We caught up with Daniel Cook (Chief Creative Officer at indie studio Spry Fox) to talk about new frontiers in game design, hackable games, the culture of indie game development, and much more. Check it out!
Here at ‘Game On’ we love supporting Game Jams so what better way to launch our competition than with a double 48hour Jam across New York and London. We kicked off the events on Friday evening with some local guest speakers talking about games and the open web.
Atul Varma got a lot of love when he demoed his Hackable platformer and Sarah Shoeman opened interesting discussions around diversity and female representation in games.
Josh Debonis took the theme of Hackable Games a notch further by presenting the cult tabletop game Advanced Squad Leader; which has a huge community of people who create homemade scenarios for it based off their own interests.
On the demo side we got to play with Will Eastcott’s awesome PlayCanvas engine and Mark Baker shared with us a set of cool Craftyjs templates to play around with.
Finally Danny Greg and Scott Robert talked to us about Github + the open web. (They also gave away the coolest swag)
After revealing our secret theme for the Game Jam that involved choosing as an inspiration a meme to create a hackable game (even though teams were free to choose other competition categories as well) we mingled in teams and had heated discussions over topics such as “Should every game have a remix button?”
During the course of the weekend about 12 teams in total across each side of the Atlantic built playable prototypes of open web games; We were blown away by what people came up with and wanted to share with you a slice of that awesomness;
It was great to see some participants explore the theme of Hackable Games for the first time and come up with such interesting games. We can’t wait to see their final entries to the competition. If you want to join the game jammin’ action, the next round of Game Jams are happening in sync with one of our favorite partners, Global Game Jam; in Pittsburg with CMU, Atlanta with Georgia Tech, San Fransisco and rumors have it that there will be a Game On GGJ even in Lima, Peru!
If you are planning to run your own Game Jam for the competition here are some things we learned that might be useful to you:
Having some speakers to introduce your event helps increase attendance and inspires people to create their games.
Giving a theme to the event helps people come up with ideas. However, not all attendees will want to follow your theme so make sure to be open enough to allow everyone to make a game according to their interest.
Having activities such as a spectogram make s a good conversation starter. In our case this was especially helpful to talk about topics relevant to the Game Jam such as ” Should every game have a hackable games button?”
Having a repository of tools for people to hack on helps A LOT. Here is what we used for this event;
Finally, a special thank you to Github, BabyCastles, MindCandy, The New School Game Club and Playcanvas for helping us running and spreading the word for the events and of course the Parsons DT Program and MozLondon for lending us their space.
Happy Holidays! We’re especially psyched about the holiday season this year because we we’re off and running with the much anticipated Game On competition.
We want to invite all of you to follow our blog here for special updates on the competition and so much more gamelicious content. For the next three months, we’re going to be exploring three themes in game design and the open web: Hackable Games, Web-Only Games, and Cross-Device games. (Of course, these are our contest categories too, so we hope this will be food for thought!).
All excited? Great, let’s get started with December; Hackable Games month here on Game On.
What’s a Hackable Game?
So, you probably LOVE games if you are reading this blog. You know that games fuel our imagination in unique ways and often have players explore and create new worlds. So it comes as a surprise that games in their majority are closed systems; they are not exactly inviting players to also be makers of their game world.
In recent years, massive hits like Little Big Planet and Minecraft have embraced open-ended, creative world-bulding as a core gameplay concept . Our friends at the Institute of Play made this great video with the folks at Media Molecule who explain the process of making a game that is all about having players create their own games.
Hackable Games are Open Systems
What if we looked at the web as a canvas for these types of experiences?
What if we built games that let their players customize assets and fork the code in order to create new games?
What if we built experiences that—like the web itself—are hackable by design?
There’s a long tradition of modding on various platforms, and LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft show that creativity can be a very satisfying gameplay concept. People already make and share their own peronalized islands on social media like Facebook and Instagram. How can we bring these phenomena together?
What kinds of “hackable” games are only possible on the web?
Hackable Games are Learning Vehicles
If you play games you might also have a hunch about what great learning vehicles they can be; Skyrim might seem like it’s just about killing dragons, but if you look closer it requires some serious systems thinking in order to make strategic decisions in the game.
By default when playing a game you have to master certain skills in order to advance. Moreover games have their players fail multiple times in order to master such skills through experimentation and tinkering.
Now if you think about it that process is quite similar to the way we learn how to code games. We come up with ideas very often building on existing mechanics and games we love, we prototype and iterate, probably write a bunch of nonfunctional code, play test and iterate again and eventually master a programming language and make a game we re quite proud about.
“I actually got hooked [on programming] by playing Starcraft back in 1999. The custom level editor has elements of event-driven asynchronous programming and I started geeking out on custom Starcraft maps. And then realized that programming is just Starcraft without the space aliens.”
Hackable Games are Empowering
“Hacking” a game is an empowering concept. By hacking a game, a player becomes a designer, and learns a bit about design, systems thinking and even code. Players might shape the game experience into something even more tailored for them— and as a result we might see games that are truer and more representative of what players like and who they are.
Games might become more diverse and representative. A great example of this is Torontonian Mike Hoye’s story of hacking Zelda so that Link is a girl character and not a boy. “I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero and rescue their little brothers,” he says.
Imagine the Web as an open gaming platform for the world. Where game players seamlessly become game creators. Where your favorite games work on any device, anytime, anywhere. And where your own personal web-based creations earn you internet fame, fortune and the adulation of gamers around the world.
Today, we’re proud to invite game designers, developers and enthusiasts everywhere to take part in this year’s Game On competition. We’re looking for your ideas and playable protoypes for gaming experiences that push the limits of what open Web technologies can do.
All are welcome to submit their entries now atgameon.mozilla.org. The deadline is Feb 24, 2013.
Red carpet treatment for you and your game
Participants can enter in three different competition categories. Winners chosen by our esteemed panel of judges will receive prizes that include:
An all-expense paid, red carpet trip to San Francisco for GDC 2013.
The opportunity to show your game to the awesome folks at Chillingo for potential publishing on their network
One year membership to top industry associations IGDA and UKIE
Promotion of your game in the Game On Gallery and across Mozilla networks
Plus special edition Mozilla swag
Re-imagine the web as the console
“What if we looked at games as open, creative systems that, like the Web itself, are hackable by design?” says Mozilla’s Chloe Varelidi.
“Games are traditionally at the forefront of tech, continually pushing the envelope of what’s possible,” she says. “Mozilla is inviting you to re-imagine the Web as the console, and use the power of the browser to revolutionize the way we make and play games.”
We are so excited to announce that we are launching our official competition site gameon.mozilla.org next week. To celebrate this massive overload of game awesomness we are throwing not one but two 48 hour Game Jams across NYC & London. Whoa!
WITH GITHUB, BABYCASTLES, MIND CANDY AND THE NEW SCHOOL GAME CLUB
If you are around those two cities, come show us what’s possible using the web as an open gaming platform for the world. If you cannot make it follow the #mozgames on twitter, and if you are so psyched about running your own Game Jam check out our amazing kit or get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help you with the planning.