Global Game Jam 2014 – Perth Site Summary

No GravatarSo here's a quick rundown of the Perth site of Global Game Jam 2014. The point of this list is to give a quick summary for each and every game. I'm by no means fair and balanced, I mean a) there's my brother, friends, employees, long term compatriots and my significant other included amongst the jammers b) I sponsored, helped organise and participated in the jam and c) I live in Perth so I know everyone else. But hey, publishing on own blog and all that, you've been warned. For those that don't know, we had 48 hours from Friday night to create a game on the theme "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are". There's plenty of more games and sites to check out at http://globalgamejam.org/. The site will still be a little slow for now. A big thanks to Lets Make Games for organising the jam, it was fun as always and we were highly caffeinated. And if you just want to explore the Perth jam site games yourself, click here.

99 Problems (and blocks are all of them)

Simple well executed puzzle game, more of a proof of concept than something with incredibly challenging puzzles but it's orange skinning levels and simple humour are entertaining for the five minute play time. Worth a look at least once.

Alpha

Possibly known as Assemble, basic god game where you play a leader of people who you then teach to ransack the land, decimate the wild animals and kill the opposing team over the network. Simple, straightforward and has the scariest bison I have seen in a god game.

Carry the Fire

This game isn't uploaded yet, but fantastic looking art direction and simple game design for a platformer. Rather quite stunning, once the team gets it online definitely give this a look. Basically each button on the controller is mapped to your torch, enemies and platforms are visible when you have the right colors, run the map and light the torches! Edit: Hayden's put the game online, grab your controller and play it here!

Dandelion

This was pitched as a hunt for a serial killer on a train from the perspective of an older man and a young child. The art direction is fun to check out, think The Last Express crossed with PaRappa the Rapper however as this is Game Jam the plot isn't fully implemented, there's some text bugs (your fellow passengers love of tennis is amusing) and you can't get your teeth sunk into the mystery. But well worth giving a look, especially as you can play it in browser.

Cluster

Simple twin-stick shooter for four local players, when you kill an enemy they leave an explosion the color of your team, any player who runs through that cloud instantly becomes a member of your team for a time span and their success becomes your points. Not fully implemented but a fun concept and pretty mental to play as is.

The Floor is now Lava

Simple game, boulder dash crossed with fantasy where you have to flick between three different characters / worlds each with different skills to work together to get to the exit. The first few levels had me puzzled and I could definitely play some more of this!

Shootgunner

Quick, rough and dirty for the second year in a row, Team Bear Storm yet again deliver a game on theme about as subtle as a pan-galactic gargle blaster (a brick wrapped in a slice of lemon). But damn... that minigun.

Mirage

Twine text-adventure game where you're lost in the desert and can't find your way out. Surprisingly bleak writing but I am assured there is a narrative high point and not just death at every turn. I have yet to finish the game without dying.

Mad-House

You're locked in the asylum, but your ability to possess rats, cats and birds might be your best hope of making it out of your padded cell. Really nice environments and it's amazing they pushed this Oculus Rift game out in the 48 hours.

Imminent Illusion

First time pair of game jammers knocked out a simple shooty shooty bang bang game with robots and zombies. Shoot more robots and zombies to stay alive longer, get touched by them to lose time.

Forest

Second in my "I really want to play this but can't" category (due to mac build) but the demonstration was cool. Really bleak and whitewashed alien environment where you can only see just beyond your viewing frustum. However you can "throw" a viewing bubble to see more of the world in front of you and "create" a bubble to remember what was there when you've left. No real gameplay but it looked cool.

Dwarf Squad

Four dwarfs, one controller. The idea is that four people can each move up, down, left and right on a corner of the controller. Make your way to the exit and then the second level starts throwing really confusing tricks at you where you absolutely need to work with your fellow players. I wonder where they found their four handed tester to defeat this game. And you can play in browser.

Clarity

Looks absolutely great, this game deals with the designer's views on antidepressants with the player's world slowly becoming washed out and worrying with red stress. Excellent art and implementation on this project, it just appears that the team didn't manage to get much gameplay in there but well worth a walk around.

