By: Matthew Maravilla
Last weekend, in Weston Hall, a horde of beginner and experienced game developers alike amassed for what is the Global Game Jam, a worldwide 48-hour-make-a-game-a-thon. From the Philippine isles to Hawaii, Nigeria, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Canada, Uruguay, Ecuador, and others, attendees follow a universal game theme and create their own takes on games based around that theme.
This year’s theme was a phrase. “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” Kicking off the jam were a keynote speech by Jenova Chen, of thatgamecompany, Richard Lemarchand, former Naughty Dog member, and Kaho Abe, an experimental game designer working at NYU-Poly.
NJIT’s Game Jam organizer, Andrej Zarzycki, said, “I think that the game jam was a successful event that brought together students from various colleges and programs within NJIT, and students/professionals from the outside our university.” He was glad that participants produced solid games, fully functional with diversity: from the self-reflecting “the day in my mind,” to the playful “inSight,” and the full 3D production of the “Happy Place.”
A number of administrators and faculty turned up to lend support, including David Ullman, CIO and Associate Provost; Marek Rusinkiewicz, Dean of the College of Computer Sciences; and Glenn Goldman, Director of the School of Art and Design.
Zarzycki said, “In the future, we would need to continue reaching out to students from other programs within NJIT like Communications, School of Managements, and Engineering in the spirit of bringing all the creative and technological forces together; also, reaching out to the community and further engaging artists from the area.”
Now, let’s take a look at these games! All of them are available at: http://globalgamejam.org/2014/jam-sites/new-jersey-institute-technology/games
The “I Made Someone Cry!” award:
Pier Pressure by John Cafiero
Pier Pressure is an action-packed, ultra-cool, forklift-themed fighting game inspired by some really good pizza. With a diverse cast consisting of Yellow Forklift and Orange Forklift and a whopping one stage to battle on, players can experience true forklift combat without the danger of injury to themselves or others. The revolutionary two-button combat system removes the complexities of “light” and “heavy” attacks and instead creates a simpler game that welcomes newcomers while challenging fighting game veterans. Players that like taking the offensive will enjoy the diverse attack options such as “pop a wheelie” and “inflate front tire” while taking comfort in the fact that there is no blocking or time limit, meaning those pesky defensive players won’t pose a threat. Overall, Pier Pressure is a fun game than can be enjoyed by a wide audience.
Jam Highlight: “People cried while playing my game and it was awesome.”
What Could Be Better: “I would have liked to have come up with the idea sooner, so I could dedicate the whole weekend to it instead of only 24 hours. Many more gameplay ideas would have come to fruition if I had that extra time.”
The “Only Hard On Level 2” award:
Dissociative Identity by Grant Butler, Nick Zonak, Ed Conroy, Rachel Corres, Sandy Ramirez, Luke Greenleaf, Akhil Gopinath, Alrashid Jamalul, and Mohammad Omer
Dissociative identity is a 2D platformer where the player assumes the role of a young man who is sorting through his emotions and feelings. It is revealed that the young man is talking to a therapist who helps him find his way through his confusing emotional state. Throughout his sessions the player shifts through his assorted emotions, which are metaphorically represented as different abilities in his mind. Upon completion of the game the player understands an important lesson regarding his emotions and the player and the therapist part ways.
Jam Highlight: “We were able to assemble the game components and play-test the game. It was the first time we had actually finished a game and it was a refreshing and encouraging accomplishment.”
What Could Be Better: “We could have had more art assets and better art.”
The “Pretty Start Screen” award:
Echo by Matthew Downey and Bill Rouse
A daredevil-esque art game where sound is the only source of light. The player walks through a world that is illuminated by their footsteps to solve puzzles.
Jam Highlight: “When we got a graphical feature to do something very, very beautiful.”
What Could Be Better: “The programming was rushed the first time through, so spending time to properly design the scripts would make the game play better.”
The “Never Emailed Me But Made An Awesome Game” award:
Happy Place by Rocco Ricciardi, Kevin Ratigan, Andre Amaro, Alyssa Menes, Stephen Haddock-Weiler, Jonathan Dasilva, Michael Sullivan, Jacob Goldfarb, Coby Schouten, James Wolff, Anthony Ur, and Val Kozhynova
An emotional rollercoaster that sends the player through a gamut of “feels” as they’re torn between a horrific and terrifying first person point-of-view and their vibrant, colorful, cartoon-like, sidescrolling “happy place”.
Jam Highlight: Well, my personal opinion of the game, since they were unable to talk to me about their experiences on the game, was that it was really funny to watch and play.
What Could Be Better: If I can name one thing the team could have improved on, it would have to be some art clipping but other than that, Happy Place team, I like your game.
The “I Work On A Web Browser!” award:
Project Brain Slug by Nathaniel Soto, Douglas James, Matthew Cifelli, Lea Burlew, Lee Coward, Len Stuart, and Alyssa Menes
Dropped into a bustling office building, the lonely brain slug from outer space must navigate its way to the ground floor and steal company secrets along the way. Dodging mirrors and other employees, the brain slug takes control of the office workers to open doors and move more efficiently through the building. Extra-terrestrials beware: the anti-slug security team has prepared the building with lasers and plates specifically designed to disintegrate our cute and cuddly brain slug.
Jam Highlight: Okay, since they also weren’t able to send me full team highlight, I liked the aesthetic design of Project Brain Slug. It’s James Bonds-y feel along with its cartoony characters made sense and I like it for that.
What Could Be Better: If I want to be honest to the team, I would have to mention that the game needs a slight amount of work in the collisions. Other than that, great work team Project Brain Slug!
The “Good Enough That It Could Probably Win a Bunch of Other Awards” award:
Insight by Jacob Moorman, Adam Borno, Alex Bradbury-Wallad, Jonathan Martin, Kenneth Schlatmann, and Michael Arcelo
This is a 2D platformer in Gamemaker in which you play as a child lost in a city park. Your surroundings appear full of danger, yet when you close your eyes some of it goes away. The only problem is that you can’t see when your eyes are closed, which makes finding your way home difficult. When the player’s eyes are closed, sound cues give them a general sense of their surroundings.
Jam Highlight: Jacob – “The best moment for me, personally, was when we had all of the assets finished and started mass producing level designs around 6 hours before the jam ended. We formed an assembly line of level production, and it was beautiful.”
What Could Be Better: Having more time for play testing in the final stage.
The “Shameless Advertising of a Hipster Game” award:
A Day In My Mind by me (Matthew Maravilla)
Taking a page from a lot of the emotional stress I was dealing with my first year here, A Day In My Mind is literally my way of telling people about how low I felt about myself and how weak of a person I was. Hopefully, through playing my game, if you were to feel this way before playing my game, things will go better for you and you won’t feel alone.
Jam Highlight: This is the first Game Jam where I did EVERYTHING (art, music, programming, writing, and level design) by myself and finished in less than 48 hours.
What Could Be Better: There is this one jump in the game that has been tripping people up. Hopefully, if you encounter it, you heed these words: “Jump At The Tippy-Tip”.
Overall, we had a strong line-up of games, this year. Comparing the Global Game Jam of 2013, where you had games like All-Nighter and Perception, one would definitely say that the games made at NJIT this year were better. But, in hindsight, you also have to think about the creativity of last year’s games, like Pulse Copter with their use of your heart rate to change levels, or Instinct which was the funniest murder mystery I’ve played since a lot of Tim Schaeffer’s previous works. Take your pick. Last year definitely had the innovation but this year had the amazingly polished games with fleshed out, polished designs.
pictures by: Professor Adrezj Zarzycki and all the respective game teams
main picture from: https://acomp.stanford.edu/