Hackathon 2.0 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

This week, we celebrated the judging of the month-long Dina Wind Power of Art Hackathon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

watching the judging (by Kotaro Fujita)

During pay-what-you-wish Wednesday nights in April, different teams came together to create games that utilized the Museum’s iBeacon technology and data from its art collection. Jake O’Brien of Flyclops and Shawn Pierre of Origaminc volunteered as advisors to all of the teams, some of whom had never worked on a game before.

Meanwhile, lots of Philly Dev Night regulars formed teams with one another and with strangers from all around the city!

Steven Shim and his team created Paint the Museum. Almando Santos, a developer on 2016 Dev Night jam winner, Food Fight, worked on bingo-style Artingo. Dev Night organizer, Kotaro Fujita, and friends created Arti.

Vibes team (from demo video)

Last but not least, Corey Arnold, Jason Corbett, and Josh Safran, each multiple-time monthly jam winners at Dev Night, created Vibes. They also took home the grand prize at the Hackathon: $2,000!

The judging panel was a diverse group of acclaimed Philly experts across several different fields, including education, tech, and art. It featured Sougwen Chung, Youngmoo Kim, Mjumbe Poe, Yasmine Mustafa, and Corinne Warnshuis. Top 5 finalists in the competition received helpful feedback and discussion from the panel, including criticism about what might become about the game prototypes in the future, and questions about how a game might impact a guest’s experience in the Museum.

Vibes in action (from demo video)

Vibes is described as “a game about leaving impressions. Players write and solve clues about works of art they find in the museum. If everyone solves your clue, you won’t score. If nobody solves, you won’t score. The challenge is describing a work in a way that’s neither too obvious, nor too vague.”

Judges seemed impressed by its simple interface, focus on player interaction, and encouragement to go out and notice new details in the Museum’s vast collection of artwork.

Philly Dev Night is thankful to Laura Webb, a software developer and organizer at the Philly Art Museum, who reached out to us when she was putting together the Hackathon.

We love seeing how games can interact with all kinds of other fields — whether it’s another creative medium, a nonprofit institution, or a social cause (see #ResistJam!).

Check out more details on the 5 finalist games here. Learn more about the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And of course, visit one of our meetups at Philly Dev Night; we are making new games all the time!

Here’s what went down at Philly Game Jam 2016

It’s unusually warm outside for November 19th, and most of Philadelphia is seizing the opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy it. Instead, a slew of developers and creatives are packing their sleeping bags and laptops and cramming into the office space of Webjunto in Northern Liberties. This is the weekend of the Philly Game Jam: an annual 24-hour marathon jam organized by Philly Dev Night.

Their task is deceptively simple: draw a word or phrase from a hat, find a group, and spend the night creating a game based off of the themes they receive. As many newly formed teams crowd into their work spaces, setting up stations elbow to elbow, the air begins to thicken with a droning symphony of clattering keys and hushed design work.

In the midst of the serious, intricate work of writing code, the monotony is occasionally broken by a passionate argument:

“every day, you just eat a random body part!”

“You’re just a random torso.”

From the other end of the room, an exasperated voice admits: “farts are the most difficult sound effects to capture.”

The process of making games often involves veering into the silly, surreal, and abstract. Perhaps that unpredictable energy is what keeps Steve Pettit focused on his computer monitor at midnight, building 3D models on one screen with a Google image search of “Manifest Destiny” sprawled across the other. His team is inspired by the story of the Donner Party, and are developing a multiplayer survival game with a somewhat morbid concept of competitively eating your fellow players’ body parts.

jim

Alex, Steve, Chris, and Corey hold group discussions on story and game mechanics.

Other teams wrestle with the difficulty of multiple teammates writing code over a wi-fi network at brimming capacity. Part of the challenge of a marathon jam is finding creative solutions for the seemingly small hangups that lead to disastrous consequences in a race against the clock. Christian Plummer, an experienced jammer, advises: “USB Thumb Drives are worth their weight in gold when the wifi is FUBAR and all you need to do is move a texture from point A to point B.”

david

Cody, David, and Andrew are developing a game about filling a field with colored circles.

