I've arrived this Saturday morning an hour later than yesterday, and there are less people this morning. Eleven AM and all of five people active at the jam. Staying up late working, chatting, and gaming has its repercussions, apparently.
Day two was a much more cohesive experience. More people and more life to the party. The jammers are revealing how much they like to play games. One wall with a projector had a consistent string of Street Fighter matches while near my seat another couple fellows were pretty heavily involved in older iterations of Street Fighter with their personal fightsticks. I asked about the stick and was treated to a really fascinating breakdown of the different elements that make fightsticks unique. (He uses an authentic Capcom Street Fighter stick.)
And all the while people show their projects around for feedback and the joy of seeing their game played!
I played several games yesterday that revealed how much indie developers want to make something engaging. A cute yet oh-so-gory 2d-deathmatch piece called Madhouse by Phubans entertained me and a pal for a good twenty minutes while we discussed character balance. Not his main project this weekend, he's nonetheless made it center-stage as he gets everyone and anyone to playtest it for him.
The fellows next to me from Koduco Games were working on completely separate iPad projects. One was updating their awesome PongVaders, a clever mix of Space Invaders and Pong built for two players on the iPad. Cole is working on a single-player mode so you can play without a partner. Meanwhile, his partner Jon is working on a meditative piece where you lay out the sand of a mandala.
Meanwhile, the guy across from me, Mike, builds an interesting game of descending slowly on a rope between dangerous traps and spikes, fighting off angry bats. It's a clever little procedural game inspired entirely, he says, by level two of Battletoads.
Behind me, Rich Vreeland showed me a poetic pixel game built in Flixel using interactive audio to its utmost (that's his specialty). As I played the game and interacted with elements of the game world, my actions generated a beautiful soundscape of bells and tones, a melody that I won't be able to reproduce next time, but that is the point, isn't it? We sat discussing for a while all the different ideas we have come up with, and that maybe we will one day both create our own magnum interactive opuses, sadly there is only so much time in a day.
But encouragement has become the meaning of this weekend as I see all of the interesting ideas people have. We become aware of the games and the people behind them and their motivations for creation. I have only touched upon a couple of the different games I got to mess around with. As many others are refining previous work, testing out new art and music and code ideas. And of course who can forget the game where you launch mustaches onto hairless men as they pass by.
My own project comes along. I added simple speech into my game and the world has started to interact with the characters. My own goal is to create a mood, a world that you can experience. I am not sure how far I will get, but my progress in coding has been rewarding nonetheless, as the world starts to come alive and interact with the player. Yesterday was slow but steady progress as I allowed myself to explore all that others are doing.
Now it is time to hunker down.
Randy is an indie game developer working on several different titles, hoping any of them will make money in the next few months.
You can follow him at twitter.com/randyzero