Over the weekend of Jan 25-27, 2013 I co-organized and participated in the St. Louis Global Game Jam 2013. See my posts over at http://www.stlgamejam.com for more posts by me. I’m particularly proud of this post: http://www.stlgamejam.com/everyones-a-designer/, which is about what the role of a designer is at a Game Jam.
Our jam site was the 19th biggest in the world, and the 4th largest in the United States. We had 143 registered participants, and created 20 games altogether.
My team consisted of me, Andrew Rauscher, Clayton, Maxwell Oldt, Jordan Covert, and Giovanni Baldi. We team used Sifteo Cubes as the target platform. I bought a set in December, and I’ve been thinking about how having three cubes would make an awesome two player game where each player has a cube and the third cube sits between them as a scoreboard. This was a perfect opportunity to create a game like that and learn a bit of C++, which nobody on the team had ever coded in before the event. It was challenging to move outside of my comfort zone, but it was extremely gratifying to learn what I’m capable of learning and producing in just 48 hours.
The theme of this Game Jam was “sound of a beating heart”, and our team interpreted that as the feeling of being in love. As a result, the game we created is Love Tester 1985. It’s a game that’s meant to be played by lovers/potential lovers. Love Tester 1985 is structured as a series of cooperative mini-games where a pair can only win by communication, knowing each other, and working together.
The game begins by having the players put their cubes together to form a heart. When they do this, the game notices and a heart on the scoreboard lights up. A few seconds later, the first game begins. This gets the players used to interacting with each other using the cubes and gets them in the mood to play cooperatively.
The first mini-game is a question that tests how well the players know each other. Each of the cubes displays “Me” and “You”, but one of the words is upside down so the player has to flip their cube over in order to highlight their answer. For example, if the question is “Who is more ‘experienced’?” one of the players might hold the cube so that it reads “Me”, and the other would hold it so that it reads “You,” and when the players press their cubes together they would win the mini game. The hope is that the couples talk about the results and get to know each other better or playfully fight about the answer.
Next up is a super fun cooperative dexterity mini game. In this mini game the players’ cubes show a different color on each of the four sides and the center cube shows a solid color. The players need to push their cubes together so that the color of the touching edges matches the color of the center cube. When they do this, the color on the center cube changes and they need to quickly rotate their cubes to match again. This is really fast paced and fun! We got this game working on Friday night and immediately knew we were onto something.
Next up is another question round, just like the first game. This is followed by a communication game where each player’s cube has a four-sided shape that they hide from the other player and attempt to explain which edge fits into one of the edges of the other player’s cube without peeking. This is a unique use of the cubes, and an interesting design since it relies on the players willfully hiding information from each other to be fun.
When the players are done with this game, their total score is tallied up and they are given a “Love Tester” like label, such as “Hot Stuff” or “Frigid”.
This is as far as we got during the Game Jam, but ideally we’d like to polish some of these games and make even more mini-games. Thankfully, we might have that opportunity! There’s a contest that I’m using this post to enter, and if we make it to the second round, Andrew and I are going to put some time into making these games even cooler and adding in some of the other mini-game ideas that we liked.
If you happen to have a set of these cubes you can download and install our game right now (it doesn’t play well in the Sifteo cubes simulator):
Also check out a video of people playing it!
* Special thanks to Jason Lemons and Kayli Elizabeth for modeling in these screenshots