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Mon, Mar. 13th, 2006, 11:50 pm
I Feel Like A Winner

So, over the weekend I participated in the Mobile Game Mosh, a 24-hour game design and development competition. We had pretty close to my dream team (though the boy couldn’t participate as he’s not a full-time student): me on design, Rob on art, Isaac on music, Lance on programming (and man can that guy code - I had no idea just how good he was), and Dan as our project manager. We showed up on Saturday morning - and yes, that was an interesting complication, given Shabbat - and had until noon on Sunday to make a playable, finished game.

They handed out the design constraints at noon on Saturday. Ours were the words nudge, illuminate, glide and seduce. (We actually started out with snap and skip instead of glide and illuminate, but we traded around.) We spent about two hours brainstorming games, then split up to try to make a prototype in Flash.

This was when we realized that no one on the team actually knew Flash, except for Rob who isn’t a programmer. Whoops. Making things more complicated, I learn best hands-on, but I couldn’t use the computer until it got dark. So we got a bit of a slow start. Fortunately my boy showed up with cake, which helped, but by 9pm on Saturday we really had nothing coded. At least Ike and Rob were knocking out fabulous work, with Ike jamming on the didgeridoo and composing a fugue for us, and Rob painting watercolors to scan in for the art.

Things did get better from there, fortunately for us, and we managed to put together a polished, playable little game called Moth, in which you are trying to help a lost moth find its way back to Great-Grandfather Moon. The notion behind the game was that it’s meditative and contemplative, very much about the experience of wu wei. That’s a Daoist term Rob brought up, about “action through inaction.” The moth in our game moves autonomously through a grid that you can manipulate, but sometimes the best thing to do is really to let the moth do its own thing, and only interfere at just the right moment.

Tonight was the awards ceremony and judging, which had a fair amount of drama. You see, the version of the game that we handed in didn’t quite work - the game was all working, but our introduction screens hung about 50% of the time, and we just couldn’t figure out why in time to hand the game in. We had no idea whether the judges had even had the patience to wait through it to get to the game itself. We were hoping for the “Best Audio” or “Best Visuals” awards - but when they announced the winners in those two categories, and it wasn’t us, we figured we were out of the running. We did get an Honorable Mention for our art, and I thought I would have to be content with that.

Then they announced the overall winner. The one who gets interviewed by MTV, and on Gamasutra, and by Electronic Gamers Monthly. The one that takes home $1500 and a giant pile of free games and several thousand dollars worth of free Adobe products. And I’ll tell you that no one was more shocked than I was when they announced the winner.

Yup, that’s right, folks: it was us.

WE WON.

And given the competition, I wasn’t at all sure that we would. It means a lot to win against a field of really strong opponents. I’m so proud of us all.

I would work with this team again in a flash. They’re brilliant, talented, and nobody bit anyone else’s head off at 4am (much).

Go team!!

Go me!!

Now I have to figure out how to spend my prize money in a suitably frivolous fashion . . . .