Tips for making a game in 24hrs

Now that GameHackDays are officially SOLD OUT, it’s time to get thinking about what you want to make or learn about! Learning a new technology and trying to make a game in 24 hours is quite a challenge, so we asked some game jam veterans for their top tips in making a game in 24 hours!

Simplicity and avoiding too much planning are the key themes, or put as Facebook puts it

See you in February!

TIGA GameHackDays! 8th – 10th Feb @ Modern Jago

Tickets now available for TIGA’s GameHackDays!

Overnight GameJams and hackathons are awesome but can leave you feeling like a zombie out from lack of sleep. Fortunately, the good people at Microsoft are letting us take over Modern Jago during the day  Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

By running the event over 3 days it means you can learn something new, whilst having enough time to play games in our games room and meet a bunch of great people (and maybe win some prizes on the way!).

Warrior, Wizard or Elf? Choose your path!

For GameHackers – for those that just want to get their head down and code/hack and create a game. You can spend every minute doing that!

For Learning Enthusiasts – we are bringing in resources from the games industry in the form of developers, coders, artists, audio specialists and game marketing experts. There’ll be pop-up sessions where you can ask these guys any questions you like.

For those that want some relaxation time fun during our GameHackDays -  there is a cool Games Room, separate to the main hack areas, where you can let loose! We’ll be running a mini-tournament for those with the time and inclination – high score wins!

Themes and Prizes for GameHacks created over the weekend:

Flexibility is key here, and you’re open to create whatever is of interest to you and your team. If you think its cool, theres a good chance people in attendance will like it as well! We’re not making this a prize oritentated event, but Adobe has offered up a prize for Best Flash Game – Each member of the winning team will win 1 copy of Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium (max of 5 people in the team).

Please note that games must be Stage 3D based. The game must be built using ActionScript 3 targeting Adobe Flash Player® in a desktop browser or Adobe AIR® on a mobile device or desktop computer. The game can be in 2D or 3D but must use Stage3D, Adobe’s fully hardware-accelerated architecture for Flash Player and Adobe AIR.

You can demo your hacks at the end of 3 days to a panel of games industry bods who love and create games themselves, and be rewarded and recognised for your hard work throughout the event!

Head over to the registration page for more information!

GameHack Q&A: Mutant Labs

Who are you?

Ben Reynhart, Creative Director for Mutant Labs

What is your favourite game of all time and why?

My favourite game is Portal, because it’s challenging and has tonnes of character. I never really played puzzle games before that, so it introduced me to the genre. I’m a big fan of anything Valve make generally :)

Do you regularly attend Game Jams? Or was GameHack your first one?

Yep I try to! Our company (Mutant Labs) has a great ethos for hacking together projects, especially games. I would say that our entire company partakes in around 3-5 game jams a year, in fact we are doing one this weekend!

How did you find it?

I loved it – probably the best Game jam we’ve been to. The organisation was top notch, catering, location, etc. Everything was ideal.

What was your idea?

Having 7 members  in the Mutant Labs gang, we decided to split up into 3 different teams and work on 3 games:

  1. Burger Rush - This is a cross platform Android and iOS multiplayer game of Jet pack tag. Airborne burger junkies battle it out for precious time holding the meaty treat, whilst building up their burger bar.
  2. ChaseBook - What if all your Facebook friends turned on you? What if you wanted to avoid any social interaction? It’s up to your finger to save your lonesome existence in this iPad game built in iOS Flixel by avoiding all your friends and staying out of the way.
  3. Treated Accordingly - This game was inspired by the dedicated security team at Pinewood studios who serve and protect the star-studded list of actors and actresses found on set – mess with them and you will be treated accordingly! In a multiplayer top-down game, one player sneaks around the map taking photos of celebrities, while another plays a hardened security guard with a hatred for paparazzi.

How did it work out?

  1. Burger Rush - “Pretty good actually, Chris and I have worked this way a few times before and have the process down quite well. We initially struggled a bit at the start comming up with ideas as we are used to working with a theme, but after a few cups of tea and some snacks, we settled on the idea for Buger Rush.” – Rich
  2. Chasebook - “We were pretty happy with the outcome of Chasebook. We managed to get the core gameplay of making your friends chase you down, and got big boss Zuckerburg in to round things off at the end. All in all we were keen to make something challenging and a little bit silly, which i think we just about managed to pull off.” – Alex
  3. Treated Accordingly - “I think we were overly ambitions with our idea (at least technically), however we got the majority of work done, and had a playable demo by the end. We where also lucky enough to have a talented animator/comedian on our team, who made a killer game trailer that added loads to the project.” – Ben

Did you continue working on your idea after GameHack?

