Game Jam Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Game Jam RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Cartoon Network might be a new game developer on the rise Wed, 10 Feb 2016 04:00:35 -0500 Douglas A. Skinner

Cartoon Network has announced (via Wired) that they will be exploring new avenues to build a "multi-platform experience." This apparently includes video games.

With video games being as big as they are, it's no wonder that television companies would search for new mediums to appeal to their audiences. Thus, Cartoon Network has decided to dust off an old cartoon idea and make it a precursor for future game projects.

One example is OK K.O.! Lakewood Plaza Turbo. It's a mobile side-scrolling action game that plays like Streets of Rage. Ian Jones Quartey, co-developer for Steven Universe, created the original pilot episode for the show, but the series was recently turned into a mobile game instead. 

Lakewood Plaza Turbo is out now in the App Store for free. Check out some gameplay below.

Some might disagree that this is new territory for Cartoon Network, because they already released Steven Universe: Attack the Light -- an RPG based on Steven Universe -- as well as other games based on Adventure Time. But this new game is unique because it is not based on an existing show. 

In celebration of this new journey into video games, Cartoon Network will be hosting a 48-hour game jam in Portland Oregon to encourage the development of future games. Animators, developers, designers, programmers, and graphic artists will be given guidelines to create an original game. 16 finalists will be rewarded $3,000 and be given the opportunity to have their work published in a Cartoon Network Game Jam bundle.

One winning team will have the chance to make a contract with Cartoon Network and receive help with the production, budget, and development of their game starting May 2016. The game will then be published on mobile devices, the web, and possibly PC.

On the weekend of February 12th, a select number of entrants from Portland will be invited to register and participate if they submit their work samples or portfolios. More information can be found at the official website here.

Cartoon Network is headed to a new frontier, and lovers of cartoons and games should be excited.

Ludum Dare 34 game jam will feature two themes this time Sun, 13 Dec 2015 13:25:41 -0500 Clint Pereira

Ludum Dare, widely known as one of the biggest and most brutal indie game jams, has announced the theme for their 34th competition. Normally, one theme is voted on and the contestants carry on from there, creating a game to fit the winning theme. But this time, two themes have tied for first place. 

Ludum Dare tweeted this late last night when the competition officially began.

Some contestants are using “growing” as a mechanic, having plants or creatures grow to accomplish their goals.

The two-button mechanic may be used for less entries, but it’s yielding some creative minimalist designs.

And, of course, some contestants have also been putting “tie” jokes into their content, like Project Bowtie and “Tieman,” a counterpart to Slenderman.

The puns are extremely tie-dious.

The competition actually almost ended in a three-way tie, but “Journey into the Unknown” lagged behind by 16 points.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time a Ludum Dare had two themes. Ludum Dare 8.5, a 24-hour event in 2007, had the themes “moon” and “anti-text.” Contestants were required to abide by both themes.

The more hardcore compo ends in less than 24 hours, while the jam ends in under 48 hours. After that, the official judging will begin.

Excited to see the results? Already have a favorite Ludum Dare game you want to plug? Let us know in the comments!

Image sources: Header by Viking Games; Drugy Worm by Zampy; car game by Sos; Tieman (ugh) by Dejvo

Ludum Dare 33: Compo winner overview Fri, 18 Sep 2015 06:50:20 -0400 Clint Pereira


That's all for the Compo! To see the winners of the Jam, which allows 72 hours and teams, click here.


The next Ludum Dare is set for December 11-14. To see the runner-ups, head over to the full list on Ludum Dare’s site or check out our top picks from Ludum Dare 32.



Separated by rxi

The creator of this game did not list a description, but it seems to be about a monster with sad puppy eyes who is trapped on an island with humans.


Pros: The ambiance of this game is that of isolation. There are signs everywhere that you can’t read, houses you can’t enter, and people you can’t speak to or interact with. Instead, everyone runs in fear.


Cons: Not much to do aside from walk around the island. Was the monster born in the cemetery? Visiting? Who knows! I was just about to quit and call this game a loss when I stumbled upon the ending by accident. While it did make me think about the game’s themes a little harder, I'm bitter about the lack of agency in the game. How come the villagers get to run and I can’t? Life's unfair for sad monsters...



Carewolf by Sheepolution

You suddenly are a werewolf! But you don't want to kill anyone. Convince the people of the village to stay inside!


Pros: It’s a series of logic puzzles with a fun premise. The townspeople are randomized so that there’s a small amount of replayability.


Cons: The text boxes are clunky and the art could be better. The werewolf looks like a werebadger-weasel thing.



Melody Muncher Deluxe by DDRKirby(ISQ)

A super-fun rhythm game! Play as Ms. Melody, the peaceful piranha plant, as gardeners, knights, and wizards try to uproot you. "YOU ARE THE MONSTER!" they cry, but all you want to do is have some peace in your flowerbed!


Pros: This could be considered both a rhythm and a tower defense game. I’m usually terrible at rhythm games, but something about the chiptune music and my desire to devour people as a piranha plant makes the gameplay feel smooth. The difficulty is customizable and escalates gradually as the game teaches you how to play. There’s even an option to change the sound latency in case it’s a little off.


Cons: There’s not much to complain about. The Compo version only has a beginner mode; but if it had advertised itself as being the full game, I wouldn’t have known any better.



A tie between Unfriendly Village by krzymsky and Make him scream by KeyboardCat

Unfriendly Village:


Stay alive as long as you can, and kill the unfriendly peasants.


Make him scream:


In this game, YOU are a monster that want to become an "official monster". To do this, you need to take an exam which consists to make a man the most afraid as possible ("Make him scream !").


Pros: I can see why these tied. They’re vastly different art styles but both pretty to look at.


Cons: On the other hand, neither of these games has much depth. In Unfriendly Village, the animations don’t sync well with the hits. And in Make him scream, I won without knowing how. I think I did something to the refrigerator, but he never actually screamed… which is kind of the point of the game, right?



Found Bigfootage by BluShine

You are Bigfoot. People keep bothering you with their video cameras. And they won't leave until the camera is full. But you hate being recorded. So, you have to trick them into recording a blurry, grainy mess. Reveal yourself, then disappear into the forest. If you're successful, you'll remain as a blurry rumor. Fail, and you might end up on the home page of youtube.


Pros: A neat idea. This could easily have been a survival stealth zombie game or military game, but Bigfoot is an inspired choice.


Cons: A little boring. The game could have benefited from a better risk-reward system, like extra points from drawing more people.



Ferris by Koba0100

You've been pushed around and around and around long enough! Teach the world a lesson by coming unhinged and taking down an entire city, or maybe even more?


Pros: It’s a fun idea. The fact that the Ferris Wheel gets a death laser is bonkers.


Cons: Unfortunately, this game falls short in a lot of ways. The wheel and the rocket are both impossible to control. After playing for a while in free mode, I ran into a glitch that kept restarting the game. But maybe that’s for the better. At the point that I quit, I would have done anything to make the music stop.


I know “fun” is a subjective category, but I thought the second place winner, Earth Was a Bad Choice, worked much better as a fun distraction.



taikun by zillix

you have a simple mission:


find the target, and eliminate it.


the power you've been granted is overwhelming.


cleanse the valley with fire!


