games

#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!

Nordic Game Jam 2013

A year has passed since I attended my first Nordic Game Jam back in 2012, and suddenly, this year’s edition of the Nordic Game Jam has also come and gone. This year, the Nordic Game Jam was the biggest game jam in the world with over 470 participants. It also moved location to the Aalborg University’s Copenhagen campus. I took part as a volunteer as well as participating in the actual making of games.

NGJ 13 Keynote speakers Vlambeer and Dennaton
NGJ 13 keynote speakers Vlambeer and Dennaton. Thanks to Anchel for the photo.

Friday 18th started off with several different talks, which were separated into tech talks and indie talks. I decided not to jump between auditoriums, since I was more interested in the indie talks. I got to listen to Sybo Games speak about their journey from indie to iOS hit with their game Subway Surfers, Nifflas‘ very personal talk about his world view and how it related to Knytt Underground’s design, and BetaDwarf’s story from a small indie company to possibly one of Denmark’s heavyweights game companies. Lau Korsgaard also spoke about  folk games that inspired him when making Spin the Bottle for WiiU. After that, several people that were present took the opportunity to present some games that they were working on. Personal favourites included Mimics by Thomas Ryder, Rymdkapsel by Martin Jonasson, UFHO2 by Tiny Colossus, Environmental Station Alpha by Arvi Teikari and a point and click adventure called Shadow of Kharon amongst others. I also attended a talk about designing board games by Martin Neergaard Andersen which I found interesting.

After Vlambeer (Super Crate Box) and Dennaton (Hotline Miami) gave their keynote speech (where they told people to follow the 4:44 rule, 4 hours for making a game, and 44 hours for tweaking/polishing/playtesting/iterating/having beers/annoying people), we received the theme for this year’s game jam, which was grotesque. People then started going around and trying to form teams; either by looking for specific skill sets or by convincing people that their idea was awesome. Meanwhile, I headed to the board game room, since I wanted to make a board game again with my old team Sugarush.

Sugarush making games
Sugarush making games

By the end of Friday, we had come up with a couple of interesting ideas that we wanted to further develop. By Saturday morning, more concepts were presented and we settled on one game idea that we wanted to work on, which eventually turned into our final game Beast Builder. Anchel interviewed us in one of the Nordic Game Jam’s video blogs below!

Beast Builder is a family friend game where players play as Dr. Frankenstein’s would-be assistants in order to help the doctor build his latest creations. Torso parts are placed in the center of the table and form the basis of the creatures to be created, and players must find body parts that allow them to maximize their chances of claiming a point from the finished creature. Of course, some cards allow players to interfere with opponents!

Beast Builder
Beast Builder

The judges this year were Ole Steiness and Martin Neergaard Andersen, with additional input from Thomas Vigild and Kim Dorff. Beast Builder managed to score Best Sellable Board Game, and we even managed to play our game with a couple of young kids who liked our game! Other games that won awards were Made in China, which won Most Fun Game and Burlesque Grotesque which won Most Polished Game. There were some awesome board games being made this year, and I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to play all of them.

Sugarush with our prizes
Sugarush with our prizes

The winning board games were also nominated as finalists in the final round of judging. The top 11 games, in order of the amount of votes acquired, were:

  1. Spaceship with a Mace
  2. Press [X] To Give Up
  3. Stikbold
  4. Stalagflight
  5. Twisted
  6. Dragon Pussy
  7. 3:15 AM
  8. Shrouded Light
  9. Made in China
  10. Beast Builder
  11. Burlesque Grotesque

Out of the finalist games, here are my personal favourites:

Spaceship with a MaceSpaceship with a Mace, by Nifflas, won the Audience Award with his ambient multiplayer game. Players use Xbox controllers to maneuver their spaceship around in space, which also has a mace attached to it. Players must swing the mace at other spaceships in order to destroy them, but must avoid getting hit by other spaceships!

Stikbold, by Lars Bindslev, Jacob Herold, Martin Petersen, Anders Østergaard and Simon Vestergaard, won Most Fun game with their multiplayer mayhem game which takes a surprising twist as the game progresses!

Press X to Give Up

My personal favourite was Press [X] to Give Up, a game by Anders Børup, Bram Michielsen, Henrike Lode, Jonas Maaløe, Jonatan Van Hove and Mads Johansen. It’s experimental game where players play the role of a bullfighter that must stick spears into a bull. Each successful hit makes the bull grow larger and more menacing, while each hit that the bull lands on the player starts glitching the screen wildly, making impossible to see. Both the lose screen and the win screen contain haunting messages that hint at a larger message that underlies the game.

