Global Game Jam 2013: My Experience

Last weekend, I participated in Global Game Jam 2013, an event where, in the span of one weekend, people from around the globe makes games. And let me tell you, it was an awesome experience!

Friday, everyone met up at DePaul who was participating, singed up, and we watched the Keynote, which was very cool. Then, we got the theme our game was supposed to center around, which was a heart beat (something that can connect everyone from around the world, they said). I thought the theme was interesting, and after forming teams, we went right into brainstorming. Unlike a lot of those at DePaul, my team consisted of people I didn’t know. I think next year I’ll go into it with friends, but I figured being in a team with strangers would be a good experience, and it was. I had a lot in common with them, and when I find someone to talk about MegaMan Battle Network with, it’s always awesome!

By the time 8PM rolled around, we had our game idea, Murica. We went with a fat guy rolling around and eating various junky foods, trying to balance how much he was eating with how full he was and how fast his heart was beating. You lose when you have a heart attack or starve. It was supposed to strike at a theme about America’s obesity problem due to fast food while being funny and silly.

Saturday, I woke up at 7:30, got to DePaul by 9:30, and began working. At first, we were mainly doing some level design and getting lists of tasks we needed to get done while we waited for our programmer to finish the content pipeline for his engine. Because I was one of the producers, I dipped out now and then to check on some of my friends’ teams (and troll them. LOL), which was very fun, especially when I had one of my friends text someone, “We in there! #swag #yolo.” By the time 5PM rolled around, we had almost all of our art assets done, and by 9PM we were switching engines from our programmer’s custom engine to XNA because his engine didn’t have the ability to rotate a certain way (in programmer’s term, he had no forward Vector, which is bad. LOL). After XNA finally installed on his computer, he began translating everything to it, so the rest of the team relaxed and chatted. Unfortunately, we had to switch engines again due to a content pipeline problem XNA was giving us, and so we switched to Unity so more of us (there was only him and I programming, and since he had his own engine I really hadn’t been programming) could work on the project. By the time 3:30AM on Sunday rolled around, many of the teams looked very tired, and a couple teams were done and polishing. We had just finished a beta minus our heart and stomach features in Unity, and it was awesome. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the time and means to learn the many aspects of Unity and put everything in that we wanted, but what came out of it was a playable demo, and I think that’s what’s important.

By 11 AM, most teams were done and submitting (you can see a screenshot of my game as the header image for this post), and so everyone was pretty much relaxing and chatting about how they wanted to sleep. I know I sure did! At 11:30 judging began, and after all of that, I went home.

Global Game Jam 2013 was really awesome, and I will definitely be joining next year if I can! I learned a lot about producing, a lot about Unity, and I realized that I still have a long way to go before I can program with the big boys. Also, I should’ve taken more pictures so I could’ve put some in this post. LOL. Next time!

Just sayin’.

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Left 4 Silent Hill

School is back in session at DePaul University, and thus I find myself walking the cold streets of Chicago when the wind decides it would like to gust around 25mph and freeze my face.

At least I’m not walking through empty streets that randomly become overrun with over-aggressive zombies!

I’ve come to realize that custom maps in Left 4 Dead/2 enjoy a certain kind of homicidal pleasure as they throw a legion of zombies and 3-4 special infected at you at once. But nothing comes close to the level that I most recently experienced while playing through an almost faithful revamp of the game Silent Hill through 11 maps. Yes, you saw that typed correctly. It’s long, it’s hard, but most of all, it’s damn fun.

Before I explain why, let me point out that Left 4 Dead/2 is a different zombie game. Instead of it being creepy and full of situations where you find yourself at least a little scared due to the atmosphere (or at least something that jumps out at you), Left 4 Dead/2 throws that out the window and instead scares you not with the quality of the zombies, but the quantity. And let’s not forget the all-powerful Spitter, Charger, and Tank (easily the most deadly of the special infected amongst my group of friends whom I play with).

Now, Left 4 Dead/is fun. And so are zombie games that are a little scarier (Resident Evil), but this Silent Hill map did both. It combined the creepy sounds and atmosphere with zombies. We were in a rusting, dark hospital and out of nowhere, through the light created by 4 small flashlights, came an army of zombies, two consecutive spitters, and a hunter. In almost complete darkness. Couple that with authentic sounds from Silent Hill and you have yourself a map where exploration is creepy, and the invasion of zombies is terrifying.

There’s also multiple endings (just like in the game, which is very cool), so the replay value is insane for a Left 4 Dead 2 custom map.

My friends and I got the UFO Ending, and it is incredible. I won’t spoil anything because words can’t describe its insanity. You just have to download the map (link will be provided at the bottom) and experience it for yourself!

Speaking of maps I suggest you download, Questionable Ethics is by far at the top of the list. If you’re looking for some platforming, a few scores of waves of zombies, and falling cars, Questionable Ethics will be right up your alley! It’s got an interesting pick-and-choose system of obtaining weapons and support items, so playing with friends is definitely the best way to go here (although playing with friends is always better, just sayin’).

My favorite part was the finale, when we were being chased by a tank and a car fell on top of me and killed me. It gets crazy! Just like the Silent Hill map, the link for Questionable Ethics will be provided for you below!

So, there’s two custom maps for you Left 4 Dead/2 fans to try out! If you’ve tried them out already, got any good stories of your experiences in the Silent Hill or Questionable Ethics maps? Got any suggestions for maps I should try out? Let me know!

By the way, I’ve never actually played Silent Hill, but I heard the map is pretty accurate from my friends.

Just sayin’.

 

DOWNLOAD LINKS:

Silent Hill: (this is for Left 4 Dead, but it can be played on Left 4 Dead 2)

http://www.l4dmaps.com/details.php?file=865

Questionable Ethics: (for Left 4 Dead 2)

http://www.l4dmaps.com/details.php?file=9773

A New Year’s Resolution Entry (Blog Entry #1)

Here we go, first blog entry ever!

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Ryan (known as Klappy or Kappy), and I’m currently studying Computer Games Development at DePaul University as a junior.

I’ve been meaning to make a blog for a couple years, now, but I never got around to it due to school and my nervousness about starting a real blog. Not today, though! Today, I’m putting my New Year’s Resolution of starting and maintaining a blog into action, and I intend to keep it!

So, what’ll I be writing about? Anything that interests me; movies, cartoons, games (especially games), books, etc… I’m not one to keep on one topic for an extended period of time, so expect a lot of variety!

I’ll be updating my blog twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays, so look forward to the next one on Thursday! And have a happy new year!

Also, this blog will be featured on both WordPress and Tumblr, in light of me getting a Tumblr yesterday.

Just sayin’.