Pros: It’s like Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and Trogdor put together. The endings dialogue alter slightly depending on whether you destroy the village buildings and/or destroy your objective called “the wonder.”


Cons: No enemies or conflict. The only challenge is the first few seconds of the game when you have to figure out the controls of the dragon machine.



Writhe: The Thing from the Omega Sector by DragonXVI

In "Writhe: The Thing from the Omega Sector", you play an alien organism recently escaped from Research Station Omega. None too happy about your captivity, you decide the best thing to do is to eat all the scientists on board, destroy all their stuff, and escape!


Pros: The level design and progression is spot-on. Obstacles are gradually introduced and conquered.


Cons: The controls take some getting used to. Scientists and tentacles have to be clicked precisely, which can be frustrating in an action game.


Ludum Dare started in 2002 as a forum in which 18 individual game developers took 48 hours to make a complete game from scratch. This traditional bare-bones competition has been preserved in Ludum Dare’s Compo category, which is called the “hard mode” of Ludum Dare. The theme for this competition is “You are the Monster."


Here are the Compo first-place winners.

Ludum Dare 33: Jam winner overview Fri, 18 Sep 2015 06:35:21 -0400 Clint Pereira


That's all for the Jam! To see the results for the Compo, the 48-hour challenge, click here.


The next Ludum Dare is set for December 11-14. To see the runner-ups, head over to the full list on Ludum Dare’s site or check out our top picks from Ludum Dare 32.



The Trial of Tyrone Rex by Manky

Tyrone Rex has committed murder, and a corrupt justice system will stop at nothing to see him incarcerated! But with the help of an airborne ally, Tyrone might just have a shot at avoiding the guilty verdict and getting away with his crime!


Pros: A delightful parody of the Phoenix Wright games done with plastic dinosaur toys. The judge’s gloat face had me in stitches.


Cons: Not much of a game. I tried giving the wrong answers to see if there was some variety in the responses but was disappointed to find that even that was fairly linear.


Graphics, Audio, and Mood

The Fifth Apartment by The Fifth Apartment

The old lady lives a frugal and lonely life on apartment number 5 of Mont Sinaï building.


But who could be lonely with all the demons of a lifetime?


Pros: The oppressive isolation held my attention from beginning to end. The mystery of the lost girl added to the tension.


Cons: The sound balancing. One moment, I’m raising the volume because I thought I’d heard whispering, and the next I’m lowering it because the music on the radio was blasting my ears off.




Everyday Misanthrope by Liz England


Everyday Misanthrope is a choose-your-own-misery simulation in which you gain catharsis from spreading everyday suffering.


Pros: An approachable text game with a biting sense of humor. I ruined 69 lives, including a flock of pigeons, and somehow felt accomplished. Click here to read our full review.


Cons: Though it isn’t the most ambitious project, there’s nothing bad to say about the game itself. That being said, the preferences menu is an absolute mess. It didn’t ruin my life, but it did hurt my eyes.



Passengers by nerial

PASSENGERS is a game where you play a smuggler of migrants in Europe.


Migrants are all over the news. They’re treated as a group of people, not as individuals. We wanted to go beyond that, to show some of their individuality and how powerless it is in front of the acting monster, you.


Pros: Inspired by Papers, Please, this game explores how players act in a daunting situation.


Cons: Gameplay quickly becomes repetitive. There is no apparent ending or goal to the game aside from staying out of debt.


Overall and Fun

Mobs, Inc. by Pietro Ferrantelli

Mobs, Inc. is hiring new employees ! The dungeon the company has been taking care of, has become so attractive that too many adventurers are visiting it every day.


Pros: The tongue-in-cheek humor and fast-paced action lead to a truly enjoyable experience. I could sink a lot of time into this game.


Cons: No game over screen. Your boss just tells you to “get back to work” like he always does and it cuts back to the intro. A slightly confusing and disappointing end to a great experience.


Ludum Dare is one of the biggest game jams around and they’ve just finished judging for their 33rd competition. The theme for this contest is “You are the Monster.” Developers had to take that idea and run with it.


Ludum Dare consists of two different contest categories: Jam and Compo. The Jam is a (relatively) more lenient category in which developers are allowed to work with a team to make a game in 72 hours.


Here are the Jam first-place winners.

A Ludum Dare -- Creating Interactive Narratives with Amanda Wallace Wed, 29 Apr 2015 06:21:52 -0400 Elijah Beahm

Did you know that GameSkinny's own Amanda Wallace is an indie dev? On top of editing the torrent of articles the contributors at GameSkinny put out at a breakneck pace, she has participated in several indie game jam games.

I sat down with her and talked a bit about what things are like on the indie dev side of things.

For those who don’t know, who is Amanda Wallace?

AW (Amanda Wallace): Twenty-four and over-educated. Former rugby player -- I still include that in my bio even though it's been a few years. Writer. I've been told to call myself an artist, but that's complicated. It's not a word I'd associate myself with.

What got you into Ludum Dare and indie jams?

AW: My first game was for Global Game Jam, which is probably one of the more well-known game jams. It's one more people have actually heard of. The local game development group in Lexington (where I'm from) was hosting a jam site. There was food and people I liked, so I went. I ended up making a really quick, slightly pretentious HTML game with some slight branching. And it sort of snowballed from there.

A lot of your games center around the idea of either choosing to focus on the negative or the positive. What is it that makes you focus on personal outlook for your branching choices?

AW: Do they? I guess they kind of do. There's this really great element in Kentucky Route Zero (not one of my games) where you get to decide how your character will react to falling into a mine. No matter what, you're damaged. I mean, you've fallen into a mine. Your choices don't affect that -- they just effect how your character feels. That decision-making is more fascinating to me than "What's behind door #2." There's nothing wrong with branches that decide locations and stuff like that, it's just less interesting to me. I think you could probably attribute it to my creative writing background. Characters are more interesting than plot -- so personal decisions are more interesting.

Several of your games are set in coal regions, and in forested towns. Why the rural focus?

AW: My family is from coal-country, Appalachia to be more or less regionally precise. My grandfather was a coal miner (and way back in his generation as well). My other grandfather as well. I have cousins now that are coal miners. It's very much a part of my personal mythology.

I don't feel like I could necessarily write a really good story about being in a large city as I've never lived in one. There's an old writers adage that "you write what you know," and I think that's definitely true. Plus, I feel like it's an often overlooked area. People tend to dismiss the entire region as racist rednecks without actually considering any of the history or the culture that lies therein. It's fascinating and deep, and for me, that's worth writing about.

Your games often have a very “in-medias res” sort of ending to them. While some still have a “Fin.” quality, they still feel like the story is far from over. Do you write them this way to keep the door open to go back to the same characters later, or is it more of an artistic choice?

AW: In life, the only finite ending is death. That sounded terribly pretentious, but that sort of sums up my stance on the matter. Their open-ended because to me, they're organic. My most recent game God's Gonna Cut Em Down is open-ended because it's finished.

Was that you singing in My Olde Kentucky Home?

