Kiwi Jam 2014

Kiwi Jam is a 48 hour game making festival that crossed over with Ludum Dare this year and had over 60 local game developers, artists, writers, musicians and students all taking part.

I went along as QuadraSlam is 85% complete and I was aiming to finish the game over the weekend. That was the goal and I was getting a solid block of time to do it in. Work has been crazy for the last month. Being busy actually helps me. But being too busy is frustrating because I can't do any game dev!

So when the Kiwi Jam came up I booked in this weekend to do game dev. Here's how it started, kind of nervously from my perspective. I sat down and set up. Then Asta came and sat next to me - she was about to go on a great journey, while I stayed where I was - physically anyway.

On my screen Gyron is being redrawn to become a boss. One of my favourite old school Spectrum 48k covers.

So after this awkward setting up not knowing what was happening, Ben Kenobi of AUT who was running the event got us to introduce ourselves and then play some improv style games to get us mixed up and talking to strangers. That was cool, and the end of it I had to explain QuadraSlam to a bunch of people around me so they could tell everyone else about it.

Friday night ended at about 11pm, I went home at 10.30 with not much to show except for:

  1. A Gamesalad update
  2. Update of iOS preview app for GameSalad via XCode
  3. Open up games after duplicating and testing them in the new version
  4. Get all the fonts I needed installed on my laptop
  5. Update CS suite to the latest versions
  6. A Windows update that I was scared of as the last one killed my desktop
  7. Getting back into the game logic - well getting my head in to it really, that was not that easy after a couple of months of little work on it.
  8. Drawing my latest boss to completion.

Galaxy four work in progress.

While I had not really achieved all that much, I did get organised and was ready to plow in to it the next day. Which I did. One of the things I started on this day was my final galaxy map - I worked on this for hours and it turned out a complete disaster. I wanted a full-on version but it just looked like vomit. Really it did. So I stripped out the 2000+ stars I had painstakingly mapped with pixel perfect sizes and started all over again. The view from the position in space is one from Andromeda, looking back on the Milky Way. Some of it is real, some made up, but it's going to change some more to be made as awesome as the previous galaxy is.

I sat with Ben, a programmer, and Tyne, a teacher from up north, which was fun. Ben was working on a RTS system in Unity and Tyne was building a Great Food Game concept with a template he was already developing with Corona.

Day three, sitting with Ben and Tyne and Lemo popped in later.

So I felt like day two was a bit of a waste - I did get some stuff done, but I lost a few hours on some awesome star vomit, had fun working with Ben and Tyne and recovered my disaster somewhat. I had to shoot early, to see the All Blacks play.

Then came day three, the day I had to get as much done as I could really.

There was lots going on around us:

  • A Smash Bros type game with NZ vs Aus theme that had a big team working on it
  • A game made about making games where you were locked in a room and needed to satisfy all the bodily needs
  • A network game of shoot the blocks or the person and be champion in a puzzle blocky line world
  • An object linking game with hand painted artwork call Dwarf Forge
  • Then Ludum Dare started up and a lot of people started that challenge
  • The Swordy guys at Frogshark did not show after day one choosing to work instead on their PAX entry trailer - which on viewing is awesome :)



There was heaps going on, some of it seen, others not at all until the end.

So my progress by the end of the day? Well I had made it all the way to Galaxy four with completion of Galaxy three. I then made some decisions around the conclusion of the game.

I designed the goal of the game which had not even been considered until now. Sure, destroy the alien horde, but why? Well that is the answer you gamers will need to find.

I spent the final day tidying things up. There is a lot to manage as all the galaxies are in one scene and the way it works is based on a colour integer. So tidying up everything I did that as much as possible so galaxy four could get underway. One thing that has happened over the course of the last few months is that I have made the aliens much more than just basic geometric patterns. Now a lot of them come with a message, a secret message of course as they move too fast to be seen. This is bringing everything together.

Time counted down until the end and then it was time for some presentations. It was great to see everyones progress and ideas from the weekend. Some I knew, some I did not know - man there was lots going on but so focussed it was hard to track and this was the time to just relax and see them all. I showed my game, played it and did pretty well playing it. My talk was crap and nervous but that comes with the territory.

Right - so the Jam was done. It was outstanding, many thanks to the organisers, NZGDA, Ben Kenobi, AUT, and Microsoft, for hosting and food, and The Good Food Game for putting a challenge up for people who were interested. I made some new contacts, acquaintances that make the gaming meetups a bit more interesting. Nighty night.