Category Archives: games

Manchester Game Jam

Hi, I’m Ewan. You may remember me from such posts as “Wow! So sorry I haven’t posted in ages” and “I should really get better at this whole blogging thing”. I spent some time away, plotting in the darkness, moving 173 miles North of London, buying a house, painting a house, and on the 7th day I rested, for 3+ months.

Anyway, that was the old me. He was a punk, a nobody, a lesser man. The new and improved letsbrock has WAAAY more clout and stays crunchy in milk.

So, to the business at hand.

Having moved further North, I was delighted to see that Manchester had laid out its wares for me and what might I find? The Manchester Games Jam – that’s what! An all weekender event set over the same weekend as Ludum Dare (some of the guys present gave Ludum a whirl, but the majority were happy enough banding together for several mini-jams/themes put on by the organisers). Interestingly enough this was their first ever event, so without much trepidation I bought admission to the event and boarded a train.

A great variety of people attended the event (held at the mostly awesome Madlab’s in the Northern Quarter), small enough to stay cosy and personal but with enough people that toward the end of the weekend there were perhaps 4 or 5 groups working on mini-projects.

The first jam was entitled “Royalty” and having been made aware of this the evening before, I spent my train ride doodling Kings and Queens of old, dreaming of capture the flag with Crowns, or the Graffiti mode in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater… but again, with more Crowns.

I hunkered down with some guys from Salford University currently on the Computer and Video Games course, bashed some ideas together (both of my RADICAL ideas were dismissed… they see me rollin’, they hating) to agree on… wait for it… CORGI RIDER!

*insert title screen here*

The game was basically a side scroll assault course (think Adam Atomic’s awesome almighty Canabalt… but with the Queen riding on a corgi). This mini-jam was set to expire in around 4 hours, so please – forgive the not so polished look of Her Royal Highness, but after painting a house for MONTHS, I found myself giddy with joy at being able to animate this little beauty (in hindsight, it’s not all that – but believe me when I say… I was giddy).

This (meta)scored big with the crowd downstairs when we unveiled the demo to our peers. I I really cannot speak highly enough of the Salford Uni boys. Hats off to you gentlemen. Hats. Off. Professional to the last (although, they did have this weird fascination about drawing male genitalia… on everything).

Next up, randomly generated themes were thrown from the rooftops to all participating groups. It was then a mad dash to the starting line/our revving computers. Alas, I felt a change of mood necessary, so threw my lot in with two loose cannons, Si Lumb & Dan Hett.

These mavericks had organised and championed the event. I only thought it fair that I help them (Si, Dan – if you’re reading this, I’m joking – but seriously, I’m the best).

Their randomly generated theme was “Invisible”, so after Si had watched the Darkman trailer many, many… many times – it was time to pull our socks up and begin work on “Invisible Man” (original, I know).

We basically wanted to create a top down scrolling assault course (no corgi’s this time) but with more of a tactical twist. Your mission was to progress as far as possible through the course, whilst avoiding walls, pitfalls, CCTV cameras, attack dogs and security personnel. Armed only with the ability to jump, move and turn invisible… this was going to be tricky.

From our Darkman-a-thon, I decided our hero would be a small 8-bit trench coat wearing detective, complete with trilby hat.

You have a health bar on the side of the screen. Once active, invisibility would drain your health and dramatically reduce your speed, but also render you unnoticeable to your enemy (except for the attack dogs… they can smell you, how cool is that?!). One of the main reasons for this power, is to allow the player to sneak past CCTV cameras. If you happen to alert a CCTV camera, Special Forces (inspired by the Overwatch soldiers in HL2) spawn ahead of your position and shoot the s*** out of everything.

You want the good news? You can play our demo version here*! To restart, refresh your browser.

*Please note that the game is still WIP, and was created over a period of 6-8 hours, which in my books is pretty darn good. I was also MIGHTLY hungover for the Sunday. But that’s another story.

It was a pleasure working with Dan and Si, two extremely knowledgeable guys who are ridiculously passionate about playing & making games. Long live Manchester’s one and only Game Jam, I’ll definitely be attendance for its sequel!

See below for some of the assets used.

Lorra love,

Ewan

(click to see larger version)

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