Not only does this make the jam the most northerly in the whole United Kingdom, it marks the return of one of the friendliest, most collaborative events in the gaming calendar.
This year’s competition has pulled in 14 teams – up from last year’s 10 – working on a variety of projects. The overall theme of the jam is now you see it, now you don’t inspired by yesterday’s eclipse.
A new addition to the 2014 competition is three teams working on ideas and concepts for board games. There are also a series of workshops looking at some of the games tools and technologies
The jam’s links to Elgin’s Hunted Cow continues to pay dividends. Last year’s winning team were mentored by Hunted Cow, to help bring their winning game to market. This year, the studio is providing two judges in the shape of CEO Andrew Mulholland, as well as Alan Emrich, the head of Victory Point Games, the US-based strategy and board game company (as well as part time lecturer and all-round fascinating chap…) They’re joined by returning judges Phil Harris and Brian Baglow (your editor).
So, who are the teams and what the hell are they working on? Here, ladies and gentlemen are this year’s competitors…
Game Name: TBC
A seriously intriguing concept this one. A Hidden Object game. Seriously. A creepy Twin Peaks style hidden object game where nothing is quite as it seems and the objects you’re looking for may or may not be what they seem. Played in first-person, the team is keen to pursue the descent into creepy madness idea and play with the player as the game proceeds.
Game Name: The Night Watch
This team competed last year and came perilously close to lifting the main prize. They’ve since released the Android game ZenTori, while all still studying at Abertay. Their idea for this year again has a great deal of promise. The player stands in darkness, in the middle of a circle of different zones. Armed only with a torch, the player must turn towards sounds and other warnings of something approaching, using the torch to slow and stop anything nasty which is creeping up on them. Think of it as a survival-horror version of British Bulldog…
Team: Zone C (Emma, Alasdair, Oliver)
Game Name: TBC
Another interesting one. An asynchronous 4 x player prison escape game in which one player controls several guards, while the other three players control a single prisoner each and try to abscond from the penitentiary without being collared by the screws.
This is where things get weird… So in the as-yet-unnamed game from Magic Bag Of Cats, the player will take the role of a cat in a dark room. The goal is to collect your kittens, while avoiding the ghosts. Players will be able to switch on the light, to locate the kittens. The problem however, is that when the light is on, the ghosts can see the player too. Spooky. And it features cats. And kittens. And ghosts.
Another returning team. Their concept is for a dungeon crawler, treasure hunt type experience. The longer the bold explorer stays underground, the greater the danger he/she faces. Survive the peril, grab the horde, avoid the nasty dungeon things and make good your escape, before spending your reward on ale and a shiny new helmet – HUZZAH!
Team: Sample Text (Harry, Calum, Thomas, Shaunelle, Alan)
An intriguing concept in which the plays with the idea of predator and prey, using nature’s most famous camouflage enthusiast, the chameleon as the main inspiration. How the player will make use of the animal’s ability to Blend into the background, we don’t yet know. But we’re intrigued enough to go and bug the team again and demand to see some work in progress.
A 2D side scrolling game in which the player, as an exorcist must find and catch a particularly tricky (and evil) demon, before it reaches the end of the level and unleashes upon the world a mighty cataclysm of horror and death and locusts and rivers of blood, over cooked salmon, improperly chilled white wine, higher taxes and a new coalition government and mounds of skulls. Plus you lose the game. So it’s all bad.
A really nice co-operative multiplayer puzzle platformer. OK, allow us to explain… Three players, each a different colour. Players must collaborate to open doors and reach colour-coded platforms, by coming into proximity with each other to change colour (red and blue players combine to form purple for example…)
Here comes the twisted entry… A puzzle platformer, which is set inside the subconscious of a psychopath called SiSi. You follow must help SiSi defeat his inner demons to allow him to continue his murderous rampage on death and destruction. We’re not sure what early hour of the morning the team came up with this, but we’re assuming it was ‘early’…
A top-down, procedurally-generated rogue-like in which the player must try to escape from a pitch-black, apparently abandoned hospital or asylum. Armed with only a torch and pursued by angry/hungry/territorial ghosts, the player must swing their illuminated beam of righteousness to fend off the suspicious spectres and escape.
Team: Corrie (Corrie)
The jam’s only independent developer, Corrie is a team of one (Corrie), who’s building a survival-based isometric game in which geometric shapes do battle. The player shape must fend on hordes of enemy shapes, avoiding damage which will – of course – turn the player invisible (so the player can’t see them). Picking up the special potion will reveal the player once more, ready for another wave of ravening cubes…
We’ll have more from the jam (including the names of the damn games once the teams start coming up with them…) as the weekend unfolds.