XCOM 2: The Turn Based Strategy I Needed

I pre-ordered XCOM2 about a month before Christmas for myself, my brother, and close friends. I had only seen one teaser for it and admittedly had only a moderate interest level. I grew up with XCOM and spent hours sending my blonde mo-hawked men into silver UFOs to get shot. It was never a game that I excelled at because I was too young and it was too complex back then. XCOM Enemy Unknown and XCOM2 have both done an amazing job revitalizing the game and giving old fans (like myself) more.

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I don’t play a ton of turn-based strategies. I was playing Shadowrun: Returns last month but XCOM2 got me a lot more involved in every single action. Alien Activity have always been two words that make me sit, unblinking and tensing every part of my body until I was sure none of my friends and family died that minute. Yes, I said friends and family. When XCOM Enemy Unknown became popular and I was able to hear from more people who played the XCOM franchise, I learned I was not the only one who enjoyed renaming and customizing characters to resemble family and close friends. There was something so much more meaningful, and painful, about taking someone you trust into battle and trying not to get them killed by aliens.

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In XCOM2, there is surprisingly even more customization than Enemy Unknown. I am a huge fan of the game offering more content in this area. There are so many gratuitous closeups and cinematic kill angles when you take an action that allow you to take a moment from being ultimately STRESSED to just sit back and watch an alien get utterly destroyed. It may sound like a small thing, but allowing you those few seconds of reveling in the reward of a successful kill makes it all worth while.

Customization options allow you to change everything from what their armor components look like (e.g. arms, legs, torso), accessories, and tattoos which are earned. You can now give their weapons names, patterns, and color. After spending 10 minutes customizing one soldier, I was extremely relieved to find the “Save to Character Pool” button. Yes, the game takes pity on you and says, “We know you will reload 100 times to not lose all of this hard work. Here, we pity you.”

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Your soldiers all start off as Rookies and individually level up when they get kills in battle. They are automatically assigned a “class” after their first promotion and then you get to choose their specialization as they grow. You can stick to 1 skill tree or dabble in both depending on your play style. A lot of times, I would get skills and forget about them only to be surprisingly rewarded in battle later. Battle gets increasingly more fun as your soldiers level up because your men become stronger in ways that cater to how you play. I keep a sniper or two in the back and send in rangers to do a lot of flanking damage. I also love to bring a medic along and someone to hack the shit out of robots.

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There is also this new loading screen to and from missions that have your soldiers sitting in the Skyranger looking extremely badass. On the way to a mission, it tells you a summary and where you’re going. On the way back, you get some highlight statistics from the mission and MVP charts for a few select feats like who dealt the most damage. Again, it’s just another really nice touch that allows you to admire your team of soldiers and feel more attached to them. It really does motivate you to make smart decisions in battle… and reload 100 times.

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The one thing I really can’t bring myself to care much about with XCOM2 is the story. I always find myself clicking through the little cutscenes in which you are talking to the doctor or engineer. I just don’t even need the plot with the rapidly developing alien technology and how they’re retaliating to enjoy the game. I just want to skip through it all to get into missions quicker. I haven’t beaten the game yet but I already look forward to trying an Ironman playthrough (no save scumming allowed). If I never post again, it is because I am dead from jumping off of a bridge after missing a shot with 98% chance to hit.

Davey Wreden Delivers an Intimate Story Game: The Beginner’s Guide

This is the kind of gaming experience that compels me to get my thoughts out about it because I have been thinking about it nonstop since I finished playing about 24 hours ago. The Beginner’s Guide is a first person narrative experience with minimal player interaction. Instead of keeping you busy with mechanics and enemies, a narrator (Davey Wreden) guides you through a compilation of games to tell you what he thinks of them and of his relationship with a person named “Coda”.

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There’s always a man. There’s always a CS map. 

Please excuse my bad Bioshock Infinite joke.

