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Everyplay to rock the party and a few words from Oscar Clark

February 8, 2014 at 15:13

Everyplay

 

At Nordic Game Jam we are proud to have Everyplay as one of this year’s new Party Sponsors.

Everyplay is a mobile gaming network that enables players to finally share meaningful content from games: their game replays. Everyplay delivers word of mouth discovery with user-generated videos, powers social sharing and connectivity for players, and enables developers to build more social and personal gaming experiences. You can learn more about Everyplay’s mobile gaming network at http://www.everyplay.com.

Oscar Clark, consultant and evangelist at Everyplay, has a few insights to share to you jammers that will surely help you get ready for the up and coming weekend:

Let the stars guide you

Kicking off new ideas can be the most exciting time for any developer but it’s important to get your head around why you are doing it.  I love Game Jams because they create a perfect mix of concentrated effort and people allowing you to realise you ideas without any preconceptions or even an expectation that what you create has to be any good.

The freedom to explore combined with the constraints of time and resource focus the mind like nothing else; but even though this creates a force of nature in most developers it’s wasted if you don’t have vision.

You Got To Have Vision

Vision isn’t an obvious thing. It’s a little like someone trying to give direction to Neverland in J M Barrie’s classic Peter Pan.  It’s the second star to the left and straight home till morning. In this era of GPS thats even more ambiguous a set of directions than it must have been in Barrie’s time. However, this idea that the stars can guide our way has a primal value.  When we create a vision it is a distant unreachable goal used only to allow us to make decisions.  Each iteration or step takes us closer to that goal; but the star itself is never really the destination.

But what is a vision? It’s more than just the idea for a game mechanic, more than the comparisons with other games you have played.  It’s about what emotions we want to create in our players as well as what we have to say about those reactions. OK that probably seems a little worthy or profound, but even with trivial light entertainment we are communicating something.  Tetris seems to have nothing to say but beneath the simplicity is a game you cannot win (well apparently in some versions you eventually save the Kremlin from destruction from space). The game continues to send waves of endless misshapen pieces at you and unless you can make solid lines with them you eventually are overcome. Each line you complete provides a temporary release and of course points.  However, in the end you don’t survive; you measure how long you succeeded. And no before you say it I’m not reading too much into a pretty basic puzzle game.

Make It Matter

A common theme amongst the best designers I know is their desire to create specific emotions.  They may often use other game experiences as a shorthand way to communicate this but beneath that coded language is a desire not to recreate a game they love; but to create something new which inspires the same emotions they felt when they first played those games.  It is in this way we can build on the familiar and create something which is our own; not a clone.  Clones are derivative clichés which add nothing to the language of gameplay. Truly creative works usually steal from experiences we already understand and can comprehend and then ‘Plus’ them.  Horrid word I know but ‘Plussing’ is a great creative technique which allows us to look at what we like about a concept critically and explore how we can improve it. Disney and Pixar use this regularly in their productions. Think about the games you want to make and how your experience, personality and ascetic values can make it unique.

The risk is that you just keep on adding new ideas; bolting on concepts which really don’t work together.  That’s fine as long as you don’t let your creativity stop there. Once you have a sense of what you like then think about simplification. Antoine de Saint-Exupery was right when he said “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Who Are You Making It For

Deciding what to keep and what to throw away is tough as we never want to kill our darlings (William Faulkner). For me this is where product marketing and in particularly the use of a vision statement becomes so useful.  Marketing in its essence is about “Identifying & Satisfying Consumer Needs” (that’s a kind of vision statement by the way). I know most people think it’s just about the money… that’s sales.  Marketing people (in theory at least) are about delivering value… money is just how we keep score. Designers who focus on their players needs and how to deliver them delight will succeed far more often than those who just do it for their own art. At best a designer caught saying this really mean they don’t understand players or at worst that they don’t care about them (which for me is as bad as those who just want to make a fast buck). Making a game because you want to play it is also a terrible reason; but I have to remind myself that Designers who say this are usually hiding a natural reserve; not wanting to brag about their design ambitions.

Staying True To Yourself

There is a risk in talking about design in terms of a vision rather than in terms of the player experience.  Both should go hand in hand with the Vision informing the direction of the game; but the gameplay leading the experience itself. Games have to be fun. They have to allow players to act (I would argue if players can only follow your pre-defined patterns it’s not really a game but that’s an argument for another time) and if they can act they will want to share those moment with others. How will you allow them to share that with others? How will your gameplay look to their friends? is the mechanic attractive/repeatable/fun?

Creating Magical Moments

Games which are successful largely have a core repeatable mechanic, a repeatable context which provides a sense of purpose and progression and importantly a negative space (metagame) beyond the game which is where the wider social interactions happen. Getting all this right in a short game jam is almost impossible.  But if we have a vision and we focus on how that allows us to prioritise the most fun and allow ourselves to build the smallest possible, most awesome slice of that experience then we can see amazing results.

