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#thankACreator

Last Wednesday, Rami posted a tweet that made me stop and think:

Approximately 6 years ago, I was a 19 year old in my second year of studying Information and Communication Technology at the University of Malta. I knew I wanted to get into programming, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly. All this until Giorgios Yannakakis from the IT University of Copenhagen showed up, giving us a few lectures on AI in games, and then promoting the IT University as a place to study for a Masters in Games. It hit me then that I really wanted to get into the games industry and make games, and my being a programmer definitely helped my chances of getting into the gamedev scene.

Rami’s tweet helped sit me down and go through a list of people and companies that have inspired me and helped guide me in joining the games industry. I’m sure I’ll continue being inspired and learning from peers and other liked minded people in the future as I meet more and more people 🙂

With Thanks

Thank you Roberta Williams for creating the King’s Quest series, and forcing my 6 year old self to sit down and think through King’s Quest 6 from beginning to end without the help of guides or the Internet. My love of point-and-click adventure games remains to this day. Although I’ve never played Phantasmogria, I have played a little of Time Zone and greatly admire your willingness to push boundaries in games, both technical and in subject matter.

Thank you Tom Sloper for your blog posts on game design and how to get into the game industry. I found these extremely helpful when considering and pros and cons of getting into the games industry, and your blog fully prepared me for the ride I was about to take (and am still taking!)

Thank you Brenda Romero and Ian Schreiber in particular for your book Challenges for Game Designers. I bought this during my undergrad and read it from cover to cover, and found it invaluable for my formation as a game designer and developer.

Thank you Richard Garfield for creating Magic: the Gathering, and Mark Rosewater for all the game design articles about Magic that you’ve posted on Wizards’ web site. At the time I read them simply to learn more about Magic, but to this day when designing games, I still refer to various concepts that you’ve discussed.

Thank you Georgios Yannakakis for coming over to Malta back in 2009 and promoting the IT University of Copenhagen, and encouraging me to actually take the first step and apply for the Master’s programme there. The effect you’ve left in AI in games research is inspiring. Thank you Alexiei Dingli, for supervising my undergraduate thesis and making it possible to bring Georgios over, and thank you Gordon Calleja, for further encouraging me to join the IT University of Copenhagen, and for being instrumental in establishing the games scene in Malta.

Thank you Miguel Sicart for your lectures in Game Design at the IT University. I greatly enjoyed both the subject matter as well as the style of presentation, and I feel that those lectures greatly influenced my way of approaching game design. Thank you Rilla Khaled for your lectures in Persuasive and Serious Games at the IT University, both for the subject matter and for introducing me to concepts such as abusive play and oppositional play, as well as for introducing the important of user experience. It’s a pity I couldn’t actually take your User Experience and Prototyping class.

Thank you Adam Saltsman for making Flixel. It was a pleasure to use and I enjoyed working with Flixel during game jams and for personal projects while studying at the IT University. I’m disappointed for not actually summoning the courage to thank you personally at Asher’s house party during IndieCade 2014 last October.

Thank you Darius Kazemi for your series in effective networking for people in the games industry, which I read several times over. It’s also a pleasure to watch your Twitter bots in action, and I look forward to making intelligent bots of my own.

Thank you Richard Lemarchand for sitting down to play both Mussades and Wanted: Igor! back at the first w00t event in Copenhagen. It was a pleasure meeting you then, and a pleasure to meet you again after all those years at IndieCade 2014. I admire your gentle presence and your youthful spirit, and your previous body of game design work is inspiring.

Nordic Game Jam
Nordic Game Jam

Thank you Nordic Game Jam and its organisers for being the first game jam I ever attended, and for showing me just how important game jams are for the gamedev community. Ever since my first game jam in 2012, I’ve always promoted the importance of game jams, and I keep returning to future Nordic Game Jams. The Nordic Game Jam also inspired me to attend further events in the Danish community, and I’m certainly glad I took that first step.

Thank you Julian Togelius and Mark J. Nelson for supervising my Master’s thesis at the IT University of Copenhagen. Your guidance was crucial to the direction of my thesis, and I thank you for all your patience. Julian, your class on Procedural Content Generation was one of the main reasons I applied for the ITU, and not only I am glad that I chose that course, but I feel that it is a prominent tool in any game developer’s arsenal of weaponry.

Thank you, my colleagues and friends at ITU. It was a pleasure getting to know you, learning more about games together and working together. You were all influential in your own way.

