BCU Global Game Jam 2018 – Tweet Summary

The 2018 Global Game Jam event took place over the weekend of Friday 26th Jan to Sun 28th Jan. In the case of BCU registrations commenced around 17:00 on the 25th, with the opening ceremony starting at 18:00. The theme for the 2018 event was “Transmission” the previous year was “Waves”.

The event started to finish up around 13:00 on Sunday 28th Jan with the teams uploading their games (online). At 14:00 presentations kicked off, with a number of companies and organisers present to judge and give prizes. The Vice Chancellor also attended for most of this final presentation session along with half a dozen academics from the School of Computing and Digital Technology. After the handing out of a number of prizes, one being to visit Fish in a Bottle (online), the two day event wrapped up around 15:30.

In all over 70 people took part, from universities across the country along with a number of graduates out in industry as well.

The following tweets below, may give you some idea of what the event was like. One can also see a collection of tweets from last years event (online).

I also made a further post during the weekend of the Game Jam – highlighting a good few tweets that depict the use of Tents at these events and Hackathons in general (online). Some large hackathon events have been in tents that would have taken days to construct. Some teams bring tents with them and have in-tent coding going on during the event, while others take more a campfire approach. In the case of one hackathon held in a sports hall, a large portion of same was taken over with tents.

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Bring your Tent: Global Game Jam & Hackathon Examples

Over the past couple of years one can see that Tents have been deployed during Game Jam and Hackathon events. You can see in the tweet directly below that a whole section of a sports hall was taken over with tents during the 2017 Global Game Jam.

Another tweet from Global Game Jam 2017 shows a tent and “campfire” in operation. The theme for the 2017 event was “Waves”.

Looks like one group are undertaking “Tent Projection Mapping” for the 2018 Global Game Jam, therein incorporating the camping experience into their game idea. The theme for the 2018 event was “Transmission”.

Looks like a “Fort” was constructed for the events below.

Here we have an entire team doing some in-tent game development.

This event from Sydney suggests brining your own tent to the Hackathon

These Hackathon events from 2017 takes the idea of a Tent to a whole other scale.

Here’s one from 2016 with a major Hackathon Tent under construction.

Here is the “Peach Pod” Tent from a 2016 Hackathon event.

In Tent coding from 2016.

Looks like this 2015 Hackathon is at quite some scale, with quite a significant entrance way in place.

A Microsoft Hackathon from 2015.

A tent in place for a 2014 Hackathon Event

A slightly different style of “Tent” than many of the examples above.

Here’s just a few other examples of Hackathon Tents.

The following tweets below, highlight some nice examples of Post-it note art on the walls adding a good splash of colour and fun to the environment. Post-its can be useful for many things and not just for planning out your Game / Hackathon idea. Here’s a previous post (online) highlighting some post-it note art on campus.

Having some mascots at Game Jams and Hackathons are always fun too.

Hackathon Examples Around Birmingham in Video

Hackathons are a great way to learn new skills and provides opportunities to work with other students in small groups / teams. Many Hackathons take place around Birmingham with the essence of some of these having been captured in video format. The selection of videos below from past Hackathons should help to give you some idea of what they are like and perhaps help to encourage you to attend such an event in the future if you haven’t been to one before.

Even if you have little to no programming experience you should still go along to a Hackathon. Sometimes you will find participants who have graduated several years before and others who may still be in secondary school depending on the format of the event. Some Hackathons are closed events – focused on a particular University institution, many are more open to all who are interested. Many of the larger more open Hackathons are helped by Major League Hacking (MLH) an organisation that can help you setup and run a Hackathon event.

