Category Archives: Games

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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New MMO: RIFT

For those who haven’t heard, RIFT is a new MMO being released March 1, 2011. The RIFT open beta started yesterday and will last for about a week. If you’d like to try it out, you can get more details at the official RIFT website.

Unfortunately, I have not had the time to try it out yet because of college assignments (even though I was invited to closed beta a few weeks back). So I’ll be keeping up with reviews and maybe trying it out this weekend since it’s the start of our study/reading week (a.k.a. spring break without the break).

For those who may be wondering why RIFT has been gaining attention, I’ll give a brief overview. There are two factions: Guardians and Defiants. Like a lot of MMOs, these aren’t clearly defined as “good” or “evil”, though they can still be guessed at.

Each faction has three races, with male or female as options. Some MMOs gender-lock certain races and, fortunately, RIFT isn’t one of them. Character customization, design-wise, is quite detailed. It’s not as detailed as in AION where you could make disastrous characters, but more detailed than the majority of MMOs today.

But this sounds like a generic MMO, doesn’t it? Well, it has some key features that do set it apart from the rest.

First is that the classes are treated a little differently. When you create a character, you choose one of four classes: Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, and Mage. Each class has seven subclasses (though I think they’re planning for eight). Soon after you start, you choose a specific subclass to use. Then you can choose talents as you level up, and the more talents you invest in the tree, the more base skills you gain (as opposed to going to class trainers). But the catch here is that you can obtain “souls” of other subclasses as well! You can mix and match up to three souls at a time and choose talents in each, specializing in certain ones if you feel like it. You can swap them any time you’re not in combat and I believe you can have up to 2 different “templates” saved.

So character customization is a huge feature not present in many other MMOs (who have talent trees who are clearly better than others and result in cookie-cutter classes). There’s one other cool feature that I haven’t mentioned yet.

Now, although players report that quests are very linear, RIFT has another special feature up its sleeve: Rifts. These are randomly generated anywhere in the world (very often) and what happens is that when a rift appears, mobs appear and start pwning villagers, nearby players, even QUEST NPCs! That means if you want to hand in a quest, you better man up and kick their asses so you can finish your quests. The creators also made it so that the more people take part in kicking their asses, the better loot you get. So unlike MMOs where players tend to want loot to themselves, the more the merrier!

That’s all the details I’m currently aware of as I write this. I certainly hope to try it soon, though it doesn’t look like I’ll be preodering it. I’m a collector and tend to like collector’s editions, but this one doesn’t have anything that would make me want to spend approximately $90.

That’s all I have to say about RIFT for now. I’ll post more as more information gets revealed and if I get to try it myself.

P.S. There’s something special in my blog for all the competitive people out there: If you find any mistake, whether grammatical, factual, or a typo, comment with the mistake and the correction. I will award points to users who find mistakes and set up a ranking system. Am I mean for pitting you guys against each other?

P.P.S. Since the blog was just quickly set up, the points won’t be applied to your accounts yet, but if you post corrections and you include your email address (which I believe will be hidden from public), when a better system comes out and you sign up, I’ll add the points that were received previously.

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