The Global Game Jam 2014

As I mentioned in my last post, the Global Game Jam was last weekend and I with my Opposable Games teammates took part in it. The theme this year was “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” which proved both intriguing but probably one of the more restrictive themes I’ve seen. As part of the Global Game Jam at the Bristol Game Hub, we were asked to particularly focus on accessibility and allow people with various disabilities to play on a level playing field.

With both these thoughts in mind, most teams decided to make a game which incorporated a person’s disability in their game. Our game wanted to allow a similar pattern allowing both a blind person and a deaf person to play our game without losing out on any information. Our inspiration came from the “Three Wise Monkeys” proverb. The three wise monkeys known as See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil incorporated the central characters of the game and we could use each character’s missing sense to create a game involving team work.

Here is the result, Sanbiku No Saru!

 

Title Screen

Title Screen

The game involves trying to determine which monkeys should and shouldn’t get into monkey heaven. This is done in a three stage process. See No Evil firstly has to determine where a monkey is in relation to himself by using 3d audio to determine whether the monkey is to the left, right or center of him. This then identifies a monkey for Hear No Evil, who can then see the same monkey and also see whether a monkey is good or bad. That player then has to press the good or bad button at the right time for Speak No Evil. Should both See No Evil and Hear No Evil perform their actions correctly, Speak No Evil can then see the monkey and also see whether the monkey is good or bad. Speak No Evil then has to open and close three gates and allow good monkeys into monkey heaven and evil monkeys into monkey hell.

Speak No Evil's Screen

Speak No Evil’s Screen

My work on the project was mainly the networking for the game and graphics in the front end. So we used OneTouchConnect, our network technology that I’ve been working on during some of my time with Opposable, to connect the server and clients quickly and easily and I then had to ensure the front end was flexible enough to allow players to easily start playing quickly. I was part of a small coding team along with Owen Davies and James Parker. Nat Al-Tahhan was responsible for all the artwork and Ben Curtis did the music and sound effects.

Generally I’m quite pleased with the game. There were definitely one or two bugs when we presented it but the general functionality was complete. We will probably clean it up at some point and make another version of the game available to play which has any major bugs resolved. The game ended up receiving two awards including from the venue including game with the best gameplay and our game was ranked the second best game of the Bristol Game Jam. We were beaten by a truly excellent game which I urge you to play as well called Senseless Runner. http://www.atopsecretproject.com/senselessrunner

One last game I saw which looked pretty damn cool as well was “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes“. You need an Oculus Rift to play it but it’s such a brilliant idea.

All of these games are why I love game jams!

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How I learned to love game jams

Hi all,

With the Global Game Jam this weekend, I thought I’d mention about how game jams have been incredibly important in developing my skills and in creating networking opportunities. There will be plenty of other articles online telling you why game jams are great to go to so I want to mention about how going to game jams have affected me over a much longer period of time. Each Game Jam I went to, offered key lessons and benefits.

The first game jam I attended was the Global Game Jam in 2012. As a student, the Global Game Jam offered a fantastic excuse to go and network with seasoned veterans of the game development community and it was enlightening to find a much more vibrant gaming community then I initially expected. Working with a team of six, we created a reasonably interesting game called Death Wish Zero and the contacts gained from the event became exceptionally important during the following years and it became much easier to network at subsequent events and the Game Jam was instrumental in gaining me notoriety.

I then attended the Explay Festival Game Jam in the latter quarter of 2012. This Game Jam offered a vastly different main benefit. I worked with an artist and a designer at the games jam and we ended up making a game called Trust Us. The designer and myself particularly enjoyed working together, so much so that we decided to attempt to go in to business together. The business venture ultimately failed when we couldn’t secure the funding for our idea that we needed, but game jams are fantastic opportunities for long term partnerships.

The Global Game Jam in 2013 again offered a vastly different experience. This was the first game jam where I had difficulty in implementing what the team had set out to achieve. Ultimately we ended up having to make a compromised version of what we wanted. There was a great deal of frustration felt afterwards by myself and it gave me fantastic insight about my weaknesses and to allow strategies to be developed to address them.

The last and game jam I went to was the TIGA GameHack that was held last year. It was the first game jam I did with team mates from Opposable Games. What proved really useful with this Game jam is that it allowed each of us to see one another under severe pressure and to fully understand one another skills. From this Game Jam, we made the game jam game I’m probably most proud to have made which was Placenta The Dragon. This offered fantastic validation of both my skills and showed just how skilled everyone else is as well.

Well that’s my story about how game jams have affected me and I hope it inspires others to go to game jams and give it a go! you never know what you’ll get out of it! I should hopefully be doing the game jam this weekend and I hope you do too!

Lukas

Hello World!

Hello All!

Welcome to my first blog post! I’ve wanted to blog for a while but have found that finding the time to regularly keep it up to date was difficult. Now though, I have more time and more experiences to share and I hope these blogs can prove useful for somebody.

To slightly introduce myself further, I’m Lukas, 23 and based in the UK. I currently work for a games company called Opposable Games which is an amazing experience (I should probably note, any views expressed are mine and not my employer’s).  This job is my first full time paid games development job and having the opportunity to use the skills I’ve learned from my degree is extremely gratifying.

My journey to this point has not been the easiest but I’ve never intended to use myself/my past as an excuse and in all honesty it makes me who I am. I was diagnosed as autistic and in my early life I was considered to be severely so. Autism is an interesting condition that affects people in different ways. In my case, I definitely had speech difficulties and some difficulty in social situations but these days, I consider myself to be minimally affected by the situation and I feel quite lucky for that. I say this to hopefully show that people with certain difficulties can function in society and to try and rid some negative connotations. If there is a negative part of the condition, it’s probably that I tend to dislike major changes but perhaps that’s the same for most people.

One benefit of the condition though is that my mind is definitely tuned to logic and math which led to an interest in games, computers and general technology in my childhood years. But weirdly, I didn’t consider a career in games programming until the final year of college. I had programmed briefly during my teenage years but I went to university with next to no experience in programming. I went to uni willing to learn and was fortunate enough to be with a decent group of people with the same willingness to learn. This drive enabled me to learn the skills that I needed and I had the opportunity to put these skills into practice at an internship at a local games company (I’m going to revisit this later as my experience gained from my placement was mixed and encompasses a wider issue).

With the skills gained I then worked bloody hard in my final year to get a first class degree and spent about two years networking to ensure I had the right contacts when I was job hunting, which helped with my employment at Opposable Games!

Well that’s my background which went much deeper than I planned! In this blog, I plan to write about my general experiences of the video games world, share some of the skills I’ve learnt and generally keep you all up to date regarding what I’m up to.

Comments are appreciated and let me know if there is anything you’re particularly interested in me talking about.

Thanks for reading!

Lukas