morning came and the three of us reconvened in the living room to start work. Mark had been very busy overnight working on a possible storyline for our game, the elevator pitch for the game (entitled ‘Going Postal’) is as follows:

You are a mailman on a small planet with a few houses on it. You deliver mail to houses in order to connect the people who live there together. You can however, choose to deliver mail to the wrong house in order to cause absolute chaos within the small community.

Amelia got to work immediately on making art assets for the game. I went to work on programming the main part of the game with the little help of some placeholder programmer artwork (yes, I do the art for #Dungeon and no, I don’t care that this art is terrible in comparison):

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I went into the game jam feeling pretty lazy and I wasn’t really looking to have very pretty code… so in the end I may or may not have put almost all the code into one giant script attached to the planet. This caused a few major problems later on in the evening but for the most part everything worked out fine so I am not too bothered about it. Game jam code is always disgusting.

Over the course of the day, Mark wrote out all the possible letters we wanted to have in the game and the outcomes of each of them. He then printed them off and cut them out in order to arrange them into a cohesive story. PHYSICAL PROTOTYPING FTW!

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Once we had an order of letters that we all agreed upon, I set about adding them into the game. It was a very time consuming part of the jam which went on for several hours. Each letter had several recipients who each had different writing styles, letter artwork and house locations around the planet – some of them also had special events tied to them.

It was around this time we also started replacing my horrific excuse for placeholder art with Amelia’s glorious artwork – the tiny microplanet town of Dreamsdale was born:

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Mark and I worked on giving each of the characters a believable and unique personality. There were a total of eight characters living on the planet in the end:

  • King Harold IV – The pompous king who is loud, bold and brash. He lives in the palace.
  • Queen Anne III – The wife of Harold who we based around Mrs. Bucket from Keeping Up Appearances. She also lives in the palace.
  • Daisy ‘Sugarplum’ Dumpling – The baker who has the personality of a particularly annoying american teenage girl. She lives in the cute gingerbread house.
  • Sergeant R Murphy – A war veteran who has seen his share of horrors in a ‘Great War’ – he is a no-nonsense soldier who doesn’t like to express his feelings. He lives in the fortified bunker.
  • Mr Frank Fisher – The town fisherman who lives on a small boat in the only lake on the planet. He is a kind natured man who likes poetry and the outdoors.
  • Mr Boris Bletchley – The manager of Dreamsdale’s waste disposal and energy plant. He is a perverted old man who smells horrible – but he’s trying to turn over a new leaf.
  • Dr Eugene Egbert – The geeky scientist who moved to the planet in order to study the local area. He doesn’t really get other people. His letters are all typed in the same manner as Terezi Pyrope from Homestuck (A, I, and E replaced by 4, 1, and 3, respectively). He lives in a hi-tech tree house.
  • Sister Jane Jazzpunk – A nun who is also a talented musician. She is always looking for more people to donate to the church and spread the word of her god. She lives in the church.

Of course we didn’t manage to get everything we wanted to into the game. We wanted it so that if you sent letter to the wrong houses then the world would change slightly in appearance. We also didn’t manage to add all the ending cutscenes we wanted. The options on the letters were also not particularly clear to players, and could have used some work.

Luckily we also managed to get in touch with our friend Will Bryce, who frequently writes music for our games. He managed to come up with a cute little tune to play in the background of the game. Adding music and sound really brought the game to another level of juiciness.

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All in all the game jam went well, we took it easy and had plenty of rest breaks. We didn’t want to burn ourselves out doing a full 24 hours straight and I think it really was beneficial because the end result was far less buggy than I’d expected. The feedback we’ve had on the Ludum Dare website has been incredibly encouraging. I look forward to seeing our final scores!

You can play ‘Going Postal’ on your PC or on an android phone or tablet for free if you go to our Ludum Dare entry page! (I’d recommend the android version as it feels really nice to spin the planet with your finger!)

Can Jam 2014

Can Jam Logo

Hey everyone! Just a quick blog post to tell you all about the upcoming Can Jam at The University Of Lincoln. It’s a 24 hour long game jam ran by students and staff at the university for the glory of game-making students everywhere!

It’s going to be starting on the 8th of March at 9:00am and any UK student with a valid form of identity is welcome to come along to participate. We’re really hoping that you’ll be able to come along and make games with like-minded people. If it’s anything like the last three it’ll be an awesome event. I will be there helping out and providing people with my homespun brand of passionate encouragement (until about 3am – then you’ll have to deal with grumpy Sean).

There will be people coming from both Crytek GmbH and Rockstar for the judging so it’s a great opportunity to network and show off your skills!

Also… this year we have a fancy trophy. I’ve yet to lay eyes on it because apparently it’s far too fancy for any one person to lay eyes upon. It’s really that fancy.*

You can sign up here! There’s only a limited number of places so make sure to grab a ticket quickly! Also feel free to share the details with anyone or anything you might think will be interested.