Anyway, the player moves from level to level seeing what appears to be the slow progression of a game designer becoming more skilled and honing their creativity through games. What starts of as some kind of strange analysis of his friend’s games turns into this concerning dilemma of what Davey wants and how the friend reacts through his creative medium.

Spoilers ahead in the next paragraph.

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One of the biggest feelings I took away from playing this was creative inspiration. I was blown away by some of the imagery that the levels presented. Starting in pure whiteness or darkness blew my mind. The manipulation of space that made everything seem so magical and temporary reminded me the power that games really have. At one point, you enter a room with floating text of many, many game ideas. It fascinated me. I felt like I was being shown drafts and wanted to take any one of his ideas and run with it.

I am in love with this concept of minimal control, walking-simulator style game that hits hard on delivering a certain feeling or idea. There will always be a place for AAA titles, yes, but now that games are so accessible on Steam it only seems right that personal games like this are emerging more and more.

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Davey Wreden took this compilation of games (or made them) to show us just how hard the creative process can be. He shows us how the desire for creative freedom can often juxtapose the “rules” that we take for granted in games. He makes us question tropes, puzzles, and solutions. I think the most powerful thing he did in The Beginner’s Guide was use 3D space to metaphorically explore the inner mind space of the developer. I felt privileged to be led by Davey through such personal experiences like growth, frustration, and isolation.

The Beginner’s Guide artfully explored new territory with this one. I hope to see more projects from him, and other creators, that deliver a similar “auteur” experience. If games like The Stanley Parable, Gone Home, and Jazzpunk were up your alley, don’t miss this one.

 

Among the Sleep: Psychological Thriller Meets Crawling Simulator

This weekend, I took a break from playing The Witcher 3 and finally installed and played Among the Sleep. As usual, I bought it during a Steam sale some time ago and never got around to it. My partner was perusing Steam games on Saturday and I brought it up as a suggestion because we both tend to like first person games that are focused on a narrative. I installed it and we both sat down to play this together with only the knowledge that it was about being a two-year-old who crawls around in fantastic looking environments. Boy, was there more.

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The voice acting makes this bear sound creepy and untrustworthy.

I am going to give a vague synopsis to avoid spoilers and discuss the core mechanics of the game. It begins with a cutscene as you become acclimated to the life of a two-year-old and what your living situation is like. You receive a teddy bear that speaks slowly and with the voice of a middle aged man. But, you are willing to follow the bear (because you have to) as it plays games with you.

After you become familiar with the basic mechanics and what life is like for baby-you, something jarring happens that makes everything shift. The house becomes dark and scary and you are helpless as you crawl through it to open doors and peek around corners. You are a vulnerable observer who wants nothing more than to find their mommy.

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Go ahead. Crawl around. Nothing to be scared of.

Reality then breaks away into fantasy, or perhaps nightmare, as you fall into a sort of dreamworld representation of your psyche. You then proceed to navigate through several levels that may be places you have experienced as a two-year-old with creepy filters changing them that may represent some kind of fear or trauma. The environments seem to be alive in that there are sounds and visual shifts happening as you navigate through them to solve puzzles. If you have played a game like Amnesia, it is similar to that in how you progress.

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I thought this was just a nice park…

You can alternate between walking and crawling and hold shift to run, albeit not very fast. You are a toddler after all. And who wants to run? It’s so noisy. Crawling felt like the most immersive, and scariest, means of traveling. Feeling small and low to the ground enhanced the feeling of vulnerability in the world around me. The feeling of vulnerability is key to making you feel like a victim to trauma as you discover childlike drawing scattered throughout each level which depict your perception of important figures in your life.

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Vision distorts as baby-you cannot handle certain sights.

The game is about uncovering the child’s life and the secrets it holds. What happened to you and why are you here piecing things together? Each level is rich with scattered pieces of the narrative, scares, and memories. When you are scared, the best you can do is hide under or inside of something such as a bed or cupboard. It’s exactly how you think as a child; if I hide, maybe it will all just go away. And it does, but not for long.

JAZZPUNK: A Fantastically Outrageous, Indie Game that Everyone Should Play.