Plummer’s wise words went out to the Philly Dev Night Google Group, where curious newcomers were encouraged to jump in on the fun. Another essential element of a marathon jam is the experience of teaming up with creative people you might not know very well. There is lots of potential for learning and making new friends. Who knows–maybe a teammate from a past jam might prove useful down the line, when you’re looking for a sound guy to capture your cat throwing up for your new videogame, and he knows just the way to get it done. Generally, no matter what kind of work you do, it’s always valuable practice to tackle something challenging and unfamiliar in a time-sensitive environment.

greg

Greg and Rob have a foray into VR!

Although jams happen every month at Dev Night, the entire group typically only meets for the kickoff and judging. The audience gets to evaluate the sparkling final version of every game created, and skips the gritty, behind-the scenes details of how it came to be. By doing all of the work together in the same space, jammers have a chance to observe the actual process, and see how different teams reach solutions for their unique problems.

When the clock hit 2 PM on Sunday, the various teams had produced 7 games. The winning title, selected by a panel of professionals: Manifest Destiny!

Screen Shot 2016-11-20 at 9.46.20 PM

cannibalism for the win!

Honorable mentions went to Dead End for impressive use of VR, as well as Combodrop for beautiful design.

You can check the games out, and even download them to play, here!

Philly Dev Night will hold another marathon jam in January 2017: the worldwide, 48-hour Global Game Jam! Stay connected to our Google Group and Twitter for updates. Or, become a supporter of our Patreon to see behind the scenes of our creative process, all day every day, on Slack!

What If? Jam

For the October jam at Dev Night, we were hosted by another special guest. Jake Vander Ende (Spriteborne) normally makes the beautiful engraved wood plaques that we give out to jam winners. This month, he had the opportunity to curate the theme as well as the prize.

Jake based the jam theme on what-if.xkcd.com. The site has 150 unique questions; like “How long would it take for a single person to fill up an entire swimming pool with their own saliva?” or, “How long could the human race survive on only cannibalism?

He challenged participants to respond to one of the questions with a game.

The resulting entries, including a personal narrative about being a cyborg, and a man with one beefy leg trying to get to work, made us laugh and cry.

IMG_1207 IMG_1200 IMG_1205 IMG_1194

 

The winners were a team composed of Moore College students Judie Thai and Dominique Evans, along with Rachel Hwang, Almando Santos, and Emanuel Whittington. Based on the prompt: “What if your food came to life when you cooked it?” They developed the multiplayer clicker game, Food Fight!

food fight

 

 

 

See more entries from the What If? Jam here.

As always, you can browse and play games from Philly Dev Night’s itch.io archive here.

Wanna jam with us? Meet us at G-Team Internet Cafe on 1010 Cherry St. on Thursday, November 3rd to learn the theme for November’s jam and find teammates to collaborate with. All are welcome!

Dev Night Games Sweep Nominations for 2016 Philly Geek Awards

The Philly Geek Awards, first held in 2011, highlight outstanding achievements in Philadelphia’s geek community. For the past 5 years, they’ve honored a myriad of comics, films, makers, missions, startups, and much more.

This year, the three nominees for “Game of the Year” were all games created within our very own community. In fact, two of them were created as 2-week prototypes for our monthly game jam challenges: RESISTOR_ by Carboard Fortress and Breaker Blocks by Spriteborne.
The third nomination, Tailwind: Prologue, was created by Cipher Prime, whose studio hosted Dev Night for its first several years of existence.

finished product

Nicole Kline and Anthony Amato created RESISTOR_ in August 2013 as a response to “Oasis Jam”, a theme that challenged its participants to choose an Oasis song title and make a game out of it.

“The song we chose was called “Roll it Over” which was what lead immediately to the flip over mechanic. Anthony’s line of thinking was, what if you had cards that were double-sided, and you had to flip them over to try to connect a line? And what if those cards were in your hand, but you could use yours or your opponent’s?”