We saw real potential in the Chasebook game mechanic, so we took the idea and developed it into a commercial game: Half-Inch Heist – an action-packed diamond heisting game on a tiny scale. The game will be released on the iPhone App store in Autumn 2012 – see for details.

Any tips to share about making a game in 24hrs?

  • Don’t be too ambitious! Start with a simple idea with a neat hook and expand from there.
  • Don’t waste time with using source control / setting up tools  - just dive in.
  • Teams of 2 works best, artist and coder. Having 2 coders is sometimes problematic. Bigger groups need more organisation and are less efficient.

Anything else you would like to share?

It’s not a bad idea to have in mind who you might like to work with before going to the jam. At the same time it’s a great chance to meet new people and learn new skills. Also don’t try and learn a new programming language! Use tools you are familiar with to get most bang-for-buck!

GameHack Q&A: Lightwood Games

Continuing our Q&A series, we chatted to Katherine Gordon of Lightwood games – winner of the BlueVia best use of Mobile awards at GameHack.

Who are you?

I’m Katherine Gordon, half of the Lightwood Games team.  I’ve been programming ever since I can remember, and creating iPhone & iPad games with Chris Newman at Lightwood for the last 2 years.

What is your favourite game of all time and why?

That’s a tough question!  The game that always springs to mind when asked is Monkey Island because it was the first computer game I really played, and have played to completion many times since!

Do you regularly attend Game Jams? Or was GameHack your first one?

GameHack was my first game jam experience!  Hopefully not the last!

How did you find it?

It was great fun and incredibly tiring!  I might be getting a bit old for programming all night!;o) The event was well organised, and the presentations at the beginning were a nice way to get everyone thinking about what to create.  The phrase “Done is better than perfect” from the Facebook presentation has been quoted numerous times in our office now when we’re struggling with a problem!

Being at Pinewood Studios was pretty amazing, even if we weren’t allowed to wander round.  There was plenty of food and drink available to fuel the coding and everyone was really friendly.

What was your idea?

We had been toying with the idea of connecting multiple iOS devices via Bluetooth to create an enlarged playing surface for a long time, but never quite getting round to making it.  I foolishly decided that I could do it in 24 hours!  We opted for a simple Lights Out style game to show off the technology.

How did it work out?

At 6am, after much hair pulling and frustration, it finally worked! I had devices connecting together and creating this huge surface we’d been hoping for.  Then we had a couple of hours to actually get game play working!

Amazingly, we did manage to pull it off and once we had text scrolling across the devices suddenly everyone was interested in what we were doing! After many hours of sitting quietly in a corner being ignored by everyone, we had people interested in what we were doing!  Which was great, except that I was having a lot of fun demoing it instead of ironing out the last few bugs!

We even won a prize! Rather shocking after our incredibly sleep deprived demo of the game!  So it must have worked out pretty well :)

Did you continue working on your idea after GameHack?

After GameHack we polished it up a little, squished some bugs, and released the game as Plasma Party. Since then, we’ve actually tidied up the Bluetooth tech code to make it much more robust and used it in a second game called Head Hunter Challenge which we developed with a Game Hack style deadline, although we gave ourselves 5 days rather than 24 hours as we wanted to get 3 complete game modes in there!

Any tips to share about making a game in 24hrs?

Try to have a plan beforehand, and keep it simple!  If you know who you’ll be working with, have a bit of a meeting and come up with ideas first.  Make sure you’re all working in a language you’re familiar with and that you know how you’ll split up the work so you’re not coding over one another.

Anything else you would like to share?

I really enjoyed the GameHack experience and I’m looking forward to coming to the next one!

GameHack Q&A: attendees share their thoughts

Game Jams are a lot of fun, but if you haven’t attended one before fear not! We’ve chatted to some of the people who came to GameHack earlier in the year to find out why they came, what they did and how they got on, the first is Chris Hannah :)

Who are you?

I’m Chris Hannah, I’m 20 years old and I’ve been doing different forms of programming since secondary school.

What is your favourite game of all time and why?