Thank you, my colleagues at Kvasir Games. Ever since we won Best Board Game at Nordic Game Jam 2012, we’ve gone on to win several other awards, gotten a game chosen as a selected game for IndieCade and self-published our very own board game. I enjoy working together with you all, and look forward to working with you on our next project, Hulda, our first digital game.

Thank you IndieCade for being my first entry into the American game development scene. I wholly enjoyed my time at the 2014 festival and met so many new people. It was an honoured to have a game selected for the festival, and I’m glad to have chosen to actually attend.

And finally, thank you Rami Ismail. Thank you for your thought provoking tweet that drove me to write this blog, for the work you do for the good of the whole game development community, for showing me the importance of marketing in game development, and for the ideals and values you defend. I’m so glad that after a whole day of wondering whether or not to bother you at IndieCade, I finally took the step to speak to you. You’ve been an inspiration to me and many others, and I can only hope to follow in your footsteps.

Malta Global Game Jam 2015

Note: This article was originally posted on GameDev.com.mt. You can see the original article here.

After the success of the first edition of the Global Game Jam held in Malta last year, it was no surprise that the event would be repeated this year! Between the 23rd and the 25th of January, the Institute of Digital Games hosted the second Malta Global Game Jam, an event where participants make games in 48 hours.

The global event drew around 25000 people making games this year, and Malta’s own local event had over 60 participants attending, a definite increase over last year’s attendance.

Participants were treated to a series of talks on Friday by Pippin Barr, David Chircop and Yannick Massa, and a keynote by Leigh Alexander, Editor-At-Large and former News Editor at Gamasutra. After watching the Global Game Jam keynote, the theme of the game jam was revealed – the question “What do we do now?” – and participants were free to begin forming teams and making games.

Here are the games that were made in 48 hours at the Malta Global Game Jam, in no particular order. Links to the submission pages on the Global Game Jam website have been provided, so feel free to download the games and try them out!

Vox DeiVox Dei is a storytelling game by Fleur Sciortino, Rebecca Portelli, Chris Zammit, Yasmin Cachia and Franz-Peter Manias, where you play as a news editor and must choose which news items you will feature. It’s an interesting game and the stories that emerge and hilarious and tongue-in-cheek.

What do WE do now? is a Wario-ware style series of mini-games packaged in one large game. It was made by Adrian Abela, Justin Cachia, Jesper Schellekens and Philippe Neguembor. The game revolves around the core idea of only using the buttons W and E from the keyboard.

The Lars Andersen SimulatorThe Lars Andersen Simulator was made by Jesper Taxbol and is a game made for mobile devices and Google Cardboard. Players must aim and shoot arrows and targets while moving around through a scene.

Monster in my Cupboard is a local co-op 2 player game where players must work together to escape a monster that is chasing them. One player controls the movement of the character while the other controls the mouse that shines a spotlight over the otherwise dark room. The game was made by Luke Aquilina, Solen Rullaud and Stefan Vella.

What We Did is a haunting game made by Rilla Khaled and Pippin Barr. Players follow the story of a person who seems to be trying to revive an ended relationship.

The MountainThe Mountain is a one player board game made by David Chircop, Yannick Massa, Johnathan Harrington, Matthew Agius Muscat,  Francesca Borg Taylor-East and Daniela Attard. Players play as a mountaineer that must come to terms with the possibility of reaching the peak of his life.

Selfolio is a digital game for tablets made by Tim Garbos, Rune Drewsen and Monica Crake. Players play in teams, and the first team must draw a chosen selfie or take a selfie that mimics it. The second team is then show the result and must guess which selfie was picked.

Ephemeral is narrative driven game made by Alan Duca, Mark Magro, Mark Scicluna, Moira Zahra and Jean-Pierre Brincat, with music provided by Westy Reflector. The game involves 2 beings following from the sky, and players must play a series of mini games in order to learn more about these characters.

Chaos Control is a two player platformed made by Jean-Luc Portelli, William Cachia and Gary Hili. Players must race to the finish line while grappling with constantly changing controls, both on a keyboard as well as on a gamepad.

SpaceBox is a board game made by Alexandra Mariner and Christina Fideler. Players play as crew members on a spaceship that’s been invaded by an alien fungus, and must work to stay alive as long as possible.

Rage Against Hipsters is a cooperative board game with a digital component where players that must work together to entertain hipsters while performing in a band. It was made by Dylan Abela, Nina Olsson, Sean Savona and Marco Vergantini.