Lepus

Two players in an asynchronous game where one player must hide among a bunch of computer controlled characters while an opponent tries to catch him. But each player has a slightly different viewpoint, grab a friend and give it a try!

Lysandra

Lysandra is a girl trying to explore the mysterious tomb she has found herself in, with some handy possession skills and some perspective swapping to solve puzzles she just might be able to make it out alive. A large amount of gameplay here and even a closing cinematic it's rather impressive what the team put together. I just wish I could figure out how to change the viewing angle.

Derp Dispatcher Saga

Derp your way across the landscape, jumping on the natives heads, smashing them with boxes and generally navigating the land. This was meant to be a game where you end up seeing the consequences of disposing of the native enemies but the team instead has sworn to never create a physics based 2d platformer again. I wish them the best of luck.

Mirror Fall

Help the sugary T-Rex collect enough candy to save his kind on a weird mirror landscape. Basically keep the three bars full by collecting the right type of candy shown below, but it's mirrored so it isn't as easy as it makes out. And runs in browser!

Mood Jumper

Another HTML5 game but this time keep platforming to keep happy even as bad news comes and finds your unfortunate hide. A little buggy but some charming touches.

Animal Disco

First time group of randoms who came together and pushed out their first Game Jam game. Find the one person at the disco who can stand your presence and swap out body parts from the other party goers so you might have a chance with them. A tad buggy but that's to be expected.

3d Anaglyph Game

Yes it runs in browser, yes the solo team member is wearing shades in his photo, no you should not play this game as he is now blind from playing the game. Do not ask how he wrote this article you are currently reading.

TL;DR

Play 99 Problems (and blocks are all of them), Carry the Fire, The Floor is now Lava, Dandelion, Shootgunner, Forest and Dwarf Squad.

Coders drinking Coffee with Cause

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It’s quite simple, Five Senses has a special batch of backroom beans which will be turned into coffee by the efforts of Ron and the cohort at Maven Espresso at $2 a cup or $4 a filter.  The least we can do is support Coffee with Cause‘s noble endeavor especially as proceeds go towards girls education in India.

So it’s simple, all welcome, we’ll be meeting in the Raine Square food court at Midday on Saturday the 30th of March.  If you need to figure out where Raine Square is, check out this link.  Then we drink coffee, if we decide to do a coffee crawl both SRO and Mo Espresso will be on the hit list.  But hey, @sutto and @sonictail are playing things by ear.

And we accept no responsibility for light feet, heart palpitations or the belief that you can code the next facebook, see you there ^_^

 

The new Australian GD Industry

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It’s 2012, the Australian games industry has become mostly indie with a few notable exceptions and is divided into two disparate yet equally important groups, the young upstarts who are trying to make a living building video games and the old hands who have seen the cycle and just want everyone else to disappear and leave them to it.

At least that’s how it appears to be from the perspective of the younger generation.

This is a unfair viewpoint, but not without some element of truth. Australia’s industry was built up on middle of the road contract work for international companies, but the industry as a whole could not pivot fast enough when both the Australian dollar went up and the middle market just upped and died (again there are exceptions). So we’re left with a large amount of small startups with varying degrees of success and the previous generation of game developers just shrugging their shoulders and going “whelp, we’re sorry”. For the younger generation who have had dreams of joining a studio and being paid to work on games once they have finished their study, this is a bit crap and as such their feelings of being screwed over by those that came before is kind of warranted.

But on the flip side, there are developers out there starting companies and getting people paid to do work. Joe at Fiasco Studios and Morgan at Defiant Interactive are two excellent examples of the previous generation going “lets do it right” and building companies in the new industry. Morgan especially should be pointed out with his hiring policies working on giving students just what they need, a job with experienced people.

But in “Wait Awhile” these opportunities do not exist, at least not yet. Through some new ideas especially Spacecubed (a co-working environment that has started up) the games industry has started to have a ‘in’ to other businesses and a completely different type of person. And Lets Make Games has been an excellent industry body giving us what we need at this exact moment with very meager resources, they’re fighting the good fight and allowing the rest of us to get on with what we want to do, make games.

