Community Projects Shark Tank

TVGS Community Night and Shark Tank 11 (February 22nd, 2017)

Welcome to the community, projects, and shark tank event!

If you have a project that you need help with, this is the time to request any assistance from the community! TVGS has a goal to help create local games, and there are multiple projects ongoing.

The night is divided into 3 sections:

Community Announcements / Project Updates and Demonstrations

As part of the “Community” aspect of the Night, we discuss the latest events we have held, the upcoming events we will hold and open the floor for any other events and/or groups to talk about what is going on with them.

In addition, if you have a project going on and/or want to show off your latest work in Unity, Game Maker, etc., this is an excellent time to provide updates and/or demonstrations! For demonstrators, please inform us ahead of time how much time they’d like to spend demonstrating.

Post Mortem

The end of a month of working hard, the winner of Last Shark Tank presents the progress made by their team of volunteers. As a recap from last Shark Tank up to that night, the leader of the Enchanted City game project talks about how the team helped her get closer to her goals.

How did they do? Did they succeed in their goals? Did they fail? What did they learn that they can teach others? Find out tonight.

Shark Tank

And now, for the main event: Do you have a game idea you need a group of people to help out on, over the course of a month? (could be a game proposal you need help setting up, a project that has slowed down in progress, a game nearing completion and just needs testing, or something else entirely)

Here is your chance to do just that.

We do need to limit the total number of pitches for scheduling purposes. Therefore, if you wish to participate in the event, we ask that you please RSVP in advance using the registration form:

If you intend to pitch, but need help preparing one, fell free to contact Community Night Coordinator, Chris Spahn, and he will be more than happy to set up time to help you out.

rsvp-facebook rsvp-meetup

IGDA Albany – Not a Clone Postmortem (November 2)

As part of the regular schedule, we’ll be re-posting descriptions for the Albany IGDA talks that occur at TVGS on the first Wednesday of every month. This month’s speaker is our own Taro Omiya, and his talk is going to be about:

Not a Clone Postmortem: The Meta-Sequel!

Continue reading “IGDA Albany – Not a Clone Postmortem (November 2)”

Global Game Jam 2016 Post Mortem

With the Global Game Jam 2016 over, we created a special podcast looking back on our experiences making a game in 48-hours. This discussion was a chance for all the GGJ2016 participants to talk about what we’ve learned from our experiences at this year’s jam, and share ideas for what we can improve on in a future jam. Check out this fun reflection!

Global Game Jam 2016 Post-Mortem
Youtube version | MP3 download | OGG download

TVGS Ludum Dare Real-World Meeting Post Mortem

For Ludum Dare 32, we hosted our second Ludum Dare Real-World Meeting here at the Tech Valley Game Space (TVGS) in Troy, NY, USA. Compared to our previous hosted event (LD 31) we had a greater number of attendees, including a healthy mix of newcomers and veteran jammers. How did it turn out? Get ready for the super-detailed TVGS post-mortem!

Why a real-world meeting?

So this one is an important question: why would we have a real-world meeting for a game jam that prides itself in being online? The short answer is that a real-world gathering provides a number of distinct advantages, both for jammers and Compo participants, that wouldn’t be possible if one were to work from their own home. To explain these advantages, however, let’s start by discussing some spiritual differences between Ludum Dare and Global Game Jam.
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I hate my popular game: Star Driller Ultra post-mortem

[Cross-posted from Omiya Games]

This is amazing. the flair and style is insane, whilst the theme is a lil weak (it’s still unconventional, so that’s fine by me) the rest of this is absolutely amazing in terms of presentation and style. One of my favourites so far. Incredible stuff for 48 hours.

Well done! Just well done!
I could never even begin to possibly dream of making something like this.

Very challenging on trying to focus on where everything’s coming from, where I’m supposed to go. A mini-map might help that.

Just…just…just… wow.

Love the feel of movement so much! Great job maximizing a beautiful art style with minimalist shapes also! This game makes me want to move on to 3D more than any other this LD 😀

In less than a week of submission, my third Ludum Dare entry, Star Driller Ultra has 76 votes. This is easily the most popular entry I’ve put up, compared to the 2 weeks it took for The Sentient Cube to get 100 votes, and the entire 3 weeks to get 60 votes for Laundry Day. Clearly, a lot of people liked the game, with the comment section on the site being largely positive. But I have a major confession to make about the game: I hate it. Here’s the post-mortem to Star Driller Ultra:
Continue reading “I hate my popular game: Star Driller Ultra post-mortem”

Impossible Poker Post Mortem

[Cross-posted from Omiya Games]

So, I’m programmer, been consistently making digital games every month, and yet, made a card game for Global Game Jam this year. Oddly enough, I found the experience to be more challenging than the common perception would imply. While the development process of the prototypes and iterations were quick and easy, properly identifying problems with the game, as well as understanding why the inspirations for the game were so engaging proved to be more tough than expected. This is the post-mortem of Impossible Poker, a game where you don’t know the rules.

What is Impossible Poker?