Mad Atom is a two player board game made by Simon Cutajar and Bernard Brincat. Players play as mad scientists trying to create life, and must combine atoms to create molecules. It’s a strategic game with lots of interaction between players.

Party Pooper is a co-operative party game made by Dirk Schembri, Clayton Curmi and Malcolm Pace. The objective of the game is to pass the ball between players for as fast as they can for a minute and aim to get the highest score possible.

Remote Responsibility is a networked multiplayer 3D co-operative puzzle game made by Mark Andrew Azzopardi, Mariano Galea, Stephen Cutajar, Miguel Mizzi, Simeon Kirilov, Dylan Fenech and Gerard Said. Players can play as one of 3 robots, each one with a different ability, and must navigate through a museum to find and steal paintings.

Trauma is first person atmospheric puzzle game made by Andreas Grech, Cameron Saliba, Julian Farrugia and Nico Kamps. Players play as a young child who wakes up in the middle of night to find himself alone in the house, and must figure out what happened to his family.

This Mutant Life is networked 2 player choose-your-own-adventure game made by Gordon Calleja, Marvin Zammit and Thom Cuschieri. Players must communicate between themselves and share information in order to make the correct choices and progress through the game.

5 judges were chosen to evaluate the games and award them a series of awards. The judges were Leigh Alexander, David Mariner from Funrigger Productions, Jim Brown from Codemasters Malta, James Roadley Battin from Codemasters Malta and Dean Sharpe from 4A Games.

The awards that were awarded and the games they were awarded to were as follows:

  • Best Hybrid Game: Rage Against Hipsters

  • Best Digital Game: Selfolio

  • Best Board Game: The Mountain

  • Best Pitch: Selfolio

  • Most Unusual Game: Ephemeral

  • Jury’s Choice Award: The Mountain

  • Epic Fail Award: Chaos Control

  • People’s Choice Award:

    • 1st Place: Selfolio

    • 2nd Place: The Mountain

    • 3rd Place: Ephemeral

It was an amazing weekend with lots of interesting games being made by talented game developers, and we look forward to future game jams hosted here on the Maltese islands!

GameDev.com.mt

Ever since I came back to Malta after spending 2 years in Denmark, I noticed that although the game development scene in Malta was slowly growing, people still seemed to be disconnected with what was happening locally. People weren’t aware of other people in the country that were also making games. This was especially noticeable when I came to promote the Malta Global Game Jam 2014 as part of the organisational team; since even though we were doing our best to promote the game jam, there were not people that were aware of it!

I figured that something should be done about the situation, and thus, GameDev.com.mt was born.

GameDev.com.mt LogoI created the website GameDev.com.mt with the intention of launching a creative hub for anything related to game development in the Maltese islands. I wanted the site to serve as the go-to place for game developers in the Maltese Islands, and for them to be able to find companies and development groups on the island, as well as education, organisations, job opportunities and events.

I built the site from scratch using HTML5, PHP and Javascript, and was launched at the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta on the 5th of May, 2014.

You can visit the site at http://gamedev.com.mt.

 

Nordic Game Jam 2014

Nordic Game Jam 2014 PosterIt’s time for the yearly visit to the Nordic Game Jam! I first attended back in 2012 (and wrote a blog post about that), and then attended again in 2013 (here’s the blog post). I enjoyed those so much that I decided I had to go back in 2014 for my third edition of the Nordic Game Jam.

Like the Nordic Game Jam before it, it was held at AAU Copenhagen. As usual, I was planning on making a board game with the others from Kvasir Games. This time round however, half the team would be missing for at least half the game jam, since they had to promote Wanted: Igor! at the Danish hobby store Faraos Cigarer. This made design slightly harder since the team was hardly ever together in the same space.

The theme of this year’s Nordic Game Jam was privacy! There were many different takes on the theme: some made spy games, others made bathroom games or games involving toilets.

Sci-Fi SamuraiWe cycled through at least 3 different concepts for the game we wanted to make and started working on a game which we pitched to people as simply “You start the game naked in a bush”. After the first day however, we ended up scrapping that idea and going with something completely different, which ended up turning into Sci-Fi Samurai. A picture can be seen on the left.

Sci-Fi Samurai is a fast paced game where players play as samurai that must avenge their honour by killing the other samurais from the other clans. However, you and the other samurais happen to be immortal, and are cursed to fight each other for eternity. As the end of the world approaches, and the dragon appears to swallow the sun, you are only concerned with killing the rest of the samurai for honour. Players take turns attacking and hopefully killing other samurais for honour points, while the dragon slowly consumes the world and deals an ever-increasing amount of damage to all players.