Overall, I’ve experienced another great game jam with friends, and had the pleasure of meeting new people and trying out other people’s games in a crazy and fun environment. If you want to try out some of the other games that appeared during NGJ13, feel free to check out the massive list over at Unicorn7. I look forward to attending Nordic Game Jam 2014 🙂

Team Sugarush!
Team Sugarush!

JamIT 2012

Although I was meant to be busy this weekend programming a Ms. Pac-Man controller using artificial intelligence techniques for the Modern AI in Games course at ITU, I found some time to drop by at the first game jam organized by PlayIT, the student organization at ITU. The game jam was called JamIT 2012 and was an awesome game jam!

We first all went into Auditorium 1, where we had the opening ceremony by Jonathan van Hove and Tommy Rousse, followed by keynotes speeches on How to Win a Game Jam by Tim Garbos, Lau Korsgaard and Nicklas Nygren, among others. Afterwards, we split into teams to make games based on the theme, which was this picture over here accompanied by the words “Not Possible”.

I teamed up with Astrid Sønderby Lamhauge and Casper Nielsen Voigt, and we all agreed that even though we were all busy and didn’t really plan on spending the whole weekend on making a game, we were still interested in jamming. We started trying to come up with ideas that had a small scope and we eventually settled on a game that was educational/serious in nature. The goal of the game was to try and turn on the projector at ITU, since it was widely acknowledged to be extremely difficult, with none of the buttons making sense.

The game, I Think It’s On?, can be downloaded and installed from here. It’s an executable file that will install the game and any other necessary files. It was made in C# and XNA and needs an Xbox controller to be played. Casper was in charge of programming, Astrid was in charge of graphics and I did the sound design.

There were around 18 games made during the duration of JamIT 2012. These were presented at the very end of the jam on Sunday afternoon. Anchel Labena and I, along with some others, provided a running commentary on Twitter using the hashtag #JamITU. Here’s some of my opinions of the games that were created during this weekend! (all submissions can be found here)

First up, we have Bert Baker’s Cunnilingus, made by Bert Baker, Virgil Tanase and Samuel Walz, which as they describe it, is an “educational game about cunnilingus” made for the iPhone. It also involves licking the phone’s touch screen, and recorded female vocals. I think you get the idea.

One of my favourite games made during this weekend was Don’t Hose Me Bro by Enric Llangostera, Jonatan van Hove, Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir, Jan Flessel and Tommy Rousse. It’s a 2v2 co-op game where the objective of the game is to capture the other team’s diamond. Each team consists of a wizard that can shoot jets of water at other characters, reducing their life and pushing them backwards, and a skull that can lay various different traps. First to 3 diamonds wins. It’s a well made game, the sounds are addicting and the graphics are awesome!

We then have a game called Impossibl3 Pong by Giuseppe Enrico Franchi. Giuseppe arrived late and didn’t plan on attending the jam, but decided to start making a game on his own anyway on Saturday morning. It’s a different take on the classic game Pong in the sense that it’s played in the dark, points are scored on the opposing axis you’re playing on, and there’s a third player who can affect the puck’s movement.

Anders Lystad Brevik made a game called I Think. I AmIt’s a platformer made in Flash where the game comes to life and actively wants you to play the game, in a rather creepy and overbearing way, to such an extent that it will resort to disabling controls if you fail to follow its commands. I also made a short music track for Anders’ game.

Jackalope, by Daryl Leon Hornsby and Giulia Trincardi, is an interesting point-and-click adventure game of sorts which contains 2D graphics in a 3D world, which I found quite innovative. The game idea seems to be quite narrative heavy, and although only a short demo was made in 48 hours, they plan to continue working on it in the future.

Kiss Kiss Bam Bam was made by Andrew Borg Cardona, Ioana Marin, Hans Henrik Hvoslef and Wen Xiong. It’s a game set in the 60s where you control the faces of a girl and guy and try to align their lips together to get them to kiss. It’s an awesome idea, even though the game is slightly difficult, with ratios of kisses to failures being somewhere around 1: 200. Still, it was very entertaining to watch!

The next game is called Major Lack, made by Nikolaj, Magnus, Emil, Niels & Alexander. It’s an interesting take on platformers, since in this game, you control 3 characters simultaneously that navigate through 3 different obstacle courses.

