Sunday, April 22, 2012

St. Louis Game Jam

The Saint Louis Game Jam this weekend kicked off with a bang.  After arriving at the Simutronics offices, all the participants (about 60 of us, all told), crowded into the conference room for the ritual drawing of the theme.  The noun picked was "Justice", and the adjective was "Light" -- so our theme this weekend was "Light Justice."  Sounds like an Internet meme to me.  :)

We then divided ourselves up by specialities -- programming, art, design, and miscellaneous (where I, as a writer, ended up).  Then we put together our teams for the weekend. 

(Photo credit by Dave B.) The team I was on, led by Simutronics staffers Elonka Dunin and Jen Patton, tossed around ideas and came up with the bare bones idea of a platformer, where a cat finds scales scattered by a rainbow trout god, which we presented to the Game Jam (under the name Team Rainbow Killer).  And then we buckled down and got to work.

We further refined our game idea.  We went with a Japanese motif, and you control a white cat that is catching the rainbow scales that are falling off of the rainbow trout god, and restoring the scales.  Periodically, a black cat will run across the screen and knock more scales off of the rainbow trout god, for the white cat to try to catch. 

The name we came up with for the game is Scales of Justice. 

I will quote you the game intro text, which yours truly wrote:

"In the dawn of the world, legend tells of the rainbow trout god, Nijimasu-sama, who controlled all the colors of light, keeping each color safe and tucked away in his scales.

Until one day, the trickster cat Fusei, stole away Nijimasu-sama's scales, scattering them across the land.

Fusei's sibling, Kouhei, swore to recover Nijimasu-sama's scales, and restore justice to the world.

You are Kouhei, seeking out and collecting the missing scales of each color, returning them to Nijimasu-sama.

But beware! Fusei is not through making mischief!  He continues to attack Nijimasu-sama, scattering more scales for Kouhei to find."

Our team coded the game in Flash.  The game has nine levels, since cats have nine lives.  :)

And now it's Sunday morning, our game is up and running, our team is play testing it and tweaking the game play.  In a few hours, we'll show off our finished game to the rest of the game jammers. 

This is my second game jam, and I enjoyed it more this time around, since I knew what to expect.  I like the game, Mobius, that I worked on at the January Global Game Jam, but I like Scales of Justice more -- it's a more fun game, and has better gameplay than Mobius, in my opinion. 

Overall, I like game jams and intend to do more of them in the future.

One thing I did find disappointing, though, was that there were not many other women participating in the Game Jam.  It was the same at the January Game Jam as well.  I would love to see more fellow women get involved in events like this, and in the game development industry in general.  Part of it might have been the timing -- this Game Jam was scheduled for the same weekend as Anime STL. I actually attended Anime STL on Saturday and talked to the staff of Happy Badger Studio, an indie game and app development studio here in town.  The two staffers, both women, admitted that they would have attended the Game Jam if they hadn't already been committed to presenting and manning a booth at Anime STL.  (Happy Badger Studio did the official Anime STL app for both iPhone and Android.)

So yes, I'm hoping to persuade more women to participate in future Game Jams. 

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to the next St. Louis Game Jam, in August!

Crossposted to the Scales of Justice website

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