Our take on the theme privacy was the fact that players could see how much damage the dragon could deal, as well as the health of other players. In other words, we played around with the amount of information that was or wasn’t private.

Although we didn’t win any awards this year, we had great fun making the game and learnt a lot about our design process and how we approached things (especially since Sci-Fi Samurai started out as a co-operative game and turned out into a competitive one!).

Better luck next time!
Better luck next time!

Nordic Game Jam 2014 was also memorable because of the fact that Google Play Games attended the game jam and gave all the participants a free Google Nexus 7 tablet for the participants to make games on. This of course resulted in a lot of people taking advantage of this offer, which I’m sure was the intended outcome!

According to the IGDA.dk’s official statistics, Nordic Game Jam 2014 had around 500 participants and over 110 games submitted, making it the largest game jam to date! It’s impossible to go through all the games that were made during the game jam, but here are the games that made it to the finals:

And rightly so, these games were really well made! Filth and No Privacy in a Bobsled were particular favourites of mine 🙂

Filth
Filth

Filth, made by Bram Michielsen, Stefan Schwarz, Steffen Dalbro Eriksen, Thomas Ryder and Eske Nørholm, is a game about the the destructive influence a paparazzo can have on the lives of celebrities. It’s a very touching game and the ending is particularly horrifying.

No Privacy in a Bobsled
No Privacy in a Bobsled

No Privacy in a Bobsled, made by Joey Hannes, Edgaras Benediktavicius, Daniel Johnsen and Mathias Soehol, is a game about 4 people in a bobsled. The game is controlled with 2 dance mats that players sit on, and players must lean left or right at the same time in order to avoid obstacles that are approaching them as they hurtle down a tube in their bobsled. I enjoyed the innovative use of the dance pads, and the game is really fun to watch!

After all the participants were settled down, the winners of the Nordic Game Jam 2014 were announced!

Honourable mentions included:

The jury awarded the games the following awards:

And Google Play Games also chose the game Parandroid as their favourite game!

It was a great Nordic Game Jam this year, and even if we didn’t win as Kvasir Games, I’m still happy to have attended, to have met new people and to have met up with my friends once again 🙂

Kvasir Games at NGJ14

Wanted: Igor!’s Official Launch

Good news everyone!

It’s been almost a year since Kvasir Games made the game that was to become Wanted: Igor!, back at the Nordic Game Jam 2013. Along the way, we polished the game, remade the art completely, designed the manual and the box and learnt a LOT about board game publishing and Danish import tax and customs. There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to bringing a board game to life.

However, we officially launched Wanted: Igor! on the 6th of February at Cinemateket!

Wanted: Igor! LaunchThe game is now available for purchase at Faraos Cigarer in Denmark. Alternatively, one may purchase the game from the Kvasir Games online store.

I’m proud to be a part of Kvasir Games, and I looked forward to bringing more games to life in the future! 😀

 

Malta Global Game Jam 2014

Malta Global Game Jam 2014 Banner
Malta Global Game Jam 2014 Banner, by Nel Pace

This weekend (24th – 26th January), I attended the Malta Global Game Jam, organized by the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta. I was part of the organizing team, as well as a participant in the game jam, and my role as an organizer was to find people that could give microtalks before the actual game jam, as well as promoting the game jam around the island. We managed to sell all the available tickets we had, which was awesome!

The game jam kicked off with a public lecture by Patricia Pizer the day before, and a keynote by her on the 24th. Both talks were on the power of creating things and how to focus during a game jam. We then had 5 microtalks from people or companies in Malta that are making games (Neville Attard from SoftwareProdigy, Gordon Calleja from Mighty Box, Stephen Caruana from Pixie Software, Clint Mizzi from 5¼ Games, and Ryan Sammut and Anthony Demanuele from Barbagann Games), as well a microtalk from Ida Tofte from the Copenhagen Game Collective.

After a short break, it was time for some practical announcements and the Global Game Jam keynote, by Richard Lemarchand, Kaho Abe and Jenova Chen. The global theme was then revealed: “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are” and group forming could then begin!

I decided to partner with an old friend of mine, Bernard Brincat, in order to make something slightly experimental. We wanted to a game involving mobile devices in some way, and after some discussion, we settled on what would become Echo, the game we made at the Malta Global Game Jam 2014.