Bull Hack 2017, Curzon Building

Hack The Midlands 2016, Millennium Point

Local Hack Day Birmingham 2016

Aston Hack 2015

Brum Hack 5.0

BrumHack 4 Final Presentation (2 Hour Video)

BrumHack 2014, Live Demos (~80 Minute Video)

BrumHack 3 (30 Hour Timelapse <5 Minute Video)

Game Jam 2014

Typically Hackathon events take place over a period of 24 Hours, though some can be shorter day long events, or longer 48 Hour events. Often these events have a theme or some suggested areas within which you should try to develop some form of novel / interesting software solution. At the terminus of the coding period, each team will then have the opportunity to give a short presentation / demo of the product. These presentations / demos are often judged by a panel whom award prizes at the end, before the final wrap up. Above all the most important part about a Hackathon is participation, as you never know what potential employers may be in attendance. They also serve as a very useful addition to ones CV and can help to make it stand out.

A Visit to #HackTheMidlands Hackathon 2017

On Saturday 23rd September 2017 a 24 hour Hackathon called “Hack The Midlands” kicked off at Millennium Point in Birmingham. Around 150 attendees turned up to share in the adventure of writing some code in teams. Quite a variety of participants took part including students from Birmingham City University, Aston University and the University of Birmingham. Other participants included a number pre-university and several whom had graduated several years before. It wasn’t just students of computing taking part either, but also had participants from disciplines such as Maths, Physics and Psychology. Some of the participants travelled quite a distance to take part in the Hackathon, with several coming from St Andrews up in Scotland and one all the way from Italy. Nine Workshops were also taking place during the event, covering things from web development and Node.js to VR (online).

It wasn’t all just about writing code either with many teams working of electronic based projects such as a 3D Printer, Arduino, Breadboards and the like. A good bit of soldering and de-soldering was also taking place. Was really great to see a diverse range of ideas and projects being brought to light. For some this was their first Hackathon, for others they had been to many before as some of the images below of laptops covered with Hackathon stickers can attest to. A few mascots were also to be found dotted around the desks such as “Otto the Octopus”.

Useful Links
Hack The Midlands Website (online)
HaCS Hackathon and Computing Society, Birmingham City University (online)
HaCS Twitter Feed (online)
Aston Computer Science Society, Aston University (online)
ACCS Twitter Feed (online)
Computer Science Society, University of Birmingham (online)
CSS Twitter Feed (online)

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

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Hack The Midlands 2017

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Hack The Midlands 2017

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Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Keeping Cool
The 3D Printer Project was really quite interesting on two fronts. Firstly for the seemingly random parts deposited in the base and secondly for the innovative use of soft drink cans to elevate the printer to help facilitate systems cooling.

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Hack The Midlands 2017

Day 1 Tweets
Below can be seen a selection of twitter posts from the first half of the Hackathon event.

BCU Global Game Jam 20-22 Jan 2017 – Event Summary

Over the weekend of Friday 20th Jan to Sunday 22nd Jan 2017 the Global Game Jam 2017 (online) took place. Tens of thousands took part at locations all around the globe, with Hawaii being the last to kick off. An embargo was in place on the theme until Hawaii had begun, the idea being not to talk about the theme online until Hawaii had joined in the fun. The theme for this year was “waves” which provided quite a deal of scope and direction for idea generation.

One of the locations for the Global Game Jam in the UK was BCU in Birmingham which was organised by Liam Sorta @LiamSorta and Andrew Wilson – Programme Leader for the BSc in Computer Games Technology @BCUGAMESTECH. The event had a great turnout of over 100 people, many from Birmingham, but others from Warwick, Southampton, Newcastle & as far afield as Australia (though had been in the UK since the first semester). It wasn’t just University students either, but also a good few graduates whom work in the games industry. Once the theme for this years jam was announced everybody broke up into teams (a little over 20 in total) and headed to the labs to do a quick brainstorm of ideas and routes to take, before getting down to making those ideas a reality. A large number of the teams made use of the Unity Games Engine, though one or two teams developed their games in Python.

One can see all the games that were uploaded to the Global Game Jam site from Birmingham (online). One of the great things about this is that you can download both the source code and executable, hence can play the game yourself and also learn how it was developed.

