August 13, 2020
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Students design new games – in just 48 hours

By Julia Meehan
Photo Editor

Students participated in the Global Game Jam, an event that challenges people from across the world to create a video game from scratch in just 48 hours, from Friday, Jan. 31 through Sunday, Feb. 2 in the Arts and Interactive Multimedia building.

“Game Jam is a collaborative event where aspiring game developers of varying skill levels come together to help each other out and challenge themselves to see what they can create,” said Patrick Merklee, a sophomore interactive multimedia major and the president of the College’s game design club.

The annual event was first created in 2009 and has grown exponentially in participation throughout the years. Last year people from 113 countries and 860 different sites participated in the event, including students from the College. Students interpreted this prompt in several ways, resulting in six different teams working on six different games.

“It’s been a lot of teamwork, there’s a lot more interactive teams than in the past,” said Meaghanne McBride, a senior music and Japanese double major. 

People of all skill levels worked on different aspects of the games, including gameplay, graphics and music. While one person programmed the player character’s movements, another designed the pixelated artwork, while another created the soundtrack in a digital music program. 

The finished products, revealed Sunday evening, were impressive for their time limit, but were not without their minor bugs. The computer-based games included interesting story ideas, stylistic graphics and charming soundtracks.

Participants rush to create interactive games on strict deadlines (Julia Meehan / Photo Editor)

The first game, Plantformer, combined 3-D and 2-D art styles to make a classic-style platformer that can run, jump and climb alongside a sweet, jingle-bell filled soundtrack. The development team ran into several issues along the way, but their creation was well received nonetheless.

The second game, Apology Simulator, was a Cards Against Humanity style card game focusing on playfully outrageous situations like “Why did you mortgage the house to buy cheese?” 

The players, named “Kyle’s last few brain cells,” picked their best card to justify their bad behavior, such as “Because I’m a Scorpio,” or “I was bored.”

The next game also incorporated a physical aspect and had players reading overly-complicated directions in order to fix their phone-like-device without violating their warranty. The device consisted of wires and other parts that needed to be rearranged correctly for a successful game. 

Next up was Prism, a puzzle platform game that had players controlling particles of light in primary colors with the goal of reuniting to make white light. Throughout the quest, players control different colors and utilize their unique abilities to solve puzzles and move through the level.

Tidybots was the next game demonstrated, where the player controls a tiny circular robot tasked with cleaning up a messy dorm room. Players push around crumpled red solo cups, pencils and empty cones, and climb up giant desk chairs in order to complete the task in a 3-D environment. 

Last up was No Space Like Home, a role-playing game about retrieving parts to fix your broken spaceship with pixel graphics. The player interacts with inhabitants of an alien planet and works through miscommunications to repair their ship and get back home. 

“I was very impressed with what everybody was able to make in such a short time,” Merklee said. “The best part is being able to see the passion in everybody. You see a lot more motivation here than normal schoolwork because it’s a passion project. People are here because they want to be, not because they have to be.” 

The whole crowd expressed interest in participating again for next year’s challenge and are always looking for new participants of all majors and skill levels. All the games created are available for download by the public on the Global Game Jam website.

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