Photo Shooter was a game made by Valentin Mihalache, Alex Savu; Federica Orlati, Marta la Mendola and Jesper Taxbøl. It’s a real world spin off of first person shooters, but in this case, players take pictures of people that are tagged with QR codes.

Up next is another erotic game called Sex Roulette, made by Jannick and Adonis. The mouse is used to pleasure women seen on screen, and the player can make use of voice control in certain parts of the game.

Space Monkeys! was made by Andrea Distler, Jan Flessel, Lasse Knudsen and Peter Ølsted. It’s a multiplayer platformer / runner similar to Canabalt, but each player’s controls keeps changing over the course of the game, forcing players to scramble to find their appropriate keys as they struggle to stay alive.

Stuf was made by Martin Fasterholdt and Julian Hansen. It’s an interesting take on real time strategy games in the sense that one player’s land is another player’s void, and vice-versa of course. Players must try and take as much terrain as possible, and the aim of the game is destroy all opposing bases.

Super Battle Combat Fighter Pre-Pre-Pre-Alpha 0.0.0.3.6.36b revision 3691726316 (iteration 36, sub-iteration 872) was a game made by a massive team of 7 people: Anita Simonsen, Nis Bjørn, Marco Scirea, Aleksander Nikulin, Morten Frederiksen, Nicklas Nygren, Federica Orlati and Frederik Klovborg. It’s a top-down shooter of sorts with a really interesting twist: it’s turn based. Basically, you have the option of shooting at objects or simply moving. The game then executes your action while the environment responds, and after some time, everything freezes and you get to take another action. Something that I found novel in the game was the fact that when you died, you were allowed to save your gameplay and replay it at normal speed without time stopping, allowing yourself to watch the ship blaze desperately through the level.

Super Original was a game made in 2 hours during the actual presentation of the JamIT games by Casper Friis Farsøe. For something made in 2 hours, it’s really fun to play; you’re being chased by a horde of stained glass alien things that slowly speed up while you slowly start to slow down. In the mean time, more enemies are being spawned, and you must do your best to avoid them!

Up next is another one of my favourite games made at the game jam: SWEDISH GARDEN by Tim Garbos and Niklas Aberen. It’s a quirky and artsy platformer that starts adding different layers of music as you progress through the level. The environment is also reacting to the music, making it a very immersive experience!

ThrowIT was made by Mattia Fiorio, Cristinel Patrascu and Leif Bjørn Rasmussen. It’s a top down game that allows players to fight against each other by throwing pictures. The interesting thing is that players can upload pictures to be thrown, and everybody can use any of the uploaded pictures.

T-RAGE was a game made by Achim Wache, Nikolaj Settnes and Oliver about why dinosaurs really went extinct. It’s a two player game that could be co-op or not depending on the players. Players must fight against dinosaurs on an asteroid, and the game features orbital physics which I was impressed by since it was made during a game jam.

T-REX HIGHFIVE was made by Tim Garbos, and is a two-player game where each player controls 4 different limbs of their T-Rex, and must run towards the other T-Rex and high-five them. It’s fun to watch the game being played, and it reminds me a little of Sumotori Dreams and QWOP.

Last but not least is the game When Pigs Fly by Nina Croitoru and Andrei Livadariu. It’s a 2D puzzle/platformer where the object of the game is to roll a pig to a cloud shaped platform, where it can grow wings and fly. I really like the way the pig rolls throughout the level, and the graphics are very well done!

Winners haven’t been announced yet, but they should be up soon. This game jam was small and comfortable, and I’m happy to have taken part and watched cool games being made!

News Games: Yay or Nay?

On Wednesday, 12th September, I attended the first Game Talk Mini event held and promoted by Vallekilde Højskole. The event’s theme was news games, what they are and how they work; an interesting combination of journalism and games development.

The keynote was given by Gonzalo Frasca, who started off his talk by discussing how games were relevant to education since people could learn through play, giving experiences of how they were used in the space industry, the medical industry and the military. Here, any form of error would be critical, so new users are guided through the system and taught through games. Frasca stated that “Learning through mistakes is one of the most effective ways to learn stuff“, and games seem to be the perfect medium to allow people to make mistakes.

Frasca gave examples of tutorials that teach the player how to play games, stating that if the player could not learn how to play the game within the first few minutes, then the player was lost. In particular, two examples of good tutorials were given: the Angry Birds tutorial and the Cut the Rope tutorial. This was because the first provided a short and intuitive animation of how to play the game, while the second placed the tutorial directly in the first level of the game.