The Game that won the BCU “Innovation” prize was produced by a group called “Signal” (online) which was based on one having to navigate around a 3D environment that was pitch dark. One could emit sound waves to help see the outline of the environment & thereby navigate around the environment. This was very much akin to how Daredevil (2003) (IMDB) perceives the world and also similar to how Batman used “sonar” to see his way around a building in the dead of night – The Dark Knight (2008) (IMDB). The winning team for this prize had been selected by myself (online) and Mak Shama (online) having viewed all the presentations on the Sunday afternoon.

Representatives from two companies were also present at the Sunday presentations @VERYGOODFRIEND and @fishinabottle whom also selected teams to win prizes. Zen(x) (online) was particularly creative in developing a unique idea in the form of using a combination of a dozen sine wave calculations to control an onscreen icon, requiring the user to interact when it reached the centre line & therein changing the trajectory of the sine wave. The graphics had very clean lines and very much mirrored the “Zen” concept whereby the user could just relax and enjoy the game. Ooodle Showdown (online) was also another unique game for two players. It featured some very nice graphics and required players to navigate through a sea of characters something akin to a cross between the Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters and the Michelin Man. Each player (blue or red) could send out a sort of sonar wave and would turn the character that colour for a short while. The best thing to probably do is to download and play the game yourself to see how it works.

I had spent a good few hours each day at the game jam. It was really great to see the initial ideas dreamed up on the Friday evening evolve into quite functional games by Saturday and then on to more refined games by the time they needed to be uploaded on the Sunday prior to the afternoons presentations. All in all it was really great to see such a variety of fantastic games grow from an initial idea into a working game in just a matter of 48 hours. The well know phrase “two heads are better than one” certainly holds true whereby the key strengths and talents of teach team member could be harnessed towards one definitive goal and deadline.

Key Web Links
Global Game Jam Site (online)
BCU 2017 Game Uploads (online)
Twitter Hashtag #BCUGGJ17 (online)

Social Media Selection
The following selection of embedded tweets and instagram images from a number of those present during the event should help to give a good sense of what occurred over the 48 hour period.

View this post on Instagram

#bcuggj17 #afishysituation #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#bcuggj17 #seewaves

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#bcuggj17 presentations

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#bcuggj17 #allhandsondeck

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#kingbooty #bcuggj17 #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#bcuggj17 #oodleshowdown #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#bcuggj17 #teammiodsnowstorm #omni amazing game idea!

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#necrodeulists #indiegamedev #gamedev #bcuggj17 #globalgamejam

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#wanishingwaves #bcuggj17 #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

#globalgamejam #bcuggj17 #indiegamedev #gamedev

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

View this post on Instagram

Dawn.

A post shared by Jonny Graney (@jonathancharlesgraney) on

What Qualities Make a Game Popular?

I recently made a post about Dare to be Digital 2016 (online) highlighting a number of video pitches. What qualities make a game addictive & popular? To what degree does the gameplay, sound effects, music, graphics, playability, level of difficulty have a bearing on the overall popularity and addictiveness of a game. The following are just a few popular games.

Cooking Fever
Cooking Fever is all about cooking – anything from burgers and hot-dogs, to pizza, suchi and baking. One can upgrade kitchen appliances to make cooking faster, upgrade the restaurant to increase customer wait times and how generous they are with tips. The main interaction style consists of simple drag and drop. When a customer arrives at your kitchen, the ask via a graphic bubble representation of the items they are looking for, e.g. an icon representing a burger. You then need to get some burger buns set out on your work surface and start dragging the ingredients on to complete the burger. One of course needs the cooked burger meat, along with various combinations of extras such as lettuce, tomato, ketchup – dragging each component on to the burger bun. Once the burger is fully assembled one then drags the burger to the waiting customer. If you manage to do this quickly enough they will drop coins representative of the price of the burger along with a tip for good service on the counter and leave as happy customers. As the levels progress the number of customers and combinations of food items increase. At the time of writing the number of installs was between 10 & 50 Million, the game is available from the google play store (online).