But how can we, the younger generation work towards building the jobs we want? here’s a few ideas. And note, the following does not have to be practiced by everyone;

  1. Wheaton’s Law with amendment – Don’t be a Dick and make sure you comment on a critical level.

    People should not be dicks, it’s a simple rule that in Perth goes double (cause we’re so damn small). However a new problem has arisen from this statement, apparently not being a dick means if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say it at all. This isn’t a problem directly endemic of WA, but we can fix it. It’s quite simple, if someone asks for comment, give it to them honestly in the form of critical comment. However the person asking for comment should take the comment with dignity, regardless of result (and this applies to other people who overhear said comment).

    Even if someone says “it sucks” the next thing out of your mouth should be “sure, but tell us why it sucks”. We all want to see a better quality of game development, so we need critical comment to improve.

    Plus if someone asks for assistance, answer in english, not in a link to “Let me google that for you”. That’s just insulting.

  2. Work outside the games industry.
    This can be summarized as “network like crazy” (and may your liver hold out long enough). There is plenty of work for other people, sure it may not be directly games but it pays. And we need money. Do not look down on doing time in PHP or designing that umpteenth business card website. But do look for opportunities with people you want to work for! Look for people outside of your direct circle of influence and make opportunity, who knows where it will lead. Games are not made in a vacuum and game developers are very talented (esp in sweat equity). The first Startup Weekend held in Perth gathered the most teams to launch a product and have customers by the end of the first weekend. And the teams that came first and second? Half the team of both were Game Developers! And while the connections made have yet to bear fruit, they will in the future.

    My point is, stop putting up walls around yourself claiming to just want to put code on screen towards a game. You’ll miss opportunities which might be beneficial.

  3. Get some space
    I keep hearing about how people want space, but we (collectively) have no money. You never get something for nothing. So how do we solve this?

    What I think is that we just need to rip the bandaid off. Space needs to be paid for, but not in the traditional sense. A small space for a set number of months, say three months, at the end of it we’ll know if we can continue. But that small commitment would be the best way of testing the waters and limiting risk to the point that the game dev community can handle.

  4. Share some experience
    The WA game dev scene is built of cliques. This needs to stop, it’s hurting us in the long term. So to start with, next game jam we should mix it up, work with people we don’t know.

    And for something more radical, we should set up a volunteer partnering scheme.

    The idea is simple, teams make space for new people to join the team once a year and then have a idea of who they’re looking for. These spaces are then promoted to the community, people join with the understanding that the position will last for a minimum of three months. The idea is that it works both ways, experienced teams pull on students and student teams pull on experienced people.

    This will go towards providing the work experience and experience sharing we so desperately need and encourage teams to make room for students. Plus will have the effect of networking vertically across the game dev scene.

  5. Leave.
    Note, this isn’t for everyone and in theory people will come back with more experience in the future… right?

So there’s a few small ideas we can start to explore. Anyone interested?

p.s: I wrote the above article some number of months ago before media fund was announced, after seeing the recent reaction at the Melbourne forum I thought the opening bit was valid.  The later part is especially still valid, funding does change the situation, but we should still be working on other avenues!

Australian Game Dev twitter!

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Well i’ve finally set this one in motion, Australian Game Developer Twitter. Please participate!

And if you’re wondering about the shoddy appearance of this site, that’s because I’m usually too busy working >.> Honest!

New Year Update – Yeah, that was a year…

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I look at this site and I see updates from several years ago, one thing I have discovered is that you either have time to update the blog or time to do the work, not both and this site is proof of that. This year has seen John, Chris and Myself working away on various games in Flixel, a small flash based game API. We didn’t finish any but had some good time with Wez, Lisa and several other people here. One game we hope to release sometime in the near future.

Now we’re in the new year and it’s got me reflecting a bit on the nature of what I have done over the past few years, so i’m going to talk about it on this blog. We’ll see what happens 😉

#Freeplay10 Twitter Rundown

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Well Freeplay 2010 just occured in Melbourne and it was really awesome, I have a lot of thoughts, a pile of re-affirmation about what i’m doing and some great skills to test out when I get back home.  But I spent a lot of time on twitter over the weekend, talked with loads of people so I decided that the best way to run through all the twitter accounts I found (or already had) over the weekend with my thoughts where I can apply them.  Sort of a report but in context of people.  This is by no means a complete list as I could keep pouring over the list for days, so I decided to stop here right now and get the first draft out.  However I would love to make this a even MORE complete report, considering there was 66 people listed in the programme booklet and I have NINE people listed here as guests (granted right now I’m not going looking very far, e.g. not beyond the #freeplay10 search) I have a little more work to do.

