Last Friday was the 2nd Adobe Game Jam. It took place in Chicago and I was fortunate enough to attend. I live in Milwaukee so it was only a short trip down.
The event was held at The Nerdery. I’ve heard of this place for a few years but have never attended an event. They’ve held many Flex-user meetings there but I never had the chance to attend. It’s a pretty cool place. The tabletops are whiteboards, there are tons of video game consoles, and a cold keg was on tap! (off limits to us but still cool)
The Adobe crew that ran the game jam was Marie Nedich, Michelle Yaiser, Tomas Krcha, and Lee Brimelow. All really nice people who did a great job with the event.
The first night kicked off with a quick demo of current games built on Stage3D. They demoed both desktop and iPad games. All were enough to get me pumped to start coding. Especially the iPad ones.
After that, anyone with a game idea was to present to the group. The plan here was that if anyone liked your idea they would come and work with you. We could join a group or work alone. I was pretty hell-bent on working on the game that I came prepared to do. We were given the theme “Chicago” a few days before. I spent the prior 2 weeks studying starling since I’ve been so into EaselJS lately, and had device-debugging ready to go on iPad using Flash Builder 4.7.
My idea for the theme was to make a simple RPG-type card game using 1920’s Chicago gangsters. Instead of monsters, or wizards, or whatever. It would have simple AI for your opponent – the New York mob, particles, feathers UI, and some fancy card-flipping effects. I planned to use a die to whack others – or be whacked yourself of course. I was going to present on the iPad and make it simple enough to demo a quick and complete game.
After these pitches we were given some time to form the groups. I attempted to find an artist for my game but teams were pretty much set before we even started. Most people knew others or came with a partner. Nobody had the iPad in their plan so it looked like I was going to go it alone and scrounge for my own art. No big deal since there are no copyright rules in a game jam.
It turned out the we actually did have to be in a team. I was told I had to go find a group to join so it looked like my first game jam wouldn’t even involve my own game. Kind of a bummer. I admit I was a bit salty at first. I always imagined my first game jam to be a chance to pour all of my talent into a full-speed, no-distractions code-a-thon. And maybe actually finish something!
A guy named Jason Latte from Kentucky was sitting next to me. I had heard him talking to others about using a Kinect and Away3D. The game would put you in the game as Poseidon, somehow damned to occupy Lake Michigan instead of the ocean. This being the reason for the ‘Windy City’, and using the Kinect the player could create wind to waste the cars coming down the downtown streets. 3D is definitely not my style (or skill set) but it still sounded pretty cool. He was more than happy to take me in and we began planning right away.
I hurried through Lee’s Away3D tutorial to get my feet wet, then started getting the city ready for our game. I had way more questions than answers. I did my best to set up the city and camera controls. I actually did get that working but Jason and I agreed that it’d be best if I produced SWCs for the UI. I’d much rather be useful then to be constantly asking noob 3D questions. We prepared as much as we could and then all went back to our hotels.
I got back the next day at 9 and Jason was already there. He had gotten our environment set up overnight at the hotel and that put us in a pretty good spot. Pad had laid out some UI. The wind meters / power, scoreboard, screens, etc. I dove in and started coding them. It went pretty quick. By midday I was coding the game with Jason. He was in the driver’s seat, and at best I was able to periodically keep him in scope when he got tired. He was definitely coding like a madman!
Once the the game was working and the controls were connected using the Kinect, he grabbed my SWCs. They plugged right in. The wind meter (controlled by frantically waving your arms) was connected right away. And the power meter too. It felt good that I was able to provide him exactly what he asked for.
We then hit some very strange issues with my Kinect-style hand / hold-loader for ‘mouse’ presses. If you have a Kinect you know what I’m talking about. We had less than an hour left and it was wasted on issues we never figured out. The hand cursor was a pretty cool feature but it never made it in. I kept exporting the SWC but my properties and methods just stopped becoming available in the project. We have no idea why. Very weird. We must have exported that SWC 8 or 9 times but it just wouldn’t update.
Same with audio and most textures. The Kinect / controls just took up all of our time. Lee surprised us with a bonus 5 minutes so we were at least able to get some building textures onto the front cubes.
Oh by the way, a guy named Edward was building the 3D Models for the game. Poor Edward barely got a lick of his work in and we could tell he was upset about it. The whole thing may have been a bit too crazy.
We all presented. We presented 2nd and I volunteered to be the fool who demoed the Kinect controls by flailing my arms and body around to create wind, blowing away the crude vehicles coming down the streets. It worked pretty good. In the end it was more of a tech demo than anything but I think people appreciated it nonetheless.
The winners were a couple of guys who came in from Detroit. (pictured above) They were perhaps the nicest, most modest guys I’ve ever met. One guy from Chicago who joined them had created the sounds.
The game was fantastic. It was controlled by an XBox controller which was more than a simple key-mapping implementation. The little fire fighter, who really did look like a ‘Chicago dude’, would creep along at the speed controlled by the force of the joystick. Very cool! These guys killed it and the art was very good.
Afterwards, we all went to a reserved portion of a bar down the street. We had all of the drinks we wanted and a nice little buffet was waiting for us. Anyone who’s been to an Adobe event knows how generous they are.
I finally had a chance to have a conversation with everyone who had participated. I’m thankful to have met so many talented people. Lee was about as cool as anyone can be and had a lot of encouraging things to say to me. It was awesome to finally meet him.
So I ended up pretty drunk by the time the Adobe crew took off to experience some Chicago-style pizza. The last few remaining developers filled up our provided to-go boxes with cold, leftover buffet food. I walked to Grand Ave, caught a cab, and crashed hard back at the hotel. It was a fantastic weekend.Read / Write Comments