Echo Teaser Photo

Echo is a video game without video. It requires at least 2 people to play, and needs a mobile device and a laptop or tablet. One player plays as the bat; he or she is blindfolded and given a pair of headphones that are connected to a mobile device. The other player plays as the eyes; he or she is given a laptop or tablet that can send sounds to the other player, used to control his or her direction.

Echo was written in Javascript and HTML5. It involved lots of client/server socket programming, as well as the use of positional 3D audio. The server was written using node.js, while the clients were written using Phaser JS.

We actually only got the connectivity working at 4AM on Sunday, so there was a frantic rush to try and polish as much as possible. To be perfectly honest, our end result was more of a framework than a game, but that’s OK. Both Bernard and I intend to continue working on the project and streamline it as much as possible.

After the game jam was officially over, we were treated with the presentations of the games that were made.

And Then We Held HandsThe first game that was presented was a board game called …and then we held hands… made by Yannick Massa and David Chircop. The game revolved around the theme of a failing relationship and is a co-operative game.

The next game was Drosophilia, an interactive fictiongame made with Twine. It was made by Pippin Barr, Gordon Calleja and Sidsel Hermansen. The game is Kafka-esque; players must explore the life of an office worker, when something goes wrong.

After presenting our game Echo, the next game to be presented was Friend or Foea steampunk themed local multiplayer. Players fire bullets at each other, but the only way of knowing whether they’ll hurt or heal their opponents is to listen to the music.

Home Putrid Home is a sidescrolling platformer that inverts the trope of good guy/bad guy. In this fantasy world, the ugly troll is actually the good guy, and is being persecuted by fairies. He must therefore escape and find his way back home.

How was your day?The next game was How was your day?an experimental point-and-click interactive fiction game where you play the role of a child talking to their toys. Players are meant to interpret the consequences of their choices in their own way.

Iudico is a game made by Andreas Grech and Richard Schembri where players play as a Roman emperor that must sift through the arguments of 2 characters in order to determine the potential assassin.

Permanence is a game made by some of the organizers and one of the judges. The game is based around the idea of solipsism, so objects in the game world are only tangible if the player can see them. The game is a cooperative local multiplayer game, and players must work together to find a path out.

Perspectron is a 3D runner with a difference, the size of the runner can be changed from large to small, allowing the player to avoid certain obstacles while encountering completely different ones.

Room 14Room 14 is a puzzle game based around the idea of a Rubik’s cube. Players can switch between first person mode and third person mode, allowing the player to escape rooms or shift the cube’s configuration respectively.

The last game to be presented was These Walls That Surround Me, a point-and-click sidescrolling adventure game without the pointing and clicking. The game was based around the idea of the the change you experience in your perspective towards your environment while growing up.

After a short break, the judges made their decision! …and then we held hands… was presented with the Best Board Game award, while Room 14 was presented with the Best Digital Game award. …and then we held hands… was also presented with the People’s Choice Award, posing with an awesome trophy made by Ida Tofte.

I personally felt that the standards of the games made at the game jam were very high. I was impressed by the amount of awesome artwork in the games too (particularly Room 14, These Walls That Surround Me and How was your day?). My two favourite games also happened to be the winners of the awards presented at the game jam, so I’m happy to say I called it 😀

All in all, I was very pleased with how the Malta Global Game Jam 2014 turned out, both as one of the organizers as well as a participant. The game jam was very cosy and friendly, and I honestly can’t wait for the next one to take place. It feels like the beginning of a great gamedev scene here in Malta. Thanks so much to all the participants, as well as the organizers and the Institute of Digital Games for such a great jam! 🙂

The End Of An Era

And as quickly as it began, it’s all over. 2 years ago, I was on my way to Copenhagen to start my Masters in Games, wondering what lay in store for me. Now, I’ve finished my course, and getting ready to go back home to Malta, and I’ve only just realized how quickly the 2 years went by.

After 2 years, I figured I should at least have a photo of myself outside ITU Copenhagen. Photo by Giulia Attard Navarro.
After 2 years, I figured I should at least have a photo of myself outside ITU Copenhagen. Photo by Giulia Attard Navarro.

I’ve met so many new people (both from the Masters course as well outside it) and learnt so many new things! Overall, it’s been a great experience that I’d be more than willing to recommend to people!

