Team creates winning space game at warp speed

TOP OF THEIR GAME: Team Gravity Jam won the local Global Game hosted at Waikato University. From left, Mike Blanchett, ...
Bruce Mercer

TOP OF THEIR GAME: Team Gravity Jam won the local Global Game hosted at Waikato University. From left, Mike Blanchett, Hemi Ormsby, David Neilsen and Michael Stone.

In the fast-paced world of gaming, a frazzled father armed with hotdogs is no match for an intergalactic star fighter.

A video game which lets players engage in interplanetary warfare, all while trying to avoid the perils of deep space, took out first place in a gaming competition hosted at Waikato University this month.

The competition was part of a global event that challenges teams to build a video game in 48 hours.

This year's theme was "What do we do now?" and organiser Bill Roger was pleased with the standard of entries.

Since Roger started hosting the Hamilton games back in 2009, the landscape of game creation had moved away from programming entries from scratch, towards using established game engines.

"It's possible to produce quite elaborate things involving 3D graphics," Roger said.

Team Gravity Jam beat 15 other teams for the trophy, attracting 30 votes.

Their game, also named Gravity Jam, put players in space, and allowed them to take turns controlling their fleet ships in an attempt to destroy the opposing fleet.

"Gravity affects all the ships' attack projectiles while planets, suns and moons have varying orbit speeds and gravity strength making for some interesting and varied game play," team spokesman Hemi Ormsby said.

In other words, if you aimed badly and your missile got caught in a strong gravity pull, it could slingshot back into your own ships - high-risk friendly fire.

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Ormsby loves the pace and spontaneity of short term game creation.

"Because it's so experimental, and such a short amount of time, you end up with some really interesting results," he said.

"I mean, you can't really dwell on a single problem too long, you just need to come up with creative solutions and charge ahead at full steam!"

He is certain he will be competing again next year, adding: "If I'm not in Hamilton, it's global, so we can do it from anywhere."

Hamilton hosted 55 gamers, one of whom was female, aged from 15 to 30.

Among the other Hamilton-based contenders were team Gogopianoattack, whose game, Feverish Office Destruction put the player into the role of emergency services call centre operator.

The player gets a distressed call from someone stuck on the top floor of the Empire State Building, which is on fire.

With nothing but a blue-print map of the floor, you have to guide the caller to safety.

The caller will also occasionally step on a cat which helps you to pinpoint where he is on the map.

ATAM's game was based on a father, dressed as a clown, for his child's birthday party.

The kids, who were not impressed by his red nose, give chase and he defends himself by shooting hotdogs.

The more food they ate, the fatter they became and therefore, harder to avoid.

Not everybody was able to finish their game on time.

The one-man team for Space Suffocation presented his game as a PowerPoint of what he was planning to do. But he explained he unfortunately could not get the game past the early stages of development. 

 - Waikato Times


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