Angry Birds
Angry Birds has become an extremely popular game with 100 to 500 Million installs of the app via the Google Play Store (online). What are the qualities of launching a bird at various targets to get them to topple over that makes the game so popular.

Candy Crush Jelly Saga
Having 10 to 50 Million downloads Candy Crush Jelly Saga is certainly another popular game (online).

Clash of Clans
Available from the Google Play store (online) has between 100 & 500 Million installs.

SimCity Buildit
With 10 to 50 Million Google Play installs SimCity Buildit is certainly another popular game (online). This game is all about creating a city and populating it with residences, so you can earn Simoleons through the construction of residences and earn tax from same as well. One can also earn cash through the Trade Depot whereby you can sell goods that you create. One can sell all manner of goods from the basic raw materials created by factories, to more complex items created by taking the raw materials and forming them into a new product such as: Doughnuts, Shoes, Watches, Nails, Vegetables, Tables & Chairs to name but a few.

As you level up through the game further opportunities for Trading become enabled such as the Port for shipping your goods overseas, or the Airport (available once you have a population of 120,000). The Airport allows you to gain special items allowing you to build new types of residences with higher population capacity, namely, Paris, London and Toyko zones. To keep the population happy one must supply them with basic services, provide them with places to relax (parks), and a whole host of other facilities from Schools and Universities, to Entertainment and Gambling.

Over time one can create a city of some 4 million inhabitants and stretch out the area of the city to encompass both the beach and mountains. These areas allow one to build special buildings that can greatly boost the population within a certain catchment area.

At the Vu Tower (available at a population of 90,000) one can unleash a number of different disasters, that allows you to gain valuable Golden Keys. The most basic disaster one can unleash is the Meteor Strike, followed by Earthquake, Alien Invasion and several more.

Questions
What makes a good game?
How important is the embedding of Social Media in a game?
Do you make use of in-app purchases, to buy credits, upgrade systems etc?
Is it easy to lose track of the amount you spend on in-app purchases?
How important is the time it takes to complete a level – especially for Mobile Games?
What are your favorite games and Why?
How often do you play games on your Mobile?

Dare to be Digital 2016 – Examples of Past Video Pitches

Just a few days ago I received an email from the Dare to be Digital (online) Program Manager that Applications for 2016 were open, with a deadline of 13th March 2016. Details of the various key dates, deadlines, eligibility and a link to the application form are available (online).

One can find out about last years teams (online) and see trailers of the completed games hosted on YouTube, that should give you some sense of what the final products are like. The teams who get to develop their games over the summer will also have the opportunity of taking part in Dare Protoplay – the UK’s largest indie games festival (online).

Its a great opportunity for a small team of students to get together and spend several weeks during the summer completely focused on developing a game. It also offers the opportunity to win a number of prizes, including the possibility of winning a BAFTA (online).

One of the key parts of the application process is to submit a link to a video no longer than five minutes that provides a clear overview of the team, the game concept / storyline, unique selling points, visuals and a number of other elements.

Doing a bit of exploration online one will find a large selection of pitches for entry to the Dare to be Digital Competition. A small selection of some past pitches are included below to give you some sense for how various teams have approached the process over the years. You will see some are very much focused on the team members, others focus more heavily on the visuals, project planning and other elements.

Further Links and Info

Competition Website http://www.daretobedigital.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/daretobedigital
Twitter https://twitter.com/daretobedigital
Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/DareToBeDigital/videos

2015 Video Pitches

Selection of Pitches that took part in Dare to be Digital 2015

Other Pitches submitted towards entry to the 2015 Competition

2014 Video Pitches

Selection of Pitches that took part in Dare to be Digital 2014

Other Pitches submitted towards entry to the 2014 Competition

2013 Video Pitches

Selection of Pitches that took part in Dare to be Digital 2013

Other Pitches submitted towards entry to the 2013 Competition