Monday, February 4, 2008

Nordic Game Jam 08 / 3rd bird 3D Pick 'em Up game

This weekend Nordic Game Jam 08 was held at ITU in Copenhagen. It was awesome! The theme was Taboos and about 150 people had met up during friday and were to spend the nxt two days producing in all 19 game prototypes having this theme a a central element.

During friday afternoon lectures were given about different areas of game development. Key note speaker was indie game developer Jonathan Blow who has spent the last 3 years creating his game Braid which is due to release on xbox live arcade later this year. It was really interesting. Check out his thought on game development here.

Later friday a joint brain storm session on game ideas took place and groups formed around the ideas. I attended the jam toghther with four school mates and we pitched an idea about a 2-player bird race controlled by a web camera and during the evening we hooked up with two skilled graphics artists. Around 01 am our group had a decent sketch of concept, game play, game mechanics and graphical style and we went home to get a bit of sleep before starting the production.

Our concept was to somehow obtain our central graphical objects from the other groups at the jam, put them into our game, and control the birds (two ravens) to fly around and pick them up.

Saturday morning we started programming up the game. We had chosen the open source 3D engine Irrlicht, not really knowing much about it. Our choice was mainly motivated the engine's vast documentation and we started looking at tutorials related to our tasks.

Our first problems occured when we discovered the none of the common graphical and animation model objects (3d Studio and Maya) could be loaded into the game. The only compatible model format was .ms3d (Milkshape), but eventually by some importing and exporting we could load landscape, game objects and characters into the game.

We had brought some image processing code snippets and already by saturday afternoon we had a web cam input system that allowed two players to control their characters by waving their arms like birds. Of course it looked ridiculous and was totally in the party game spirit.

During Saturday night we interfaced the camera controller with the game code and implemented things such as collision detection and split screen setup. Things really set off and we all became very optimistic when lighting was added, our game world got colors and we could really appreciate the nice graphics. Saturday night I was out on my covert quest, visiting the other groups, telling them I needed graphical material to a blog post about the game jam and was thereby given a lot of nice jpg's from their games...

Our game play was very simple: pick up as many objects as possible in a given amount of time, the bird that picks up most objects win. Around 4am sunday morning we added the obtained jpg's to some graphical container objects, and loaded them into the game world. After that we could start tweaking and making the game playable. Can't say we where very efficient from then on up until 13.30, but in the last hour and a half before deadline we added sound effects, object counters for each bird, a count down clock and a high score list.

We handed in the project in the last minute and were sooo satisfied that we had actually created a playable game. The judges liked it too and at the prize ceremony we were mentioned as one of the games considered for the first prize and got credit for our experimental web camera interface.

Below the abstract relating the game to the Taboo theme is shown, and a link to the repository where the game can be found.

We understand a taboo as a prohibition imposed by a group upon its individuals. In a community where many people have liberal views on software piracy and copyright infringement, we wish to challenge the Nordic Game Jam participants’ attitudes towards using other peoples’ creations in unauthorized ways.

By our game we hope to inspire reflection and discussion about how information can be owned, and we draw a straight line from Hugin and Munin in the ancient Nordic mythology to Chinese teenagers hacking Hollywood.

PipIP/Crazy Birdz,
the game..


Bonnie said...

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