Are We There Yet?
May 4, 2014
Are We There Yet? is a serious game about what it is like to be a child, when one’s parents are fighting. You control with the mouse and space bar, if you press p it will enter controller mode.
Project took 26 hours to develop.
So on the bus on my way to Nordic Game Jam I sat next to Jonas Klemmensen and just behind of Robin Sverd, who just so happened to be the hosts of this game jam: Game Changer Game Jam. The idea was to create a game that would have an impact.
There were some great talks at the event, most memorable one was Ryan Green, who talked about his game “That Dragon Cancer”. What I liked especially about this event; was its size. You got really close to everyone, and you could probably get to meet everyone if it was your goal. Because of the size no game got undiscovered so I got to see every game.
My main critic of this event was the group forming, I had been talking to Jonas right after NGJ about the group forming there, and he was unsatisfied by the way they did it.
/* They did it by splitting us op into categories and we started pitching games together and jumped on what ever idea we found interesting. */
So here at Game Changer Game Jam the group forming instead consisted of … nothing. Here you talked to each other and hoped people had similar interests. I am not saying the other way would be better (probably because of the size), but I did not like this. While group forming Frederik really wanted to work with me, so we went around and tried to find others who just needed to programmers, but found none.
I really like game jams because of the people I get a chance at meeting new people and work together with them, this was my takeaway from Nordic Game Jam, people are awesome. I know Frederik from my education, but he really wanted to work with, maybe he wanted someone he knew, that he could work with. During a conversation with another group (who were kinda full all ready) we met Niels Bross, I cannot remember if he were there alone or not, but I instantly wanted to work with because we had no connections to each other and the crowd of not-grouped people were rapidly thinning. In fact it was thinning so much, that we were the last ones without a group.
So this was going to be the team: Frederik, Neils and me. We went into a room and started to pitch ideas for each other. Actually we had no ideas, so we just sat and talked a long while. Kristian Bak (whom I kinda know) came in looking for a group to join, he then left to see if there were others who needed him (he probably saw that we were stuck without any ideas.). Later however he came back and joined us.
I actually went into this game jam with an idea prepared, which I thought would be a winner. The idea was a coop cooking game about how it is to work together with other people, when you have pre conceptions about things. It got instantly shut down, no one liked the idea. The thing was; my idea was kinda silly, it relies on some all ready very game jam explored things to make it funny: Physic based “Simulator” with complex controls. After the Ryan Green talk it felt like no one wanted to make a silly fun game.
The theme of the jam was “Justice” presented by HopeNow, a human rights NGO. The speaker who presented the theme talked about (or the lack thereof) justice in the context of trafficking. So I pitched an idea where you were a kid in a court room, while your parents are fighting to get custody of you. They did not like it either, but because there were no other idea we continued thinking about it. While discussing, an email popped up saying that we could borrow an Oculus rift, which we thought was perfect for this.
finally I got to play with an Oculus :D. However, my computer does not have a HDMI port, so I had to borrow a really old laptop, and the USB cable to the sensors were missing. So basically I could play a unity test scene with <5 fps and no head tracking and on low graphics, it was painful.
The next day at around 11:30 am we needed to lock down on an idea. Kristian Bak pitched the idea of a kid sitting in back seat of car, looking out the window for a platformer game. We were are sceptical but we went with it, because it was the best idea we have had so far and we needed to get started. 48 hours is not a lot of time, and 26 is even less.
Developing the game was fun enough, I did not write any code that I am particularity proud of, but I got better at using Unity3D and collaborating with others in that tool. I got a little frustrated with one guy from the group and decided to get out of our little heat box and breath some air. So I went out and sat down with Robin Sverd (one of the hosts), Adrial Wallick (msminotaur) and Rami Ismail (vlambeer), and we had a very interesting disquisition, which was just what I needed to end my frustration and get back to work.
So at the price ceremony the next day the unthinkable happened, people voted for our game, and we won. It was really unbelievable (I might have been in shock because I do not think I bragged near enough) and I do not think anyone else in the group could believe it. So one of my friends, whom also were a contestant, asked me why I thought we won, and it is a good question.
Our game had nothing with to do with justice or trafficking, so it was not the theme. This is actually interesting for me, what makes a winner of game jam, if I look at NGJ the winner was Richard Anderson’s Putting Challenge which is a silly concept (but fresh) it was one of the most polished games and had only a little to do with the theme. I answered my friend: “I think some/many can related to this game, they might have tried being in the situation, wishing they were elsewhere.”, and I guess that is our relation with the jam overall theme.
At the jam there were some other really cool games. I fell in love with Traffic by Igor Noronha (which is not online because it is a board game), which was a choose your own adventure almost without words, this was also the judge’s favourite. Another game I really liked was Forget Evil & Laugh (its online but broken) by some people from my school which was a really cool take on the theme. Other than that there were Nightclub manager, which is eerie similar to one of my previous projects Pro Brothel Manager, however while Pro Brothel Manager was a totally unserious attempt at making something else than a bicycling manager game, Nightclub manager was a serious attempt at showing that trafficking was bad, or something like that, I guess that game was made for the wrong crowd and competition, or just not finished enough for making the impact they wanted to make.
It is a wonderful thought to think that a game would/can change the world, perhaps by getting people to rethink a decision and thereby do something good. But as one of my favourite folk punk musicians said about punk rock, I think the same about games.
“A punk rock song won’t ever change the world.
But I can tell you about a couple that changed me!”
– Pat “the bunny” Schneeweis.
Some other people wrote about the event, and I can definitely recommend reading their articles as well
Game Changer Game Jam – by Lars Kroll Kristensen – Made MegaCorp and writes more about the event in general.
So I judged a Game Jam – by Mikkel Lodahl – Judged the competition, and is also one of my teachers.
Game Changer – A Game Jam documentary – by Nothing Too Weird – Filmed the event.
Tags: Artsy, Browser, Experimental, Game Jam, Platformer, Unity