I can’t really answer this with one answer. My favourite game was always Pokemon Yellow, because I spent all of my childhood with it and as it followed the TV episodes, I chose this one! But I also play (I know many will dislike this) World of Warcraft, and I think this has the best experience of a game I’ve ever played, plus it has a few million players and there is endless amounts of things to do.

Do you regularly attend Game Jams? Or was GameHack your first one?

I’ve entered Ludum Dare 3 times so far, but GameHack was my first competition where I actually met with other developers and all worked in one area.

How did you find it?

Terrifying. I’d never really communicated with other developers at all, apart from the few friends I know or a few people on different forums, so It was very different to actually see everyone getting on the coach to Pinewoods because I’d never been with so many game developers, it was awesome.

The actual event I found was planned out very well, the mornings presentations got everyone thinking of what they could do and gave everyone a boost. It’s incredible to go from programming apps/games in your spare time to being in Pinewoods Studio with other developers watching presentations from people like Facebook and Mozilla.

The amount of food and drinks was nice, and there was plenty to go around. Plus Beer and Pizza is always a good choice with programmers, the only thing else you could do to give them a better experience would be to give them all a programmers cat.

What was your idea?

The idea was a simple platformer, but we we’re trying to add weird features to it that were so odd I can’t even remember them! But it had lovely graphics, and the idea just grew as we were making it, we didn’t really plan.

How did your game idea work out?

It worked out well for the first half, we had a decent set of graphics, music was on its way, and we had the basic game working. But as we were 4 different types of developers and all trying to collaborate on a project using something called Stencyl which makes flash games, it didn’t go well because the software starts to bug out when sharing files, and contributing to a project. So out idea of using a basic flash maker didn’t go the way we planned as it turned out more complicated than we thought.

Sadly, we didn’t get anything finished to show to everyone which was a bit of a disappointment, but I suppose there is still other opportunities. The game was really buggy and as we were working on more features, more were breaking.

How did you get on?

I personally thought I didn’t do as well as I could, but I would do a lot better if I used Java or focussed on an iOS game as they are my strong points, so maybe I will learn that from now on. I can’t comment on the game because not much came out of it, but I did make a little chatroom in node.js while I was there. But the whole experience was great, and I’d definitely plan what I am doing before and if i was in a team, make sure everyone knows what they were doing. So nothing was completed, but I gained an amazing experience.

Any tips to share about making a game in 24hrs?

I can say this from my perspective of doing GameHack and also 3 Ludum Dare competitions (They are 48h). Making games in a short amount of time is very hard, but it is possible. Make sure you do everything you can do to prepare, so work out if you are in a team or not, and then work out the roles of each person. Get an Idea of which programming language, software, and any libraries you will use as you will be able to start faster. An ideal thing that I would of liked to do was to get something working fundamentally in the first few hours and then work on the feature that will separate your game from the rest.

Anything else you would like to share?

Just that GameHack is awesome, and I might even come back next time. This time I think I may work on an iOS app!

Event: The State of HTML5 Games

If you’re interested in HTML5 gaming,happen to live in Brighton and have no plans for this evening then this event is for you!

“With Angry BirdsCommand & Conquer and other big-name games being created using Web technologies, it’s obvious that HTML5 and JavaScript games here to stay.

In this talk, Rob Hawkes will cover the state of game development for the Web; highlighting key events and technologies, as well as shedding light on what is coming in the near future.”

If you manage to get to the event, send in a report!

Event report: London Game Developer Workshop

Yesterday we attended the London Games Developer meetup, this was a meetup with a difference as rather than just talks and networking, there was *shock horror* actual coding!

A meetup about more than just beer and pizza? Crazy talk!

Anyhow, the subject of the first workshop was Turbulenz, a HTML5 game engine that not only gives  high quality visuals but also helps with adding social functions to your game.

One of the most interesting features of the product is the Hub, which offers the ability to not just rapidly iterate but that it enables you to set up private testing groups quickly and easily. This means real feedback from actual users, which is incredibly important, as you do not want to burn through cash and development time on a feature that users don’t like or understand.

And the best bit? Its royalty and license free!




Game development workshop series – Session 1

London Game Developers are hosting a game development series starting next week! The first session will introduce Turbulenz an HTML5 social gaming engine (and one of the sponsors of this years GameHack). Its a great opportunity to meet up with other developers and find out more about some cool technology, see you there!