It’s so hard to know where to start with this game, so I’ll jump right in with a little background.  Jazzpunk was created by a DUO, Luis Hernandez and Jess Brouse, who established Necrophone games in 2008.  They have created some games at Game Jams previously, and have since had one release preceding Jazzpunk: Beetlenaut (which I have not played).

Anyway, they certainly got some help making Jazzpunk, as is made clear in the credits, but this is an indie game that I felt 100% obligated to rave about after playing it because it left me with that rare feeling; the one that makes me want to shout its name from mountain tops in the hopes that other gamers are listening and have the same exceptional experience I had playing their game.

Graphic Design in the opening sequence of Jazzpunk

Graphic Design in the opening sequence of Jazzpunk

Jazzpunk wastes no time throwing you right into the experience that is… JAZZPUNK.  It starts off with this busy, exciting, loud intro with music that makes me want to reference Archer somehow in that it’s very spy-like and glamorous. You are presented with a lot of patterns, loud colors, and imagery that set you up for the attitude and setting of the game before being hurled into the intro scene: a quiet train station where you exit from a very peculiar shaped suitcase.  The mechanics of the game itself are so simple that the player requires to explicit instruction to proceed.  There is only one way to go, it just all depends on what you want to look at and how long you want to take to get there.

There's a joke around every corner in this game.

This is one of the first few jokes that got a laugh out loud from me and gave me an idea of what to expect from the rest of the game.

The next thing you know, you’re invited into an office because it turns out you’re a very important person with a very important mission.  This is presented all very tongue-in-cheek and the laughs begin from the second you walk into the secretary’s office.

Jazzpunk plays very much like other indies I’m very fond of: Gone Home, Thirty Flights of Loving, and Dear Esther; the first person, exploratory point-and-click mechanics with a “figure it out yourself” feeling.  Jazzpunk expects you to be the type of player who wants to look at everything, click on everything, and relish every detail.  If you don’t, you are simply robbing yourself of the full experience.  If this sounds like a chore for you, it may not be your type of game.  If you’re like me, you embrace games like this that give you a setting and set you free to perform actions in a world full of things just waiting for you to discover.

The first level you are allowed to play around in.

The first level you are allowed to play around in.

Jazzpunk is like this: you could either read a comic book, or read a transcript of the comic book without the imagery, characters, expressions, and little details.  Just like the Mass Effect series or recent Fallout games, you could do exactly as you are instructed to in each level, do your mission, and miss tons of little things all around you.  The Stanley Parable makes perfect example of this game design principle: taking advantage of the idea that the player will want to deviate from the “main course” and push the boundaries of what the game can afford before doing what must be done to continue.  I really appreciate this type of design because it just feels so rewarding when you dig up piece after piece of comedy gold.

An ordinary pizza with numbers on it...?  Or a ticket to an alternate dimension full of pizza-related mayhem?

An ordinary pizza with numbers on it…? Or a ticket to an alternate dimension full of pizza-related mayhem?

Even though the jokes are absolutely ridiculous sometimes and really random, something about the formula just did it for me.  The humor was all paced very well in between ambient activities and small side quests.  The jokes are spread throughout player conversation with the NPCs, who sure have a lot to say, the environment design (e.g. signs, buildings, sentient boxes), and interactive objects.  Just like old RPGs, I found myself clicking on every NPC until they had nothing left to say to me… or disappeared. I just couldn’t move on with the main storyline until I had explored every nook and cranny of each level to be satisfied.

Many, many computer-related puns await the savvy gamer.

Many, many computer-related puns await the savvy gamer.

There are a lot of computer and programming-related jokes that I could appreciate.  Some of them may go over the heads of gamers who don’t have a lot of experience with code or game development, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a detractor from the game.  On the contrary, it could be incentive for players to Google things in order to understand the joke and learn from it.  I find myself doing that sort of thing all of the time with normal TV shows if I don’t understand a reference.  That said, I think it’s brilliant, to elaborate on this again, that the designers made this game keeping in mind that their target audience is primarily smart, savvy, mature players.