AW: Yes. I didn't want to do it. I tried to get my sister to come in and record it for me, as she's the vocalist in the family. I knew I needed someone young and female, and as the second day of the jam drew to a close I realized that the only person I had that could do it was me. So I buckled down in the old soul recording studio that I was working out of at the time and recorded three tracks -- only two of them ended up in the final game.

In addition to your narrative games, you also created a party game titled “Simple.” What inspired you to try a multiplayer game?

AW: Simple was an experiment in creating a board game. Before the jam started that weekend, I decided that I wanted to sit down and try something I hadn't done before. It was more inspired by the desire to create a board game than to create a multiplayer experience. It was fun, though I'm honestly not sure that I'd do it again.

Some question the “game-y-ness” of Twine stories and similar projects. How do you feel about combining traditional prose and graphic narrative with interactive elements?

AW: I'm terribly done with that conversation honestly. Is that rude?

I wouldn't say so. It has been thrown around a lot recently.

To me it's a boring argument. You either think that Twine is enough of a game to be considered one or not, and I haven't met a single person whose opinion has been changed after having that conversation. It's like asking someone about their religion or politics or how they feel about bacon.

It boils down to this: "Do I think Twine is a game?" Yes I do. And I feel like anyone who makes a Twine game and wants to call it that is welcome to the title.

Would you ever consider developing a larger game, either as an indie or AAA developer?

AW: Odd question, since it hardly seems to be within my control (especially on the AAA side). I've actually worked with some developers before on larger titles and some art games. That's not really hard as most games are larger than mine.

I'm currently adapting God's Gonna Cut Em Down into a longer work. I'm probably submitting My Old Kentucky Home to IndieCade -- I showed it at PAX East last year which was an amazing experience. I love games, and I love creating them. No matter on what scale, I'd like to keep doing just that.

Now at the end of all my interviews, I like to let my interviewee ask me or my audience one question. Feel free to shoot away!

AW (Amanda Wallace): What are you looking forward to gaming's future?

Hmm... well I look forward to seeing more hybrids and divergent design, to put it shortly. Most of my favorite games take an approach to vary things up and include ideas by what works for the game individually, rather than just trying to fit to genre tropes.

With games like No Man's Sky and White Night on the horizon, I just finally feel like we're building gameplay and story for what makes sense in a game, rather than trying to emulate other mediums.  Even some less imaginative games, like Killzone: Shadow Fall, tried new ideas because they made sense as additions to the core gameplay, despite being a bit outside of the box.

So I guess, I am looking forward to a more pragmatic and creative number of games to come out. Thanks to the accessibility given by the free (and much more non-coder friendly) Unreal 4 and Unity 5, a lot more ideas can finally see the light of day.

AW: I'm definitely excited to see what we make when we stop making playable movies, even though I enjoy those too. Like, Uncharted was fun, but it's nice to see games that actually use game elements in interesting ways; like Lim.

Alright, thank you for sitting down with me today Amanda, and where can our readers find you on Twitter and where can they find your games?

@barelyconcealed on Twitter and emmelineprufrock on Ludum Dare. Thank you for having me.

You can also find Amanda right here, on GameSkinny.

Girls Make Games: A Summer Camp for Girls Who Want to Develop Games Mon, 27 Apr 2015 17:59:29 -0400 Charly Mottet

Young girls who are looking to become game developers later in life have the chance to do so - through a summer camp ! During three weeks, Girls Make Games helps girls from ages 11 to 14 participate in workshops and game jams in order to learn all the basics of developing a video game. 

Girls Make Games was created by Laila Shabir, CEO and co-founder of LearnDistrict, a studio that develops educational games. The idea came to her through a personal bad experience: she was looking for a female game developer, but she never found one. Although almost 50% of gamers are girls today, only about 11% of women work in game development

The summer camp lasts over a 3 week period and is international (over 20 camps for this summer). During their time in this camp, young girls learn about game design, programming, artistic details and how to gain an entrepreneurial spirit. The girls will learn to work under pressure as they will be in competition with each other the entire time. At the end of the three weeks, they will present their game concept to a jury who will then determine a winner. 

Winners determined at the end of Girls Make Games get the chance to have their game developed by LearnDistrict. Last year, "The Negatives" from Mountain View Camp won and raised over $31,000 for their game, The Hole Story!, on Kickstarter. 

Supported by WWE

AJ Brooks (recently retired from the WWE), avid gamer herself, is collaborating with Girls Make Games. She is offering the chance to enter the Chicago, IL camp. In order to participate, young girls need to send a one minute long video presenting their game idea that they will work on at the camp. 

For more information, rendez-vous on 

FamiliarGameJam Mashes Together 90's Movies With Indie Games Tue, 24 Mar 2015 19:24:59 -0400 The Slow Gamer

The theme for FamiliarGameJam4 is simple: "make a game inspired by a 90's movie". But due to copyright restrictions no trademarked titles, logos or characters could be used, leading to some rather amusing games.


You're an iceberg in love with a woman called Rose. You desperately want to meet her so you need to eat ice and grow big and strong to stop her ship as she sails by. But some man called Jack also sends his minions to destroy you and keep Rose all to himself.

 It's an epic tale of love, the high seas and penguins wearing jetpacks. Play Ice-Tanic in your browser. If you're terrible at it, like me, you too can get Leonardo DiCaprio flip you the bird.


Don't start the game if you don't want to play to the end. Roll the dice, each new roll will throw you into a battle for your life. Sound familiar? This is a neat little game made in memory of Robin Williams and his 90's classic Jumanji.

Jumanjam has a variety of levels to challenge you and up to three other players. This is definitely a game that would shine in multiplayer. Download Jumanjam for free.

Mission Improbable

I like this game because its title is accurate; the game's developer says outright that you're quite unlikely to ever win this little shooter. But don't let that stop you from trying as it's quite a riot. Avoid the lasers, shoot the guards, find your missing friend, all to some rather snappy (and vaguely familiar) music. 

Mission Improbable supports co-op play with keyboard and gamepad. You can play it online.


Some maniac has put a bomb on a bus full of hostages! Keep the bus above 50km/h while navigating busy city streets and attempting to safely drop off hostages.

This is a lot trickier than it sounds. There's lots of vehicles to get in your way and tight turns to slow down your bus full of innocent bystanders. The graphics are also oddly cute. You can play Speedifen online or download for free.

But wait, there's more!

These are just a sample of the 33 games made during the 48 hour FamiliarGameJam 4 2015. Go check 'em out and vote for your favourite. Voting closes in two days! Maybe Dance Dance with Wolves is more your style? Or Jurassic Pork? There's sure to be something to bring a few minutes of happy nostagla into your day.

In Space, Nobody Can Hear You 'Like': Killing Time at Lightspeed Mon, 09 Mar 2015 11:47:50 -0400 The Slow Gamer

Yesterday I was reading Pierre's article on how useless current gaming genres are at describing games. I was very "pish posh, no need to change the status quo" in the comments... but then I started playing Killing Time at Lightspeed.

This game is a... text-based game? But not really, because you don't type. It's a... social media simulator? No, that doesn't cut it either. It's more like a visual nov- Wait! Come back! It's not a visual novel. It's a game. It's a good game. Let me tell you about it.

