Global Game Jam 2011

Well, I’m mostly recovered from the Global Game Jam 2011…well at least enough to post about it.

Once again I had a fantastic 48 hours in Qantm College London (thanks again to Jason Colman for arranging the location!), and it was good to see a lot of familiar faces from the last year (and even some from the year before), and some excellent game ideas. This year the theme was ‘Extinction’, and a great variety of games came out of it…nearly 1500! I urge you to have a look and try some of them (obviously not all of them!). Meanwhile, I’m going to talk briefly about the games I contributed to this year.

Firstly I should specify that my contributions were sound and music. I won’t take any credit for the game design, although I would maintain that I did help out in the initial brainstorming for Frayed and Vocalnayno!!1, (basically involving me going to this wikipedia page and reading out the different meanings of “extinction”).

I was one of a number of people in a room that only made games using Multimedia Fusion 2. All but one of those people were students from Brunel University (Mike, Allan, Eoin, Oli and Simo), and I think they did a fantastic job making use of the time a resources, and generally remaining friendly for a full 48 hours. Hoping to work on future projects with you guys! Also I should mention Tomasz, who critically spent the first few hours creating a system in MMF allowing the game to be controlled by the sound going into the microphone (i.e. the volume), which became a key feature of 4 of the games below (Vocalnayno!!1, The God’s Speech, Cave Belly of the Whale. and Hum4n1ty).




I’m really proud of the guys for this one. In the game you explore the mind of a character with a form of mental illness, which disconnects them from the real world. You control both the character, and a helper that is required to guide them safely through their own world and the real world. The game has a beautiful transition between the main characters fantasy world and the real world, and that’s what I ended up making music for. When he’s Inside his own world, the music represents the serenity he feels, whereas Outside in the real world the music emphasises the harshness of reality.

They’re still working on a build where everything exports properly (MMF is a bit spazzy on the exporting front), but I’ll be posting again once they’re updated it because it’s a beautiful construct when it’s all working together. Here are my tracks for Frayed:




Still awaiting an upload (hence no screenshot) but anyway Exgerminator is a retro-style game in which you play a cleaner looking to drive an infestation of deadly germs to extinction. An interesting point they mentioned in the presentation was that you can create custom levels quite easily for this game. Will update blog when a new build shows up on GGJ website.

Brief for music was basically “retro-style”, so these are the tracks I produced. Similarly to Frayed (see above), the Hunting for Germs and Exgerminate!  tracks can fade in and out of each other.




I love this game, and a great example of a Global Game Jam entry. This was one of the games that used the microphone volume control to basically cause a volcano to erupt. I won’t say anymore, just play the game! (It’s the top file)

This was my first attempt at Calypso-style music, and I’m rather happy with the result. Only short but I hope you like!



The God’s Speech

Yep…that’s the actual size of the game. There were various achievements for game developers, on of which was:

“The game must have a screen resolution of exactly 160×144, is restricted to a color palette of four shades of the same color, and the game must be 1 Megabyte or less on disk.”

Which is why the following music is composed in MIDI form (though last time I checked the music hadn’t actually made it into the game). The idea is really quite nice; you are the God of the people on the island, and you casually speak into the microphone to encourage them to flourish. If you stop speaking, they start to go mad and kill themselves, if you shout, they get annihilated (there might be a bug or two, if I hear of an update I’ll post again).




This was a multi-platform game (as in Tom managed to run it on a laptop, and two different phones), very simple gameplay. This is a two player game in which player one clicks where the humans (blue) will go, and player two choose where the zombies (red) will go. They then battle it out in a short simulation. Because of the size, all assets are once again created in MIDI.

(An amusing bug: if the humans win they seem to start shooting at each other…bleak satire perhaps?)



Cave Belly of the Whale (aka Light, Light I say!)

This is another microphone game, where you breathe on the candle (or talk to it like the mad person you are) to keep it glowing and scare away the ghosts. The title is a reference to the fact that after Tom got the mic mechanic working, he spent the next two days shouting “Light, light I say!”.

No music from me for this project, just sound design.



Project Dodo


This actually has two different games in it. The team realised they had one flash coder and one C++ coder, so they made a decision (I think it was the intelligent one) and made two games, both on the subject of Dodo survival. The flash game (which involves most of the screenshot) is a puzzle+platformer in which the player aids a group of smartly dressed Dodos across a low-fi landscape, trying to help them to survive. The C++ game (the small image in the top left) is an escape game, where the dodo is running away from it’s fate, avoiding obstacles and such.

For the platformer I was asked to make a groovy track, not too happy, which I think went fairly well (Save the Dodos). And for the running game I was asked just for some fast music, and to be honest…I accidentally a whole epic string section. Have you ever done that? I just started with the percussion, then I kept finding I was adding more string melodies (Escape of the Dodo). The guy said he liked the music, but I don’t think it’s actually in the finished product (I don’t think it was intelligently composed, but at least it’s kind of funny!).



And Then The Lights Went Out…

I don’t think my contribution (basically a few soundscapes of crowds and cities) made it into the game, but I’ll mention them anyway as it’s quite a nice concept, and quite well presented. This team went through a lot of design changes so I hear, but the basic idea is that you can shine a light onto planets to imbue them with life, and then watch them grow, but also see  the planets wither and slowly die. Give it a look, it’s quite intriguing.



Honourable Mention: From Beyond


I didn’t do anything for this game, I’m just mentioning it here because I think it’s a clever, fun and wonderfully designed game that you should play 🙂 It’s a “hi-score” game in which you play a cosmic being of terror that wipes out civilisations by flicking various celestial objects at the planet.

This was also created by a team in Qantm College London.


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