Break it break it down.

Break it break it down.

One of my favorite aspects of Jazzpunk was the number of mini activities there were strewn throughout the game.  Even though the game is primarily walking and clicking on stuff, every now and then you find yourself thrown into a specially scripted mini-game that managed to hold my attention for more than 5 minutes.  Pictured is the players’ artfully drawn man-hand which pops up when necessary to participate in particular activities.  In this particular activity, the hand dons a jeweled ring as the game allows you to scratch records of dated voice recordings related to science and technology with a phat beat playing.  I found this activity to be bewilderingly enjoyable and must have “DJ’d” for about 5 minutes before resuming.  It’s moments like this that really make the game memorable.  I don’t want to spoil too much by mentioning other mini-games but I wanted to emphasize the fact that this is much more than just a “walking simulator” as some may call it.

 

Truly, truly, truly outrageous.

Truly, truly, truly outrageous.

To end on a positive note, I uploaded this photograph I took of Game Informer magazine after reading the “review” they did of Jazzpunk that was crammed into their, I don’t know, “last minute” section of the magazine?  Someone named ‘Jeff’ who is proudly well-versed in B-movies and games thought that Jazzpunk got bad and bad again.  I don’t know who Jeff is or what games and movies he watches, but I was infuriated after seeing this lousy “review” in the back of the magazine and, as you can see, tore the magazine in outrage (especially after that Octodad review, too).  I feel this is injustice to indie games.

If I spent months or years developing an indie game as brilliant as Jazzpunk with a best friend or colleague, I would be outraged at this kind of lazy journalism.  Heck, I was outraged for them I suppose.  I took almost 200 screenshots while I played Jazzpunk because I felt so compelled to document each thing that brought me a good laugh.  I highly recommend this game to the casual and experienced gamer.  I recommend it to anyone who wants to just boot up a game and enjoy explorings worlds at a relaxed pace with the desire to get some great laughs.  Have you played Jazzpunk yet?  What did you think?  And if not, check it out on Steam here. I spent $5.50 on the game during a Steam sale for about 5 hours of unforgettable gameplay, so wait until the next sale if $14.99 is too far beyond your budget.

9.03m: A Game About the 2011 Touhoku Tsunami

This evening, I sat down at my computer in a rather somber mood (for reasons I can’t explain) and decided it was a good time of day and the right mood to try a little game called 9.03m.  9.03m is an experimental, indie narrative game which aims to connect the player to the feelings of loss and sadness caused by the 2011 Touhoku Tsunami.  The tsunami caused a devastating blow of 15,884 deaths, 6,147 injured, and 2,636 just plain missing.  I’m not sure what aspect of the tsunami inspired the title 9.03m (perhaps it’s the distance you walk in the game?) but needless to say, I was prepared for an emotional experience going into it.

The opening shot.  A beautiful moonlit beach with particle effect light leading the way.

The opening shot. A beautiful moonlit beach with particle effect light leading the way.

I must admit I was a bit surprised at the minimal scope and quality of the game, but by no means would I say I was disappointed.  Heck, I buy new songs I like on Beatport for 2 dollars, but buying a game like this that you can experience over and over or share with others is already worth the two bucks no matter how you slice it.  I’m just saying the game had a very indie look and feel to it in terms of level layout, modeling, texture, and design.  The interaction method for the clues you pick up was very much like the method used in Gone Home in which you can rotate items to discover information from them.  In 9.03m, each clue you found was connected to the life of a missing person as their silhouette fades away into the moonlit sky.

You walk from shadow to shadow, picking up memories left behind.

You walk from shadow to shadow, picking up memories left behind.

The game structure is quite linear as you move from shadowy figure to shadowy figure and examine the object they left behind as a clue to what once was.  Each item is stamped with a butterfly symbol that you must find to cue the ‘memory’ and then the beautiful, flowing piano soundtrack kicks back in to encourage periods of reflection between each beat.

