Setting sail today (sorry) - full Steam ahead (sorry, again...) I've been working on this one with Evil Twin Artworks for the past year and a bit. Victory at Sea, based on the table-top wargame by Mongoose Publishing, is a naval real time strategy game set during World War II.
You start as a destroyer Captain in the open world Pacific, Mediterranean or Atlantic campaigns and can sail around choosing where and when to fight, building up your fleet, gaining ranks in the field and capturing enemy ports to help win the war.
There's also a historical battle mode where you can re-play some of the important historical naval battles of the period and a custom skirmish mode where you can have a quick random battle, or choose the size and composition of the fleets to answer any pressing "what if?" scenarios (like "What if the Yamato had actually got into a proper fight?").
Standing at the booth for 9 hours a day for three days talking to people about the game was both exhausting and exhilirating. Time never went by so fast.
The B Team Podcast have put up an interview with Laurent where you can see the game playing in the background (on the huge TV on the stand, unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to fit it into my carry on baggage or I'd be playing on that at home now ;))
So, I've been doing the programming for a game for Elefantopia called McDROID. Somewhat hard to pin down the genre, it's sort of 3rd person shooter meets farming sim meets resource management meets tower defence. Snappy marketing-friendly one-liner description TBC :)
We're currently trying to get greenlit on Steam, so if you like what you see here your vote would be appreciated: McDROID on Greenlight.
Last Saturday was the first ever Game Hack UK a 24 hour game jam held in a gigantic television studio at Pinewood studios (where they make those little Bond films among other things) organised by TIGA and Blue Via and sponsored by many folks who you can see lovely logos and such of on the link.
Spending around 30 hours (set up, intros, team choosing, prizes etc. as well as the 24 hours of hacking) in a cavernous warehouse where you're entirely unaware of the storms raging outside (soundproofing is amazing) with 250 geeks might not be everyone's idea of an exciting weekend but I'd not have missed it for the world.
I'd originally planned on bumbling along to the jam, getting put in a random team and seeing how things would go. However, overhearing James Parker and Nick Dymond discussing a possible team over twitter I offered my programming services, subject to the team having an awesome name (the jury's still out on that...). James had also been in touch with up and coming animator Aiden Young and so Team Coderunner was born.
Photograph by Tom Vian
Always prepared, James (taking on the mantle of designer, producer and filling in the gaps) had brought with him an idea (and a simple prototype) of a game for us to enter in the mobile category. The Jam as a whole didn't have any themes or other restrictions, though some of the prize categories did. So our game was to be “An endless runner where you have to open doors before you reach them by entering codes on a touchscreen controller, also, you’re clattering down a corridor escaping from the unseen horrors behind you”, which we all agreed sounded like good fun. With only 23 and a bit hours left on the clock, work began in earnest.
At this point I'll ask you to imagine the training-montage of concentration on c-sharp coding, rapid modelling and tweaking of animations, headphones-on-head-down concentration on the music and big bits of paper with lists. Splice that with much drinking of caffeinated beverages (there was a lot of red bull on offer though I kept myself to the fruit juice, diet coke and coffee...), eyes getting redder and redder and everyone getting ever so slightly more cranky....
Somehow in the middle of all this I managed to sneak 5 hours comatose on a beanbag (as per title, I am weak). I wake up to not only a hot dog and a cup of coffee but also a raft of new animations and sound to integrate as well as a name for the game: "No Turning Back".
All too soon coding time is up, lunch is served and then all the teams are demonstrating their games. Some absolutely stunning stuff is demoed, from Lightwood Games' incredible multi-screen bubble popping game, Super Flash Brothers' multi-player iOS game Monkey King's Spiritual Swing, an amazing procedurally generated aquarium, a kinect-powered bee-piloting game, cute endless running robots, to the social-media-enabled You Are Mash, Blitz games Pant!One panic! and a genius bullet-hell "Chasebook" game ending with a giant Zuckerberg head gobbing spirals of killer profile pictures. This is just a handful of the entries - there were so many other cool games and game concepts (some were just a bit too big to fit in 24 hours) the amount of ingenuity and talent on display was amazing.
As the "best use of mobile" (the category we had gone for) went quite rightly to Lightwood games we sat down to clap the rest of the category winners only to suddenly hear the name "Team Coderunner" called out - we'd won the TIGA "Most Awesome Game Award". Go team!
There's no public version of the game yet (so you can't yet see if you agree with the judges) but with a vote of confidence like that we'd be daft not to do something with it - so watch this space...
For my part I'd like to say thanks to my fellow team members, to everyone involved in organising the jam and the sponsors who helped make it happen. I had a great time, we were all very well looked after and I can't wait for the next one.
One of his friends is the curator of Cubitt Art Gallery who run a project called "Everybody Draw" where they visit primary schools with big sheets of paper and get everyone to draw on them. You can see some examples on the Everybody Draw blog.
For the game jam, we were tasked with making games from the output of the most recent Everybody Draw - ideally age-appropriate for the 5-7 year olds so they could play the games that were produced.
After sorting through the huge number of scanned images I decided I'd try an old Golden-Axe style side scrolling "beat-em-up" but as it's for kids it's less about hitting things and more about ice cream. (One has to try to be positive).
The attacking aliens theme came about from the wonderful Lovecraftian alien-with-a-hundred-eyes. It's a shame I wasn't able to make the second day or I'd have put some more effort into the animations (make that train move across the background, and there's so much scope to animate the many-eyed-alien....). I might try and polish it up a little at a later date.
Now these games should manage to entertain a few children, but hopefully also on seeing their drawings turned into games it might just inspire some to give it a go themselves. Consoles and modern PCs don't lend themselves quite so quickly to making your own games as the Spectrum or BBC micro might once have (bring back magazines with game code to type in, eh? ;)) but with the proliferation of game making frameworks there's no reason these kids shouldn't be able to make their own.