Impossible Poker is a card game that’s easily playable with 4 or more people, a deck of playing cards, 2 cards with one saying ‘yes’ while the other says ‘no’, and some tokens. The game starts with one person designated as the RuleMaster, and creates a rule that governs the values of each card. Each player is given 5 cards, and they play one card from their hand at once. The RuleMaster, then, determines which played card wins, then creates a stack of that card to provide a visual history of the results (note that by default, the highest valued card wins). Finally, the players can either ask a yes or no question to the RuleMaster or make a guess to the rule using either one of their 3 tokens, or the free opportunity they’re given every 3 turns. A yes or no question will be answered privately using the yes or no cards, while guesses will be answered with a correct or incorrect publicly. The first person to guess the rules correctly wins.

Our team consisted of four people: Kelli Dunlap, Eric Vignola, James Kim, and myself, Taro Omiya. I largely worked more as a supporting role, proposing many different solutions to problems we’ve identified (most, which I admit, weren’t all that useful).

What went right?

Learning something new

I swore to myself that I would get around making a board/card game at one point, not only to experience what it’s like to work with them, but also because I strongly believed it would help me become a better game designer. Not only am I happy that I finally satisfied that bucket list, but I’ve also come to a surprising conclusion: designing analogue games aren’t all that different from video games. Much like designing digital games, creating an engaging card game revolves around creating tight feedback loops, giving steady reinforcements, and dealing with holes and exploits in the rules. The only differences I found were quick feature implementation and feedback, simpler aesthetic, and the lack of juice (which is actually a relief). This experience should be useful when I experiment with different methods to prototype before creating the final product.

A worthy challenge, with a satisfying twist

I’m also proud about taking on the challenge of creating a game where the rules aren’t obvious. It has the classic hook of, “how can you play such a crazy game” that I like to implement in most of my digital games. Plus, the game proved to be a pleasant challenge to design, with unique problems and solutions I haven’t encountered with other games. A lot of people at the end of the jam were interested in trying the game, so we were definitely onto something with that selling point.

Finally taking comfort in supporting role

As of last year, I’ve been working solo as a full-time indie developer, and it’s been a pretty big concern to me on whether I’ve started losing touch with other people. Additionally, the Global Game Jam 2013 proved to be a wake-up call when I realized I was somewhat uncomfortable at taking roles outside of designing and programming. So I was pleasantly surprised this year that not only did I feel comfortable taking on a more supportive role with the team — with my efforts focused largely on forming the team, planning a simple schedule, providing some feedback, and programming the random rules generator — but I also felt like a valuable contributor as well. I also had the feeling that throughout the development, the rest of the team members were comfortable with their roles as well. Nobody was talking over each other, we were quick to identify and solve problems, and only times when we were really tired did any of us wander off and disperse. Plus, at least for me, there was a huge sense of relief that the programming aspect of the game was completely optional rather than a major component.

What needs improvement?

That one play-tester

At 3:00 on the second day, the doors were opened to allow any curious convention goers at MAGFest to visit and play test our games at the current state. We’ve hand some wonderful feedback from several people who visited our location, but one in particular stood out: the one who lectured us for a few hours. This play-tester actually had a lot of great insight about our game, such as the lack of hints to figure out the secret rules, and the exploitable win condition. While useful, the delivery of the feedback was, well, a bit intense. I think that session left us both exhausted and unsure of ourselves. Between that time to the end of day 2, we’ve been mulling about changing the game entirely, but never been able to determine how.

A little too laid back

I think we’ve gotten a little too comfortable before that one play-tester came along to really realize some flaws in the game. Ultimately, I feel like we should have gathered feedback from other people sooner to help identify problems with the gameplay. In context, I realize this would have been difficult: most people who would play our game were stuck working on their own game at the jam site, and our game still required 4 people at least to play. Fortunately, the day 2 feedback did prove to be a good wake-up call, so we did eventually get back into shape.

Programming independently from the game design

One feedback we found early on was that it was hard to come up with 3 secret rules before the game started, making the setup time longer than necessary. It was decided in the middle to eventually program a random rule generator that would be smart enough to provide 3 non-conflicting rules so that the user can easily choose a set of rules as they please. I finally took on this task during day 3’s morning, immediately while the rest of the team decided to change the game focus from the originally gambling objective to sleuthing. I wasn’t able to communicate or update properly at the time, so right when I was done with the framework and UI design, I was surprised to here that the game changed entirely from the former 3 set of rules to any number of rules you’d like (though only one was recommended). A classic moment of terrible communication, especially on my part. Fortunately, most of the framework still worked for the game, and the rest of the team commented it’s very unlikely that anyone would want more than 2 rules to play (let alone 3), so this problem was very quickly resolved, and I was able to proceed on creating more content.

What to do next

I’ve been told numerous times that paper prototypes are the best place to start designing your game, but up to this point, I’ve only been nodding my head in reply to that advice. Now I see the real wisdom behind that advice: paper prototypes provide quicker feedback and ease in modifications that is much hard to do on the digital space. This is perfect for experimenting with different design ideas, and making sure they’re tight enough to start a bigger project. Next time when I’m brainstorming and prototyping on a game, any ideas that doesn’t rely on physics heavily will be prototyped via paper to make sure it is as engaging as I hope.