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Australia Programming Games

Coding Games In 48 Hours 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the starring-nick-nolte-and-eddie-murphy dept.
The Opposable Thumbs blog covers a 48-hour-long "game jam" at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Twenty teams of game developers — 16 indie and four professional — compete over a weekend to build a functional game based on a few deliberately vague keywords. This article documents the brainstorming sessions and the early prototyping work. Quoting: "The teams become less talkative as midnight draws near and the individual team members all settle down into their jobs. Everybody seems determined to not let sleep take over just yet. I take a tour of some of the other teams. Badgers are being animated, leg movements first with static bodies above them. Other teams have no art yet and just use colored rectangles as they get the mechanics down. Others are still sketching beautiful concept art and coding level editors.'To move around the room is to hear random snippets of creativity and math. 'If we move the z-axis, too, we can do this thing' or 'what if we procedurally generated that object.' In this one spot, sixteen games are coming into being that weren't even concepts eight hours ago."
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Coding Games In 48 Hours

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  • Coming soon to a Facebook profile near you. I always wondered where that bilge came from. Now I know.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by jellomizer (103300)

      Not all games need to be an epic work of art.

      I am not a gamer, and I actually like those small flash games (not of facebook as much) I play them for about an hour, get board with them and don't feel bad for not playing it because I didn't pay $60 for it.

  • I miss the old 4k and 64k demo contests... or does it still exist?

    This is typically a good place for creative people and I wouldn't be surprised if one day a blockbuster game come out of this kind of events.

  • I'm not sure of the benefit of making it such a small timeframe, as that generally restricts the quality of the games to Flash based, or built upon pre-existing code they brought with them (IE, you bring along several man-weeks of labour from a previous game and build on that). It certainly doesn't lend itself to promoting innovation, although it would probably reign in some of the crazier, harder to work ideas that alot of indie devs try, and fail, to implement properly.

    Then again, with the rise of small,

    • Re:48 hours (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Zironic (1112127) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:12AM (#37760288)

      Generally gameplay ideas that requires vast amounts of time to implement are usually not very good ones. Most good games have really simple gameplay at their core.

      • by g4b (956118)

        this might be true and wise. but generally gameplay ideas that are born of a 48 hour gamecamp are not very good ones either.

        sometimes you need to first have all the bad ideas until you can reduce it to the simple thing that makes it fun. you dont develop a game to "have a simple game idea" in the first place. because all those, honestly speaking, suck even more.

        • by Zironic (1112127)

          Well, that's why you have the competition. If you're lucky one of them might come up with something good.

      • Generally gameplay ideas that requires vast amounts of time to design or explain are usually not very good ones. Most good games have really simple gameplay at their core.

        Fixed that for you. If gameplay ideas that take vast amounts of time to implement are not very good, then there is no such thing as a remotely good game.
        Maybe angry birds?
        What is a vast amount of time for you, a century? Even super mario would take months to code from scratch.

        • by Zironic (1112127)

          Well, I was thinking of the core gameplay. With a decent SDK it should take a professional coder only a few hours to get a basic Super Mario prototype going.

          Obviously a full featured game takes much longer, but the prototype only needs a small level where you can jump around on platforms and kill enemies by landing on them to demonstrate the idea.

          When I'm talking about vast amounts of time, I'm thinking about gameplay ideas that requires the game designer to implement sentient AI to work properly or when wh

          • I'll agree that gameplay should always come first in games, and everything else should support the gameplay. Otherwise, just make a movie.
            That said, I still feel like you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater, plenty of fun experiences can be had from "watching a simulator tick along", so who is to say that isn't a game? There's lots of different niches.
            • by Zironic (1112127)

              While I do like that kind of games at times (Paradox almost only makes that genre) you're not going to get innovative gameplay out of them.

              • by Abstrackt (609015) *

                I don't know, I thought Sim City was pretty innovative; I spent hours watching my city do its thing with minimal interaction from my end.

      • It's an old story at this point, but Batman: Arkham Asylum was originally a rhythm game, of sorts. They worked out fight mechanics by having blocks collide against one another until the timing felt right. Easy idea, long iteration time. Tweaking for 'feel' is hard, but can ultimately make an exceptional experience.

        But the story also goes that the game was fun even with coloured blocks and not full characters, so I agree with you to a point. :)

    • by tburkhol (121842)

      I'm not sure of the benefit of making it such a small timeframe, as that generally restricts the quality of the games to Flash based, or built upon pre-existing code they brought with them (IE, you bring along several man-weeks of labour from a previous game and build on that). It certainly doesn't lend itself to promoting innovation, although it would probably reign in some of the crazier, harder to work ideas that alot of indie devs try, and fail, to implement properly.