Where we can let’s use both playing and marketing data but never let that decide our approach or resort to trying to infantilize players when we can’t distinguish from the lowest common denominator.  Bringing our own identity and ambition into a game design makes it stand out; allows us to disrupt expectations and that is what having a vision is all about.  Bland and timid designs will disappear in this hugely competitive market. Have something to say and perhaps the audience will listen.

Second Star To The Left

So if you are going into a game jam and you want to get the best value from it think about why you want to make games and have a vision that has to contribute to the language of gameplay.  Then measure each feature you would like to make against how much it contributes to that vision (in an absolute order item by item – forget vague priority bands) and it will soon become obvious what matters and how you will be able to deliver the best you can in the time available. Then iterate, test, iterate, test.

You don’t have to be profound, but you do need to have something to say if you want to be heard and remember you can only fit so much into one gamejam.

 

Oscar Clark is a Consultant and Evangelist for Everyplay, the free SDK that records and shares your favourite moments of play. Find out more at developer.everyplay.com. He is also author of “Games As A Service: How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games” due out in March 2014 (www.routledge.com/u/oscarclark).

To follow Oscar on Twitter check out @Athanateus  

Lazer Cutting and 3D Printing!

February 6, 2014 at 23:56

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 00.04.30

This could easily have been the title of a William Gibson book… But it’s not. It’s the announcement of #NGJ14 becoming even more super awesome:

We have acquired some talented people with some high-tech equipment!

At this year’s Nordic Game Jam there will be a a laser cutter and 3D printer available for whatever crazy NGJ related cutting and printing you guys can come up with.

With these two tools in your hands there is no limit to what contraptions you can produce. We’re especially looking forward to see what the board game track will come up with in this regard… Custom-made boards, custom-made board pieces… You name it!

Since 3D printing sadly isn’t super fast yet, you will have to be fast to get access to it on time, but you will be able to book your time to use it during the jam.

So get your sci-fi on and come to NGJ and laser cut a 3D printer! Or 3D print a laser cutter… Or…

New “Music Hacking track” announced!

February 5, 2014 at 19:19

Capture

This year Nordic Game Jam wants to put more focus on Music and Audio so we are organizing the first Music Hacking track here at Nordic Game Jam. Team up with programmers, designers, artists, and musicians to design and prototype new concepts within music. You can play with games, software, hardware, mobile, web, instruments, cardboard, or whatever – everything is allowed as long as it’s related to music.

We are really looking forward to see what happens when we mix musicians, audio designers, designers and programmers.

As an addition to the Music Hacking focused development we are also ready to announce an awesome bunch of cool music/sound related talks for Friday:

We’ve already seen quite a lot of super interesting audio projects at previous Nordic Game Jam editions, and you can see some of past years’ examples below. And this year we are looking forward to even more audio and music experiments to dazzle us! How’s your project gonna sound?

Supported by Shareplay and Bermuda (www.bermudaproject.dk)

Show us what you’re working on!

February 5, 2014 at 16:29

PlayDate

Hi everybody! On the first day of Nordic Game Jam, you’ll be talking a lot about games. One thing about games is that you often must play them, to understand them. We decided to support this a little better this year.

Presenting… PLAYDATE @ NGJ!

PLAYDATE is a designated expo area, right outside the main auditorium, where you are free to set up your game and play games made by other attendees. There will be volunteers to help you get set up and look after your stuff if you want to go to a talk. As always, we’ll be having a show and tell session on Friday, but the PLAYDATE area will just be an open space for you to set up your game so people can actually play it. You are encouraged to bring posters, flyers, business cards or anything to help brand your little corner of the expo floor. You are responsible for your own computers and screens, we will take care of tables and power supplies.

We hope you’ll bring something fun for us to play!

Sell outs!?

February 5, 2014 at 15:38

sellOut2

So Nordic Game Jam is actually going to be sold out soon. With less than 65 tickets left it’s bound to happen within the next week or so. Get swipping and hurry up to buy a ticket if you want to participate in the world’s biggest game jam!

Yeah you heard us, when we’re sold out we will once again take the throne as being the biggest game jam event in the world.

The full program is going to announced very, VERY soon and by experience we can say that it usually sets the sales on fire, making that last push towards a full sold out event.

So come join us and by buying a ticket here.

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SUPERHOT talk: After the jam – Taking your Unity project further

February 3, 2014 at 19:56

SUPERHOTYou’ve come to Nordic Game Jam. You spent 48 hours making a game and you’re really proud of that little baby of yours.

Now you want to make it better… but how?

SUPERHOT is a great example of what to do afterwards. The FPS game, where time moves only when you move, got a lot of media interest when it first was shown after the 7 Day FPS challenge because of its innovative and intuitive time control mechanism that creates great new gameplay possibilities. Basically it becomes a game of short and intense action scenes dodging bullets and taking down enemies.

The group of SUPERHOT is composed of Marek Baczynski, Luke Spierewka and Jakub Ziembinski, and they all have previous experience in game jams, mobile game development, electrical engineering and a couple of quirky projects that might or might not have involved cats and iPads.

And now they want to share that experience with Nordic Game Jam participants in a talk where they will explain their successes and problems (mostly the problems though) that they’ve encountered during the transition from a simple 7DFPS game to a much larger project.

