Monday, April 26, 2010

Throw that Fight

I attended the T.O. Jam festival this weekend. They provide the space and encouragement to make a video game in three day. It was held at George Brown in three fully equipped rooms.

Before the fest

The theme of the event was missing. Although I discovered most people ignored the theme and made a game they wanted. This was in keeping with the laissez faire spirit of the festival: do whatever you want but finish it.

We thought of a boxer who tried to "miss convincingly" to throw his fights. Our concept was to build a rhythm game (like Rhythm Heaven DS) combined with a puzzler (like Henry Hatsworth DS).
The story is set in 1885, following a kindhearted bare knuckle boxer who helps people by throwing his fights.

During the fest

-We worked in a beautiful college computer lab surrounded by thirty other programmers. Our team, Andrew Gardner and teh Andrew Gardner Group of Companies, sat side-by-side at one long table, working together but separately. Three was the perfect number for a team.

-The demographic was mostly young, male, awkward social skills and weak jokes. It was easy to overlook all of these traits because of the passion, camaraderie, and skill evident in each room. The people I met were kind, humble, and friendly.

-At the end of the second day they fed us free Chinese food. There was more than enough for everyone. I was impressed by the organization of the festival.

-Our first programmer, Andrew, had experimented with pygame. He built the rhythm component and a handler for cutscenes.

-Our second programmer, my brother Andrew, was new to pygame and was crafting our puzzler component. We made the mistake, mostly to my insistence,  of picking a poorly-thought-out-overly-complex puzzle game. My brother figured out a brilliant, simple solution during the festival but there was not enough time to get it done for the final version.

-We had a vision that the graphics of the game should be raw, black and white sketches so the whole game would look like storyboards. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of my talented artist friends. For me, the turning point of the festival was when I turned to my team and apologized for not being able to find a real talent to do graphics. My brother shrugged and said "you're our graphics guy." Then I really set to work.

-Deadline was 8pm. We ate free pizza, a raffle was held (two of us won headphones... what?), and we got to see everyone else's game. I wrote down the titles of my favourites. I'll do a follow-up post when they put them all online. There will also be an arcade where they play the games at a bar, showcasing each on on the big screen.

After the fest

Our work schedule:
-Day 1: 6pm - 4am
-Day 2: 10am - 4am
-Day 3: 10am - 8pm. We worked until the last minute.

-I laughed at my brother because his eyes erupted after the second day but mine also went extreme bloodshotty last night. I think I need a break from pixels.

-I arrived home around 11:30pm. Andrew came and we showcased the game to Liz. She beat it in four tries. It was exactly what we were hoping for.

1 comment:

lfar said...

So up my alley but I haven't programmed in years, now. Looks like so much fun, though!