Archive for February, 2011

Global Game Jam

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

So, I took part in the Global Game Jam this past weekend. For those of you who’ve never heard of it: the GGJ is a massive exercise in some very speedy game development. Teams of 4-6 people have 48 hours to make a game based on a particular theme, on whatever platform they choose. About 120 developers participated at the Vancouver location, and over 6000 others made games at the rest of the 170 sites. The result is nearly 1500 games about ‘extinction’. Inevitably, most of them aren’t very good or even functional, but fun was had, connections were made, and lessons were learned. My team’s game, Giant Planet-Eating Bacteria From Outer Space, ended up being functional but mediocre, even by the rather low standards of a 48-hour game.

It was still more successful and entertaining than the 2009 jam I went to, but a couple things were rather frustrating. I can’t help but feel I could have made a better game on my own in that amount of time. To be fair, making a game on my own would involve copy pasting code from previous projects, whereas in this case everything was done from scratch. Also, the development environment chosen (FlashBuilder, using the FlashPunk engine) wasn’t anybody’s first choice. A lot of time was spent just figuring out how to do incredibly basic tasks with the unfamiliar tool. I’m sure both of our main programmers could have accomplished at least twice as much with their preferred tools. As one of two artists, I was mainly frustrated with how difficult it seemed to be to get graphics into the damn game. Importing animation, a task that normally would have taken me about five minutes, easily ate up three hours from two people. Ultimately, half the animations had to be left out entirely, and even the ones that made it in look rather jittery, due either to mis-alignment or mis-timing.

Well, at least I got a shirt and a nice toque from the event. And Scott Jones from Reviews on the Run played our game, so that’s kinda cool. Though I don’t think he’s going to review it on the show anytime soon.

If you want to see some of the games just visit the GGJ website:

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Preview – Invasion of Britain Map

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

My current project is well under way and things are getting done despite a rather low level of productivity these past few weeks. Fortunately I’ve been able to use a lot of existing assets from previous games to speed things along. The game should be fairly familiar to players of Alexander: Dawn of an Empire, but it will be without a doubt a far more complete game, with deeper levels of decision making and a many different ways to play. I’m planning to include seven maps in the game, each with its own factions, all of which can be either AI or player controlled. Combat will be similar to ADoE, but with some changes that should make the gameplay less reactionary. Generals will also show up in combat, and much of the tactical decision making will revolve around how best to use them in combination with regular troops.

Here’s an early screenshot of the ‘Invasion of Britain’ map:

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