So don’t miss them on Friday during the talks session at NGJ14!

SUPERHOTTeam

The strangest name for a talk you’ve ever seen, by Nicklas Nygren

January 30, 2014 at 21:35

NicklasDanceNo, the title you see above is not the actual name of the talk. It would be strange if it was, but the real name of the talk is even more strange.

And it is quite fitting actually, considering that Nicklas Nygren, the developer behind Knytt Underground, Nightsky and Saira among many others, is quite a strange character. He’ll probably read this announcement and agree with it.

Those of you who attended Nordic Game Jam last year probably remember seeing him doing his dance moves on the stage after winning the Grand Prize at NGJ13, so you’ll probably agree with this as well.

But… what is this talk then? How is it called? And what is it about? Well… it’s called “The talk where I show and give away some cool Unity components I did, then play a song at the end for some reason“, which is surprisingly self-explanatory.

Nicklas, who is originally from Umeå, northern Sweden, but currently lives in Copenhagen, is the founder of Nifflas’ Games and he has developed some really interesting techniques to design and coordinate his games. He recently started to create games using Unity, and since then he has already created quite some cool stuff with it. If you want to see a piece of what lies within his mind, this is the talk to go to!

Coming to NGJ14 from Jutland? Get a free bus ride!

January 29, 2014 at 20:11

BermudaBus

Last year we had a whole bunch of Nordic Game Jam participants joining us from Jutland thanks to a bus trip organized by Bermuda, the initiative that connects game developers from the Danish cities of Aarhus, Aalborg and Viborg.

With the huge success of #NGJ13, it’s time to repeat the experience: Bermuda is once again organizing a completely free bus trip from Aalborg that will go first to Aarhus, then Viborg and finally all the way to Nordic Game Jam 2014!

If you sign up before Friday February 7th (or before the seats run out), this is what you will be getting:

- Free breakfast (rundstykker & juice)!

- Free beers and sodas!

- Boardgames in-the-bus:

  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Munchkin
  • Make-your-own-boardgames

- Meeting other super cool people going to Nordic Game Jam!

Friday, 14th of February: 

08:00am – Leaving Aalborg (pickup at Platform4)
09:15am – Leaving Viborg (pickup at Open Workshop)
10:30am – Leaving Aarhus (pickup at Talentfabrikken/Filmbyen).
02:00pm – Arrival in Copenhagen

Sunday, 16th of February:

11:45pm – Leaving Copenhagen (pickup by Nordic Game Jam)
03:00am – Arrival, Aarhus
04:30am – Arrival, Viborg
05:30am – Arrival, Aalborg

Interested in joining them? Then sign up at their website for this opportunity!

Adriaan de Jongh: All Your Games are the Same

January 28, 2014 at 15:38

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It’s time for more talks announcements! Today we’re happy to reveal that Adriaan de Jongh, best known for his International Games Festival nominated iPad game Fingle (for the Nuovo award for most innovative), will be giving a talk at Nordic Game Jam during the Friday series of talks before the event kick-off.

Adriaan is usually delving around unusual ways of interacting with devices, something he is overwhelmingly enthusiastic about. That, and he is great at coming up with quick prototypes for his game ideas, something that fits perfectly with the game jam spirit.

His game Fingle is a co-operative two-player game that encourages awkward human interaction with the players’ fingers touching each other while playing on a tablet. And you could say that Adriaan’s hair is almost as famous as his game.

For #NGJ14 he will be giving a talk called “All Your Games Are The Same“, in which he will clame that 98% of the games we know have the same interactions we’ve been seeing for the past two decades. So join him on Friday, February 14th to learn how to take a shallow look at your designs, resist the easy path, go down the “fuck it” route and move forward in game design. As he puts it: “Let’s talk real game design for a change.”

Kvasir Games and how to make a board game in 48 hours

January 22, 2014 at 20:39

Kvasir Games

Just like last week we gave you the story of the success of one of Nordic Game Jam 2013′s digital games, now it’s time to talk about the success of one of last year’s board games, Wanted: Igor!

The group, formed by Kristín Guðmundsdóttir, Ioana Marin, Anders Lystad Brevik, Tróndur Justinussen, and Simon Cutajar made the award-winning board game Mussades at Nordic Game Jam 2012 and the year after they decided to work together again, creating Wanted: Igor (back then under the name of Beast Builder), which became yet another success.

With the team doing so well, it’s no wonder they started their own board games company out of it, Kvasir Games, and got ready to start selling their first formally published game.

Wanted: Igor

The team recently posted an article on the worldwide-reaching IGDA Perspectives Newsletter on creating board games from scratch to finish in just 48 hours at a game jam which we seriously recommend taking a look at.

What’s more, the team will be giving a talk this Nordic Game Jam 2014 that will also serve as a great introduction to this year’s Board Game Track!

That’s right! Once again the successful board games track is back in action and will be providing you and your team with lots of materials to create something different. We will announce more details about this soon, but if playing and making board games is right up your alley then we encourage you to join NGJ14 and get a ticket right away!

Because not everything at Nordic Game Jam has to be digital!

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