Here are a few highlights from these part 2 years:

  • Making a dice game at the introductory days at ITU, and winning 🙂Dice Dash
  • Pulling my first (but certainly not my last) all-nighter to finish a game. In particular, this was for the game Sun Valve for the Game Design course.
  • Took part in the Nordic Game Jam 2012, made a board game called Mussades, and won 2 awards!
  • Moved house from Vanløse to Amager
  • Got a job with Savivo as a student developer
  • Travelled to Sweden for the No More Sweden game jam
  • Got a job at ITU Copenhagen as a teacher’s assistant
  • Travelled to Vallekilde Højskole for the Exile game jam
  • Attended the TEDxCopenhagen event
  • I’ve travelled to Portsmouth, Edinburgh, Vienna and Budapest
  • Took part again in the Nordic Game Jam 2013, made a card game called Beast Builder and won an award!
  • Finished my thesis, entitled Reinterpretation of music based on visual cues in virtual spaces
  • Formed a company called Kvasir Games

So, what now?

Well, I don’t know actually. I could consider a PhD in Computational Creativity if I wanted (but as much as the subject interests me, I think I need a break from academia for now). I could stay in Copenhagen, since I really enjoy the games scene here, all the relevant events, and continue pushing our board games through Kvasir Games. I could go elsewhere, and find a job in games in other different country completely. I could just take a year off and do something different before I start looking for a relevant job. I could go back to Malta, enjoy a proper summer and find a job there. All of these have been options that I’ve been considering as I got closer and closer to the end of my course, and now that I’m here, I guess I have to pick one 🙂

Right now, I plan to go back to Malta and enjoy a summer there, and we’ll see what happens 🙂

Exile Game Jam – Spring 2013

After the incredible experience that was the Autumn 2012 Exile Game Jam, I most certainly couldn’t miss the Spring 2013 edition of the jam! Hosted  by Kanako and the Vallekilde Højskole, the Exile Game Jam is a small 5 day game jam hosted at the Vallekilde Højskole in Hørve, Vestsjælland.

2010-07-19 13.31.51

I joined the mass of people all leaving together from Københavns Hovebanegård on Wednesday and caught the 15.30 to Hørve, stopping at Holbæk. After the usual delicious dinner provided by the Højskole, we were given the customary tour of the place, complete with an explanation of the history and the purpose behind the founding of the school. We also sat down and introduced ourselves to each other by saying who we were, where we were from, and what our motivations were for attending the game jam. As an ice-breaker, we were told to talk to the people next to us about what could constitute as a bad game idea. I ended up speaking to Nifflas and Peter Ølsted about bad game ideas (Nifflas eventually tried out his “bad” game idea in the sauna). I then spent the rest of the day playing basketball in the school’s gym, as well as spending some time in the sauna.

Playing basketballThursday was spent working on the “bad” game ideas or other relevant ideas, delicious food, more sauna, and finally, group formation for the game jam. The theme was announced as being Dreams, which could be interpreted in various different ways. To help idea formation, the audience was asked to write down ideas or themes on pieces of paper which could then be redistributed to other members of the audience.

466727_10152800991910384_998849204_o

The game jam had lots of different hardware that could be used by the game developers to create a new, tailormade experience. This included the Leap Motion controller, iPads and other mobile devices, and the highlight of the game jam, the Oculus Rift. Although the Oculus Rift has not yet been released to the public, several people at the game jam had bought developer preview versions from the Kickstarter, and Unity3D also lent us two to develop on. Even though it’s still a developer preview and the quality can only get better, I was already impressed at how immersive it was. It really felt like I was in the game world.Oculus Rift

I decided to work with Anders Lystad Brevik on something Kvasir Games related: a digital version of Mussades. This was something that we had been planning for a while, but due to us working on our thesis project, we could never really find the time to get started. The original intention was to work with Haxe, a programming language capable of compiling to various different platforms, and with a port of the as3isolib library, a library capable of working with hexagonal tiles in isometric space, which is what we needed. We spent a couple of hours trying to get Haxe and the as3isolib port working, only to realize that the port wasn’t complete and could only compile the demo examples provided. We therefore decided to switch completely to ActionScript 3 so that we could at least have something to demonstrate.

Digital Mussades Prototype

Obviously, we didn’t expect to have a complete digital of Mussades by the end of the game jam. However, I completely underestimated how different it would be to work with hexagons (as most of the surrounding game jammers can vouch for). Anders managed to get a lot of the core systems down (such as state management, server analytics, card drawing and shuffling, and color selection), while I was busy struggling with rendering hexagons in a suitable order to form a Mussades room, as well as rotating the rooms.

