Global Game Jam 2016


Over the past weekend, myself and a large number of students participated in the Global Game Jam, an annual event where individuals / teams have to design and create a game under a given theme within three days.  Late on Friday, around 5pm, we were gathered in the college auditorium to be presented with the Global Game Jam official keynote speech which provided an introduction to the event, whilst also informing us on this years theme.  As displayed above, the theme for 2016 was RITUAL.

The full keynote speech is available below.

Initially Cameron, Allan and I formed a team, a team well within our comfort zone as we worked together on the majority of past projects.  Whilst the three of us were not short of ideas, we struggled coming up with a concept which we fully believed in and wanted to progress with.  With it being late in the day, we decided to sleep on it and regroup in the morning.

Saturday, I entered the college at 9am still struggling for the perfect idea, also realising that Cameron and Allan were not able to attend till later in the day.  It dawned on me that it was not going to be achievable to create a game with the three of us within the time frame, as a result I started scouting around the teams for any potential opportunity to join and offer my services.

I was quickly drawn to a team lead by Faye, as I noticed she had numerous documentation, concept drawings / sketches and brainstorms scattered around her desk.  Named “Monachopsis” the background story consisted of a “coming of age ritual”, where the protagonist has just became 16 years old and has to perform numerous tasks and trials for their tribe, to finally be accepted as an adult.

As mentioned by Cameron, “The world was based around floating islands with different seasons on each island. The starting area is Spring environment that is used to introduce the player to the game, changing drastically as the players navigates through the world“.  Furthermore, the world was to be created using a low-polygon style with simple block colours in agreement with Faye’s design choice.

The team was then segmented and given their responsibilities:

  • Faye Carrman –Project Lead, Programmer
  • Allan Burton – Programmer
  • James Wake (Myself) –  3D Modelling, Asset Creation, World / Level Design
  • Cameron Dowse – 3D Modelling, Asset Creation, World / Level Design
  • Stephan, Izzy, Megan, Declan – Game-play, Puzzles and Mechanics

We were also joined by Will at a later date, who input with help on the puzzles and 3D assets.

I began by setting up an asset creation list on a shared spreadsheet, including all 3D models which were required.  Using 3DS Max, Cameron and I started making our way through the list which included:

  • Terrain / Rocks
  • Trees / Logs (Multiple Variants)
  • Tents / Teepees / Yurts
  • Water / Waterfalls
  • Windmills
  • Fences / Gates

The list continues, with the majority of models created by Myself and Cameron, with the addition of Will and Matty, who created the windmill and fox meshes.

As a team, we decided to use the Unity Game Engine with the main reason being that it is currently fresh in the mind as were are using it frequently in regular class sessions.  Additionally, the programmers felt more comfortable in this engine as it supports C# programming language, a script Faye and Allan felt more comfortable with.

For myself and Cameron, Unity offers a very simple to use world builder, making importing assets and assembling the environment easy, therefore allowing to build scenes quickly and efficiently.  Also, it offers a substantial material editor allowing us to colour and texture models on the fly, within the Engine. Furthermore, it has a simple-to-use particle system built into the software, allowing to create effects such as fire and lighting to help add atmosphere to the game.

A slide-show displaying multiple environments incorporating models myself and the team have created is show below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A model from the project I particularly enjoyed creating was the low-poly lighthouse with the addition of rocky terrain and steps leading up towards it.  It consisted of me using the line tool in the orthographic view to draw the basic shape of the terrain, followed by extruding the resulting splines / edges and manipulating individual vertices to produce the jagged appearance.


The lighthouse starts with the basic shape of a cylinder which I then applied a “Taper” modifier upon to produce the iconic curved shape.  To complete the full silhouette of the lighthouse, I continued to extrude the edges of the cylinder upwards, whilst simultaneously scaling them inwards / outwards on all axis where required.  Lastly, details such as windows / doorways were inset and negatively extruded using varying measurements, occasionally using the “bevel” tool.


As an end note, I am really pleased that I participated in the Global Game Jam as it is a type of event that I have never attended in the past.  Whilst improving my modeling skills as the low-poly style made me create recognisable silhouettes which also help my higher detail models, it also increased the speed in which I work to achieve set deadlines.

The Game Jam also gave me the perfect opportunity to make new friends and work with people that I haven’t in the past, allowing me to call upon them in the futures as I have a greater understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

Sadly, many of the puzzles and game mechanics did not get incorporated in the game in time for the deadline which was disappointing as they consist of the majority of the game-play.  In the future, it is important that we learn to build and program these mechanics into the game at an earlier stage to ensure we have something playable and enjoyable before adding to the aesthetics. However, as I was part of the team responsible for the aesthetics and modeling side, I am pleased with the outcome.  In my opinion, we had one of the larger and prettier environments on show which I feel is a great achievement within the timescale.

Myself and the team are looking to continue working on this project throughout 2016.

Games created during Global Game Jam 2016, including our own, can be found by clicking on the link below.





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