Bacon and Games

Category: Game Design (page 1 of 9)

What Do We Do Now – A Global Game Jam 2015 Postmortem

I’ve resolved to create more in 2015, which is a decidedly unoriginal resolution. Irony.

Nevertheless, to kick the year off I decided to participate in the 2015 Global Gam Jam, my first jam in quite some time. What follows is some things I either learned, was reminded of or simply found myself thinking about as a result of GGJ2015.

  • I’m not well suited for game jams, I have polish demons. (that’s a lowercase “p”… the ancestry of my demons is unclear)
  • I need to work harder at rapid prototyping. Games don’t need to be polished to reveal their worth. Not everything has to be perfect.
  • I chose too many mechanics for a 48 hour timeframe. A single puzzle mechanic would have been fine. I chose a series of unrelated puzzles and that was a mistake. I ended up cutting one (see title image) and still took longer than the allotted time.
  • I love to draw.
  • I love visual design, particularly the simple and honest aesthetics.
  • I love puzzles, in all forms. It’s a genre I’ve always gravitated towards as a player and should probably focus more on this as a creator. I suspect my best work will come out of a genre I’m passionate about.
  • I enjoy constraints.
  • I have ideas for a wide variety of game jams with unusual (and hopefully interesting) constraints. More on this later.
  • 2015 is off to a great start.

You can play “What Do We Do Now? here. It’s a Flash game, sorry mobile folks.

5 Types of Game Jams I’d Like To See

Game developers as a group are without a doubt some of the most creative people on the planet. And while I’m sure there are plenty of really interesting and creative game jams going on out there, the majority are carrying the same old formula of “pick a theme and binge code until the buzzer”.

We can do better… and not because I think we have to, just because I think it’d be fun to. So here are 5 game jams I’d like to see:

  1. Not My Proto Game Jam
    We all have gobs of abandoned prototypes lying around that might be dead ends for us but found gold for others. Why not get together, pass an old prototype to the person on your left and see what it sparks? I’m not suggesting we finish each others’ projects, but it would be fun to see what a seemingly hopeless proto might inspire in another.
  2. Space Jam (nope, not that Space Jam)
    spacejamI studied architecture in college and it was common for us to be asked to find a space on campus, sketch for a bit and then design something inspired by that space. Why not try the same thing with a game jam? We could start the jam off with a nice group meal and then venture out into the world for 30 minutes of inspiration. Maybe the town square looks like a tower defense game to you, maybe you see a physics puzzle game or perhaps end up focusing on a tiny detail that sparks something completely unexpected. If a picture is worth a thousand words, surely a 3D space is worth far more.
  3. Mystery Box Jam
    Picture this. Actually, that’s ambiguous. Picture what follows. Every game dev participating in the jam receives a box in the mail with a random object (or objects) inside from another participant. On the day of the jam, everybody opens their box and designs something based on what they find. A variation might be to put a card in the box with a link to your game on it and then forward the box to a new jammer when you’re done. Over time the box would become a living record of games inspired by that object.
  4. Asset Jam
    Each dev is given the same set of art assets at the start of the jam. You can distort, crop or mess with the assets however you choose but you cannot use any additional assets. Seeing how different people interpret and use the art would be very interesting, I suspect.
  5. Inversion Jam
    Take a popular game and have each developer design a game based on a perspective not of the hero. For example, maybe Tetris is the seed and you design a game that involves assembling and deploying blocks. Or Mario Kart gives rise to some sort of Carcassonne-like map building strategy game. I’ve always gotten a lot out of taking something I’ve seen a million times and trying to look at it from a completely foreign angle.

Anyway, I’ve got no discontent for the tried and true game jams but it would be fun to use our creativity to spice up our game jams and not just the games themselves. If you know of any neat jams or have ideas of your own, please leave them in the comments :)

Lazy Thief isn’t a mobile game so when people ask me about it I find myself up that creek (you know the one) without a paddle. I finally set aside some time to make a brief trailer showcasing some of Lazy Thief’s 50 puzzles. In retrospect it probably would have made more sense to publish a trailer leading up to the game, but hey, live and learn.

As you can see I’m not much a video editor, but it gets the job done. My chief goal was to keep it under 30 seconds, so mission accomplished I guess :)

If you find yourself intrigued, you can play Lazy Thief here.

Art by: Ajay Karat
Music by: Randy Heidema

Name That Scrambled NES Game

I’ve always been a fan of the little corners of the internet or App Store that put my nostalgia to the test, so this is my contribution to that part of the web. I’ve taken 100 well-known Nintendo game screenshots and scrambled them up. Can you name them all?

Play Name That Scrambled NES Game here.

NOTE: This was just a quick project so it probably doesn’t work in all browsers (maybe not at all on mobile). If you run into issues, please leave a note in the comments or just play it in Chrome :)

This is a holiday “card” I made for my clients back in 2006 (8 years ago, wow!). I made it in a single sitting, which meant pulling an all-nighter and then going from my office straight to a meeting over breakfast. In my younger days I could do that standing on my head. I’m not so sure I have that kind of stamina any more.

Still, it’s fun to look back on stuff like this. Not too shabby for a programmer, eh? :)

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