– Nicole Kline

After a long road of play testing, prototypes, and production (which you can read all about here,) RESISTOR_ went on to become one of the most decorated games that has ever come out of Dev Night. Cardboard Fortress has visited Philly GamesCon, UnPub 5, GenCon, PAX East, South, and West, Too Many Games, and beyond, to showcase their Oasis-themed jewel and the new projects they have underway. It’s no surprise at all for us to see a game from this powerhouse of a game dev couple in this year’s Geek Awards.

output-2952_grande

Jake Vander Ende created Breaker Blocks for the April 2015 “Profit Jam” at Dev Night. The goal was to come up with a prototype in the usual 2 weeks allowed for a game jam, and then spend an additional 4 weeks producing and marketing the game, with the goal of making the most profit.

“My first release was Yomi’s Gate, a tabletop game I started in 2014 and debuted in March 2015 at SXSW where it was nominated in the Gaming Awards.
It was on my three-day drive home that I came up with the foundation for Breaker Blocks based on the community response to certain aspects of Yomi’s Gate. I prototyped in the following few days and released to the public later that week and I’ve been tweaking the rules ever since.”

– Jake Vander Ende

Ever since, Breaker Blocks has exploded in recognition and popularity. Players really take to it–especially at the various places it’s been showcased over the past year. Indie Arcade Coast, SXSW, and PAX East & West, to name a few. We highlighted Breaker Blocks in our own Dev Night Jammy Awards–an internal celebration of our most noteworthy jam games–for the “Hipster Hallmark” award, and are happy to see it on its way to yet another accolade at the Geek Awards.

178a60a1a71884259749ceb6bcec97565ac077b7

One of the last things the people of Dev Night did in the late Philly Game Forge before it closed last summer was to celebrate Tailwind: Prologue‘s release. Cipher Prime worked on this magnificent game for three months, and consistently showed off their progress during our Show-and-Tell hour every week. Dev Nighters had the opportunity to watch this game grow, critique its progress, and play test it all the way to the fleshed-out final version. Tailwind: Prologue was released exclusively in the Humble Monthly Bundle as a Humble Original in April 2016.

From Cipher Prime’s website:

“The whole process was daunting. We started with 1 little promo graphic. This graphic was our touchstone for the whole creation experience. We also wanted to create a story, unlike any Cipher Prime game to date.

This was a process of self-growth and discovery, and we’re unbelievable happy and proud of the experience.”

It’s been a transitional year for Dev Night. We’ve gone through lots of changes, but seeing recognition of the tremendous talents that are fostered within our community is a reminder of just how important one little night a week has been to some people.

Game on, and we’re looking forward to the Geek Awards on October 16th at the Free Library!

Toy Jam

This past month at Dev Night, we shook things up a little! With the help of Mila Pokorny, our guest jam-runner, 9 teams responded to an unusual theme: make a non-game.

Or, a better word for “non-game” that gets the kids all riled up: a TOY! A fun, interactive object or digital piece that has no win conditions or rules. And, boy, could we toy. I’m talking, a farm animal sound generator for sex noises, a scrap foam airplane assemblage puzzle, a music generator simulated by racing cars–really, we had fun!

 

IMG_0689   IMG_0674     IMG_0688IMG_0679 IMG_0681IMG_0673

 

The winner – Jason! His virtual toy, Animal Magnetism, generated toy animals into a field that could be dragged and tossed all over the place, sticking together in a weird world that will surely keep you occupied for hours.

 

IMG_0682     IMG_0671

Play all of the submissions from Toy Jam here!

Our ever-growing archive of all Philly Dev Night jam games is here.

 

Donte Kirby, a writer from Technical.ly Philly, visited us during this jam judging and published an awesome write-up of the entire experience. Read it here!

