Global Game Jam – Jammed Out!

Good day!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was planning to take part in Global Game Jam… and I did! I didn’t submit a game but I totally participated.

The theme was What do we do now? and I was a big fan. It immediately filled my imagination with post-disaster scenarios (of all shapes and sizes) as well as rule changes and cooperation/competition in a multiplayer environment. Love it.

My game was basically Tenya Wanya Teens on a regular controller, for 4 people.


It differed from TWT in that your un-needed actions could generally affect the arena helping you to perform the necessary actions. The actions themselves were supposed to be a little more complex than those in TWT. My ‘Fart’ action involved you farting outside the radius of other players to avoid being discovered, it would also leave a little gas cloud that would disable other players that ran into it. The ‘Collect’ action involved picking up Gold from Mines that spawned in the arena and depositing them in the bank. The ‘Destroy’ action involves using dynamite to blow up Aliens in Nodes that spawned in the arena. As you can see, the interaction between actions even when the arena is not explicitly asking for them is the dynamic play in my game.





Unfortunately the game became massive very quickly. I rapidly built all the interactions, which were working great, but hit a large snag when it came to integrating animations and art assets. I’ve never used animation in Game Maker before, so it took a lot of effort and hitting my head against a wall to figure out.

I could have done it. But I didn’t.

After three Ludum Dares, Asylum Jam, and my own development over the last 6-8 months… I’m just jammed out! I definitely didn’t come into the GGJ with the right mentality, choosing to work alone so I could make something wanted to make, rather than work with others in a more collaborative way. It’s the pain of being a Game Designer at a Game Jam. Your usual role on teams is to make work for others, which is ok if you’re solo or in a company. At a Game Jam though, no-one is there to be a tool that a designer can use… everyone is a designer in a Game Jam.

Combining the massive workload, lack of motivation, and a general preference for Ludum Dare’s more underground, peer reviewed, and less flashy format, I just decided “You know what? I don’t want to kill myself to finish this game”. So I didn’t.

Above is basically the only thing worth sharing from the jam, apart from the idea itself which I think was fun. I made my first ever Pixel Art! It’s an awkward little dude who is supposed to run around punching people, farting, dancing, dying, being caught in a net, being farted on etc. I only got 3 of them done.


Next time I’ll have an update for you on Bard Life, as I’ve got 2 whole days to work on it coming up!


End of Year Update! Ember Conflict, Ludum Dare & Virtu

Hey all!

It’s been ages since my last post because I’ve been on holiday… and very busy.

The Ember Conflict is going well and we’re due to release soon, so we’re in super polish mode. If you want some regular updates to the game, click the image below to go to our Twitter.



I also took part in Ludum Dare 31, my 3rd Ludum Dare entry. Overall it’s by far my best entry into the competition, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. My final score was…

#53 Humor 3.72
#99 Mood 3.61
#121 Fun 3.67
#133 Innovation 3.85
#141 Audio 3.46
#169 Overall 3.65

Here it is if you want to give it a spin (click the image)




I absolutely adore taking part in Ludum Dare and I’m very happy with having a better score than last time (Outdoor was flawed to say the least!). However there’s a lot of room for improvement next time. I have three goals with the next Ludum Dare…

  • Break the top 100 Overall
  • Get a 4 rating in a category
  • Create a narrative experience

I’ve entered 3 of these things now and have yet to break into the top 100. Even though Silian Rail is my most complete and fun game, it has a lot of issues I should have ironed out and could have if I’d learnt the code before. Collision logic was my downfall this time.

A 4 rating is tough to achieve but it’s a sign that I’ve excelled in something. As you can see from the results, I was at #53 with only a 3.72 rating for Humor. Breaking the 4 rating in a category will make me feel that I did a superb job, even if I don’t break the overall top 100.

Finally the narrative experience. Narrative in games is a touchy subject for me. I’m not a great writer and I’ve not been a fan of many game stories in recent times, preferring the user generated narratives of games like Crusader Kings II and Civilization. However I still feel that it’s something that could teach me a lot about what is truly engaging for players. I personally tackle game development as pure systems design but, as I saw with Lullaby, the best reaction I’ve had to a game has been from an immersive hand-crafted linear system. Systemic complexity and flexibility isn’t the only way to create a worthwhile experience.

Eternal Struggle has been on hiatus since around October time and I’ll be getting back to it probably by the end of February at the latest. Despite going for a smaller scope, it has got a ton of systems work for me to build and real life is a serious impediment to development at the moment. Don’t worry though, it’s still in the works

Bard Life is a new project I’ve started that has been partly inspired by an eye opening experience into Idle Games.


One of my fellow Beijing based developers, Tobias Baumann, entered Ludum Dare with Cube Clicker. Cube Clicker is an idle game, where you click a cube and see the numbers go up… investing in various upgrades to unlock higher rates of numbery goodness. It’s definitely not my cup of tea, but after watching the following Extra Credits episode and seeing the reaction to Cube Clicker… I’ve decided to do a quick side project to see if I can make an Idle Game. Systemically it’s extremely simple and should be a breeze to build, so I’ll be working on that for the next few dev days I get before heading back to Eternal Struggle.

Bard Life is a game about being a fantasy bard. You travel the world discovering new towns and songs while gaining fame and fortune. Over time you will unlock new features and mechanics that explain more of the world and increase the complexity. It definitely won’t be pretty, I just want it feature complete with programmer art, but I’ll have it up here as soon as I can.

The next update from me will probably be about the Global Game Jam which I’m taking part in at the Beijing site. It’s my first GGJ and will be an interesting experience compared to the solo jamming of Ludum Dare.

Happy 2015 everyone!