Game Jam Presentations and Beer


DuskFinally, the game jam ended on Saturday at 6pm, and we cleared up (and brought beer and champagne) to make way for the presentations. The first game to be presented was Dusk, made by Christian Laumark, Jakop Kjær-Galle, Freja Paulin and Eyði av Hamri. Dusk is a platformer where you play as a plug and must collect lightbulbs, taking them back home while avoiding mosquitos.

Dick and Huppo

The next game was Dick and Huppo, a game made by Pernille Sihm, Morten Mygind and Peter Bruun.  It features a duck with a gun riding a walrus shooting balloons, and has a certain charm to it.

Up next was Cookie Arcade 2 – Massive Destruction, a local multiplayer game that was a mix between a real-time strategy game and an arcade game. It was made by Katrine Kiilerich Poulsen, Jakob Hansson, Peter Ølsted, Astrid Mie Majgaard and Niels Justesen.

The Quincy IncidentThis was followed by The Quincy Incident, a psychological horror game involving non-Euclidean architecture set in a shipwreck that actively prevents them from leaving. It was made by Isaac Howie Brewerton, Hans Henrik Hvoslef, Alexander Evgenievich Nikulin, Nina Croitoru, Alina Constantin,  Kristian Romer and Morten Brunbjerg, and featured voice overs by Tommy Rousse, Amani Naseem and Julie Heyde. The game was intensely atmospheric, and I’d gladly play a finished version of this game!

Michael Dreams of Dinosaurs, made by Jesper Hyldahl Fogh, Anton Pilmark, Nina Cecilie Højholdt, Jonathan Trier Brikner and Emil Juul Clevin, is a 2D sidescroller where you control a fish that must pick up food. At some point, the fish turns into a pterodactyl that flies through space and crashes into UFOs and rainbows.

Paper Trail

The next game to be presented was Paper Trail, made by Ida Groth, Gøran Berntsen and Jon Werk Nielsen. Coming from a group that called themselves “game jam virgins”, this game really impressed me. The art was crisp and clear, and the gameplay was really interesting, involving tessellation and origami! I was also expecting the game to place in the top 3 games!

The President of the United StatesUp next was the game named The President of the United States, by Nicklas Nygren and Alina Constantin. Described as “a mixture of Battle Combat Fighters and chess”, the game is a 2 player game with tons of strategy, since you must coordinate your pieces. As is usual for Nifflas’ games, it is an atmospheric game. It also contains awesome artwork!

The next project to be presented was by Jonas Halfdan Jongejan and Tim Garbos. The project was a physical portal into another culture (quite literally, there’s a screen on the wall) that aims to connect two people from different cultures or locations through games.

Lasse Fuglsang Pedersen showed us the project he had been working on, which was a refractive light system. This was presented with live piano music in the background while Lasse tweaked different variables and settings in the code to show us the different capabilities of his system.

Shoot! Nightmare at Exile

Next was the game Shoot! Nightmare at Exile, by Anchel Labena, Gabriel Durac and Kristian Rømer. Considered “a spiritual successor to NGJ Fighters“, the game was partly inspired by games like Mad Dog McCree and Los Justicieros. It uses pre-recorded video footage of enemies shooting at the player, and the player must shoot back and kill them in order to progress. I ended up featuring in one of the level’s hardest bits along with Nina Croitoru and Astrid Sønderby Lamhauge.

The next project to be demonstrated was actually a digital synthesizer for the iPad called Voice & More, which looked really interesting! It apparently allowed for lots of different options to be tweaked.

After presenting the work we had done for the digital version of Mussades, Anders Lystad Brevik also presented Dark Muse, a toy where users could pick a colour and create a music line with the chosen colour, which corresponded to an instrument. The idea was that the next user to access the toy would find that colour unavailable, and once all the colours were unavailable, the music lines would be combined to create one track, which would have been saved using a server.

Heads

Up next was Heads, a game by Thomas Ryder. Described as a “super minimalistic puzzle game”, Heads is inspired by Tetris, where players must create black or white heads from the falling pieces in order to clear the screen.

The next game to be presented was Astrid Sønderby Lamhauge’s game The Wonderful Journey of Pepita the Pig. Since Astrid wanted to learn ActionScript 3, she figured she might as well learn the programming language while in the context of making a game. The game is a point-and-click adventure where players must help guide Pepita the Pig to freedom.

ULTRANOBLE WARRIORZ!! is a local multiplayer game created by Glitchnap and Henrike Lode. Similar in concept to their previous game LAZA KNITEZ!!the game focuses on intense hypercombat between four ultranoble warriorz swinging swords.