Mila Pokorny: I Taught at TechniGals STEAM Camp and It Was Awesome

Mila Pokorny is a longtime Dev Night regular and volunteer. She’s an adjunct professor at Moore College, art director at Deerfox Games, and has previously done work for Quadratron Games at the late Philly Game Forge. Supporters of our Patreon might recognize her work from our awesome monthly art packs, which she organizes and donates her artwork to! Mila just finished teaching at TechniGals STEAM Camp, and is sharing an account of her experience.

Pasted image at 2016_08_24 11_54 AM

TechniGals was a camp I had the opportunity to work for over the course of the previous week over at the Middletown Free Library. This was a camp for young girls (ages 9 ~ 13) where they can explore STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) fields.

During the course of the camp I focused on how games work, writing your own choose your own adventure books (using word webs) and how to translate those word webs into Twine, an interactive fiction tool by Chris Klimas.

Philly Dev Night once had a guest appearance from Chris Klimas via Skype. He talked about tools for game making and accessible materials for all ages. Much of the talk focused on communication of tools, and wonderful digital games/toys made from other tools. Twine was a perfect tool for the class, since the library had to share computers with the Robotics camp that occurred after, and anyone who needed a computer at the time. The “Use It Online” option that allows Twine 2.0 to be used via browser was fantastic. Girls were able to save their work for later, and some even finished their work at home with tutorials.

We didn’t cover much code in TechniGals; our time was limited, and the girls really just had a ton of fun writing and making a grand adventure. We mostly focused on winning/losing conditions and creative ways to end stories. Well, until I showed them how to use an image as a background–then they went WILD. The girls wrote a plethora of fun stories, including: (but not limited to)

– being stranded in the desert and getting eaten by a crocodile

– traveling forward in time to run away from basketball-playing snakes

– trying to survive a plague

– hanging out with Harry Potter

– participating in the Fairy Olympics

A fun time was had by all.

Also during the camp, the girls were able to talk to 1-2 speakers a day. All of them were women in the STEAM fields, who all had the same quote in their presentations: “We didn’t have this when I was your age.” This is a strong note to hit on. It brought me back to my high school days of being the only girl in the Tech Class (commonly known as shop class) because I wanted to build and work with wood, like my dad, who was a carpenter and contractor. It was one of my strongest classes in middle school. My CO2 car got second place among the entire 8th grade class. In the first week of class, I got my period, but didn’t know. There was a spot on my pants. I was bullied and laughed at so much that I changed focus to art. When I got to college, I wanted to be a Game Art Major, but I was too scared of the lack of girls in the classes. So, I just audited classes, and kept my Animation Major.

There wasn’t a camp when I was little to prepare me to be the only girl in the room, and I really wish there had been. Maybe I wouldn’t have been such a loner in school, and maybe I would actually be a carpenter now. I just didn’t want to feel as alone as I did then.

In college, I met Andy Brown and Greg Mirles, who invited me to a game club. It was only through being invited into a community that I began to feel safe and respected. Zenas Bellace was the person who invited Andy and I to Dev Night. Philly Dev Night has been such a fantastic experience, partly because I’m not the only girl there. Actually, some of my best friends were people I met through Dev Night. I wish I had Philly Dev Night when I was in college, or even in high school.

The camp, overall, made me appreciate all the things I have worked hard up until this point to do, and also made me remember how much I like to teach. I return to teaching at Moore College of Art and Design this Friday, and I have never been so excited for summer to end.

Mila’s artwork is here.

Here’s more about TechniGals.

Down The Rabbit Hole Jam

The first game jam at G-Team, our interim space after the Game Forge closing, was a huge success!

We played 9 games, each inspired by the “down the rabbit hole” motif found in stories like Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Devs were challenged to make a game about stepping into an unfamiliar world–with laws and logic that are beyond our understanding.

IMG_0230

IMG_0260

IMG_0271

IMG_0266

After lots of play testing and some multiplayer competition, we voted on a winner:
Oh, The Places We’ll Go by Josh Safran! His game–which he showed off on multiple devices–involved tapping yourself across a psychedelic map to master the awkward controls and collect points.

oh the places

Download Oh, The Places We’ll Go and see for yourself!

