Asteroid BattleGrounds: Game Jam Orlando

3 years ago

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My first Game Jam

  If you have never heard of a game jam it is where you create a game over a weekend. The first day you pitch your idea and gather a group, then begin on your game. The next two days you work on it and finally show it to judges and anyone else who walks up and is interested. While a relatively short experience I loved it. There is always a theme for the games to follow, this one was space and bonus if you could make a game which can be used on a dome ampitheater projector.

  At the start everyone pitched their games in a theather and wrote up a summary on a large roll of paper. There was several games pitched and the presenter would say what was needed to make the project a reality. For example a presenter said that they had an idea for a lunar racing game and they needed an artist for designing textures. Typically the games were made in Unity. Then once those with ideas pitched, the posters were hung in a hallway outside.

  Then everyone who did not pitch would be led out to join a group. Here you were asked what role you wanted to go under, be it an artist, or a programmer, or even a business role. I believe idea being that if you wanted you could continue with the team go one to create something bigger. I joined a group of three people presented by a guy named Vince. His idea was for an asteroids game but entirely within a browser. Asteroids is a classic and very simple, he wanted to add multiplayer and abilities to make it more interesting. The team had two full-stack developers and a artist for music. I think the composition of the team was already solid and the game seemed like a fun project. So, I joined the team. We quickly got setup in a room with a couple tables and power strips. The game was going to be built off of NodeJS and deployed onto Firebase. We used a framework called Phaser for building the game. There was too little time to get all the features we wanted but the game had basic functionality and all the needed art. There were asteroids, music, and a menu which could have multiple clients. The team got caught up in issues with syncing the server with the clients but given more time we could of gotten all features down.

Original Music

  By the end we had built something fun and it was great sharing the game to others. I especially loved after time was called going to other groups and asking to play their game. The game about lunar rover racing was there and they built it with custom hardware. There was moon gravity which made the game challenging.

  Hit a rock angled like a ramp and go flying in low gravity into a ditch as your competitor zooms past you. In Unity there is a plugin which enables the dome ampitheather camera which allowed them to pass the bonus requirements.

  I was very impressed with this project but they were not even the group which won first place. That was another group who built a game similar to Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Except this was developed to be played in VR. If you have never heard of this game it is basically a two person team game. One person is defusing a bomb and another has the instructions. The key is to communicate quickly and accurately to each other. If you are not on the same wavelength you will lose this game. The difference is in this game developed, the person defusing is within a VR space. They interact with the bomb within this environment and this adds to the immersive tension in the game. I have played the game this was inspired from and think they are well deserving of the prize as this ended up being a compelling game.

  Another game which went in an entirely different direction was a music game. You are shown the solar system and clicking on each planet gives you a new sound. A bar is swinging around the Sun and once it goes over a planet's ring on the activated spot a musical instrument is played.
There is no set goal or endstate, the game just creates music based on what planets you activate and what positon for that planet. You can add mulitple positions for each planet's orbit. The positions are setup like a clock. An outter planet like Neptune had a bass kick. I clicked on the 12, 3, 6, 9 o'clock positions and there was a bass kick every quarter note of a bar. Then I added a Saturn snare, an Electric Earth guitar and more drums. The game was not only pleasing to listen to but was visually relaxing. I was amazed at the level of creativity involved in these games. A couple groups were completely new to game design yet ended up with full playable games at the end. There really was a great sense of community and excitement at the event.

  I think next time I go, I would like to study Unity more and try to pitch a game. The great thing is how little is needed to commit, only a single weekend and you can have an experience you will remember for years to come. If you would like to see my game you can go through the intro + menu here. Unfortunately you will not be able to enter into a game at this time. Stay tuned I might get this one fixed and redeployed. Code can be seen here:

Thanks for reading 👍