The next game to be presented was Puppeteer, a digital toy made by Marius Jigoreanu and Alina Constantin where the user could control a ragdoll with his or her hand using the Leap Motion controller. The ragdoll shown is actually a clay model made by Alina, which later imported digitally to be used in the toy.

After setting up the Oculus Rift to allow presentations, the next game to presented was Disunion, commonly referred to as “the guillotine simulator”. It was made by Erkki Trummal, André Berlemont and Morten Brunbjerg. Players had to assume the position the person being executed would (generally, on their knees and supported by another object), and with their hands tied behind their back. As the players look around the scene, they are shouted at by the audience, and only when the players look up do they realize their inevitable fate and the guillotine’s blade comes crashing down. In the presentation, this was also accompanied by Erkki’s hand on the player’s neck, which made the whole experience more visceral. This game also seems to have gotten a lot of attention from the press, since only a day after the Exile Game Jam was over, it was featured in multiple high profile game websites (such as Gamasutra, Kotaku and RockPaperShotgun), as well as mainstream news such as NBC News. A full list of press coverage for the game can be found at Erkki’s site.

The next Oculus Rift enabled game to be presented was Highland by Thomas J. Papa and Kristian Rømer. In Highland, you play as a Scottish bagpiper in the highlands, and can play the bagpipes using a PlayStation Move controller. The video above shows the presentation of the game, where I was selected to play the bagpipes in the game. The bagpipe must first be filled with air by pressing the back button three times on the Move controller. Then, while repeatedly pressing the back button every now and again to keep the bagpipe filled, the player may hold down the buttons on the front of the controller to play high pitched notes while the bass drone plays. Players may also change the pitch of the bass drone by pressing the centre button.

Jesper Taxbøl was next, and he presented the game he made for the previous Exile Game Jam (Herlev) optimized for the Oculus Rift.

Tim Garbos also demonstrated a game that could be played by the crowd through the various devices they owned. Each player could connect to a server, and if successful, was given a coloured screen with a marker that could go left or right. The idea was that the crowd could collectively control a plane flying through a level filled with obstacles.

Demonic Shotgun 2010Demonic Shotgun 2010: The House Warming was a game created by Martin Fasterholdt, K Ceiriog Shonibare-Lewis and Daryl Leon Hornsby. Similar in concept to Hotline Miami, players control a person wielding a demonic shotgun that requires the player to kill opponents. If not, the black bar at the bottom starts decreasing and eventually explodes, killing the player. I particularly liked the art style of the game, setting it within the plans of an architect.

The next game presented was Out of Body by Thorbjørn Erik Køppen Christensen. What seems to be like a simple top-down puzzle game turns out into a more complex game where players must change perspective from top-down to first person in a 3D environment in order to navigate through the level.

Fainted GoatUp next was Fainted Goat, a game by Julian Hansen and Rune Skovbo Johansen. Taking place in a dream-like procedurally generated world with voxels, players can challenge each other to races and seeing who arrives first.

ShaylaMazing is a local multiplayer maze game created by Julie Heyde, where players must navigate through a maze that changes its paths in order to escape.

After the last game was presented, we left to the Pejsestuen where the winners were chosen and announced by the previous Exile Game Jam winners. Demonic Shotgun 2010: The House Warming came in third place, The Quincy Incident came in second place and finally, Highland came in first place!

We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating in style at the game jam’s official party, in the sauna, jamming together in the music room, and waiting for the sun to rise at 5am.

All in all, it was an excellent game jam as I’ve come to expect from the Exile Game Jam 🙂 I really enjoyed working on a project in the company of awesome people, and I hope to be back for the Autumn 2013 edition of the Exile Game Jam!

Exile Fireplace

(Photos provided by Unicorn7, Johan Bichel Lindegaard, Henrike Lode, Anchel Labena and Nina Croitoru.)

Kvasir Games

If you follow my blog, you might remember my escapades with Sugarush during the Nordic Game Jam 2012, where we made Mussades, and the Nordic Game Jam 2013, where we made Beast Builder.

Kvasir Games Logo

Enter Kvasir Games! We’ve decided to reorganize, regroup and restructure our efforts and have committed ourselves to getting the games we’ve made out onto the market. It’s going to be an interesting journey, which you can follow on Kvasir Game’s website by going to http://www.kvasirgames.com.

You may also follow our progress on Facebook at Kvasir Games, and on Twitter at @kvasirgames.

We can’t wait to keep you updated with what’s going on 🙂