GameLoop 2011

Game Business Games

GameLoop 2011 Begins

I had the good fortune to be able to attend GameLoop in Boston again this year. It was held at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, MA and about 150 folks attended. This was GameLoop’s fourth year and it continues to draw a great group of participants interested in all aspects of game development–both digital and non-digital. The event is priced ridiculously low for the amount of value you get out of it in both shared knowledge and networking. The $40 ticket price even includes a kick-ass T-shirt, breakfast, and lunch!

GameLoop was founded by Darius Kazemi and Scott Macmillan and they continue to help both organize it and refine its unconference style process.

For those unfamiliar with the unconference term, the gist is that an unconference is a type of conference that self-organizes during the day of the event.

Proposing Session TopicsThe participants of an unconference are active co-creators of the session content. Sessions are proposed in the beginning of the day with attendees gathered in a large room.

This year we all had a chance to say three tags that represented topics we were interested in. There was a 10 second time limit and it only took 15 minutes to get through us all. This helped gauge the potential topic interests in the room.

 

Voting on Session TopicsAfter all the proposed sessions have been written onto large pieces of paper the boards holding them are then moved out to the hallway. Participants then get to vote with 5 individual stickers on which sessions they might want to attend.

This was still a bit of a bottleneck but I felt it worked better than last year. I hope next year they have 3 boards instead of 2 and keep the notes to the top halves of the boards so you can preview the topics from further away.  I also think putting more space between the boards will help spread out the crowd a bit.

Curated Final ScheduleAfter we all voted the organizers then curate the most popular sessions to form the schedule by distributing or combining the topics in an intelligent manner to get good coverage throughout the day. I thought this curated approach worked really well this year. Each slot had something I could find that interested me.

 

 

Round Table SessionSessions tend to be a round-table conversation-based style where everyone can have a chance to contribute to the topic being discussed. The session leader is whoever proposed the topic and moderators are available to help out just in case things veer too far.

This whole process works surprisingly well! There is even a brief wrap-up session at then end of the conference where the whole group is able to provide feedback so that iterative improvements to the process can made for next year’s event.

The three tags I announced at the beginning of the event this year were web, mobile, and small studio business.  I then attended sessions that largely related to these topics. I enjoyed two different sessions related to indie business and marketing lead by Ichiro Lambe and Leo Jaitley of Dejobaan Games. I find a lot of useful stories and information in what those two have to share about their long term experiences with being an independent game studio that has released a lot of very original games over the past twelve years. The sessions they lead were titled Platforms That Make Indies Money and Staying in Business as an Indie Forever. Other useful contributions came from participants like David Carrigg of Retro Affect and Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs. They all had experiences to share and it was very useful to hear what various studios are doing to stay in business and try and make money from their games.

I also attended a more tech oriented session lead by Sean Flinn of GameSpy Technology (thankfully a long term GameLoop sponsor) about online analytics, multiplayer, and distribution needs of game developers. I have a very big interest in game analytics and currently use the Playtomic service but it is always good to keep an eye on the various technologies out there. GameSpy Technology doesn’t currently have an ActionScript API but I was able to share some of my needs, concerns, and requirements with them about being a game developer on the web.

Of the two final sessions I attended, one was a session on Building a Personal Brand by Kwasi Mensah of Ananse Productions and the other a session on Prototyping by Caleb Garner of Part12 Studios. I find these conversation style sessions so helpful to hear other game developers stories and experiences. Afterward you can approach and followup with someone based on what you heard them talking about in the session and that is an excellent chance for further building connections.

After a long but incredibly rewarding day about 70 of us headed over to Cambridge Brewing Company for dinner and locally brewed beer. A perfect way to end the day!

Once again I would like to thank the founders of GameLoop–Darius Kazemi and Scott Macmillan. I think the following photo may hint at where they get all their incredible energy from!

Nyan Scott and Nyan Darius

All photos used by permission of Michael Carriere.

Turd de France – New Flash Game Released

Games

Play le Turd de France

Game Description:

Angry birds? Try angry pigeon! You play a French pigeon that has had it with all the crowds and traffic generated by le Tour de France. You set out to disrupt the last two minutes of the bicycle race the only way you know how–by pooping all over the place! Cause massive pileups with the power of pigeon poop!

Play le Turd de France!

Additional Screenshots:

Mega Poop powerup acquired!

Here you have just acquired the Mega Poop powerup!