In Killing Time at Lightspeed the year is 2042 and you have just boarded an interstellar transport ship. It will take approximately 29 years for you to reach your destination at near-light-speed travel. Due to the joys of a "singularity drive", you won't be put in suspended animation but rather left to your own devices for the apparent half hour it takes for you to complete this journey. So what's a body to do to kill such a short amount of time? Why not check out your Facebook FriendPage?

The entirely of the game interface is this text-based newsfeed. You can like and reply to friends' posts and also skim the day's news. These actions in themselves sound pretty dull; it's the extended time frame that makes the game so interesting.

During your half an hour of interstellar travel you observe, through a window of 128 characters or less, almost three decades of technological and social change. Witness future social media grapple with the development of consumer implants, sentient AI, and the subsequent push for non-human sentient rights.

And yet, at the same time, some things never change.

Gameplay consists of choosing from different options to reply to certain comments and it seems like your choices affect future options. For instance, if you are supportive of friend's foray into the world of human-synthetic romance you get a friend request from your friend's silicon lover.

There's very basic graphics in this game, no sound, and no resolution as it simply ends when you arrive at your destination. The game takes as long or as little as you like to play, with time only progressing when you hit the 'refresh feed' button on your FriendPage. I guess what you get out Killing Time at Lightspeed depends entirely on how to choose to play.

This game will bore the pants off some people, but personally I loved it. I really enjoy games that comment on society, for better or worse. The choice of a Facebook-style friend feed to explore how technology influences society is a great choice as it's so familiar, relevant, and the mechanics don't need to be explained to the player. But it's also quite tongue in cheek: I can't think of anything that's changed life more in the past few decades than ubiquitous social media technology.

My life is in peril! Must post status update!

I give Killing Time at Lightspeed a rating of 6 on the GameSkinny scale. It left me really longing for more. When a character posts "hey, check out this video" I want to be able to watch it. I want to read the articles in the news feed, no matter how inane, not just the headlines. It would also be amazing to see your friend's profile pictures change and age and the game progresses. Being a game jam game product, I understand why there isn't more content, but damn I really wish there was! Ultimately, this game left me hungry for more. Maybe that's a good thing? I'm still not sure.

Killing Time at Lightspeed was developed for Antholojam game jam by Gritfish. If you too would like to experience a little futuristic Facebook drama the game is free to play online.

Party Hard Asks If You've Ever Wanted to Stab Your Loud Neighbors Mon, 09 Mar 2015 06:59:39 -0400 Amanda Wallace

Apparently, there's a psychopath in all of us

Party Hard, recently previewed at PAX East, is the latest in a trend of ultraviolent games. This one is themed around disbanding a loud, large party that your neighbors are having with knives and the surrounding environment. 

The multi-platform game promises stealth to kill your way through hoards of your partying neighbors. Party Hard is set for a PC release this summer, with mobile releases to follow. 

The Indies vs. PewDiePie Game Jam: Twizard Sat, 22 Nov 2014 23:15:16 -0500 Heiny Reimes

The Indies vs. PewDiePie Game Jam began this weekend and many game projects are currently being made. One of them is Twizard, made by RockitBit. What makes this game unique? You as a viewer can manipulate the game with Twitch!

One person will play as Twizard, a robotic wizard who travels through dangerous dungeons. The viewers can use Twitch to manipulate spawn rates of enemies, information, weapons, and much more. The dungeons will change with every session, and the player will fight against classic 80's RPG-style enemies, as well as famous internet obsessions like cats and dogs.

The game is currently being made this weekend. RockitBit has its Twitch channel online most of the time, so you can see the development of the game in semi-real time. You can also expect some playtests soon.

You can vote on your favorite Game Jam entry when the weekend is over. The top ten competitors will get a Let’s Play video by PewDiePie himself.

You can follow the progression of the development of Twizard on Gamejolt here. You can also see them live on the RockitBit Twitch channel.

[Editor's Note: The author of this article is acquainted with the folks at RockitBit, but is not affiliated with the Twizard project.]

Educational Game Jam Held at the White House Tue, 09 Sep 2014 03:30:40 -0400 Kate Reynolds

With news that an educational game jam was held at the White House this past weekend, it seems that perhaps our government may be through with using video games as a scape-goat for all our current social problems and starting to look at the medium as a solution. 

The 48-hour game jam asked developers to create games in various subject areas that adhered to the Common Core standards of children's education. Studios like Rovio (they created Angry Birds) and Ubisoft's Red Storm joined in the event, along with smaller independent studios. 

You can search the #WHGameJam tag on Twitter to see the event through many od the developer's perspective, or check out this Storify which has collected a majority of relevant tweets.

Judging from the sheer amount of pictures, the thing most people were excited about was the cupcakes featuring the presidential seal. 

There are also several amusing pictures of game developers, not known to be the most conventional-looking group of people, awkwardly sporting mohawks in the White House. Maybe I just think they should feel awkward. 

Of course, the games look fantastic. "Land Grab" by Filament Games takes the abstract concept of the tragedy of the commons, and puts it into concrete practice by demonstrating the negative consequences of depleting shared resources. 

Taking a look at history, Kristen DiCerbo and team "PearBat" use the familiar mechanics of point-and-click adventures games to make Abraham Lincoln's death a whodunit game for children to solve in "Who Killed Lincoln?"

"Function Force 4" the submission from the American University Game Lab reminded me of Counting Kingdom. The user pilots a space-ship, and must use mathematic functions to fire a giant laser. If the developers spend more time on this game, it might make our top math games list next year

While learning games have been around as long as I can remember, it's great to see the White House calling on developers to experiment with news types of education games. Plus, the whole industry feels a smidge more dignified now.  

Ludum Dare 30 - RVA Game Jams Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:48:15 -0400 Rothalack

This past weekend myself and GameSkinny's el presidente, Stephen Johnston, attended RVA Game Jams' Ludum Dare meet up here in Richmond Virginia. Ludum Dare is an international accelerated game development competition. RVA Game Jams is a local group created by Lauren Vincelli and William Blanton. Lauren explained that she and Will had been friends from a very early age. Will had always wanted to make games and Lauren was an experienced event planner. Sounds like they stumbled across the perfect duo to create a game jam group! 

Turns out that RVA Game Jams just had its two year birthday, so send them your best wishes on Twitter with @RVAGameJams!

The Event

I have not had this much fun in a long time, building a game in a matter of days alongside many others trying the same thing. I went into the RVA Game Jams event for Ludum Dare knowing nothing about making a game... but I left with a game to call my own, truly doesn't get better than that.

I thought about jam for a while before covering the event, trying to decide if I should take part or just sit back and observe. I went ahead and did a little of both.

Meeting everyone there was great.

We all share a common passion, gaming, even if from different angles. One participant came in with the goal to become better at character development and story telling. Another came in as an animator with the goal of learning to take his animation skills into a game. Many others came in with lots of experience, just wanting to throw together another game to add to their extensive list of work. One of these happened to be a developer who worked on our mobile app for our sister-site Guild Launch, small world!

The Only Reason You Need

This is what I would pin down as the best part about any game jams: it's a huge learning opportunity as well as a networking opportunity. Like I said, I came in with zero experience and left with... some! I should mention it definitely helped that I already have web development experience, the knowledge translated over pretty well. I've now met a handful of talented developers from right here in town also.

