Synestext

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February 16, 2014

Humanity reaches another level of evolution with this invention.
Synestext was made during the Nordic Game Jam 2014 and got an honourable mention in the price ceremony.
In Synestext music plays in the background and as you type words the music changes to the mood of the text. A documentary crew followed the process of the development.

Download game: Windows
Play in browser: Wonderfish.dk (Unity Web Player)

Project took less than 48 hours to develop.

Erik’s notes

This was my first game jam. I did not think I would be able to do much within the small amount of time, truth be told I was not as productive as the others, but they were very talented and had a lot of experience.
The entry page can be found on Unicorn7.
My experience with the NGJ 2014 went as follows:

Friday

I took the free bus from the Bermuda Project, and I went alone. I had a Harlan Ellison novel collection with me in case I did not find anyone to talk to. Luckily I did. I met some very nice people on the bus and we talked a lot.
When we arrived at Aalborg University (of Copenhagen) I met some of the people I knew from school. We went around to the talks, they told me which they were planing to see and I just followed them (for the most part), And I am happy I did. One of the talks I might not have gone to but I’m glad I was pulled along into was “The talk where I show and give away some cool Unity components I did, then play a song at the end for some reason” by Nicklas Nygren of Nifflas’ Games.
Later, after the tablet announcement and theme announcement (“Privacy”), when it was time to find a group I stumbled upon Michał (Mike) Królikowski and Aleksandra (Alex) Korach.
Group forming was done by splitting people up into categories, there was places where people pitched multiplayer, singleplayer, music, mobile, and board games.
I was at the multiplayer pitches and Mike was pitching something about giving somebody else access to your personal information. I thought it was interesting so I started a conversation with him and Alex about making a Facebook game with this. We talked a lot and Lau Maack-Krommes came and found it interesting, but we decided to split up and try to find more people (mostly artist, we got pretty desperate for a graphical artist).
I met up with them later, and it was Amarya Kramer and Nicklas Nygren speaking to the group about stuff you could do with music, I do not really remember this part well, but I do remember that I was very sceptical and was about to find another group, but I thought we had something going for us, so I stuck with them.
A camera man had been following us (I think from the moment I started the first conversation with Mike), and asked if we had anything against him following us, and we told him it was fine.
We went and found a place to “set up camp” and started talking about the kinda project we wanted to make. I was still pretty set on making a Facebook game, but the others would really like to use Nifflas’ sound system. And it got more and more worrisome for me.

 

This will be a recurring theme, I really did not think much of the project, until the very end. I am embarrassed to say, but I was actually pretty vocal about this. But I loved the people I was working with. And now with a documentary crew following me I felt pressured to continue (alternatively I would have had to go from group to group and ask if they could use a novice/mediocre programmer).
I am happy I stayed with the group.

 

Lau came up with the idea of a text editor that played music to what you wrote. We started thinking of the possibilities you could do with this. We settled on the idea, and went home to get some sleep. (Lau was awesome enough to let me sleep at his house, thank you).

Saturday

Recommendation: buy snacks. The next morning me and Lau went and bought a lot of marzipan chocolates, which was shared with the group and it was delicious.
We started a git repo, and started drawing UML diagrams (our group consisted almost entirely of programmers). Amarya came up with some pitch ideas and expanded on the design. And then we started coding, we worked in unity with our own separate scene in the same project (because merging scenes could becoming a big problem). Lau created some solid code system code, while I just experimented with a lot of things, like colouring (felt like a kid compared to the rest of the groups programming skills). The documentary crew also followed another group, but even when they were there I kinda forgot about it.
Because we had done so many commits (and each required a message explaining what was done), we started a competition: “Who could write the worst git commit”. which was fun but commits became “canged SADGAHTsgglndfsgnsv, ‘n’ stuf”.
During the day I would sometimes go to the other people I know from school and see how they were doing, but most of the time I was with my group and working (and I got a lot work done).
When it started getting late it suddenly occurred to us that we did not have much time left. Deadline was at 14:00 and we were far from done. We did not actually have much of the idea working. You could write words, and it would say a little sound per key stroke, we had a database of the most common words and we had been giving each word different styles. But it could not read words.

Sunday

It was very fiddly but around 5:30 (am), without any sleep I almost had written something that could read words. The others had gone to sleep around 1 or 2 or something. I committed it and immediately fell asleep. I woke up 3 hours or so later, when Mike and Alex came, and explained what I had changed and how far it had come, I really wanted to help more, but apparently I could not understand code with just 3 hours of sleep, so I was useless until I had gotten some more sleep. By the time I awoke they had finished the project.
We had a bounding moment and hugged it out while we told each other how we felt. 20 minutes later the documentary crew showed up. But they recreated it but asking us questions about the project, and I made a thank you speech to my group (were I also explained my scepticism).
A fun part of NGJ is the presentations. We had originally submitted our game in the Music Hacking category. However, only 2 other groups had submitted a game in that category. So our game was automatically resubmitted as a singleplayer game.
Lau and I had joked about drinking whine while presenting our game, to look sophisticated (I doubt they were fouled). The others in our group were totally on board with this idea. While presenting our nongame, a kid on the first row said to his father “Wauw det her er det værste spil jeg norgensinde har set” (translated: “Wow This is the worst game I have ever seen”), which is kinda fair since it barely was a game.
When it came to voting, we got 4 votes, which was two votes short of getting to the second round, but we (or maybe just I) did not expect it to anyway.
We drank the rest of the wine and said our adieux to Mike and Alex, who had to go early, which meant they missed the price ceremony, which was a shame, because they missed the big surprise.
Our game got an honourable mention! (They did not say why, but Lau was quickly up there to say thanks).
After that I went around and networked/met people. (Big fault of mine: I had no business cards with me)
I had plenty of time since the bus was first going home at 23:55 or something and the award show ended around 21:30.
One guy had taken a bottle of Polish grass vodka with him so we (we is a bunch of people in this case) were drinking shots, and it was a delicious vodka.

Aftermath

I will most certainly try to attend Nordic Game Jam next year, and also other game jams too.
NGJ 2014 was critiqued for being too expensive after the raised the prices since previous year. But this year every attendant got a Nexus 7 (2013) from Google, which for many made the trip worth it. But even without even if I had not got one, I would still have felt it was totally worth it. And even though I did not learn much about programming, I learned about myself, and I met and talked to a lot of cool people.
I am pretty anxious to see the documentary I am in.
I hope I meet the people I was in group with again, and all the other cool people I talked to.

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