18 Jun TOJam #3 and Boys Noize
Artist of the Moment: This post I’m gonna mention Boys Noize, but I’m too lazy to do any real research on them so you can correct me if I have any incorrect facts on here. From what I remember, they’re from Europe, I think Germany. I first heard them on an MP3 that was mislabelled, which led me to believe that the track was by SebastiAn of Ed Banger, and I instantly loved the track. In fact it’s probably one of my favorite songs of all time so far. Later while I was playing GTAIV I overheard the track on my favorite station (the Electro one), and was like “OMG, MY FAV SONG!”, and then after using ZIT I found out that it was, in fact, Boys Noize. So I checked out their album and they’ve got a real rockin electro sound that I love. It reminds me of Justice with more of a ravish appeal. Anyhoo, check em out.
This last weekend I took part in the third ever Toronto Indie Game Jam, that coincidentally spaned across 3 days, AKA TOJam #3. On arrival I quickly realized that my apparent lack of plannering had landed me with a laptop, borrowed to me (by a very kind and generous individual), was not quite up to par with my expectations and left me kind of scrambling. It’s not that the laptop was a bad machine, it was just a little aged and slow and lacked the ability to install the software I needed to create my game (Flash/AS2, and Photoshop). As well, I had no mouse, only one of those funny little laptop keyboard nubs. So Friday was kind of a write-off which was a bit daunting to say the least. However due to some quick thinking and some craftyness I managed to get my old Dell desktop to the event, which despite it’s age (probably about 6-7 years old now) it still manages to hold it’s own with basic software such as Flash. I had a lot of fun observing the other teams, which was also a little daunting since I wasn’t able to put together a “team” in time. The venue was pretty cool and kind of fit the whole idea of “indie” very well. I think it must of been some sort of abandoned factory; not sure because I hadn’t done any research on the location, I just knew how to get there. I went as a “one-man-show”, but it was nice to socialize and observe the kinds of languages and games others were designing and developing. I showed up a little late and was almost listed as a cancellation so I had no real official name card and ended up in the smaller, less aesthetic of the two rooms, which was fine with me really. I do have to say however, 30 machines running in unison can make for a pretty toasty oven of work-place which made my wardrobe choice of a thin t-shirt quite suitable. After some brief socializing I went straight into my game development mode which got to the point of nearly obsessive. I soon noticed that after 2 days I hadn’t really eaten much food since I wanted to spare no time in getting my idea up and running. While most teams had maybe a programmer, a graphics guy, a guy to handle a bit of both and sound, etc. I was self-endowed with the wide array of all these tasks (to be fair, I had help from a sound floater, a graphics floater, even though I didn’t actually use either assets in my game, and a very helpful guy named Paul.) So my idea was Moon Cheese Money. A treacherous and humorous game where you, the main character Johnson, is sent to the moon by a silly and inuendo-filled 1950’s era dialogue, to mine precious moon cheese to help save America’s perilous economy. Johnson soon finds he’s joined by the evil commies who plan to steal his precious moon cheese, leaving his country in disarray. So I kind of poked fun at some old political jokes I guess. While many people were knee deep in code and game mechanics I tried to spend a generous amount of time playing around with story elements, and cute game-play quirks, while keeping my game simple enough that I didn’t drown in my own technical problems. Basically, you circle around the moon, find craters, blow them up with dynamite, collect the cheese, give the cheese to the little man in the rocketship that lands periodically, and avoid the commies who steal your cheese and your Johnsons (another word for “lives”) and thus make your president a very unhappy president. I’m known to be a very ambitious artist/designer/coder often overshooting my abilities with wild ideas. This idea was seemingly too difficult at first, but I found ways to dance around my programming shortcomings to find ways to kind of “fake” a lot of things that would have required a serious amount of mathematics and algorithmic jargon. I’m definately not a toned mathlete so I tried to stick to methods that I would be familiar with. After all, I’m more of a creative thinker versus a more sophisticated logically minded techie. Or maybe it’s better to say I’m a bit of a blend since I love playing with Actionscript code, but I would never feel at home with ONLY code and restricted creative input. Anyhow, I ran into some problems with collision detection and my fun little message box (the president’s head pops up to offer fun filled advice and notices during runtime). With some help I managed to get over those obstacles and I think my game really turned out to be what I had hoped. There were obviously some things I had to cut corners with due to the time restraints but it looked like people really enjoyed the humor of my game, even though there were some bugs here and there in the gameplay. I would be interested to play test the thing some more and come out with a more polished game later down the road. I should mention a few of my favorite games. I can’t remember the names now, but I remember having fun with a game where you squash bugs with your keyboard. It had such a fresh tactile game mechanic that I’d never seen before in a game, and turned out to be really fun/addictive, so kudos to the team who came up with that one. I also really enjoyed a sea monster game, where you eat little people of little ships with a serpant sea monster avatar. I loved the quick point and click tongue flick gameplay, also a joy and quite addictive. I think the best game design in this challenge came from those who were able to find interesting ways to interact with their games, or a gameplay mechanic that has been previously unexplored in the industry, or previously unheard of. I also appreciated a game where you use drumsticks and an electronic drumpad controller to move your character onscreen; another great example of a tactile gameplay mechanic that was creatively employed. I had fun with all the games, however, and it was really neat to see how many variations people came up with, on this year’s theme. Good job to everyone reading this, who attended and designed/developed! Anyhoo, that’s my little rundown of the event. I’ll look forward to attending next year! Thanks to the organizers who made such a neat event! I can’t post my game just yet due to TOJam rules, but stay tuned for when it will probably be uploaded along with all the other games to the TOJam site. I will try to upload some photos I took at the event soon. Stay tuned for updates.