This concept of understanding through play was then introduced with respect to news. Frasca claimed that people could understand events through action, stating Augusto Boal’s Legislative Theatre as an example. He also made reference to JFK Reloaded, which was a interesting experimental game, but a commercial failure. This “documentary game” allowed you to recreate the events of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, allowing players to come to their own conclusions as to whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald committed the crime or not.

Likewise, games could be made in addition to current news stories. Frasca stated that the concept of news games has been around since 2003, and most news games tend to be very quickly made with a short life span. He also stated that there were several challenges involved in creating news games, such as the fact that they had to be done in a few days in order to remain relevant, and the game had to make sense and be fun to play.

The second discussion that presented the counter argument to Frasca’s was Espen Aarseth’s talk, entitled “Good News is Not News: Dispelling the Newsgaming Myth“. Aarseth stated that although the “genre” of newsgames was 10 years old, news corporations did not seem to be interested in it, since it would have been picked up by now. He also stated several disadvantages to using games in news: the cost/benefit ratio seemed to be too low, making a good game is hard, and if the game doesn’t come out in time, is it still news?

Aarseth also made reference to a problem that could arise between the skinning of the game and its mechanics. Good games could only be made if the mechanics matched the thematics, so while war and violence made good games, Aarseth claims that everyday politics would be difficult to convey effectively in a game. He also claims that if the game developer does not care deeply about the topic, then the game itself will not be good. Reference was also made to The Landlord’s Game and Monopoly, which were meant to be political commentary against private monopolies but ended up being interpreted in a completely different fashion.

The talk ended with Aarseth concluding that the only people talking about newsgames seem to be the people making them, and that they don’t seem to be viable to news organizations.

Several examples of news games were presented through the discussion, such as September 12 by Frasca, Darfur is Dying and Phone Story by Molleindustria. Ultimately, I think that while both parties raised some interesting points about news gaming, the public is still largely unaware of news gaming. However, I’m definitely interested in trying to make some news games in the near future!

No More Sweden 2012

Mindwreck at No More Sweden 2012

I recently attended No More Sweden 2012, a game jam held in Malmö, Sweden. The game took place over a weekend and apart from the game jam itself, where people had to make games in 48 hours, the event also featured talks by indie developers as well as massive barbeque. Unfortunately, I missed the talks due to work, and also managed to arrive late at the game jam itself, and therefore ended up without a team. I decided to participate alone and create a game on my own. With the help of an online game idea generator, I settled on the concept of a black and white shooter in somebody’s imagination, which quickly changed into a cyberpunk styled arcade shooter as development progressed.

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Game Spaces, Maltese Places

Yesterday, I attended an amazing session about social spaces for games by Kunal Gupta from Babycastles, as well as an awesome game session involving Hokra and J. S. Joust by Doug Wilson. But before I go into an interesting discussion about what Kunal Gupta presented and how I think it is highly relevant to Malta, I’d like to mention what I’m up to so far during the second semester.

Semester 2 has started at ITU, and I’m already extremely busy. I guess that’s partly my fault though, since I’ve decided to assign myself twice the workload. Apart from the 3 courses I’m meant to be taking this year, which I will explain later, I’m also continuing work on Sun Valve,  the game that I made last semester in a team for the Game Design course, as well as continuing work on Mussades, the game that I made in another team during the Nordic Gam Jam 2o12. I’m also starting the second module of Danish lessons, which means that I should be kept very busy this coming semester.

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Nordic Game Jam 2012

NGJ12 BraceletI attended the 2012 edition of the Nordic Game Jam at the IT University of Copenhagen from the 27th to the 29th of  January. I was helping out during the organization of the Nordic Game Jam, as well as volunteering and jamming during the actual event. This meant that I attended organization meetings from as early as October in order to discuss how to best organize such a large event. I was also assigned shifts for helping out in the preparation of meals and in the kitchen, as well as actually participating in the Game Jam by creating a game.

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Second Semester at ITU

The first semester at ITU has quickly come and gone, and I’ve settled down fairly easily and gotten used to the Danish way of thinking. The IT University has kept me really busy, and I will explain why in a moment, hence the sudden lack of blog posts from my end.

Among all the parties and celebrations that inevitably occur along the way during the semester, there were some interesting and exciting events that occured, as well as lots of work to do.

Game Design

Sun Valve

As well as all the reading we had to do for Games Design, we also had to form groups and work on a small game. Although I had the initial idea of leading my own team, I quickly scrapped that idea since there was another team that was lacking programmers, and I joined them.

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