Global Game Jam 2015: VAST

Last weekend, I was at Global Game Jam 2015 up at the Uni. Thus far, this is my 7th(?) game jam, and second game jam as staff. This was also my first year where I was mostly in a solo team. My regular collaborators were not present and I didn’t make too much of an effort to join or enlist others to join my team. Later on, a student whose team had dropped out while he was at work joined in and created some cool looking ships (previously just triangles).

The theme for GGJ15 was “What do we do now?”. A broad theme which to me could easily be contextualised as “Here is a choice: choose” which is basically the essence of gameplay. Alternatively there is emphasising words (What do WE do now, What do we do NOW, etc.), but by the time I heard it, I had already come up with a concept based on the diversifiers.


The game I created is called VAST (GGJ link) and it is a space dogfighting game. Originally pitched as a space exploration game, the player controls a ship in procedurally generated space (e.g. asteroids, planets, pirates, etc). The player could then choose to play by fighting, robbing, or exploring areas of interest. However, being a timed event, I only basically got the fighting part done. But, the key ‘gimmick’ of the game was the use of the ‘Stephen Hawking’ diversifier: control is only via one key. Each ship is controlled with but a single key. Hold the key to fire left or right thruster alternatively, or tap to move forward. Simple! I also used the ‘Drop In’ diversifier which allows anyone to join in (by pressing a key).

The final product includes single-key ships, auto-firing ships (only when something is in range), breakable asteroids containing artifacts of power (more guns), AI-controlled pirates, and sweet sound effects.

You can play VAST right here in your browser! Most keys are available. Hold to turn, tap to go forward. Every key press changes the direction of turning. Shooting is automatic.

Wind Tunnel

Back in 2008, I was an undergrad working a bunch of other undergrads on a COMP314 (Software Engineering Project). The project actually turned out pretty good (then again, most of them do).

I was recently asked by a colleague who remembered the project if I still have the source code for it. I was smart enough to keep it around (though I think it’s CVS’ed somewhere out there) and fired it back up. The results still impress me, so I’m chucking it up here on my Featured Work.

The project was to extend an existing 2D Wind Tunnel simulator. But the difference between 2D and 3D was too big for a direct extension, so we opted to ‘roll our own.’ The resulting Wind Tunnel application is a 3D, real-time simulator which fires wind ‘particles’ at objects and simulates the effect of the wind on it.

The physics of the wind particles is built upon layered octrees, where each particle is evaluated at each timestep and will attempt to escape heavily populated tree nodes to emptier nodes. In theory, this causes the wind to continue to move from the emitter.

I’ve uploaded a zip of it to Sourceforge, along with a brief wiki explaining it. In theory, the in application ‘help’ should work, but it wasn’t for me.

The simulation is quite visually appealing and would make a neat screensaver.

Global Game Jam Games

Since its inception, I have participated in the Global Game Jam (GGJ) event held every January since 2009. The event entails making a themed video game in 48 hours. At the beginning of the event, participants are given an overarching theme to incorporate into the developed games, form into teams, then get developing!

I have participated in four GGJs so far, but the third one did not result in a working game (unfortunately I had to leave early).

Canyon Chums: Our first Global Game Jam game.

The game developed for GGJ 2009 was Canyon Chums, a 2-player cooperative game where the goal is to escape a slowly closing icy canyon. The theme was something like cooperation.

Swimming Snake: Our second game developed for the Global Game Jam.

Swimming Snake was the game developed for GGJ 2010, where the game is a somewhat arcadey-style game of eating fish and avoiding puffer fish. The problem is, all fish look the same until they get close, which is when puffer fish expand. The theme for this year was deception.

The game partially developed for GGJ 2011 was a 3D Tower Defense game (think Plants vs Zombies in 3D), which involved defending the last known tree on an island from encroaching creatures.

Cosmic Hamster Wheel was the game developed for GGJ 2012. The theme this year was simply an image of Ouroboros (the cyclical snake eating its own tail), so this game involves running around a circular environment, gathering fruit and avoiding explosive robots on balloons (it doesn’t really make sense, but hey!). The game turned out quite pretty, but I was dissatisfied with how it played compared to previous year’s efforts.