      I don't think good games require a completely new engine or completely new paradigm. That might make them interesting programs, but it doesn't have anything to do with them being interesting games.

      I grew up with Infocom games. Those guys built a 10 year kingdom on their engine and it never changed substantially. I played at least half of their titles, and most of them were very good. There were a few dogs, but their strength (or weakness), and the strength of most of the good games I've played since the

      • by Canazza (1428553)

        I wasn't saying they needed a new engine, I was saying that to making a game from scratch, you must first create the engine.
        Really, if the engine is pre-created, then all you're really doing is modding.

        • by Bucky24 (1943328)
          Well it depends on how much detail the engine allows. I knew some people who did something similar to this last year. They built a pretty wicked game using XNA. I'm not sure I'd consider XNA programming to be modding. Then again I'm not sure if XNA actually qualifies as an engine or if it's just a detailed library.
        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          If you write new text adventures, is that "modding"?

          You can use several "engines" out there, including Inform (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inform), which lets you write "Infocom-style" (i.e. Z-code) games.

    • by AdamJS (2466928)
      Notch once made a game for one of these contests. He had a multi-staged 2D platformer similar to VVVVVV complete with a level editor. And this was before VVVVVV, which was considered quite a novel game though not entirely original. Of course, his 48 hours included going out to dinner and proper sleep each day. Constraints and the adversity they bring with them can breed a lot of cool things.
    • For many bedroom or non-game coders who've had vague ideas about doing a game, but never bothered going beyond simple code-tests, the deadline is a great kick in the pants to actually start *and finish* a game, teaching you to overcome analysis paralysis or feature creep. Plus, in a team, each member gets to focus on their expertise instead of needing to pull the whole game together on their own. And for everybody, it's a nice short, condensed means to exercise your chops, and make connections for larger

  • That is not a game, it is a 3D program. Why do it in 3D if you only have 48 hours?
    • by g4b (956118)

      hell, if i had more researched using toolkits, than doing the base programming, I would have said that earlier, but without the wisdom I earned by having respect, even fear from 3d programming.

      but after spending time in some toolkits, and breaking the 3d barrier relatively late in my studies of programming, I have to say, honestly, 3d is easier and way more boring to do than 2d. It just seems the other way around first. getting a good engine in 2d is way harder, while 3d is just a matter of toolkits you lea

  • 20 teams, 20 games... :/
  • Ludum Dare has been doing this for years now. Every competition has a more or less vague theme or motto, and people are invited to come up with a game of any genre and implement it in a 48 hours time frame. Check out http://ludumdare.com/ [ludumdare.com] for more info.
  • http://games.slashdot.org/story/10/06/28/0253226/Porting-Lemmings-In-36-Hours

    but seriously; these code-jamming sessions are cool and all but doing so typically means cutting corners and not really having enough time to do all the appropriate testing and validation.. i mean these are great for prototyping. it is like having 10 minute abs and then someone releases a new method for 9 minutes. w00t.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      That's correct. You generally end up with a very playable prototype, but it's not ready to sell yet.

      But there's nothing stopping people from continuing to improve and polish the game after the competition.

      • But there's nothing stopping people from continuing to improve and polish the game after the competition.

        Except perhaps copyright. Can someone read the rules and find whether contestants grant a copyright assignment or exclusive license in their submissions to the competition organizer, or whether it's a non-exclusive license?

        • by Aladrin (926209)

          That depends on the competition. Almost all of them only ask for enough permission to run the event and publicize it. I don't think I've ever seen one crazy enough to claim ownership of what was built. It would be a ghost town.

    • by Java Pimp (98454)

      It took me a month to get through "Teach Yourself Game Programming in 24 Hours"...

  • Newgrounds (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @07:44AM (#37760426)

    I play games on Newgrounds sometimes. They often have game jams where games are created within so many hours. These games often go to the frontpage.

    My experience with this: Usually these games are of lower quality. Often it is a good and original idea, but the implementation is lacking.

    I prefer games made by someone with love and with all the time needed to polish it properly :)

    • I play games on Newgrounds sometimes. They often have game jams where games are created within so many hours.

      What's the best way to compete in a Newgrounds game jam without buying a copy of multi-hundred-dollar Flash CS software?

      Usually these games are of lower quality. Often it is a good and original idea, but the implementation is lacking. I prefer games made by someone with love and with all the time needed to polish it properly

      Time is money. If you like the game jam demo, preorder the full version.

      • by Feltope (927486)

        http://www.kongregate.com/ [kongregate.com] runs these often as well. They are great fun. Newgrounds and Kongregate are two of the biggest flash sites.

        I play games on Newgrounds sometimes. They often have game jams where games are created within so many hours.

        What's the best way to compete in a Newgrounds game jam without buying a copy of multi-hundred-dollar Flash CS software?