If this wasn't enough for you to be sold, then I'll give a few more. I've always wanted to make games, I just never sat down and did it. With the constraints of Ludum Dare being two to three days of development, I had no excuse not to jump in. It was motivating. I didn't have to think to myself, 'well, I can fit 3 hours of work into my first game tonight, but what about tomorrow and all the other days? How much time can I really dedicate to this?' All of those worries flew out the window - I just had to dedicate the weekend.

A Glimpse Into "Their" World

The barrier to entry into game development is not anywhere near as high as you may think. Obviously a general knowledge of code will give you a leg up, but it is not that far out of reach. The amount of resources available online are endless, if there is something you want to do, the solution is explained somewhere out there in the ether. You aren't going to sit down for the first time and make a Blizzard polished game, but you can learn some things. You will probably learn enough to boost your respect for the developers of AAA games by a huge amount.

Being involved in the creative process gives you insight into the world of game creation.

It's much like the work I do on my car. I like to think I am quite knowledgable about it all and that all the modifications I make actually make improvements. With that knowledge I have a huge amount of appreciation for the immense expenditure of time and money that must have gone into that finer car that just blasted by.

Being involved in the creative process gives you insight into the world of game creation and you see how much you really don't know and how much you can admire those who make a career out of game development.


To give you perspective, imagine World of Warcraft for a moment. Think about how enormous the game is and how many things you can do in-game. I'm willing to bet the code necessary for our entry to Ludum Dare would be about the same amount of code required to make vendors work in World of Warcraft. Maybe even less. Think about that next time you complain about a tiny bug in any game. It would probably take someone the better part of a week to figure it out and fix the bug.

If you ever intend to get to that level of expertise, you have to start somewhere. I don't think there is a single thing better at introducing you and getting you started than a game jam. Jump in and start learning, the decision may turn out to be the best you've ever made. As I've been telling myself for years, I wish I had started when I was much younger, by younger I mean like when I was twelve and got my first computer for my room. (See Thomas Suarex: 12-year-old app developer, much jelly) I would be so much better at what I do now, Will would agree with me.

Why Stop Here?

Now that I've participated, it's gotten me energized and motivated to continue. Stephen and I still work on our game, TwitForce, here and there, trying to make the game a more fun experience. That is yet another great thing about accelerated game development. You are given the topic and you just have to go. No arguing back and forth about what you do here and what you do there. You come up with an idea that is within scope and you go. Luckily for us, our idea has inspired us to continue, and I wouldn't be surprised if most Ludum Dare entries have done the same for their makers.

You can check out all the games submitted from RVAGameJams specifically here under the Recent Games section.

This should be your cue now to go looking for the next Game Jam event near you! Seriously, do it! I promise you will be glad you've done it. If you have an idea for a game, you can build it. It just takes resolve to figure it out.

Public Domain Jam: What Public Domain Work Would You Want To See Turned Into a Video Game? Mon, 19 May 2014 18:49:52 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

The future is a remix of the past.

Many creations build upon the old & familiar to make them new & unique. Games especially. That's why we need to have a stronger public domain, a stronger creative commons, for the artists of tomorrow to learn from the artists of yesterday.

- Nicky Case, Public Domain Jam

For a one week time period (May 17th - 24th), game developers have been invited to participate in the Public Domain Game Jam and create games based on any form of public domain work. Pick a character, choose a tale, tell a story. Anything in the public domain is fair game. Anyone can tell whatever story they want to in whatever style they want to. Expect to see a lot of stories and genres smashing into each other head-first in this cultural crucible.

War of the Worlds as a stealth game? Hells yes.

The Odyssey as a role-playing game? Scylla is charging an attack.

Huck Finn as an arcade fighting game? Dibs on Tom Sawyer.

Hell, the jam website even suggests a Les Miserables bullet-hell shoot-em-up game. I think we would all love to play that.

Tired of the same-old zombie games?

About a month ago, Australian game developer Gritfish got fed up with all the zombie and Cthulhu games in the indie scene and announced the Public Domain Jam. There are so many great characters and stories in the public domain, but only a handful are regularly used by game developers. Hopefully, this jam will get devs to think outside the box.

On the Public Domain Jam website, Gritfish explains his frustration: "a lot of people who make games aren't aware of just how many good stories they're carrying around with them."

Now, making games with public domain works is all fine and dandy, but what if the games made were also public domain? If a developer submits a game using a Creative Commons Zero (CC Zero) waiver, they can also submit their source code and assets to be used and remixed. Nicky Case, sponsor of the jam (and creator of the video at the top of this article), has donated an impressive $1000 prize to be awarded for the highest-rated CC Zero game.

The jam is open to anyone and everyone who can make a game and submissions will be rated based on the following categories:

  • Graphics
  • Sound
  • Fun
  • Polish
  • Staying true to the source material
  • Most innovative use of the source material
  • Use of the bonus theme: Paper

The games will be submitted via the jam page and anyone is free to submit. There are a few rules, however, so make sure to check them out before making a game. The jam ends and judging begins on May 24th. Judging will end on June 7th. Find out more on the website.

If you could make a game out of any public domain work, what would you pick? Let us know in the comments.
5 Kick-Ass Women in the Game Industry Sun, 04 May 2014 20:06:13 -0400 WesleyG


Amy Hennig got her Bachelor's degree in English literature from Cal University with her eyes set on the film industry, until she took at job as an artist for Atari. While working on the game Electrocop, she decided that games are "a more interesting and pioneering medium than film" and dropped out of film school to begin her gaming career.


She became the lead designer on Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City before she made a name for herself at Crystal Dynamics as the writer, producer, and director of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. She's best known for her work at Naughty Dog on the Uncharted franchise as game director of the original as well as head writer on Among Thieves and Drake's Deception (the last two earned her the Writer's Guild Award for Video Game Writing in 2010 and 2012).


After being reportedly "forced out" of Naughty Dog back in March, she's now working at Visceral Games as the creative director of a currently unknown Star Wars project. If Uncharted 4 takes a dip in quality while a Star Wars game suddenly becomes the new benchmark in storytelling in video games, you'll know why.


Who are some of your favorite women in the game industry? Leave a comment and let us know who deserves to be recognized.


At the age of 12 years old, Corrinne Yu took advantage of the Apple II donated to her junior high school and began programming games. She's credited as an elite programmer on the classic King's Quest series on the Apple II, as well as creating the game engines that would power such games as Borderlands, Halo 4, Quake 2, and others.


Outside of the game industry, she's also programmed for NASA in a key role on America’s Space Shuttle Program at Rockwell International California, making her one of the only people to program both real and virtual spaceships. She's currently working at Naughty Dog, coding animation and graphics for PS4 titles including a remastered edition of The Last of Us.


Kim Swift got her start in games at the Digipen Institute of Technology where she helped code a puzzle game called Narbacular Drop. Kim and her team exhibited the game at a Digipen career fair, where Valve developer Robin Walker invited her and her team to do a presentation of the game for Valve. The team accepted and after their presentation Gabe Newell gave the entire team a job offer to build a new game just like Narbacular Drop.