Although it didn’t quite hit the emotional notes I think it was shooting for, this heart wrenching homage to the victims of the 2011 Tsunami in Japan is a worthwhile experience for your two dollars. The game’s setting, using the peaceful moonlit ocean and quiet beaches, urges you to reflect on nature and how at times it can be indescribably peaceful or mercilessly cruel.

Kentucky Route Zero: First Impressions

I’m titling this one “First Impressions” because I am writing this after having completed the first two acts that are out with three more acts due to come out in the future. Anyway, this game left such an impression on me, I knew I had to write about it before I even finished what I owned of it.  Let me help spread the word and hopefully gain a few more fans for a brilliantly crafted game aptly titled Kentucky Route Zero.

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This was the first image I ever saw from the game, and it was all it took to intrigue me and make me want to experience whatever awaited me in that world.

Kentucky Route Zero, or KRZ as I will proceed to refer to it to save keystrokes, is a poetic, slow-paced, subtle, and somewhat meditative point-and-click adventure game.  It is unlike any point-and-click adventure game I have ever played in that it did some pretty experimental things I have never seen before in parts of the game I will mention further in the post.  The basic premise of the game is that you are a delivery man trying to make a delivery to an address on Kentucky Route Zero, but you need help finding it first.  The plot unravels from there and the longer you work towards this, the less the game becomes about getting from point A to point B and more about everything in between.

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Some of the script and dialogue choices are so ambiguous, it leaves you sitting in front of your PC, scratching your chin and furrowing your brow for minutes before continuing on.

Every moment in this game feels deeply meaningful in some way.  It’s like a really good, classic film.  As I played it, I knew that I would have to play it several more times-maybe even analyze it and discuss it with others-to truly appreciate everything the creator put into this game.  I got my degree in Programming & Design, so needless to say, I am not very practiced in interpretations of narrative, symbolism, and poetry.  A lot of bits in this game felt like they went right over my head even though I was trying my hardest to keep up with its ambiguous speech choices and plot turns.  Now, I’m not saying that any of this detracted from my enjoying the game.  I am just being honest with how I experienced it and that I rather enjoyed the game’s intelligent approach. The game treated me like a mature gamer; Like a human with a brain in their skull capable of reading and processing information and feeling as opposed to a mindless creature out to shoot zombies and loot bodies.

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The use of the camera was very creative and effective in multiple scenes throughout the game. The zoom in effect with the foreground blacking out and backgrounds coming into view was very enjoyable.

KRZ was created by an indie company called Cardboard Computer which consists of creators Jake ElliottTamas Kemenczy, and Ben Babbitt.  I’m not too familiar with these men, but I have to guess one or more of them studied film (I’d be really surprised if none of them did) because what they did with the camera in this game was very effective.  It panned out at the right moments and took control of scenes when necessary.  The graphics reminded me of the PC classic Another World with its clean, vector-like shapes and high contrast.  At first everything looks very flat, but the constantly changing camera gives an added depth to the world that keeps it interesting and always changing.  Sometimes, it has a rather disorienting effect which I think was intended and if so, well executed.  The point is to feel lost sometimes.

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Navigating the roads at your own leisure was a nice change of pace in a linear story game.

As you would expect from a point-and-click adventure game, the story is linear, but there are opportunities to go out of your way when you’re in your delivery truck to find stops along the road and explore.  These little hidden spots have either some flavor text or minimal interaction, but they all contribute to the broader narrative of the game very well.  I don’t like to spoil in my “reviews” of the games I talk about here, but I can’t help but mention the Supernatural aspects of the game.  I guess you could think of them as science fiction elements- things that can’t happen in reality but are easily acceptable in a game setting.  A big part of the game is that strange, inexplicable things keep happening to you but your character seems to take it all in stride, as none of the other characters make a fuss about the strange phenomena.

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I’m not going to give away what this is or where this is, but wow.