View the rest of this jam’s entries here.

What Happened to Dev Night?

On July 1, Philly Dev Night officially became homeless. The Philly Game Forge, a coworking space meant to foster support and collaboration between local indie game studios, closed its doors. You may have read about it in Tech Philly, or even on Engadget.

If you visit 239 Chestnut Street now, you’ll find that the old space has been passed on to The 215 Guys — local developers and cool dudes! However, Dev Night is not the same event that it was a few years ago. We’ve grown a lot, which made finding a completely new location a pressing matter.

Not only do we need the space for 70+ people to get together and jam every 3rd Thursday–we also need a particular environment that can foster the creative, crazy, and quickly evolving beast that our community has become. It’s kind of like a Pokémon, except we haven’t been farming any Pidgeys to level it up. This one is all natural.

Dev Night regulars and lurkers know that after the Forge shut down, beer gardens and parks became our go-to spot for meetups. But we were hesitant to call those gatherings a “real” Dev Night, because we don’t want to settle for just any old spot. Our event and community were lovingly tied to our physical home, the Forge. We know how important our location will be.

photo by Kotaro Fujita

photo by Kotaro Fujita

To answer the question — What happened to Dev Night?— this Thursday, August 4th, a brand new game jam will be kicking off in a new, transitional space.

And this place is pretty damn great.

G-Team is located at 1010 Cherry Street in Chinatown. Much of Philly’s gaming community knows about the tournaments they host. G-Team is interesting, because it’s poised to connect the worlds of gamers, tech companies, and developers. Dev Night is a rare, concentrated gathering of quite a few of the latter. Making meaningful connections has been a really special part of Dev Night, and that’s why we are looking forward to the mutual benefits that will come with being a guest in G-Team’s space.

So, this is your official invite. Bring yourself, some stuff to show off, and what do you say we gather at 7:00 to make a great impression on our new interim home?

 

group hug

photo by Ryan Gerbino

 Dev Night lives on!

Goodbye Forge + Patreon

First off if you are reading this, thank you so much for having an interest in games and game makers in Philadelphia and supporting this community. As you may know the Philly Game Forge is closing its doors this month. This, however, is not the end of Philly Dev Night. We’ve been working hard to find a new home for this amazing community. To stay on top of updates on future locations and everything you need to know about Philly Games please check out our Google Group.  We are also starting something in the works for a while which is our Patreon where you can help us grow. We have lots of plans and we really need your help to make it happen. So if you love Dev Night and want to see it continue and take the next steps into becoming something more please think about donating. Donors will also receive art and music from the community as well as access to the Slack channel and a curated library of help and assets for game making. So come on start making and playing games with us!

ICJ2 Winners

Philly Dev Night reprised its 1-night analog only Iron Chef jam for the second year in a row this month!

While most of our monthly jams allow participants to work on their games for 2 weeks, in any format, with any materials imaginable, the Iron Chef jam is different. We took some pointers from TV cooking competitions like Cutthroat Kitchen, where ingredients are limited and contestants are allowed to “sabotage” each other for the win. We were also inspired to bring in a squadron of local celebrity judges.

So, what was the result?

icj2_3 icj2_4

The secret ingredient–hula hoops–was revealed, and each of the 6 teams was required to include one in their game. We jammed for 1.5 hours, stopping only to sabotage other teams with frightening extra challenges, like working with socks on our hands or completing the game in a dark closet.

icj2_5 

 

At the end of the jam, our panel of judges played each game. Judges included Lakota Theas of Autism Expressed, Kyle Turk (DJ of Philly’s Voyeur and Woody‘s), local artist Jilly Appleheimer,  and Chris Wink of Tech Philly.

IMG_1388 IMG_1395

Finally, after a long and wild judging process, the clock struck midnight and we announced the winners: Adam Gross, Shan Hasan, Darryl Spencer, Alex & Andrew! Their game involved a chain of people moving through a hula hoop like circus performers. Congrats, everyone!

icj winners

 

author’s note: ICJ is only one letter off from ICP.