Sunday, 31 January 2010

Spy Wear - Jammers Choice, Global Game Jam Sydney 2010

Here's a screenshot of our finished product :)

It's a four player top down game called "Spy Wear". I am amazingly proud to announce that we won the "Jammers' Choice" award, as voted by everyone else who took part in the Jam!

In Spy Wear, you play as one of 4 spies (it's multiplayer over a network for up to 4 people) in a city sometime in the Cold War. Moving is very simple, you just stay on the footpath and have the ability to enter any of the buildings you go past. Over time, you are assigned missions to go and visit different places in the city. Everyone else is likewise given missions to visit other places.

The key to the gameplay, however, is that of all the people walking around . . . you have no idea who the other spies are. Everyone just sticks to the footpath . . . maybe they'll go into a building . . . but you have no sure way to know whether someone else is a spy unless you kill them . . . and if you kill someone who's not a spy, everyone else gets to see either a photo of you or where your mission target is.

It has this wonderful balance between risk/reward of attacking people . . . then fight/flight . . . do you keep going after missions, or do you assume that someone's after you and start laying traps and changing clothes often. Wait, changing clothes . . . what if the clothes shop is trapped by someone else? We're seeing a lot of really interesting emergent behaviours coming out of such a simple little game . . . factors driven purely by psychology or the cognitive load involved in trying to remember what everyone last looked like and where they might be going . . .

Overall, I'm amazingly happy with the weekend and what we achieved. Our team was: Joseph Gentle, Jeremy Apthorp, Marc Chee, James Carlton, Aevar Bjarnasson, Sam Maniscalco (purely in order of where we were sitting at the time I wrote our readme :P Thanks heaps guys . . . and I look forward to working with you again soon :)

We'll also be publishing the game soon (once it stops crashing :P) for all to play and to show what indie game developers are capable of pulling off in a 48 hour period :) For those of you who aren't scared of installing Python and some packages, we've got some raw files available here.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

First night at the Game Jam

It's 3am on the first night at the Jam. I'm thinking of getting 2 or 3 hour's sleep. Here's a look at our design documents. It's kinda funny . . . we spent the first 2 hours with a plan . . . then somewhere along the way it fell apart and we realised that the plan had fatal flaws that were going to completely kill our ability to make it into a game. So these design documents were left behind.

That's ok though . . . James came back from the bathroom with a brainstorm and we were all on. We've got a bunch of art assets in the pipeline, the coders are working on the engine and some networking . . . I've got most of our sound effects ready and have written a "game logic" document specifying exactly what behaviours can/will happen given certain situations. We're looking ok for the next day or so . . . hopefully we'll have something marginally functioning tomorrow night and we can do some play testing and polishing over the night and submit it on Sunday around midday (our deadline is 1pm).

It's a really awesome environment here. Everyone's really friendly and it feels like a genuinely cooperative place where everyone's helping each other out where possible. We were a little apprehensive when security referred to us as being "in lockdown" but it doesn't seem to be that harsh in reality. Anyways, it's time to catch a few zzzzzzzzzs and then I'll be back into it later.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Jury Duty

It's on Monday . . . I'm so excited.

People have been giving me weird looks when I say I'm excited about jury duty. Most people see it as something that's boring and a chore that no one would want to do. Maybe I've seen one too many courtroom dramas and I've psyched myself up for a grand show with Judge Judy vs some exhibitionist lawyers (I used to do Law Revue at UNSW, so pretty much the only law students I ever met were exhibitionists).

Either way, I think it would be interesting for the first day to go into an ostentatious court room and see the way a court of law works . . . maybe after the first week I won't be as happy about it. Still I've got my ticket to Rome which says I can't serve on the jury for more than two weeks, so at least there's a limit to my commitment.

I'll post my first impressions after Monday.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Global Game Jam

The Global Game Jam is a crazy event where a bunch of amateur (at least most of us are amateur) game developers get thrown in a room together for 48 hours with some computers and the seed of an idea.

I'm already tired just thinking about it. It starts tomorrow just after work and goes non stop until Sunday afternoon. Then again, no matter how tired I expect to be and how crazy the concept is, it's still going to be fun. I've had little game/story ideas bouncing around in my head for years now and it'd be nice for at least a part of one to see the light of day.

More news on this as the weekend progresses . . . Until then, some links:
Game Jam Sydney 2010
Global Game Jam

First Post

Opening up proceedings for the first time.

I guess there are a lot of things I want to talk about . . . technological hurdles, interesting games, a little Australian politics and just general getting around and doing things. Let's start with where I am right now . . .

I work for iCinema. Primarily I fiddle with high end stereoscopic projection techniques (yeah, the same ones you use to watch Avatar :P) and I've also been doing research recently into surround audio techniques (Ambisonics vs dynamic panning . . . This is something I want to dedicate a post to later). Every time I come across something interesting at work that's usually out of the reach of us lowly computer consumers, I'll make sure I post some info.

I play a lot of computer games. My World of Warcraft subscription ran out a few days ago, so the plural in games is significant :P I've got a list of games from last year I haven't finished and upcoming things I'm interested in . . . I'll be posting short reviews and opinions on games as I play them. This weekend I'm taking part in the Global Game Jam . . . so we'll see how well/badly I do in a 48 hour no sleep game dev challenge.

I'm a bass player . . . our band is called Asi, and it's a crazy ride into Indian influenced electronic music with rock . . . accompanied by live art. We're on a hiatus at the moment while our tabla player is in India honing his art, but we're planning on rewriting most of the album this year.

I occasionally work as a production/stage manager for a couple of small theatre groups around Sydney. Not much on the horizon at the moment, but when something comes up, some info will magically appear in this space.

I like History and Politics . . . I can't say I know that much about either, especially in comparison to my technological research, but every now and then something will come up that interests me, so it will appear here also.

I think that's enough of an introduction. From here on, we'll get into the meat of things . . .