exile game jam

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.

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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.

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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.)

Exile Game Jam – Autumn 2012

Last week, I left Copenhagen to go to the Exile Game Jam – Autumn 2012 held at the Vallekilde Højskole in Hørve, Vestsjælland. The event started on Wednesday and finished on Sunday, and it was definitely one of the best game jam experiences I have ever had!

I arrived at Københavns Hovebanegård on Wednesday to catch the 15:30 train to Hørve together with 4 other people (Anchel, Karin, Tobias and Pernille). After a delicious dinner at the Højskole, the headmaster Torben Schmidt Hansen gave us a tour of the school which has a rich history and an interesting story behind its founding. It can also boast to have the oldest gym hall in Denmark!

After a brief introduction by the organizers of the game jam, Jesper Taxbøl and Tim Garbos, we had a 3 hour mini jam. The chosen theme was Ugly Games. Groups were formed by arranging people according to height, and then making games with the people around you. I teamed up with Anchel, Julian, Michael and Kasper to make an ugly drinking game which had a series of mini games around it. We took the definition of ugly quite literally, and had mini games made in Paint with lots of JPEG artifacts, a minesweeper clone made in Excel 97 and a main game document with lots of WordArt, clipart and jarring colour schemes.

Minesweeper Clone that I made in Excel 97. Click to view full size.

After the mini jam, a couple of people decided to go down to the sauna, where I spent from midnight till 4am. This was my first time in an actual sauna, and I don’t regret it at all! It’s an awesome social experience as well as physically and mentally relaxing. I spent the rest of the Exile Game Jam frequently visiting the sauna with tons of other people. Definitely one of the highlights of the Exile Game Jam.

On Thursday, after breakfast and an inspiring morning session with Torben about space and the Curiosity rover on Mars, we had an unconference where different people could present different things, such as projects they were working on and their own areas of expertise. Amongst other talks, Mathias spoke about haptics and their use in games, Morten gave an introduction to shader programming and Dave and Alex gave a short presentation on Ludo Libre, a massive multiplayer online location based collectible card game for kids for health. By far my favourite talk was Nifflas’ talk on his upcoming game Knytt Underground and the story behind its design and his becoming a game developer, his struggle with his changing view of the world and how it is presented in the game, and how he handles being a jack of all trades. The talk was inspiring due to the awesome design philosophy of the game and its interesting take of narrative. I could also relate to him being a jack of all trades, since I also consider myself to be one.

After dinner, we nominated a couple of interesting main themes for the jam and then went to the gym hall, where the main game jam themes were announced to be Uncertainty and the Passage of Time. We were also given pieces of paper and told to write or draw stuff on them. These were then distributed randomly to people in order to further inspire people. Here, I teamed up with Anchel Labena and came up with the game we made for Exile, Coin Knights.

Coin Knights is a local multiplayer game for 4 players for the Crime City arcade machine made by Redgrim. The aim of the game is to pick up treasure chests that spawn randomly in the middle of the map and return them to your castle. You can carry up to 4 different chests, so sometimes it might more advantageous to pick up more chests instead of going back and forth. However, some chests contain bombs, which make you lose all the treasure you’re currently carrying. Furthermore, players can push each other around, either to push them away from treasure chests, or to push them ONTO treasure chests, potentially making them pick up a bomb. The gameplay was designing by Anchel and I, the graphics and sound were made by Anchel and the programming and music were made by me.

Coin Knights Title Screen

The game can be played here. We’d definitely like to finalize the game, as well as add more things to the game, such as different powerups. The yellow player is controlled using the arrow keys and Shift, the green player is controller using WASD and Q, the third player is controlled using TFGH and R, and the blue player is controlled using IJKL and U.

The game jam ended on Saturday at 3pm, where we then presented the games we made. We then moved to the gym hall to vote for the favourite games by placing beer bottles on the associated game (only in Denmark do people vote using beer bottles!) Here are some of the games that were made during Exile Game Jam – Autumn 2012:

The Shower Game was a game inspired by the showers at Vallekilde Højskole and features art by Pernille. Players are meant to anticipate when the water will stop flowing and press the right button in order to keep the shower going. Players also have a limited amount of times they can activate the shower. If the shower stops at any time, the player is out of the game.

Magnetise Me is an awesomely quirky game involving the use of a bunch of Sony Move controllers and magnets. One player is strapped to a bunch of Move controllers, while the other player is strapped to a couple of magnets. They must then dance to music and combine the controllers and magnets together. After some amount of time, all Move controllers turn white and players gain points.

