Monday, February 1, 2016

GGJ 2016 - Cockamimey!

This past weekend was the Global Game Jam, a 48 hour blitz of game development & creation.  Participants can jam out to the yearly theme at one of hundreds of Jam sites from around the world.  First time and aspiring game developers meld with the local game dev scene to try and to create a playable game within the time limit.

My Jam location this year was at the New England Institute of Technology, having started a tradition with some friends of mine to do a new site each year.  It was a fun, exhausting, and brain melting time, but we were able to finish a pretty polished product within 48 hours.

The theme was "Ritual" and that first night we plopped down in a swimming pool in our hotel to do some aquatic brainstorming.  Floating around and throwing out every idea we could think of related to Ritual, we finally settled on doing a game about "Mating Rituals".  We knew we wanted to make a Gear VR game, so we settled on a game about Birds Dancing in order to win a mate.  Thus Cockamimey was born!

Cockamimey is a Simon Says type of game where you have to watch a competing bird, and copy their head movements and add your own to the chain in order to win the affection of the mate bird.  Players look around in VR and must watch carefully so they can mimic the moves.  The game was fun to make, despite running into a few hiccups along the way.  Originally we had wanted to do a multiplayer version of this (and we still might), but the first night I needed some additional software installed and the hotel internet was very slow, so I spent 4-5 hours just setting up my development environment before I could even get the Gear VR demo running.

But we did get it all set up, and Saturday was a blast of programming and development.  The other 2 people in the group: Ben & Dawn Taylor, are both phenomenal artists and handled all of the modeling, lighting and effects, and promotional art which was perfect as I handled all of the programming and level design.  One thing we did well was to keep the scope fairly small.  You only have to make six successful moves in a row to win the game, and the demo is short, sweet and gets the idea across.  And it's fun.

We had to keep the game small, and use as few effects as possible, as mobile VR can be rough on phones for rendering and heating.  We'll have to keep most of the scenes small like this, which works because the game consists of only three main characters.

The whole weekend was a blast and it was good to get back into Game development a bit as it has been a while since I've made anything game related.  If you have a Gear VR you can check out Cockamimey on the Google Play Store or at our Global Game Jam page, and if you check it out give us a holler and let us know what you think.

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