I don’t want to go on too much more in depth about the plot, but there is a lot of reflection on who you are, where you are from, and what your goal is.  None of this is handed to you.  In fact, most of it is chosen and shaped by you.  You never see it and it’s never obvious, but you are constantly making choices in speech option scenarios without any information as to what the ‘right’ answer is.  This was clearly intended, and I don’t think there really is any right answer.  The game pushes you to define yourself and what you want your journey to be within the boundaries of the story that you act within.  It’s a very interesting design that I can’t really think of any examples off-hand to compare it to.  Usually when you are given speech options in a game, it is to define personality traits like whether you are a friendly-type or more snoody.  In KRZ, sometimes the speech options will all seem like good things to say, but you are limited to one choices.  It’s hard to choose sometimes, but that’s the challenge.  That’s the core of the game: the frequent opportunities they give you to over think the dialogue and wonder, “what if I had said this?”.

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Scenes that appear graphically simple are beautiful in design and composition. Paired with the cryptic dialogues, I often stopped to sit and just reflect on what was before me.

If story-driven head scratchers are your thing, you’ll have to do yourself a favor and pick up the season pass for Kentucky Route Zero.  It’s such a refreshing game experience that is reminiscent of The Longest Journey, but more focused and purposeful than Sword & Sorcery Brothers EP, and, in my opinion, easier to grasp than Dear Esther.  This is certainly a game for gamers who want something beautifully poetic, mentally stimulating, and intellectually satisfying.  A few things in my first playthrough may have gone over my head, but I would gladly go through this experience a second or third time just to put all of the pieces together and better appreciate this work of art. And yes, I’m not afraid to call this that: a work of art… and I haven’t even talked about the sound yet!  Yikes, what have I been doing.

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Sometimes your speech options extend beyond the main character you begin as and include a companion you pick up along the way. Neat!

Well, that last paragraph was intended to lead into a conclusion but I just have to mention the sound design before I wrap up this post.  The sound design is… outstanding.  It is exactly what it needs to be for this game: a mix of the quiet, ambient, loud, white noise, and soft synth tones for more peaceful scenes.  It reminds me a bit of the sound design for Limbo in the sense that it pairs so effortlessly well with the game that you can’t help but become immersed in the experience.  The characters aren’t given voices, and frankly I’m glad they weren’t.  The sound does all the work establishing scenes, enhancing them, and putting you into that meditative state I mentioned that few games really achieve like this one does.

I look forward to seeing Parts 3, 4, and 5 from Cardboard Computer and can’t wait to see how this journey ends.  This was one of those games that I would think about when I wasn’t playing it, and still think about days after having finished.  It truly leaves an impression on you.  Whether you are a hardcore gamer looking for something fresh or a casual gamer looking for something to play in the little time you have to allot to video games, definitely put this one high on your priority list.  This is one of the best storytelling indie games of the year and I’d hate to see you miss out.

Boston Global Game Jam 2014 and Courtship

This past weekend I experienced my first Game Jam in Boston hosted by Northeastern University.  A Game Jam is typically a weekend-long event in which game developers get together, form teams, and make a video game in 24, 48, or 72 hours.  Sometimes there’s judging at the end and winners by categories but this one was just for fun so that everyone could have a good time and, most importantly, not be afraid to fail.

This was the theme we were given this year.  Deeeeep!

This was the theme we were given this year. Deeeeep!

Some friends from my previous job invited me to participate in this Game Jam with them, so we teamed up with some audio & sound engineers from Berkley as well as a Unity developer.

Our team formed and ready to create!

Our team formed and ready to create!

Before we started “jamming”, there were a few keynotes giving us all good advice on how to be unique, stay positive, and challenge ourselves.  And that every meal was going to be pizza.  The first night, we worked from about 7 to 12 brainstorming ideas, talking them out, figuring out what our roles would be, and widdling down a solid idea to start building on the morn.

Brainstorming notes and sketching in the first hour or so.

Brainstorming notes and sketching in the first hour or so.