        Most of us use flash develop http://www.flashdevelop.org/ [flashdevelop.org] it is a free open source IDE for ActionScript/HaXe, that and the flex SDK (one comes bundled with flash develop) are all you need to develop for flash.

        Then it would just be a matter of signing up on the site and getting involved.

      • > What's the best way to compete in a Newgrounds game jam without buying a copy of multi-hundred-dollar Flash CS software?

        Use the Flex SDK. It's free and open source, and runs on any OS. You can program your code, and include graphics, even SVG's, and compile it to an SWF. The only thing you don't have is the graphcial way of creating your flash, you need to create your graphics with other tools instead (gimp, inkscape, ...) and then programatically use them in your game.

    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      I play games on Newgrounds sometimes. They often have game jams where games are created within so many hours. ... My experience with this: Usually these games are of lower quality. Often it is a good and original idea, but the implementation is lacking. ...

      Bwahahahahahaha! That's a good one, man. Thanks for making my morning. If I had mod points right now, I'd give you +1Funny.

    • by s_p_oneil (795792)

      "Often it is a good and original idea, but the implementation is lacking."

      The importance of these game jams is to come up with original ideas. The devs know they can't possibly finish something hard or ambitious in that time frame, so they try to come up with something really off-the-wall that can be squeezed into a short development time frame. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

      "I prefer games made by someone with love and with all the time needed to polish it properly :)"

      That's what the game develo

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      My experience with this: Usually these games are of lower quality. Often it is a good and original idea, but the implementation is lacking.

      If you only have 48 hours to code up a complete game from scratch, I would expect that. Even a bestselling author won't write something good in just 48 hours without a lot of refinement. Or those essay questions on a test.

      After 48 hours, you're looking at a rough draft, something that'll need a lot of polish to get the bugs out and the artwork quality up.

      I'd say most gam

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @08:04AM (#37760550) Homepage

    Oh wait, this reminded me a lot of how EA games are created, until I could not find the part where a manager started threatening everyone.

    • EA games aren't made on short schedules. They're made by cramming normal schedules into short periods by forcing devs into constant overtime.
  • This has been around for quite a few years. I've participated in 2 of the 3 years. http://globalgamejam.org/jam [globalgamejam.org]
  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @10:15AM (#37761908)

    My brother has taken part of the global game jam for the past three years, this isn't anything new. The point of a 48 hour stint is not to make a marketable game, but how to best utilize your resources to make something small, pretty and clever with people you might have never met before. Maybe the game you make could be turned into something marketable.

    The idea is to get together with other people with a common interest and passion for making games. You go into a game jam not knowing who your going to be paired up with. My brother met allot of good people both in the industry and looking to get into it. That is the true spirit of the game jam.

  • Reminds me of the wild demo comps they used to and still do have at the big demo parties through out Europe, the ones where thousands of people would turn up for a few days. The idea was to code a demo at the event itself during the party. http://www.assembly.org/summer10/compos/realtime/demo [assembly.org] contains a good example of recent rules for one of these.

    It's crazy enough watching people attempting to finish their entries for the regular demo comps, I can only imagine the energy at a big demo party with a wild co

  • by FyberOptic (813904) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @11:49AM (#37763132)

    The great thing about programming is that you don't need a contest to set a time limit on yourself. Many years ago I did something similar, except I gave myself the whole month of September to write a game. I had (have) a bad track record of finishing the bigger projects I start, so I thought that was a good way to accomplish something. It was also an excuse to finally teach myself DirectX and improve my C++ in the process. I'd planned to make a Tetris clone, except with more of an electrical theme, and called it Electris (and holy crap I think that was 10 years ago already, now that I think about it).

    Long story short, a month later, I had rendered decent 3D graphics into images for title screens, backgrounds, and game pieces, made sound effects, and even came up with two of my own music tracks. Even though I learned in the meantime that you can't really sell Tetris clones without getting sued, it didn't really matter, I had learned a lot in the process. And I was proud to have actually finished it. I've done a lot of programming in a lot of languages since then, but that one still stands out to me.

    So yeah, if you've been wanting to learn a particular language or API, then set a goal of doing something fun and go for it. Otherwise, if you're anything like me, you'll just procrastinate and drag the learning process out over a much longer period. And maybe you'll want to try a real contest after that!

  • Anyone know any of the people that run this thing? I think they could really get a lot of good publicity and probably make some cash by shopping this around to some TV networks. I watch some of those cooking shows, like Chopped, where contestants have X amount of time to make some kind of entree based on certain ingredients. This contest sounds like an awfully familiar concept.

    A TV show where contestants are given some keywords to create a game in 48 hours, edited down to an hour or 2 would be a real

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