Scottish Game Jam 2011 – All Good Things
As always in events like this we came to the crunch. Sixteen teams trying to make the grade of having something tangible for the judges to play. In the main they managed it too – with all the team’s presentations being gratefully received by the amassed audience.
We would be remiss if we did not mention the individual efforts of each team and so, in no particular order, I’ll give you a run down and overview of what we saw or played.
If any of the teams want to take some time to polish their games so SquareGo can review them then we’re happy to.
What’s worse than learning that you’re going to be made extinct? Not being able to do anything about it and so Dippy Dino has evolved an opposable thumb and a rock launcher and is going to kill as many of his brethren as possible before the meteor comes.
Lovely looking game with a good control system as Dippy Dino took apart his cute dinosaur pals. Unfortunately, there was only part of one level on show when more would be more welcome.
Worried about your natural habitat being eaten by your enemies? The chinchilla in Chinthriller is and so, taking a mean streak, it decides to eat its way through the opposition and get some tasty snacks along the way.
Chinthrilla was a nice game with a unique style and wonderful ending. Controls were good in general and the rewards for quick continuous kills were fun.
Extinction was the key word and Achterhuis looked at Nazi Germany’s final solution. An 8-bit adventure taking you through the horror of the worst atrocities of the war was a bold subject and which needed to be realised with care and poignancy.
Luckily, the team managed to do this taking advice from judges shown by a copy of Maus appearing during the development of the game. The true oppression and starkness of the Jewish world under the Nazi occupation was well realised.
Resources are at a minimum in Countdown to Extinction and even though the final outcome is bound to be death, you can stay this by carefully balancing your needs against what is required. Will you survive the longest?
From the early stages of mathematically calculating resources, this team seemed to have a huge project to complete but as the final hours came to pass it was a pleasure to see it come together with excellent art from the busiest member of the team.
In a world devoid of colour, and losing its life due to this, comes an Earth spirit. You are tasked with saving the world from extinction by reigniting the colour and therefore saving the Earth in this 3D adventure.
An exceptional idea was lost in some control issues and no sense of urgency. The team had, however, created a vast 3D world to explore and with a little work Spectrum could easily become enjoyable for many.
As the world goes to pot all man can do is run. Run, jump and shoot his way through the growing apocalypse. A steady and quick hand is needed to shoot the potential threats from around you but in the end; extinction calls.
Developing more than one version, so they could test their ideas, kept this game fresh and impressive, with that early addictive property. Some minor balance issues and an increase in the monsters for a final release, please.
Last Days of Gibley
Cute fluffy little creatures are rushing to their survival. Time to set some traps and let the critters die! Why do you hate them so much? Because they’re cute, crunchy and you get a better score when you kill them more viciously.
Anti-Lemmings never quite came to pass and gorgeous art and sound assets were a little wasted as the team had failed to get a physics engine to work to their needs, delaying production.
Fearing your natural predators is all well and good but it would be better to have a Commandodo to protect you. In the attempts to breed one, you need to adhere to the fact that only the fittest and best should be the ones to survive.
Great idea and almost realised by the time they reached the end. Commandodo had the opportunity to be finer if the team had just concentrated on something a wee bit simpler; looked good though.
Noah: This time I’ll get ‘em all
Two players go about trying to save the animals. Yes, Noah did two by two but in this game they should be male and female too or the species will die out. Using augmented reality, two players use a camera and paddles to guide the animals.
Unfortunately, this technically brilliant game needed some of its edges smoothed to be more addictive. We could definitely see the potential as you tried to steer the animals to their home and it was another fine looking game.
Everlasting Signal [Play Game]
Analogue fights digital in a ding-dong battle for survival. As the digital items race across your video screen you try and hit them with the right analogue frequency to destroy them before their introduction wipes out your technology – forever!
The concept was a couple of the judge’s early favourites but by the stark light of the end of the day there were a few teething problems the team hadn’t got round. A little tweaking though and it will be ready to go.
Left 4 Dodo
The fight between Dinosaurs and Dodos comes to life as a bruiser of a dodo fights off dinosaurs who are chasing their chicks. It’s enough to make Darwin turn in his grave and with some special attacks to help you out – it’s time to get boxing.