*I have literally no idea how fancy it is right now. But I can only assume it’s going to be pretty fancy.

#GGJ14 Post Mortem

So myself and a bunch of the staff at The University of Lincoln decided to host an event for the Global Game Jam this year! It was very daunting as we’ve never done a whole 48 hours before – we’ve always considered 24 hours to be a pretty crazy feat on it’s own. We had students from a bunch of other universities and developers from outside the university come along too. It was pretty awesome to see so many new people coming to make games together over a weekend.

Not going to lie though “We don’t see things how they are. We see them how we are.” I didn’t really like that theme – I know for a fact that Alex was almost going to bail on me when he saw it.

Luckily we kept the band together and managed to form an idea for it with the help of a pint of alcohol and some good hard thinking. We looked at the idea of propaganda and how it pushes people to form somewhat inaccurate opinions of the world around them. We decided you’d play the role of a person employed to put up posters around an area for the government or those who opposed them.

GGJ14Screenshot

Myself and Alex decided it’d be cool to revisit the country of Happystan that I created along with some of my friends back home. It’s a dictatorship ran by a crazy man who expects everyone to be CONSTANTLY happy ALL of the time. I’ve always wanted to make a first person game in this world so this seemed like a perfect time! After having finished our drinks we went up to the computer labs and started work: Adam Bowes made 3D models of security cameras, buildings and trucks, Alex Saye programmed real-time poster physics and I made a metric-fuckton of poster graphics ranging from government propaganda to XXX strip club advertisements. (Meanwhile we were all listening to plenty of Caravan Palace…)

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Unfortunately we didn’t get the game finished. Despite our solemn vow to never make a branching tree-like story for a game ever again we ended up making one anyway. We had a load of bugs that we didn’t manage to squash in the last few hours and they ended up leaving us a little stressed out and on edge.

On the plus side we got a heck of a lot of comments saying that we’d created a really nice atmosphere for the game, which I tend to agree with as it’s pretty much exactly how I’d imagined the land of Happystan to be like (it was very heavily influenced by Orwell’s 1984). I also really liked the cool billboarding effect we had on the NPCs – totally gonna use that again at some point! I consider ‘District Smile B’ to be a glorious train wreck – both beautiful and terrible at the same time.

Game Jam Round-Up (#7DGGC and #ScareJam)

I’ve been a little busy recently so I didn’t get chance to write a round-up for either the Gentlemanly Game Challenge OR the Scare Jam. Yes, I know it’s been a while since both of them… quite a while – but I don’t care! It’s time to round them up and discuss how they went! Grab a glass of wine substitute (grape juice) and enjoy my game jam round up! Cheers!

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So I’ll start with the Seven Day Gentlemanly Game Challenge. It was interesting to see what people took from the idea of ‘Gentlemanly’ as a theme. There was a whole lot of steampunk stuff – which I approve of, however I’m still not sure if steampunk always equates to gentlemanly or the vice versa.

We had a nice array of games. Team Noname (Now known as Volatile Element) made a cool RTS game in Unity. Kieran Hicks (who is now working with me on Hastag Dungeon) made a game in which you play a hobo who must rise through the ranks in order to get into the country club. There were some really juicy ideas in the game entitled ‘Monoculus Rift’ which placed the player in a retro environment as seen through a fancy monocle.

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The Scare Jam was awesome. I can’t believe how many people turned up to make games. I was so impressed by the turnout from every year of the computing courses at Lincoln. All the games were pretty well done too and there was a great deal of variety among them. I’m not entirely sure why I chose to do a game jam based on scary games since i’m a very jumpy person myself. This was particularly evident when I jumped halfway across the room when playing one of the games.

Halloween

Alex Saye won the prize for the overall best use of mechanics for his game “14565” where you play a blindfolded person attempting to escape from a terrifying monster. Its lack of visuals and reliance on sound really made for a great experience as your imagination fills in all the blanks and makes it far more terrifying. You can download it here. Wear headphones.

Kieran Hicks received the award for scariest game. His 3D Gamemaker maze game pushed the boundaries of what most of the judges thought could be done in the software. Plenty of jump scares all around.

Team Volatile Element gained the final award for most interesting use of the theme for their game “Child’s Whisper” for the Oculus Rift. It was a surreal and spooky experience that had the player controlling their right and left eyes with a controller.

Duncan Rowland gave out a special award for a game developed using the Mindwave. This game tried to gauge the players stress levels in order to change the environment around them. It was a very interesting insight into getting the Mindwave hardware integrated with Unity.

As with all the game jams I’ve ran at Lincoln i’m always impressed at the creativity and skill the students have. It’s great to see people who are passionate making games and I love to give them opportunities to just make games for the hell of it. It’s my hope that at least one or two of the games will be developed further after the jams are done – there’s definitely a few gems that deserve the attention of the gaming public!