Mega Poop unleashed!

Unleashing the fury of the Mega Poop!

Scoring triple direct hits!

Scoring a sweet triple direct hit! Direct hits increase your multiplier and let you score big.

le Turd de France race is ending!

The race is wrapping up! I’m pretty sure you made your point with the bicyclists…

Game over screen with many race stats

The race has finished! Here you can review all those critical race stats.

Background:

This game was a very silly collaboration I did together with fellow game designer Joshua A.C. Newman of the glyphpress. It was inspired by his friend Judith Shaw who got pooped on by a pigeon while riding her bicycle. Joshua is an avid bicyclist and he contacted me to see if I wanted to help bring that incident to life as a video game.

We thought basing it around le Tour de France would be a funny way to provide a setting with plenty of opportunity for humor.

Of technical interest would be the fact that the peloton of bicycle racers is controlled by a heavily customized version of Boid’s flocking algorithm. Each biker dodges the poop splats on the ground as well as the road edges and the other bikers–all the while trying to reach a target point toward the right of the screen. I also added a 5-state internal bicyclist model that controls their stamina and energy and allows them to try to reach the front of the peleton before tiring out and drifting to the back of the pack.  It took a few days of heavy playtesting to tune the flock algorithm just right to make it fun but it is so great to watch that the intense effort was well worth it!

Give it a play over at AddictingGames!

New Game Progress

Games

I’ve been cranking along on one of my biggest games and I recently finished a complete graphics overhaul!  The game had lasted a long time in the prototype art stage and it is really fun to have it finally in a highly polished state.

This game is my most ambitious so far containing 40 levels arranged into 4 different difficulty groups.  This is also the first level design I’ve done for a game as most of my previous games have been more on the procedural or arcade side of things where game variables just sort of change over time to introduce new enemies or difficulties but there aren’t distinct levels. The gameplay combines aspects of puzzles, agility, and time trials.

I wanted to post some composite before/after screenshots I made of the new graphics overhaul:

Level 2-5

Level 2-8

Level 3-6

Level 4-3

I’m now getting into the “last 10%” stage of this game. There are still many miscellaneous tasks for me to complete like sound effects, music soundtrack, social features, menu features, further testing and polish.  It is getting close though to the point where I’ll be able to present it to sponsors. Always an exciting stage for a game to be at. I can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel on this game and I can’t wait for the day when I can let the players in!

 

Come2Play Multiplayer Flash Game Contest

Game Business Games

I wanted to pass along some information about a multiplayer Flash game contest in the works that could even be of interest to Flash game developers with finished games.

Come2Play and the Linkedin Flash Game Developers Group are launching the 2nd ‘Games that Challenge the World Contest’ for multiplayer games. Cash prizes totaling $10,000 will be awarded to contest winners.

Developers keep all rights to the games they submit and even previously released games can be entered.

There was only a handful of entries to last years contest, so the chance of winning a serious cash prize is very high. Check out the winning entries of the 1st ‘Games that Challenge the World Contest.’

If you’ve got a multiplayer game and you think you stand a chance of winning, why not submit your game?

Prizes:

  • 1st Place – $5,000
  • 2nd Place – $3,000
  • 3rd Place – $1,250
  • 4th Place – $750

Contest Genre & Judging:

The contest genre is Casual Games and submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Multiplayer playability for new and return players
  • Replay ability of the game
  • Design, sound and effects
  • Concept and execution

Deadline:

All games must be integrated with the Come2Play multiplayer API in order to be officially accepted into the contest. All games must be submitted by April 15th, 2011 at 23:59 est. Games submitted on this date must be the final version of all games.

The full details are available at the official contest page.

AVOIDAL – New Flash Game Released

Games

My latest game AVOIDAL just launched today over on Newgrounds!

This one is a very challenging mouse skills game with a mechanic I find to be quite fun.

Don’t take my word for it though–check it out!

For those of you logged in with a Newgrounds account there are 23 medals (some very tough) to win.

Here is a gameplay trailer.

You can also play the game on AVOIDAL.COM

AVOIDAL was originally made for the most recent Ludum Dare 48hr game competition. I then worked on it further for the Experimental Gameplay Project theme of “Zero Buttons.” AVOIDAL was also my entry into the Ludum Dare “October Challenge” where you try and sell a game. It ended up getting a sponsorship from Newgrounds.