In short, please check this over and follow some of these people, if you want me to update / add / remove yourself off this list ping me @Sonictail or jon@game.pride.id.au.

Really Important People

Basically these are the people who made the event / parts of the event happen, check em out!

  • @free_play: The official FreePlay twitter account, important to note.
  • @paul_callaghan: Paul was one of the Co-Directors of FreePlay, please direct thanks there!
  • @peenydeeny: Eve was the other Co-Director, I had a nice chat with her both nights when she was wiped.  Seriously epic achievement here!
  • @IGDAMelbourne: The Independent Game Developers Association of Melbourne, awesome bunch of guys who organised drinks every night, check em out! They’re more active than ever (literally!)

Important People, but not for freeplay…

Here’s two accounts you should be following cause basically, it might help you out in the future!

  • @artsdigitlera: Fee Plumley from Australia Council, introduced everyone to the idea of how the Arts funding through the AC works. Check out http://www.artsdigitalera.com/ for more info.
  • @WorstMC: Mike Cowap is from Screen Australia, I didn’t realise that they were only 18 months old! He also gave info during the Government Secrets panel.  They’re open to ideas so check out Screen Australia’s website.

Guests

These are the guests I could find on twitter, this is by no means a complete or accurate list, but I did try to match people to what they did etc, please don’t hurt me ;>.>

  • @AdamATOMiC: Adam Saltsman gave the Keynote on Sunday at #FreePlay10 on Play & Games & Video Games & Us… I still need to finish digesting this talk before I speak on it.
  • @brandonnn: Brandon Boyer gave the Saturday keynote on All Play is Personal speaking about how he stopped making games and started writing about them and more importantly why. Also thank him for Offworld, even if you haven’t read it, it’s affected you in some way. No joke!
  • @Doolwind: Alistair Doulin is a Brisbane based developer who is listed as a speaker, but I cannot find what he spoke on! (please feel free to correct me) But in the meantime he has already put his thoughts on #FreePlay10 online, check http://bit.ly/indiecondition to read it!
  • @benbritten: Gave the talk on using Unity3d, which you can now check out on his website here.
  • @terrypaton1: Terry Paton was up during the “A Million Little Ideas” talk and had some excellent thoughts on the subject, also check his blog http://pixelpaton.com/.
  • @brawsome: Andrew Golding is responsible for Jolly Rover which won Best Game at the #FreePlay10 awards. Seriously, check out Jolly Rover now!
  • @KlickTock: Matthew Hall runs KlickTock which is responsible for Doodle Find on iPhone. He also was on the “One Man Band” panel talking about what he’s learnt as a solo developer.
  • @morganjaffit: Morgan Jaffit was on the “Play is Everywhere” panel, runs a startup in Brisbane called Defiant Development and seems to be really awesome. You can check his blog here. Also has worked for Irrational, Relic, Ubisoft and Pandemic. I hope I didn’t annoy him over twitter ;>.>
  • @lantree: Glenn Watson gave a talk on pipeline tools and development which I really enjoyed, I just wish he had more time. He’s a big beliver in sharing so check his blog here.
  • @dangolding: Dan was on the twisting space panel which I unfortunately missed (but many said was epic) check his website here.

Indie Devs

These people didn’t necessairly speak but have awesome games, do I need to say more on this?

And everyone else

These are the people I found on Twitter that commented through the weekend, I’ve posted what I could find with a couple of links (no time on google here folks) but if there’s no comment, why not drop me a line and let me know what’s what? (@sonictail). Additionally if you’re in this list and are a speaker or a dev, let me know and i’ll correct that.