We wanted to do something a little more experimental.   That is to say, a game without enemies, power-ups, and a lot of platform jumping.  We decided on a concept that would allow the player to judge others based on information and observation.  Our idea was never 100% solidified from the start, but we started to work as soon as we could and let the ideas flow and mold the project organically as we progressed.

Having never been to a jam before, it was exciting yet terrifying to think that we were going to create an entire experience using Unity3D (the engine we were proficient enough with and capable of using) in 48 hours!  But we believed in ourselves and each other… plus there was a lot of Starbucks coffee.

We got up every hour or so to stretch, do yoga, and make sure we were all well-fed and hydrated.

We got up every hour or so to stretch, do yoga, and make sure we were all well-fed and hydrated.

Our development process worked very effectively I thought.  This was our little productivity corner all Saturday and Sunday.  I sat next to our developer, Luke, and worked with him to build the levels, work with Unity3D, and get the animations and models imported properly.  Salil and David did amazing work coming up with themes for every level, foley, and sound effects for anything we needed.  We had so much sound, we didn’t even have time to put it all into the final version of the game we wound up submitting!  Adam, Brandon, and Michael put a lot of thought into the user experience and game design of the project.

The music and art corner, Saturday night.

The music and art corner, Saturday night.

 

More specifically, Adam acted as producer and checked up on all of us to see that we were reaching consistent milestones.  Michael developed the user interface for the in-game app mechanic and did some hilarious profile picture art that the players will (in a later version) be able to choose for their “dating profile” in the game. Brandon wrote the dialogue bits for the game and helped with recording as well as development of our final presentation video.

Sleep deprivation is your worst enemy at a jam, but it's good to try to get SOME shut eye.  I got about 30 minutes.

Sleep deprivation is your worst enemy at a jam, but it’s good to try to get SOME shut eye. I got about 30 minutes.

I forced myself to get up from this mildly comfortable sofa at around 5:15 when I decided I wouldn’t get any real sleep due to some relentlessly obnoxious jammers.  But that’s the name of the game and I had a lot of work to do before our deadline on Sunday at 3pm arrived.  I worked on making four levels in Unity3D and only managed to create and animate 7 NPCs even though we had around 30 or so planned.

Our developer Luke was a trooper, coding late into the night.  When I got up, he took a brief respite.

Our developer Luke was a trooper, coding late into the night. When I got up, he took a brief respite.

Four of us stayed in our little productivity corner through the night and headed into crunch time on Sunday morning to finish up as much as we could in order to create a video.  We thought it was pretty rough that we were required to create and submit a video by 2pm because at this point we were trying to get our levels tied together and the content imported.  It was like we had all of the puzzle pieces made, but very few put together to get footage for a proper trailer.  Yet, Brandon worked his magic and created a trailer for our game that made me sob with laughter.

It seemed like it all came together in the last hour or so but fortunately for us, the servers we were supposed to upload our game to were so busy, that the deadline was extended an extra 24 hours.  That was great news for Luke because he was able to finish up his last minute scripting and get all of the NPCs working the way they should.

Overall, it was a great experience and we all had so much fun working with each other to make a funny, fresh, somewhat politically incorrect game.  We liked it so much, in fact, that we plan to meet up again soon to work on it some more and get it to a point that we are truly proud of.  Right now, it’s in what I would call an “alpha” stage.

In Summary:  On your commute home, you decide to boot up your new app, The Courtship. While you wait for the app to send you your matches, you observe your surroundings with fresh eyes. Aren’t people’s behaviors strange?

You can play our game here: CourtShip Game

Courtship Screenshot: The opening scene at the first station of four.

Courtship Screenshot: The opening scene at the first station of four.

I look forward to my next Game Jam and to working with such amazing developers again soon at the QUILTBAG Jam!

Team Casual Unicorn: David, Luke, Brandon, Adam, Salil, Michael, and Elizabeth

Team Casual Unicorn: David, Luke, Brandon, Adam, Salil, Michael, and Elizabeth