Working at a gaming company comes with some advantages, the more obvious ones – like working with geeks and nerds who share a passion for the same thing, but also the lesser obvious ones, like our ways of celebrating and/or living our creativity.
Last weekend we had a company internal game jam, just to have some fun. Now, you might ask what a game jam is, so let me quote from the wikipedia article on the subject:
“A game jam is a gathering of game developers for the purpose of planning, designing, and creating one or more games within a short span of time, usually ranging between 24 to 48 hours. Game developers are generally made up of programmers, game designers, artists, and others in game development-related fields.”
So, at 16:00 local time we gathered on two locations (Berlin office and Karlsruhe office), and our boss gave us the theme for this game jam “Hidden Treasures”. We then worked out our ideas, pitched them, formed groups and had 48 hours (infact a bit less) to finish a game.
There where 10 teams (2 in Berlin, 8 in Karlsruhe), which took part, and i believe every single team more or less managed to have some playable result when the deadline hit.
The idea my team worked out started as a conversation between Tenzin (one of the later team members) and me, where we where talking about going on a reverse approach with the theme, assuming that most people would use the idea for having some sort of search for the hidden treasure, we came up with “people should be hiding a treasure”, and talked about different scenarios and ideas on how to make the game feel.
Chris (another one of the later team members) joined in to our idea, and we actually started talking about what game mechanics would be possible in the short time period that we had to develop the game – all while Tom (the 4th in our 4 man team) listened in. At some point he jumped into our discussion, and suggested instead of building it 2d in a pac-man style (which was what we where talking about at the time), we could build it as a Minecraft plugin, sort of using Minecraft as our game engine.
Now while Chris, Tenzin and Tom are all experienced Minecraft players, and Tom has worked on plugins before, i personally had never touched minecraft before. But right after Tom mentioned the possibility, it was quite obvious that this was how it was going to happen. Chris and Tenzin got that smile in their face, that a pyromaniac would have if you gave him a flamethrower for christmas with a letter attached asking him to burn down the world.
And there where quite some advantages to that approach.
- We had a 3d engine with networking multiplayer out of the box
- Tom and I are both experienced in Java, as the programmer part of the team we could work in a language that we are comfortable working in, opposed to a properitary scripting language, which some game engines provide
- Tenzin and Chris, while having experience with minecraft, would have had alot harder time using the modeling / level building tools of any other engine, or would have had quite some idle time if we had done it in 2d
- We could make the game multiplayer instead of spending hours on an AI
- (Craft)Bukkit, the Minecraft server we’ve build the plugin for offers an easy to learn API
So after some talking about how and what, we “split up” in Tom and me building the serverside plugin, Tenzin working on the texture pack (we didn’t want to have our game to look too much like minecraft), and Chris started writing down a story, and then designing and building the map for the game.
In the end, when the deadline hit, we ended up with a running prototype of the game, and spend the last 10 minutes in rendering a video for the presentation. Sadly, without edits that video does not show much about the game. You can watch it here
So the game, Relicary:
A multiplayer network game, for up to 4 players in the same instance, which provides asynchronous 3 vs 1 gameplay.
We have a unique set of Space/Scifi textures, and the following set of rules for the game:
- At the start of each round, one of the up to 4 players is randomly picked to be the Gnaro, a thief who has to steal the relic and hide it
- The Gnaro has to “hide” the relic, by placing it in areas of the map that allow for placement
- the other 3 players are guardians, who have to hunt down the Gnaro, for that they can kill him with a right click
- Once the relic is hidden, a timer will start to tick down
- If the Guardians are able to right click in short distance on the relic before the timer is down, they win
- If the Guardians are able to right click in short distance on the Gnaro, they win
- If the Guardians do not right click the Relic within the countdown, the Gnaro wins
- Additional Players can join the level, but will have to watch the game from the spectator point, which is above the level and wont allow ’em to interact
- Many of the features Minecraft usually provides (building, Mobs, destruction) are either limited or turned off to provide for a more balanced gameplay
From the list you can see that this looks quite in favour of the Guardians, the Gnaro has no offensive capability (can’t kill guardians), and is outnumbered, however, the Gnaro can trigger pressure plates, which close/open doors around him.
The Plugin will be available to public soon.