Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Global Game Jam Review: RunRunRunJump

My first Global Game Jam review is on RunRunRunJump. A 2D/3D hybrid, text based platformer game built in Unity. The development team was located at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab in Cambridge, Mass. I believe deception and abstraction were the two themes chosen for this game from the officially prescribed by the IDGA Global Game Jam themes for the region.

The team consisted of:

  • Owen Macindoe - Programming (and end game screen!)

  • Scott Macmillan - Concept, Level Design, Art

  • Daniel Perry - Sound and Music

  • Alex Schwartz - Programming, Art

  • Stephie Wu - Programming

I know Scott and Alex from Boston Indies and the IGDA Boston Post Mortem, so I enjoyed communicating with them through their development process via twitter and streaming video. It was their game I played first.

Because the game was developed in Unity, it is playable on the Mac, PC and in web browsers with the Unity plug-in. Unity is a fantastic choice and powerful tool for a game jam. If the team chooses to keep on developing RunRunRunJump they could use Unity to publish on Wii and iPhone with additional licensing.

When the game began the first thing I noticed was a strip of blocks with a single word in each box. A hopping icon with the word “shoot” written on it bounces across the screen. The first four text blocks contain individual words that compose the title of the game. The remaining blocks each say “start”.

The music is composed of vocals like a deep base voice singing the word “base”, a chorus singing”chorus” and a melodious “melody”. Some drums kick in later. I think this works very well. I found myself sing along.

One must read the text on the 3D objects to know what to do. Click on the word “Start” on a 2D block and the game begins. The 2D intro menu becomes 2D /3D. The player is a capital “I “ with an abstract 2D gun that says “gun”. Clouds in the sky are clusters of the text “clouds” in the distance. The text blocks are now instructing you to run.

Using the arrow keys to navigate is simple enough. Pressing the space bar to shoot 3D bullets labeled with the word “pew” accompanied by the audio of a spoken “pew” streaks across the screen. All objects dynamically describe what is is they do and/or what you should do to them. At least on the first level.

The second and final level is where the deception really kicks in forcing the player to “think”. I won't spoil the fun.

The clean grayscale graphics, 2D/3D aesthetic, great audio, and deceptive game play combined with the Unity physics engine make for surprising fun. I would love to see this game expanded with more levels. RunRunRunJump on my iPhone too some day would rock (hint, hint).

Congratulations RunRunRunJump team! You made 48 hours of awesome.

Global Game - 2010: Part 1

Last weekend was the 48 hour IGDA Global Game 2010. Groups of programmers, audio and visual artists, designers...came together to create games based on themes for their region. I have been told via twitter, from @kadamwhite (Quest for Stick team member), the “Global themes were "Deception," "Rain, Plain or Spain." Local theme was "Abstraction," specifically in the representational sense".

Many locations where streaming live to the internet while the jammers developed their games. I was not able to participate this year. Instead, I was glued to the live stream from the Singapore MIT GAMBIT game lab while tweeting conversations with some team members I was watching. "Obtuse" as @MrMaguffin said.

I'm particularly interested in the Boston / Cambridge, MA area game jammers. Even though I'm in VT, Boston is the epicenter of the game industry in the north eastern states. I'm a member of the local IDGA chapter - Boston Post Mortem, a member the Boston Indies game developer group and a founding member of the North East Digital Artists Group. I was routing for the Singapore MIT GAMBIT game lab teams mostly because I knew a lot of people there and wanted to join in.

Over the course of a few weeks I'm going to review a few the the local games and teams. I find this project fascinating because I know so many of the people and am impressed by thier skills. I hope you enjoy my reviews and insights about indie video game development.

Been a While

Sorry, I've been busy the past few months neglecting my blog. I'm officially back to blogging.