Privatised Presidential Ambulance Racer is a game made by Jonathan van Hove and Bram Michielsen. Players drive around a city in ambulances to pick up the president, and the first player to 7 presidents wins. However, there are lots of pedestrians in the way which slow the ambulance down. Players can activate sirens to make the pedestrians move, or plough through pedestrians.

Robo Runner Cow Gunner is a game made by Karin Bruér and Tobias Kärrman. It was made for the Crime City arcade machine and is a 8 player game. Players can either be robots, controlled using the analog sticks, or turrets, controlled using the 2 buttons. I enjoyed the madness playing the game, with people shouting at each other to get out of the way to collect stuff, or complaining that they got shot.

Ludo Libre is a game currently being developed by FunRigger Productions, and as CEO David Mariner describes it, the game is “Endomondo meets Pokemon”. Dave, Alex and Lars attended the Exile Game Jam in order to look for inspiration on how to make the game experience meaningful and fun and developed a small prototype involving actresses.

Gee Ball is a game developed in Unity where you must move a ball over strange levels in order to get the end of the level. However, different terrain interacts differently with the ball, and so you may get into situations where you must go underneath your original platform in order to finish the level.

The Sculpting Adventure is game made in Unity by Julian Hansen and others. The object of the game is to model different objects by carving out small cubes from a large cube.

!Snake is a game made by Lau Korsgaard which involves people playing what looks like a regular game of Snake. However, if 2 snakes collide, the snake splits into 2, and the player must then control both snakes at the same time. This makes for wildly confusing and fun games!

Tim Garbos and Pernille Sihm worked on an atmospheric exploratory game in Unity. Players walk around a world and interact with objects such as towers, trees and flowers, distorting them wildly. The music also adds to the uncertainty in the game.

Jesper Taxbøl and Lasse Fuglsang made a game called Herlev, a crazy game which has the player trapped inside Herlev Hospital. Players can try to collect the blue pill but fail miserably as it jumps out of the way, but can watch the screen in front of them transform by taking the red pill.

Whose Penis Am I Holding Now? is an analog game where players must draw a picture of a penis on a piece of paper, then shuffle the cards together and distribute them randomly. Players then describe the penis they’re holding in one word, and must point to the person they think is holding their penis.

Tank Heaven is a 4 player game made in Unity which involves players controlling tanks that shoot at each other. However, the level beneath the players turns wildly, making the competitive experience even wilder.

Ninja Painter is a game made by Asger, Holger, Malthe and William. It involves players sneaking around a level as invisible ninjas. Other players can throw paint at them, revealing their location, and if players step in paint, footsteps are left behind, making it easy to track the ninja.

The Fall is by far my favourite game from the Exile Game Jam and was made by Bram Michielsen, Thomas Ryder, Julian Stengaard and Morten Mygind. It is a point-and-click adventure game set in reverse. The main character commits suicide, and players go through her life backwards in order to find out why she did so. The graphics are amazing and reminiscent of the early point-and-click adventure games, and even the music and voiceovers are in reverse!

Toilet Company is a multiplayer running platform game where players must find toilets to relieve themselves before exploding.

Bearadise Hotel is a game by Roman Graebsch, Jens Lauridsen and Rune Hilbert. It is a continuation of the game they started making at the Nordic Game Jam 2012 together with Petr Papez, Enric Llagostera and Jacob Ringbo. Players play as bears and are assigned roles randomly and secretly. Players assigned the role of vampire must go around killing bears before they are noticed, and players assigned the role of hunters must find the vampire before innocent bears are killed.

After the voting was over, The Fall was awarded first place, Herlev was awarded second place and Bearadise Hotel was awarded third place. Coin Knights managed to get one vote, although we don’t know who voted for us.

It was then time for an awesome dinner sponsored by Kiloo and then a massive Saturday night party, where we had a LAZA KNITEZ! tournament (where Nifflas was crowned champion) and a crazy music jamming session in Vallekilde Højskole’s music room, as well as late night sauna sessions.

Sunday was the final day of the Exile Game Jam, an awesome experience had finally come to an end. We cleaned up and returned our keys and sat outside in the sun eating ice-cream, kicking a ball around and going on the swings. On the way home, we also encountered a Julemarked, where we bought æbleskiver. I also bought a knitted elephant, who I named Torben after the Højskole’s headmaster.

I’m definitely glad I went to the Exile Game Jam! Apart from making a game, I met loads of new people, went into a sauna for the first time (and thoroughly enjoyed it too, so much so that I went into the sauna nearly every day. Thanks to sauna buddies Nifflas, Karin, Tobias, Marín, Anchel and others who visited the sauna regularly), as well as not sleeping for nearly 48 hours straight. Thanks to everyone for an awesome game jam experience, and I look forward to seeing everyone again in 6 months time for the Exile Game Jam – Spring 2013.