Kim Swift would become the lead designer on that new game which the world would come to know as Portal. Kim would continue to work on other Valve games such as Left for Dead 1 & 2 before leaving the company in November of 2009 to join Airtight Games.


She created games such as Quantum Conundrum and the Ouya exclusive Soul Fjord before being hired by Amazon last month to help bolster Amazon's new video game development studio. According to Kim's very own LinkedIn page, she's currently "working on secret things for a secret amount of time that no one can know about. Shhhhh."


Robin Hunicke studied "dynamic difficulty adjustment in games" as a graduate student at Northwestern University. During her studies she worked on a mod for Half-Life that adjusted the game's difficulty based on the player's performance before Left 4 Dead's AI Director became a thing.


After a conversation with Will Wright at a conference, she decided to make the jump into the game industry, designing expansion packs for The Sims and becoming the lead designer on MySims. She's best known for her work with thatgamecompany as the Executive Producer for Journey. She's currently the co-founder and CEO of Funomena working on a mostly-unannounced commercial game.


What drives her is her desire to create games that elicit feelings from the player. She recently spoke at Humlab in Sweden about a concept she calls "Feeling-First Games." The short version of it tasks independent developers with building games centered around the desired emotional outcome of the game instead of building games around which mechanics you want to use (is it a shooter, a racing game, etc).


Lets start this list with one of the most well known female voices in indie gaming today, Zoe Quinn.


She's the creator of Depression Quest and a frequent participant of game jams. She's also well-known for being the constant target of harassment that ranges from misspelled attacks to in-depth conspiracy theories. In an industry that would rather cover up and ignore, her willingness to share that harassment in an effort to shed light on the underbelly of the gaming community has made her a respected figure for equality in gaming.


Personally, I'd recommend everyone go play Depression Quest, which is free to play on her website. It wasn't an easy game for me as it brought up memories and feelings from my own struggles with depression back in high school and college.


She's currently working on It's Not Okay, Cupid, a game based on the dating site OK Cupid, and is the narrative designer on Framed.

Indie Flash: Color a Rebel Jam In Storium With Game Music Tue, 29 Apr 2014 19:44:23 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

In this week's Indie Flash: LGBTQ film Gaming In Color has released, Zoe Quinn's Rebel Jam has been announced, the Storium Kickstarter has a week left, and Game Music Bundle 7 is out now. Indie Flash is a small look into this week in indie games.

Gaming In Color Releases For $1

A few weeks ago we put a spotlight on the highly anticipated LGBTQ film Gaming In Color. With the tag-line "Out of the closet and into the arcade!" Gaming in Color showcases the story of queer gamers, the rise of gaymer culture and events, and the proliferation (and lack thereof) of LGBTQ themes in video games. 

Philip Jones's ambitious documentary is available for download at and is following a pay-what-you-want model of digital distribution (minimum $1). The suggested price for the 62min-long film is $15. The film is accessible, entertaining, visually interesting, and is ground breaking as the first LGBTQ-focused game documentary.

"GAMING IN COLOR exists for anyone who believes that the pixelated world can be a better place for everyone, no matter who they are. It is not too uncommon a tale where a bullied, abused youth seeks solace in a video game, only to find that their one hope of sanctuary, their escape into a virtual universe, is plagued with floods of more vitriol and hatred. This exists doubly so for anyone who is a minority, including people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community."

Zoe Quinn's Rebel Jam Is Official

Motivated by the failure of the controversial and now-infamous Polaris GAME_JAM debacle a few weeks ago, Zoe Quinn, one of the two female developers from the GAME_JAM, has created her own game jam. Quinn has taken notes from the errors of Mountain Dew representatives who ruined the last event and the new jam seeks to get back to the collaborative roots of the indie gaming world. The Rebel Jam will bring together indie developers for a 3-day long game jam that will be filmed, documented, uploaded to YouTube for free, and this time will not be sponsored by PepsiCo Products. Fancy that.

The Rebel Jam is all about the indie community and invites anyone and everyone to participate in whatever vein possible. YouTube personalities, filmmakers, video editors, developers, and any other interested persons are invited to apply on the website to be involved in the jam. Supporters are also invited to put their money where their mouths are and donate to help fund the project.

Storium Kickstarter Has a Week Left

Storium is a new Kickstarter project and a pretty exciting one. Storium is not so much a game as it is a storytelling and story creating platform. The unique browser-based platform breaks storytelling into manageable and easily manipulatable chunks of HTML for users to interact with. The goal is to turn the writing process into a multiplayer experience, where a narrator player controls the ebb and flow of a story while allowing other Storium users to fill in the actions and dialogue of a story's individual characters. Essentially, Storium digitizes the collaborative storytelling nature of old-school Dungeons and Dragons and streamlines the creative process.

Initially asking for $25,000, the Kickstarter already has a massive amount of steam thrown into it, attracting over 3,000 backers and raising over $110,000 in the past three weeks. The last week of funding is about to start and there are still a few remaining stretch goals to hit - including a lofty $200k goal that would bring Storium into schools as an education tool. The platform already has a functional live version and, for $10, backers gain instant access to the current Storium beta.

Game Music Bundle 7 Rocks

Grab your headphones and a couple of bucks and finally stop leaving Banner Saga open just for the background music. This most recent seventh iteration of the Game Music Bundle features two tiers of tunes and an excellent selection of 25 different game soundtracks and game-related albums. The first tier is unlocked at only $1 and features albums for the following 5 games (96 songs, 4.14 hours):

  • The Banner Saga
  • DEVICE 6
  • Broken Age
  • The Floor is Jelly
  • Luftrausers

The second tier unlocks at $10 and delivers a massive amount of more tunes, featuring the previous 5 plus an additional 15 albums (346 songs, 17.46 hours): 

  • Journey
  • Starbound
  • The Yawgh
  • Magnetic By Nature
  • Escape Goat 2
  • Curious Merchandise
  • Winnose
  • Eldritch
  • Bardbarian
  • Tribes: Ascend
  • Into the Box
  • Soul Fjord
  • Dragon Fantasy Book II
  • Ether
  • The Music of Junk Jack X

Game Music Bundle 7 will end on Friday, May 2nd, and if you’re not 100% sold on the music you can listen to samples provided on the website.

As always, if you have a positive or negative reaction to anything in this Indie Flash, let me know in the comments below! 

Indie Flash: Advanced FTL Caverns Go To a GAME_JAM Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:35:40 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

In this week's Indie Flash: the Polaris/Maker Studios' GAME_JAM is brought down by one man, Dwarven Forge's new "Caverns" Kickstarter raises over $1.6 million, FTL gets a free advanced edition, and more. Indie Flash is a small look into this week in indie games.

GAME_JAM is Brought Down By One Man - [Source]

Jared Rosen's gonzo-styled account of the Polaris/Maker Studio's GAME_JAM was posted on IndieStatik early last week. The game jam was originally well intentioned and sought to showcase the spirit and collaborative nature of indie development, while also serving as a document of what a game jam actually looks like.

Unfortunately, this original goal was twisted and spiraled out of proportion as old media reality TV tropes were introduced and sponsorships slowly took over the event. A now infamous "Pepsi consultant" riled up the developers with misogyny-filled questions and an oppressively overzealous attitude. At once, the $400,000 GAME_JAM came to crashing halt and savagely unsalvagable end. Read the full article here.

