Monday, September 14, 2015

Ghostly Garden and PIGSquad Summer Slow Jams 2015

This summer, PIGSquad hosted a series of game jams.  Dubbed Summer Slow Jams, since they lasted a week as opposed to the 48 hour format I'm used to.

The goal of the first jam was to encourage people to make a game that they could easily present in the many events PIGSquad hosts, akin to a convention or festival.  The idea was to, in addition to the game, create flyers, cards, Twitter accounts, and other similar promotional materials.  The creative themes were taken from the themes of OMSI After Dark.  I met some guys during the kickoff event, and our team started brainstorming with the theme of "Explosions".  As we continued, the focus moved away from that as we incorporated the themes of "Seed" and "Spirits".  We ended up with our competitive gardening game, Ghostly Garden, which you can download for yourself here.  It was very encouraging to go from "barely tested controller input" to "we ran a full single elimination tournament among the attendees" in a matter of hours at the jam showcase!

The second jam was to utilize the tools used by Pixel Arts Game Education (a local non-profit that runs game creation camps and classes for underprivileged youth).  The tools are free and browser based, and the goal was to show the students what was possible with these tools from experienced game developers.  The creative prompts were educational concepts and various social issues, distributed from a random generator using said tools.  My prompts were "Projectiles and Trajectories" and "Air Pollution".  I worked by myself on the project to come up with Calamitous Cleanup!

The third jam was intended to create 4-player local multiplayer games to put onto Flint and Tinder Studios' Tinderbox, an arcade cabinet prototype to showcase locally made games.  In addition was their public rollout of ProgFrog, a blog where anyone creating any kind of project can post updates of progress - plus it was an easy way to pull the latest jam builds onto the Tinderbox.  Our team decided to use the time to polish Ghostly Garden up from the first jam (and we had build it as a multiplayer game to begin with knowing this jam was on the horizon).  So there is a 2 vs. 2 player mode available in the game.

I presented Ghostly Garden at the Portland Mini Maker Faire this past weekend at OMSI, and we're planning on adding more features and more channels of distribution.

In the meantime, I've also been working with someone else on a mobile puzzle game prototype.  I'm not quite sure what I'm at liberty to share, but I think we're close to opening it up for alpha testing - so keep an eye out for more information about that!

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