Roughly half of the 200+ attendees at 360iDev are game developers or would-be game developers. Put a critical mass of passionate people together, fuel them with coffee and good tools and something interesting’s bound to happen. In this case, it’s the iPhone Game Jam.
The brainchild of Noel Llopis (@snappytouch), the iPhone Game Jam is an overnight hack fest to see just how much of a game you can build in the space between dinner and breakfast. As I write this, dozens of iPhone devs — ranging from first time game programmers to folks who’ve produced top-selling games — are hacking away under the fluorescent lights and feeble WiFi at the conference’s hotel. Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening:
Noel is building a game that relies heavily on multi-touch, a technology he says hasn’t been utilized to its fullest extent. His game will feature a spaceship piloted through space; along the way, the ship will encounter resources that it needs to generate fuel. Players will use one finger to snare the resource and guide it towards the ship and another pair of fingers to rotate the ship to receive the resource in the cargo bay.
Keith and Natalia, gaming’s cutest couple and the founders of the indie success Imangi Studios, are building a game whose play is to guide a diving hippo through flaming hoops before splashing down into a shallow pool. The idea began as a more straight-laced dive w/o making a splash concept but, says Natalia, “It’s funnier with hippos.” Keith says he’s not sure what’ll happen with the game, but that this lets them focus on the “fun nugget” at the center of the concept and test it out before getting bogged down in the full production work of a game. The game is based on their home-brew game engine, the same one that powers their popular Harbor Master game.
Yilmaz Kiymaz (@voxelboy) of People Operating Technology is building the, as far as I can tell, lone 3D game of the lot. Using the UNITY toolkit Yilmaz’s game has the player piloting a sphere on a level. As the sphere moves, it picks up — accretes might be a better word — pieces of various shapes. Pieces stick to the ball enabling the ball to have leverage to climb stairs to move onto the next level or to flip an otherwise out of reach switch. The ball is controlled using the iPhone’s accelerometer, and the behavior of the pieces is “rigid body for fixed joints.”
Tommy Barnes (@cornpuff) is building Tone Rider, a line-rider like game. The twist: you control the character by singing into the mic. Can’t hold the note long enough? Your rider falls off. Tommy’s using cocos2d; it’s his first time using the framework.
Nathan Eror (@neror) is building a game inspired by the drawing-on-fogged-windows thing that kids do. He’ll show you a shape; you’ll blow into the mic to fog up the screen and then try to duplicate the shape before the fog fades. As you go up levels the seasons change from winter to spring to summer and the fog lasts less long. Scoring is done by shape recognition which he’ll be figuring out sometime after midnight. See the image at the top of this article for a sketch of what to expect.
The professional game programmers from Team Phobic are working creating a networked strategy game that pits two amoebas in combat. Your amoeba harvests resources that feed the cell, allowing it to produce red blood cells, spit out viruses and other pseudo-biological combatants.
Gravity is central to the play of Garry Seto’s (@garryseto) and the three-man team of Jonathan Hartstein, Eric Lannan and Brian Robbins (@dubane) games. For the former, the user will deflect attackers by spawning black-holes that draw away attackers, and the latter use gravity to deflect the course of a space ship between two points — the longer the route the better the score.
A whole raft of folks who saw today’s presentation on Cocos2d are trying it for the first time. Newbies Eric Meyer (@emeyer8thlight) is working on Square Man, Eric Reid (@ericreid) is making a shield trees from acid rain ala shielding your town from missiles in Missile Defense, Doug Sjoquist’s (@dwsjoquist) ambitious plan is to create a game that uses the accelerometer to drop marbles down color-matched holes, the self described one-and-a-half member team of Matt Martel and Trish Weller are making a bumper-boat game, and network programming wizard Peter Bakhirev (@byteclub) is making a multiplayer game that has the participants throwing objects at each other over obstacles.
PJ Cabrera of Open Feint fame was building a game of Simon.
And finally, and astoundingly, Owen Goss of Streaming Color participated via a larger-than-life video link from Toronto!
iPhoneGameJam teams: email me some screen shots and a description of your final products and I’ll write a wrap-up post.