"To see the funeral procession of high creatives and story writers and production directors as they left the studio lot, heads down, on their way to a punishment tribunal we would only learn about in cracked voices and quaking half-jokes. The fake grass, crushed cigarette butts and empty beer cans. The trays upon trays of uneaten catering. And the understanding that it was a total wash, completely unsalvageable from a production standpoint, while the developers sat in tears, horror and shock on brand-integrated lawn chairs mere yards from a freelance crew already looking for their next gigs."

Dwarven Forge's "Caverns" Kickstarter Raises $1.6 Million - [Source]

Dwarven Forge is at it again with a new modular tabletop tile set called "Caverns." The Kickstarter campaign has raised an incredible $1.6 million, making Caverns the 5th most funded tabletop endeavor on Kickstarter.

The campaign comes one year after the original Dwarven Forge modular tile Kickstarter and both campaigns have run right around Tabletop Day for maximum exposure. The basic set tiles look great, but the really amazing tiles have only unlocked as the campaign met it's stretch goals. The video below shows off what the tile set has to offer:

FTL Receives Free Advanced Edition and Comes to iPad - [Source]

Everyone's favorite space roguelike has a major Advanced Edition update and it's completely free if you already own FTL. The update includes a new alien race, a new ship, new ship configurations, new weapons and drones, new encounters, new ship systems, and some totally rad new soundtrack tunes.

The game is available for $9.99 on PC, Mac, Linux, and now on iPad. I've been playing FTL Advanced Edition pretty much every chance I get and I've been loving every second of it. If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to check out the sweet new tunes. If anyone can figure out how to beat the new end-boss, let me know!

Other Indie News

Shelter 2 teaser trailer released - Source

XYZZY 2013 winners announced and Twine Creator Chris Klimas comments on the dominance of Twine as the most popular platform represented - Source

Final Monaco campaign update "Fin" released - Source

Treachery in Beatdown City launches second attempt at Kickstarter - Source

Sound development tool Imitone passes Kickstarter goals - Source

GDC 2014's Indie Soapbox has now been uploaded for free viewing. The panel features great speeches by Leigh Alexander, Shawn Alexander Allen, Ryan Clark, Zach Gage, Kert Gartner, Nika Harper, Robin Hunicke, Ethan Levy, Zoe Quinn, and Lea Schonfelder (Nika Harper's speech on effective redundancy is my personal favorite) - Source

As always, if you have a positive or negative reaction to anything in this Indie Flash, let me know in the comments below! Any feedback that helps me make this side project better is greatly appreciated. Let me know here, or hit me up on Twitter @ZacaJay.

Indie Devs Unite: Game_Jam Event Turns Reality Show Revolt Tue, 01 Apr 2014 12:12:54 -0400 Capt. Eliza Creststeel

Editor's Note: Many gamers will have already heard about the very expensive, very public derailing of  the Green Label Game Jam, but for those who are in the dark, here's a brief overview of the gamejam phenomenon and coverage from those involved.


Industry Innovations from Indy Gatherings

Just as musicians go to jam sessions to play together, experiment, and try new things, a gamejam is a 24 to 48 hour gathering to plan, design and create one or more new game apps. 

The 0th Indie Game Jam, in March of 2002, is credited by many to be first. Now, global events are held in hundreds of world-wide locations - growing each passing year. That first session produced 12 games from 14 attendees. 

The following years brought more attendees, more challenges and innovations. 

While the annual Global Game Jam continues to garner larger attendances, more corporate interest and more gamer following, gamejams in general have still not had their "Comic Con Crossover" moment into mainstream awareness.

Quiet on the Set!

At some point last year, a game jam event was put into the works by Game Jolt founder David DeCarmine and IndieStatik's Josh Mattingly. They laid the groundwork for a major gathering that had huge potential for game jam broadcasting.

Maker Studios would film the event and supply the location as well as room and board. Part of the attractiveness of the concept was that it could show the struggles of independent game designers and how their creative process worked in the form of a reality series.

Maker produces a wide variety of programming, with their Polaris division focusing on 'geek culture' making gaming industry videos and entertainment news via YouTube. Still, the concept quickly garnered attention beyond the technology arena.

Soon, the stage was set to spotlight how indy developers take a game from mental concept to concrete reality all in the span of 48 hours thanks to dedicated effort, teamwork, imagination and a lot of caffeine-fueled sleepless hours of coding and building.

But, it was not meant to be.

Lights... Camera...

...a documentary of indy gaming design suddenly was spun into a reality TV show, complete with judging panel...

As the first day of filming the Green Label Game Jam approached, Polaris had created one of their largest filming stages to date. It literally took over an entire building. The concept of creating a documentary effort of indy gaming design suddenly was spun into a reality TV contest show, complete with judging panel, competitions, and corporate-sponsor prizes.

To support such a massive effort, the budget ballooned, including a $400,000 sponsorship from PepsiCo. In addition to the color-coded work areas and work stations, there would be Mountain Dew artwork all over and the only drink options to be seen on set were Mountain Dew products or bottled water.

To insure their investment however, a brand consultant was sent by Pepsi to oversee proper product placement, as well as be involved in developing a product-positive environment. What happened though was altogether another story.

Almost from the jump, the consultant Matti Leshem seemed to take over the filming process, moving from group to group with the cameras and sound crew. Dictating the action, he also would pose comments intended to solicit responses from the teams as they worked.

Like directing an episode of Survivor or Hell's Kitchen, the questions asked and comments made were apparently designed to stir up discussion or worse--create artificial drama.

...Annnnnnd Action!

It's well-known that most reality TV is NOT real, but rather directed or edited in a fashion to have a story arc, and in many cases completely scripted.

In one case, when there was a minor disagreement between Zoe Quinnzel and YouTuber JonTron, the two wisely decided to take their discussion elsewhere to minimize tension and work out their issue. However, the camera crew followed and reporter Jared Rosen said inciting remarks were made that seemed to try and push the talk toward a full-blown argument. It didn't. 

"As the project grew in scale, they made compromises that they shouldn’t have." - Robin Arnott

As the day progressed, Leshem tried to re-open the issue between the two. When that failed to spark conflict, other angles were taken to gin up TV drama.

Now, it's no secret that women in gaming has become a hot button issue in recent years and often it's not just a lightning rod, but also one that can easily be exploited into  reaction-causing fodder for media consumption.

With more women involved in the development and publishing side of gaming, let alone the larger percentage of female gamers, it almost seem archaic to judge skill, ability and potential success based solely on gender.

But, that didn't stop Leshem from posing some extremely misogynistic questions.

“Do you think you’re at an advantage because you have a pretty girl on your team?”

“Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they’re at a disadvantage?”

And that's where the train came crashing to a halt. As the consultant continued his efforts to get a rise from anyone on camera, and after 14 hours of being in a virtual pressure cooker, most were ready to call it quits. Some were calling for Leshem's head.

With such a large investment and so much on the line, the directors, producers and show runners made efforts to salvage what they could. In the end, the toxic atmosphere was too much and the event succumbed.

