Game Jamception

“Yo dawg, herd you liked game jams, so we put your jam in a jam so you can jam while you jam!”

In the last month I’ve attended 3 game jams:

  1. Game Dev Party Lyon March 23-26,
  2. Ludum Dare 26  April 26-29,
  3. CHI 2013 “Games [4 Design]” game jam April 27-28

As you can see, two were at the same time!

“Hugly” a care-bear based beat’em’up

First off I promised a debriefing of the Lyon Game Dev Party. We had a team of 8, which was very exciting for me – I’ve never done a jam in such a big team! All told it went extremely well:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5N31BNfdLU]

You can pick up the 48-hour build of the game from indiedb or grab the newest rolling release from github, though you’ll have to wait a bit for a nicely-packaged version of the latter. Code is under LGPL so free to use even for commercial products provided you give credit ;)

Most of the changes involve making the game more “legible”, with a lot more feedback and a clearer interface.

CHI 2013 “Games [4 Design]“

So the jam in Lyon went well and the one before it in Lille was an epic failure. Despite having been to so many jams I’m losing count (it must be about 10 now I think), I still haven’t found the magical formula that makes a jam go well, and the CHI 2013 “Games [4 Design]” game jam was… well if not a failure it was a bit of stagnation as far as my personal progression is concerned:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr8uwO7XyY0]

I suppose I can hardly expect each new jam to feel like a leap forward when I’ve done so many. Still, I feel somewhat unsatisfied with my contribution. Our team made the heart-beat game: a sort of Pong style game where you control the height of your paddle with your heart-rate. We went through a large number of rapid iterations and generally did all the right things, but in retrospect I’d saying trying to use a heart-rate monitor as the control interface for an arcade game was just the wrong path to choose from the very beginning.

It was a fun gimmick, but ultimately wasn’t very playable: the sensors never worked very well and stopped working altogether just before the presentation, which made things a little complicated :( This is why I don’t work with hardware! Also worth noting that we only had Saturday and Sunday until around 4pm, that we never had a decent internet connection and that most of Sunday we didn’t have any electricity. All things considered we did a decent job.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcPHa4NC1tM]

That said while the other teams thought outside the box (Joust clones or not) we stayed tied to the screen, and people have a lot more fun interacting with each-other than with a computer terminal. The most enjoyable games were those where technology made at best a cameo appearance. There’s a lesson to be learned from this I’m sure…

Ludum Dare gathering Montpellier

Back in my home-town I’d helped organise a second Ludum Dare real-world gathering through our association “Baptême du jeu” which now has a blog and a logo. I was off in Paris during the event, but apparently things went really well, so I suppose it’s not all bad :) I’ll try to mention some of the better projects that came out of the jam, if not here then on the French tumblr blog.

For my part I entered the Processing prototype I wrote for the Paris jam, minus all the Arduino code for the pulse sensor which was either found online or written by the others (or a bit of both). The source-code is available on github – my first ever time using Processing as it happens ;)

That’s all for now – I may write up some thoughts on CHI 2013 when I have some time. For now though I’ll simple say that researchers, especially in Human-Computer Interactions, are rather odd people :P

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