Category Archives: Current Events

Global Game Jam 2016

#gbcggj

That is a hashtag that trended in Canada for a little while last week – and I’m glad to say I was a part of it.

Last weekend, the Global Game Jam took place. The way it works is that at 5pm Friday (for every jam, timezone dependent), a theme is announced. You have 48 hours (5pm Sunday) to create a game that fits the theme. This can be done in teams or individually. The game jams are also set up at dedicated sites – there is no doing game jams from home. My team went to George Brown College in Toronto.

This was my first game jam. I went with my capstone group from college, otherwise known as Robot Monocle. We also had a team mate’s relative join us and do our music and sound. Together, we were Team Excelsior Techtronics, and we made a game called Insular.

Friday, at 6pm, everyone was in a room together and they showed us the Global Game Jam 2016 introduction video. At the very end of the video, the theme was announced. “Ritual”. As soon as it was announced, the hundreds of people in the room immediately broke out in conversation. The organizers quickly quelled the conversations and gave us a bit of information.

First, do not put the theme on social media, due to the time zones that did not hear it yet. Second, the designated floors are the fifth and sixth floors, and there are signs with team names set up in the rooms, so we need to find our team locations.

My team’s┬álocation was on the sixth floor. The computers provided were Macs with the option to dual-boot into Windows – which our team did. We quickly got our environment set up and began the toughest part of the jam: coming up with a game idea and the tools to create it.

We created a Google Drive document to brainstorm a bunch of ideas. We iteratively got closer and closer to where we wanted to be. We eventually decided upon having the player suddenly be on an island, and having until midnight before everything resets. Before reducing our scope, we thought it would be neat to include a bunch of hints and certain things to do throughout the day until the end goal was reached… That way the player would develop a sort of “ritual” of things to do as each day goes by. Unfortunately, 48 hours isn’t nearly enough time to do something so elaborate. In the end, we got three rituals that need to be completed before a portal is lit up and you walk through… and the game exits. Congratulations! You managed to escape the game!

We decided to develop the game with Unity. None of us really knew how it worked except for an assignment we did in college, so much of the weekend was spent learning how the tool worked rather than pure content creation. Nevertheless, I’d say the weekend was quite a success. I hadn’t had this much fun programming in a very long time. I got to create some really neat functionality. For example, I created a time controller that was responsible for keeping track of the time of day – but it also supported having a list of time-triggered events through an implementation like the observer design pattern. Essentially, it was a list of objects containing a condition (a Func<bool>) and an action (Action). Any other class that wanted a time-triggered event could easily add one to the list.

I also implemented a neat generic ritual queue base class that supports a queue of GameObjects (which is the base class for all Unity game objects). The first sample ritual was circling a tree – which involved touching three invisible triggers. Each time you would hit one of the triggers, it would send itself to a central ritual controller and add it to the queue. Once the queue is filled, it cycles older items and calls a function to see if the condition has succeeded. For the tree-circling ritual, for example, it looped through the queue (which contained only the last three triggers) and ensured they were in the correct order. While this ritual was removed, a similar one was added with seven triggers.

All of this code is on GitHub at this repository. If for some reason you’re interested in seeing only my commits (which, might I say, has the coolest code), click this link. All of the code is in the Assets/Scripts folder. The Audio folder contains audio management scripts, which make use of the Observer-style pattern time controller. The Ritual folder contains all of the code needed to perform the rituals and to win the game. Outside of these folders include the time controller and various other useful scripts, such as the game reset at midnight, the player drowning, and the code responsible for moving the sun.

We also used Pivotal Tracker to keep track of the tasks needed to be done. It’s public and can be seen here. Be sure to click the Done link on the left to see all of the tasks.

After such a pleasant experience, I do hope to participate in the Global Game Jam next year! A big thanks to the organizers at George Brown College!

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E3 is here!

E3 Logo

Okay, okay, this is a bit late but I will be covering parts of E3. Different topics will get different posts, so stay tuned! If you want to see the latest videos, news, and live coverage of E3, you can find all that and more on their official website.

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Extra Time and Japan

Spiral Clock

As for college assignments, in my opinion and from my understanding of the assignments coming ahead, I’ll be having a bit more free time. This means more time for blog posts, so I’ll try to keep this updated a bit more than the rare posts in the past month.

If you hadn’t heard (and I assume you have unless you live under a rock), Japan has been the unfortunate recipient of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, followed by a tsunami that caused landslides, things to be swept away in massive amounts of water, and a nuclear power plant malfunction that resulted in nearby cities to be evacuated. All the while, snow has been falling and they have been finding bodies and people have gone missing.

That’s a lot for any country to handle. If you want to help, you may text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 for relief efforts. I highly suggest you do if you are able to.

My thoughts are with Japan and their people during these tough times.

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Google’s Social Search

Google has released yet another social network “plugin”, this time in their search engine.

Of course, this isn’t the first time. In 2009, they introduced a feature to see what people are saying about what you’re searching for in real-time at the bottom of the page. They’ve added more searchability and integrated social networks increasingly over the year, and now they’ve added even more.

Searching will now produce results with extra information from your friends and connections who have talked about the links produced by your search. This is designed to make it easier to find what your friends like while you’re searching for anything. Looking for a selection of cameras? Mr. X talked about how this one is great. Looking to book a trip? Ms. Y certainly loved going to Yosemite! These examples are taken from Google’s own video.

As an increasing number of companies merge together, it seems like the Internet is morphing into one giant social network. Is this a good thing?

I do believe that social networking is handy. It allows friends and family to stay connected, even if they’re on opposite sides of the planet. But as more people flock towards social networking, the more privacy deteriorates. People post about what they eat, when they go to bed, sometimes even when they go to the bathroom! People aren’t just losing their privacy. They’re giving it up willingly.

So where is the line between useful social networking and complete lack of privacy? That’s the problem. There is no clear line. It’s up to people like you and me to make that choice for ourselves. Even though major corporations like Google add social networking features, in the end, we’re the ones who give out the information in the first place.

What are your thoughts on what boundaries should be? Is everything okay the way it is? Feel free to reply in comments.

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