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.