  • @grassisleena: Leena seemed fairly active during #freeplay10 but she did a nice little piece beforehand on the Co-Director on #FreePlay10 and you can read it here.
  • @DYoshii: There is only one thing I can say about Brad… RUN FOR THE HILLS!
  • @Jickle: James O’Conner, Writes awesome articles for Hyper and is a all round awesome guy. I’m dissapointed that I missed catching him at #Freeplay10 but you can check his website here.
  • @GameTacoWall: People from Game Taco were tweeting all weekend, their podcast / website is located here.
  • @BRKeogh: Brendan Keogh has been writing reports on #FreePlay10 for Gamasutra, check out his report on Brendon Boyer’s keynote here: http://bit.ly/cUtuwn

And that’s all for now, i’ll post some thougts later, now I have to do some actual work (yuck)

Countdown – 8 Days

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Morning All,

Welcome to the morning countdown where I go over what isn’t happening 😉  This morning we are doing  the sound recording with one Sinewave and one Sarah (the Mezzo-Soprano) and the three tracks we are recording are sounding great!  Chris, John and Georgia are all also here working away on assembling the game, Wez is busy at home finishing up the level design and we’re hoping to get to assembling full levels later today.

Oh and the enemy animation is complete, we’re just a little lost with our asset list >.>

And we added a countdown of DOOM

[fergcorp_cdt]

ST~

Game Pride Progress Report Wk9

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Production is a funny art, sometimes you get all the time in the world, the others you’re swept off your feet. Let me just point out the last report was back in week one on the 22nd of July… Yeah we’ve been busy.

So what’s been happening? Crew wise we have John in Italy looking at bricks and eating sweets, Graham’s in China trying to get into Tiannmen Square, Pauls’ finally moving out from under the stairs at his father’s place in Greece and into his own steampunk penthouse. Team wise we have brought onboard the brilliant Sarah Stanton for Music and she’s just about ready to record. Mike Browner for VA and Storyboarding, he’s almost finished his storyboards and just in time. Two new graphics guys have joined the team, Josh Bryson and Jeroth Diggiden who are rocking the 3d casbah pretty damn hard. And rounding the team out we have Emily Smith who has been helping Jess with the character designin’ and sketching like mad. However I haven’t managed to get more programmers on board and now we’re starting to hurt a little and things could end up seriously screwed, but Michael and Chris know Unity3d like mad. As I sit down to continue this (two weeks later) we have just added a Texture Artist to the team, the ever awesome Tim. Yeah we can do this.

So what have we done? Programming wise Michael sat down one day and converted everything to C# which fixed a whole pile of problems. Most of the main gameplay additions are complete, Graham has done the AI programming, Chris has done a nice environmental trigger class, the scare code has been fixed up. There’s problems with camera and the growth and shrink code but I put in executive decision that gameplay comes first and we can work on camera during October. I’m slightly concerned as while our alpha seemed fun there’s always the chance that when you grow a concept it won’t quite work. All the components are built and in the framework, AI is being polished up and scoring is being worked on (along with a multitude of bits and pieces)

Speaking of which, designing a 3d puzzle game is difficult as the manner we have done this will make it appear as a adventure game. We didn’t foresee it being this hard to separate the two. For those that don’t know, Boo! is meant to be a 3d take on the traditional 2d tile based puzzle game, you set up your ruleset, make the player learn them and then put em all together, then start changing the rules. Nothing too difficult but the moment you add 3d you have to work really hard to seperate plot and levels. This has continued to be the bane of our project.

Sadly we have missed out fourth of october beta date, this could not be helped but it did make a whoosh sound as it went by. And I just found that the person I had outsourced our main character to has not completed the work. Entirely my fault. However Jeroth has grabbed it with both hands and will have it done. I don’t know, it feels a little weird having a team so focused on the end task. It shouldn’t be but it is.

I suspect this will pass 😉

So what do we have left to do? This weekend all basic mechanics, AI and scoring is due. Weekend after is playtesting and bugfixes and texturing. Weekend after that is deadline and all the sounds and polish have to be in.

Last mile dash, we’ll make it!

Ok, We’re in for it now

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We’re starting work on getting Boo! done for the IGF…  This will be interesting.  Stay tuned to follow progress over the next 100 days.