Project Spark, App Inventor, and April Game Jam – April 13th, 2014 Meetup

At our next meetup we’ll talk about two simple yet powerful frameworks you can use to make games.  Both of these are great options for your first game, or useful as a rapid prototyping tool for experienced developers.

Levi D. Smith will share his knowledge and experience in Project Spark.  Project Spark is a “game maker video game” for Microsoft Windows 8.1 and Xbox One, with Xbox 360 support planned.  All game building is done while playing the game, and creations can be shared online.  Levi will demo Project Spark on an Xbox One.

Michael C. Neel will introduce the basics of App Inventor.   App Inventor for Android is an open-source web application originally provided by Google, and now maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  It uses a graphical interface and system of blocks, very similar to Scratch, which let’s users drag-and-drop to games and applications that run on Android devices.  Michael will demo App Inventor on an Android tablet.

“Ludum Dare” Game Jam – April 25th – 28th, 2014

We will again take part in the Ludum Dare game jam this month.  We’ll do this very similar to the game jam in December.  Some notes:

Your game does not need to be complex and you don’t need to spend every hour of the jam devoted to making the game.  Simple is better, and seeing friends and family is a good break to keep you fresh.  The goal is to finish, and the reward is having completed a game!  You can enter solo or as a team and parents, this is a great activity to do together with your kids.

We will meet Friday April 25th @7PM at the Technology Cooperative – The Ludum Dare officially kicks off at 9PM when the game theme is announced.  This will be a good time for any last minute questions on the jam, software, or process you have for making your game.

From Friday until Sunday work on your game.  We won’t be keeping the Techco open the whole weekend for the jam (and there is a group that will be using the space Saturday morning).

We will meet again Sunday 27th @7PM at the Technology Cooperative – The Ludum Dare “compo” ends at 9PM on Sunday, and the “jam” at 9PM on Monday.  Your game must be submitted by then, so if you need to skip / come late to finish your game, by all means do.  The Ludum Dare servers are notorious for being overloaded in the last moments so do not wait too long to submit your game.  We’ll meetup to share our games, war stories of success and failure, and check out other entries.

What you should do before the jam:

  • Read over the rules of the Ludum Dare and decide if you’ll be doing the “compo” or “jam” version.
  • Get your development system ready to go – figure out what software you’ll be using and make sure it’s ready to go.
    A list of common tools others have used in Ludum Dare is listed on the Tools page, and links from previous meetups can be found on our site.
  • Make an account on the Ludum Dare website
  • The week leading up to the Jam, check the Ludum Dare site daily to vote on topics
  • It’s common to live stream your game development – if you plan to do this then:
    • Setup a Twitch.tv account
    • Install Open Broadcaster Software – a free, open source app for live streaming
    • Test out Twitch and OBS (don’t wait to the jam to start learning about live streaming!)
  • It’s also common to make a timelapse video of your development, and there are some tools to help with this too.  Again, test this out on your system before the jam beings.