malta

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.

 

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! 🙂

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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Off to Copenhagen!

The day has finally arrived!

Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving for Copenhagen in order to prepare for my Masters in Media Technology and Games at the IT University of Copenhagen. The course officially starts on the 29th of August, but I decided to arrive a little earlier in order to settle lodging.

Lodging was one of my main concerns during the summer. When they said it was very difficult to find proper accommodation in Copenhagen, they weren’t lying. Out of the e-mails I sent, nobody ever answered me. I only heard from them some two weeks later to inform me that the place had successfully been rented out. I’m hoping that if I’m physically in Copenhagen, I should stand a better chance at finding suitable lodging.

I still feel a little queasy and anxious, since this is something totally new for me, but at the same time, I can’t wait!

ITU Copenhagen accepted me!

ITU Copenhagen acceptance envelope
ITU Copenhagen acceptance envelope

I’ve just been accepted for a Masters degree in Media Technology in Games at ITU Copenhagen, Denmark! 🙂

The deadline for the application was the 1st of April, 2011, while the acceptance letter was posted from Denmark on the 31st of May, 2011. It arrived in Malta on the 3rd of June, 2011 (quite quick, I must say). The university had informed potential candidates that they should expect to receive an answer by the 15th of June, 2011.

In particular, I chose the Technology stream, which allows me to learn more about the more technical areas of games, such as game engines and AI. I’m also interested in topics such as procedural content generation and games design.

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ICTSA Programming Competition 2011

I decided to take part in the ICTSA programming competition, which is renowned for having challenging problems to solve, along with a friend of mine. The problem that was released this year (described in full at the competition site) involved a robot that could traverse a map, containing different altitude values. The aim of the problem was to create a route for the robot to follow, maximizing the area of the map taken by photographs, while minimizing the energy costs encountered by traversing the map.

We approached the problem in a number of different ways, such as optimization algorithms and evolutionary algorithms (including genetic algorithms, harmony search, simulated annealing and others). We also considered decision trees, mimicking the way IBM’s Deep Blue played chess, by looking forward and considering each step. Other algorithms that we considered included Bresenham’s Line Algorithm and Bresenham’s Circle Algorithm (for the photography range and the line of sight algorithm), as well as the use of quadtrees.

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A Literature Review

Since I’m in my final year, I’m currently undertaking a task that every final year ICT student must take; the thesis. And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

My chosen title is Information Extraction Over the Internet for a Dynamic Game, which involves heavy reading about the semantic web and about content generation in games. However, there are very few papers that combine both topics. One of the main problems I’ve found with the literature review is that I keep finding more and more papers that seem relevant, however, there’s no chance in hell that I’ll have to read and properly understand all of them, especially with more lecturers giving us assignments.

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Hello World!

This is a long overdue blog post for my website, the first in hopefully a series of many more blog posts.

Welcome to the blog section of my website! Although the rest of the website is dedicated to showcasing portfolio material, this section serves to demonstrate my thoughts and ideas, the inner workings of a Maltese student.

Although my past blogging attempts have failed miserably, I hope that I can at least keep this blog updated on a semi-regular basis, just to keep things fresh.