About Rakethopp

This is my personal site about interaction design in general and game design in particular.

However, it's terribly out of date! Expect a revamp very soon (as of the fall of 2014).

Jacob Michelsen

@Jickelsen on Twitter
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Entries in Köpenhamn (2)

Nordic Game Jam 2011 recap

Another post in English in case fellow jammers want to read this :) But first a qiuck update:

This post is far overdue but the application for the masters in Interaction Design is kicking my ass. The exam process in the human-computer interaction course, which is a prerequisite for Interaction Design, has turned into something utterly bizarre and I've had to spend far too much time stuck in bureaucratic processes. But that is just about over now, for better or worse.

I also got a go-ahead of our current team structure for the Swedish Game Awards entry, which means that project can finally gain some momentum again. I've also had the pleasure to welcome Shaw to the team as 2D pixel artist!

Copenhagen IT University. Games being created everywhere!

Last time I wrote I was on my way to Nordic Game Jam in Copenhagen, and it was absolutely the most fun thing I've done in this game making business so far. I got into a great team of fellow game afficiandos and together we managed to bring about a fully playable game. Not just that; we made it to the finals, meaning we were in the top 10 of the ~60 games at the event! Presenting in front of 300 people while simultaneously playing the game, avoiding the worst bugs, was an interesting experience!

I also got to Swedish indie game devs Nifflas and Cactus. Nifflas presentation on the novel techniques he uses to make his games was one of the most interesting things at the Jam.

So, how did we make our game?

From the left: Martin, Elvis, Nicolaj, Thorbjörn (top), Malthe, Jonas, David

The CornPushers team

Gameplay: Jacob, Thorbjørn, David

3D Art: Jonas, Martin, Thorbjørn

Audio: Nicolaj

Programming: Malthe, Elvis, Nicolaj

Project management: Jacob, David

Tools we used

Unity, 3DS Max, Photoshop

What I'm most proud of is that we really managed to hit the ground running. Me, Thorbjørn and David worked really well together when it came to brainstorming game concepts, and within the hour we had eight concepts around the theme of Extinction. We pitched these to the rest of the group, who in the meantime had set up their tools and gotten to know each other better. In the end we chose an idea I had originally proposed, and we hammered out the details together. Us gameplay designers ran out of energy pretty early in the night, but early next morning we had a working 2D prototype and shortly after that we had gone full throttle for the idea and soon had a working 3D prototype.

Thorbjörn pitches one of our ideas to the team

The colored Post-it notes I brought along came in handy as I tried to keep track of our progress. It actually went pretty well though I wish I would've had more experience in Unity so I chould have gotten my hands dirty and helped out more with it.

The planning board

Our design approach was iterative so we could be sure to have at least something to shove out the door if we got stuck.

The first iteration featured a rolling player character chased by small minions in a 3D-environment. The player would grow when near the minions, who would shink and die if the player was near them for too long. Rolling them over would also kill them. The player could move to a glowing aura to deposit the "love" sucked out from the minions for points, which would reset player and minion size but make them go faster.

 

The second iteration, which we started work on at Saturday afternoon, tweaked the behavior of the following minions to make the less likely to clump together, but also introduced the score bar. The collected love from the minions would gradually fill up a bar at the bottom of the screen, showing how much of the total love from all minions that had been collected. This could either be cashed in at the glowing aura, or by pressing a button used to either freeze all minions in place for a while or spawn an extra minion, depending on how full the bar was.

The score bar took longer than expected to implement and the programmers worked through the night. We didn't have time for the third iteration, which would have introduced traps and level obstacles. We hardly had time for any gameplay tweaking either, so the game as it stands now isn't too exciting or challenging. However, for a 48 hour game I think we did really well. You can download the game on the GGJ entry page. Here's a video of an earlier version in action!

We're thinking of turning it into an iPhone/Android game, which is easy with Unity. The rolling ball concept would probably work great with accelerometer steering.

Thanks to everyone in Team CornPushers for being AWESOME and the planners and volunteers at NGJ for helping to create such a great event. I'll come back next year, that's for sure!

Here's a bunch of videos from the other amazing Nordic Game Jam Games.

Omstruktureringar i teamet för SGA-bidraget. Ojdå!

För ett par veckor sedan lovade jag att visa upp något nytt från spelprojektet. Tyvärr fick vi lite käppar i hjulen.

Jag vet inte om de ändrat reglerna till i år eller om jag helt enkelt missade det, men ett krav för att vara med i Swedish Game Awards är att minst 50% av lagmedlemmarna pluggar på något svenskt utbildningsprogram. Fram till denna vecka var vi noll i teamet som gjorde det! Den senaste veckan har vi behövt ta ställning till om vi ens ska fortsätta. Det verkar dock inte vara så många andra tävlingar som denna, och vi är väldigt sugna på att fortsätta jobba med idén vi har och vara med i en tävling.

Tur i oturen är att vi är i slutet av planeringsfasen och har gjort mycket av grundarbetet, men kan absolut ta in mer folk nu och låta dem komma med feedback och idéer för gameplayet. En polare, Shaw, vill vara med och tackla en del av in-game-grafiken, men vi letar fortfarande någon som kan göra musik. Till sist vore det bra med någon med lite mer programmeringsvana, men den posten är inte helt bestämd ännu. Tyvärr kan inte Stina vara med längre, men med jag, Leon, Sandra, Shaw och två till blir vi totalt sex i teamet, vilket är fler än jag först tänkt men känns fortfarande rimligt. Nu gäller det bara att försöka träffa fler spelintresserade studenter...

 

Tack vare miraklet Twitter och dess öppna konversationer blev jag i söndags uppmärksammad på att Nordic Game Jam går av stapeln i Köpenhamn nu i helgen. Folk som älskar att skapa spel samlas och teamar ihop sig, för att under 48 timmar pressa fram bidrag till finalen på söndagen. Det här är en tävling som äger rum på flera platser runt om i världen på detta datum. Interaktionsdesign på Chalmers kör en egen Jam! Känns mer och mer som jag valt helt rätt att söka dit :D.

Självklart ska jag vara med! Jag åker ner redan på torsdag för att inte missa förfesten, opening party. Bara en sån sak som att en av mina favoritspelskapare på den svenska indiescenen Nifflas ska vara DJ är anledning nog att åka. Förhoppningsvis lyckas jag hitta något schysst vandrarhem i Köpenhamn, jag lär behöva en god natts sömn innan game jam drar igång...

 

Innan dess ska jag iallafall hinna skriva lite mer om spelprojektet. Jag har använt Google Docs ritverktyg för att planera upp gameplayet och banorna, och vill gärna visa lite hur det går till.