Monday, 28 January 2013

Global Game Jam 2013: Eat Your Heart Out

Global Game Jam 2013 is over for us in New Zealand I'm proud to say that I designed a very fun co-op multiplayer game called Eat Your Heart Out that netted the 1st runner up in the Innovation category as voted by other teams at the Auckland venue.

It's a hide and seek co-op game where three players have to tag one player disguised as an NPC amongst lots of NPCs. If you take too long the disguised player will transform into a demon and hunt the searchers down instead! Try using Chrome or Internet Explorer to play the game. It supports 4 controllers as well.

All credit to my two other team members Erik and Michael who helped program the game and bring my idea to life with such polish.

My fellow team member Erik Hogan posted a detailed blog post here about the game and other games from the Auckland New Zealand competition that deserve your attention. Check out the game here on the Global Game Jam 2013 website.

My thoughts on the experience of the 48 hour Global Game Jam competition:
Think small but with a twist- You only have 48 hours to finish the game, don't try to make the next Minecraft, think instead on how to build upon existing ideas but create your own spin. In this case, Eat Your Heart Out is a mix of stealth gameplay and action. You've seen both parts before in various games and there probably are games just like this out there. Assassin's Creed multiplayer comes to mind.

Be precise- Have a clear idea about what you want. If you can't convince someone what the idea and game mechanic is shortly and succinctly, go back to the drawing board and if necessary reduce the scope. Some of the teams didn't have a game in the end.

Passion and courage- I arrived without a team at the Global Game Jam, however I had met a number of people at the Auckland Game Developers meeting. I stood up in front of everyone and pitched my idea to the 50 or 60 people there. Fortunately, Michael and Erik thought it was a great simple idea and joined up! If they hadn't responded I would have probably joined the other teams as a level designer or something else. If you don't have programming skills (my background is in copywriting and marketing), having the passion and courage to speak up and present your idea is especially important.

I learnt a lot at this Game Jam and hopefully my 'game designer street cred' has improved a little amongst the game developers in Auckland.

Violence in video games- It's clear that the heart beat theme of the Game Jam wasn't suppose to encourage violence but rather about connecting people and conveying emotion.  I didn't actual set out to make a game which is actually really violent in many respects. For example, whenever the demon appears, he literally appears in a red explosion (signifying blood) and goes around eating bystanders and searchers leaving a bloodstained screen. A little bit disappointed in myself for not being able to come up with a less violent but equally viable game but given the tight time constraints I decided to opt for something 'safer'. Hopefully next time I'll be able to come up with something better!

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