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.
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.
Thursday 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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, 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.
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.
This 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.
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!
Up 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.
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.
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 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.
Up 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!
(Photos provided by Unicorn7, Johan Bichel Lindegaard, Henrike Lode, Anchel Labena and Nina Croitoru.)