A few weeks ago, this years’ Global Game Jam quietly ran for any Perth dwellers mad enough to try and make a game in 48 hours. I was there, and let me tell you, my game sucked, but there was some damn good stuff being pumped out! This playup was a chance for the participants to show off their efforts and celebrate the fact that they made a game in 48 hours (quite the achievement). After a brief introduction to all the games and a reminder that the Murdoch site made some weird stuff, we got into it!
Of course, I’m just one man, so I got Rohan from Gamecloud to help ensure that all 11 games were given a crack.
Nick: Made by a father and son duo, Inti’s trial is a simple maze game. You, a small ball, start off at the top of a totem and need to navigate through the carvings and reach the fire at the bottom. It’s nothing flashy, but it’s really cool to see something made by family at these sorts of events. It doesn’t seem likely to be worked on again, but it’s a nice example of what can be done with the people around you.
Try it out: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/intis-trial
Symphony of the machine
Rohan: Described by team member Lisa Rye as a ‘mechanical rain-dance’, Symphony of the machine was a standout to me, and not solely because it was the only game of the night to utilise a VR kit. Making use of a relatively small active space, the game limits player movement to the interior of a futuristic bio dome with a view of a distant alien landscape. A glowing interface recalls various combinations of arcane symbols as the player attempts to resolve a specific combination, which will result in alien plant growth. With an aesthetic somewhat reminiscent of early 90s VR, its control method was simple enough to grasp in a single sitting. I even managed to avoid the nauseating vertigo of my earlier experiences with stereoscopic headsets, instead feeling calmly immersed and rather oblivious to the view of my bumblings, which were projected on SK’s back wall for all to see.
Nick: Golem’s Wake looked like an ambitious game that only had 48 hours to come to life. It was a resource collection game, with the end goal of summoning a giant golem from the earth (because why not, right?). You can summon small golems to help speed up the process, and after a while, you’ll heave a heap of mini-golems doing your bidding. It’s quite a simplistic system, but it felt like if the game was worked on some more, it could develop into something quite interesting.
Rohan: Another one of the more finished concepts created at Game Jam this year, Break Out is part joke, part puzzle game. It plays on established perceptions of the conventional player/world relationship and tries to break those expectations. Apart from the initial explicit goal of finding your way out of maze in the fastest time possible, the game lends itself to ambient exploration, featuring a retro-esque voxel look which makes thoughtful use of space balanced with selective detail.
Try it out: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/break-out
Nick: The first of the tabletop games I tried out, Azimuth, was a novel mix of resource collection, positioning and timing. The main mechanic of the game was positioning your priests to gain resources, but if the sun or moon passed by a priest in your turn, you’d get an extra resource. Unfortunately, I kinda broke the game when I realised that you could gain and sacrifice priests, thus resulting in ALL THE VICTORY POINTS, but it was fun nonetheless. It’s a nifty game, and I’d definitely like to see Wes work on it in the future.
Try it out: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/azimuth
Rohan: Humbly described as a ‘running simulator’ by developer Grae Saunders, Ritual Failure could easily be pinned as a procedural mushroom dungeon crawler. The game centres on a musical co-op element where bizarre looking guardian creatures are summoned in order to protect the players from hordes of bats, with somewhat unpredictable results. Through the combined effort of a 5 strong team, Grae sought this year’s Game Jam as an opportunity to extend his graphics skills in order to better work with others in his regular role as programmer.
Nick: We were warned at the beginning of the night that the Murdoch site had made some rather strange games, and let me tell you, Bathtime Exorcist delivered on that promise. Your roommate Jeb gets possessed, and it’s your job to exorcise the demon using household implements and an ancient exorcism guide. It’s probably the product of sleep deprivation and skulling a few too many energy drinks, but this game is just absurdly funny. It’ll probably never get looked at again, but it was definitely one of my favourites of the night. Bloody Jeb.
Rohan: Secretly known as Nicholas Mage, Mage Masher is an arena style shooter, with noted influences from Unreal and other similar-era twitch shooters. Featuring procedurally generated maps and a straight forward premise, Mages perform summoning rituals in order to gain elemental powers. You are then obligated, as all mages are, to relentlessly throw said powers at your opponents!
Try it out: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/mage-masher
Nick: The other tabletop game on show, Banishment, put one player in the shoes of a demon and pitted them against everyone else, the exorcists. To banish the demon, the exorcists had to complete a number of rituals, but the demon had powers of his own to keep the game going and eventually win. For a game made in 48 hours, it’s surprisingly fun and well-balanced, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as ruining your enemies’ plans with a well-placed demon card. It’s a functional, enjoyable game, and for something that came out of a game jam, that’s pretty awesome!
Try it out: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/banishment
Rohan: A novel concept based loosely on charades, Mime madness involves a co-operative element where the player’s goal is to free their counterpart by combining various ingredients in a cauldron in order to enable a spell reversal. The other player performs mime through use of limited character movements in attempts to direct them to the correct ingredients. A maiden Game Jam effort for most of the 4 man team, developer Ben Lemmon cheerily described the experience as having an ‘optimistic start and pessimistic finish’.
Try it out: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/mime-madness
Too Many Cats
Nick: Following the trend of weird Murdoch games, Too Many Cats is a game about morning rituals. After you set up your ritual in the morning, going through the motions makes cats appear. And butterflies. And weirder things. It’s not really a game so much as a neat little experience, but it’ll definitely leave you questioning what the hell is going on. Alas, it doesn’t seem likely that anything will come of it, but at least we got cats along the way.
Rohan: Created by solo jammer Vivien Lengkeek, Must is an exploration into what she describes as “everyday obsessive activities”. The result approaches a form of touch-based interactive poetry made using the Twine engine. The game takes on an appropriately minimalistic appearance, and mirroring a particularly pervasive form of compulsive behaviour, compels the player to accept one option to the exclusion of all others. Must is an example of a game that attempts to make a personal statement, rather than place emphasis on more common entertainment aspects.
Try it out: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/must
Some of these games were insanely impressive, regardless of the fact that they were made in 48 hours. The fact that they were made in 48 hours is just mind-boggling, but not in the Jeb-got-possessed-again kind of way. It was a great playup to see what was possible when you put your mind to something, and I’m hoping that next year’s GGJ playup has even more games on show!