Cut! That's a Wrap!

Those in attendance were asked to sign various legal protection and non-disclosure agreements, which is standard to the TV business, but some didn't sign the paperwork and others have offered detailed accounts in spite of it.

  • Here is participant Adriel Wallick's take.
  • Robin Arnott had this to say in his blog.
  • Indie Statik's Jared Rosen was there to cover the project. His take on the proceedings are definitely worth reading beyond any justice I could give this topic.
  • Zoe Quinnzel's Blog posted this after the whole affair. Since Ms. Quinnzel did sign a non-disclosure agreement, she limits the detail of her response.

Mr. Leshem so far has not posted a public comment on the entire affair. Indeed, his Twitter account has been quiet for some time.

Train Jam Post Mortem Mon, 17 Mar 2014 15:36:25 -0400 Amanda Wallace

This past weekend I had the great honor of participating in the inaugural Train Jam. An event started by Adriel Wallick, this year it consisted of 58 or so game developers, two film crews, and two journalists, all traveling 52 hours by train from Chicago to Emeryville, California and en route making some incredible games. Developers from Canada, the UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Italy, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and US all came together for one of the most innovative game jams I've ever heard of.

How I, and my fellow Kentucky developer Matt Hudgins, came to be a part of such an illustrious group is unknown. A strange confluence of events found me discovering a last minute tweet from Adriel to the effect of "3 tickets left." Matt and I weren't going to GDC. As hyper-indies, small time from a state that while possessing fantastic developers goes largely unnoticed on the tech scene, we were excited at the possibility of a new environment to create games in, and the chance to work with developers we otherwise would not.

So we signed up. Drove the six hours from Lexington, KY to Chicago so that we could start the 52 hour train ride. There were some fantastic and talented developers who had also signed up, including Vlambeer's Rami Ismail, Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn, as well as developers who worked on such titles at Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.

We picked up our theme at a deli in the Chicago terminal. "Disconnected," a good theme since most of us would be disconnected from cell service, wifi, and our jobs for most of the trip. I had the great pleasure of working with a small team of diverse developers: Alicia Avril, Eric Chon, and Andrew Gleeson to help make a game using the VR tool Oculus Rift. I also worked with another team, including the people listed before as well as Eric Robinson, a existential fishing game called "Waiting for Ganandot." With little time for distraction, this jam was by far one of the most chill and friendly experiences I've ever had.

Living and working in such close quarters creates a completely different kind of jam experience. You know how they smell (since most of us did not have access to showers for the entire 52 hours, yes) but you also get a chance to talk about other things, to get excited about small California towns like Truckee, and to play with large train whistles. The entire experience was defined by the friendly and collaborative environment created by Adriel and by the rest of the developers. Even though I had one of the lowest skill levels in the group, I felt like I could contribute.

When the train finally arrived in Emeryville, I began to wish for a year to pass by just a little faster. If possible, I'd love to experience the Train Jam again, and to work with my fellow developers as we head across the country.

Super Hexagon Creator Releases Stylish Flappy Bird Tribute Wed, 12 Feb 2014 08:23:56 -0500 Rich Kovarovic

Terry Cavanagh, best known for the hyper-addictive and challenging Super Hexagon, has created a free Flappy Bird tribute game entitled Maverick Bird.

Maverick Bird is something like a Flappy Bird and Super Hexagon lovechild. The gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect from a Flappy Bird tribute, but featuring a pulsating and colorful aesthetic those familiar with Super Hexagon will immediately recognize, instead of the warp pipes and little bird. Cavanagh used the Super Hexagon code for the game as well, so the jagged and varied obstacles in the game shift with the spastic, electro soundtrack. The music in Maverick Bird is a track called “Vietnam” by Kozilek, and is part of the artist’s Pluto EP.

“Thanks for the inspiration, Dong,” Cavanagh wrote. “Looking forward to your next game when things settle down!”

Maverick Bird is Cavanaugh’s contribution to the Flappy Jam, a Flappy Bird-inspired game jam currently going on to show support for Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen. “Indie gamedevs are friendly and supportive, envy and teasing should not belong to our community, nor be a cause of suffering,” the Flappy Jam site states. The game jam asks developers to "make a hard, almost unplayable game” using “assets inspired (not ripped) from classics.”

Those interested in getting frustrated and repeatedly crashing into things can play Maverick Bird for free on Cavanagh’s site

Indie Devs Respond to King's "Candy" Trademark With a "Candy Jam" Wed, 22 Jan 2014 20:13:36 -0500 Stephanie Tang

Candy Crush Saga developer, has not been making people happy lately. In the fight to protect their intellectual property (a candy-colored ripoff of Bejeweled), they have given the Banner Saga trademark an infringement notice

And then there's their attempt to trademark the word "Candy" as well as "Saga" across a broad variety of products, from shower caps to computer games. This began in February of last year... and on January 15, 2014, King came even closer to owning that trademark since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved it for publication.

Now, if you're a developer with the word "candy" in the name of your mobile app, you may need to change it.

Or get ready for an impending lawyer battle.

According to King, they don't want everyone's candy, they just want to protect themselves against IP infringers. On the Apple store, where King pulls in the majority of its money, similar-sounding apps abound, case in point: Candy Casino Slots - Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania.

Now this may not seem at first glance to look anything like Candy Crush Saga, but the App store icon simply reads Candy Slots, but for the uninformed eye, a quick search for "Candy" in hope of finding the Candy Crush game might fool you into thinking you've found King's product.

And this, King cannot abide.

"As well as infringing our and other developer's IP, use of keywords like this as an App name is also a clear breach of Apple's terms of use," says King. "We believe this App name was a calculated attempt to use other companies' IP to enhance its own games, through means such as search rankings."

King is quick to explain that it doesn't want to enforce its trademark against all forms of candy:

"Some are legitimate and of course, we would not ask App developers who use the term legitimately to stop doing so."

But this strikes most people as a rather hollow explanation since any "candy" app that comes close to treading on its IP for the sake of a sweet spot in the search ranking is getting put down.

According to GameZebo, reports are already coming in from game developers who use the word "candy" in their mobile games' names, and getting notifications from Apple about the trademark on behalf of King.

For those of you with a short memory, a similar situation happened back in 2012 over the word "Memory," but that particular trademark incident did not extend to the United States. This could set a bad precedent for those of us in North America. 

So indie developers are stepping up to protest King's actions.

An impromptu game jam has sprung up in response to the news.

The "Candy Jam" was created in protest of the trademark encourages developers to create any game with the word "candy" in the title because "trademarking common words is ridiculous."

It was thrown together by developers Caribou (@caribouloche) and T-Wave (@uuav) on January 23. Interested developers are encouraged to submit links to their games, along with images and description through the Candy Jam Tumblr page before the February 3 submissions deadline.

There has been no explanation so far on how the entries will be showcased or judged beyond the Tumblr account, but in the rules of the Candy Jam, bonus points "may" be awarded to games that are able to incorporate other notoriously trademarked terms "scroll," "memory," "saga," "apple," and "edge."

What do you think?

Is this a good way to combat the ridiculousness of the King company trademark? If you're an indie dev, would you consider submitting to this game jam in order to make a point to King?