Another game that needed a little tidy, the 3D models and controls were really wonderful. The flocking of the chicks and numbers of dinosaurs kept the game balance good and it was enough to make Darwin turn in his grave.
Animals need a balanced ecosystem to survive and Mor(t)ality gifts you the powers of a God, bringing natural disasters to maintain a balance of the animals at hand. Predators feed on herbivores and other predators in a complex eco system.
The team had bitten off more than they could chew as shown by a white board strewn with ideas. The main concept behind the game was exceptional though and the mostly unseen art assets created were lovely. A shame!
On a planet one man and one creature go to war. The burrowing worm and man can only fight when they can see each other. This desperate battle can have only one survivor, one winner. One!
Slow in development, One was another two player game which controlled well but had some game-play issues. Engaging in combat kept the players entertained and this is another game that, with a few touches, could be really engaging.
Escaping an oil spill that is destroying your natural habitat, Shoal allowed you to take your fish to meet others, and hopefully a potential mate, in order to continue your species. With some differing moves to avoid obstacles your fishy friends should be saved.
A gorgeous looking game was slightly marred by being a little slow and having a control system that wasn’t as intuitive as it could have been. The glyphs to perform special actions were great and a final version with more levels would be wonderful.
For Flock’s Sake
Cute little birds have lost their way and need to find water. Your ghostly figure both attracts them and guides them to the water fountain in the centre of the garden. Once there, the birds stay happily refreshed until the happy ending.
Two games got great crowd reaction and For Flock’s Sake was one. Another game where controls went a little south, the look and flocking action were a joy to behold and the ending was really astute and fun. Turn the music up!
A tiny polar bear pup’s mother has been killed by hunters and it has to make its way across the ice flows in a quest for survival. Perhaps not just survival but possibly, just possibly, other bears to bond with.
Pup got the largest crowd reaction, something the team had really tried to achieve, but, unfortunately, because the function to control the pup with sound was not fully realised, it was a simple platformer with some excellent narrative.
All good things must eventually come to an end and, as the excellent and rather tired Scottish Game Jam organiser, Romana Khan, unfortunately has to leave before the event closes we thought it was time to catch up.
This year’s Scottish Game Jam has been a roaring success: More teams and all of them looking like they will have a completed product to roll when the judging begins. We asked Romana what she thought the secret to this improvement was.
She told us, “There are lots of familiar faces this year. They took part this year, and the year before, and they’ve learned from previous experiences and approached this year quite differently. Balanced teams have also made a difference. We have more artists now and we have the right mix of people in each team, which has helped.”
“Having said that a lot of people here come with experience as well and putting all that together shines through and shows why we don’t have so many stressed faces.”
The tension was certainly lower than the previous year and it made us start to consider what 2012 would hold.
Romana laughed, “I’m looking forward to this year finishing and we’ll start planning for next year come August time. Based on this year’s success I’m sure that next year is going to be even bigger and ten times better.”
A message for our sponsors and friends
We have little doubt that she is right and Romana asked if she could mention the sponsors and judges, a valuable part to the Scottish Game Jams success:
“This year we have had lots of fantastic people helping us from behind the scenes, although they haven’t been here physically, they have made a lot of the sponsors take notice of Scottish Game Jam. We have Chunk.Games, Stew Hogarth has been down and talking to the teams. indiePub are part of Zoo entertainment, they’ve provided us with lots of fabulous prizes and Steven White who helped put me in touch with them.”
Ruffian Games, Gaz Liddon is judging and Ludometrics, Dave Thomson did a lot of things for us and made things happen and for that I am very, very grateful. Nokia have been brilliant, providing fabulous prizes and also feeding the hungry masses. Judges Simon Lumb, from the BBC, Liam Wong, from Crytek, also Fraser and Gordon Lamont from Fragor Games. Play 2 Improve who brought FPS Trainer and Glasgow Caledonian University for the fantastic facilities. Last, but by no means least, yourself and the SquareGo team who have provided outstanding support.”
We thank Romana for inviting us and will be back next year to cover the Scottish Game Jam and support the teams in their quest to develop a game in 48 hours.