Game Off (sponsored by GitHub) runs from the 1st of November 2020 to the 1st of December 2020. The theme ‘Moonshot’ was announced on the 1st of November 2020 and entries could interpret the theme however they choose. A ‘Moonshot’, something unlikely to succeed but it does, is an apt theme. You could choose to make a political game or fantasy or anything you wish. The only rule is: you have to use GitHub.
The MA in Indie Games Development team from Falmouth University includes Nick (Mikolaj) Gackowski, Gavin Thorn, Elliot Handley and myself. Nick suggested a Round Robin to formally ideate for Game Off 2020. Round Robin is a good suggestion because it isn’t too time-consuming, is collaborative and a new approach. “This method allows team members to generate ideas without being influenced by any one person” (Mindtools 2020b).
We started bouncing ideas back and forth and researching ideas about ‘Moonshot’. The team had discussed making a game steeped in Viking history, so all our ideas are centered around this theme as well as the idea of a ‘Moonshot’.
Nick Gackowski (2020) suggested we generate ideas through a Round Robin. A Round Robin means everyone gets a turn at providing a ‘solution’ to the problem. In this scenario, the problem is a narrative or idea for our game on the theme of Moonshot and Norse history.
Every “member of the team is told to think of an idea related to the problem and write it down on a piece of paper. Once every member of the team has come up with a solution, the pieces of paper are passed clockwise to the neighbour. Each team member must come up with a new solution to the problem based on the idea they received from the previous round. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary” (Mindtools 2020b).
Round Robin – Round One
A 2d Platformer: You are introduced to the myth of Fenrir (they are mean to a poor wolf – super fun to illustrate). You play Fenrir’s child (a wolf) in Ragnarok who wants to eat the moon in revenge of his father. The moonshot is achieving Ragnarock. The game ends when you eat the moon and Ragnarok happens. (Author 2020)
Round Robin – Round 4 (Final version)
Pixel art rhythm game The Shield Maidens and (A group of men Vikings) sing songs of glory and valour in competition. As they sing the sun and moon take favourites. Team Sol champions the Shield Maidens and Team Mani the group of men Vikings. Players must match the sequence on the screen to gain an advantage if they miss they lose ground. You gain powerups, like ale or a battle horn. You can insult the other team to throw them off. Different members of each team have unique powerups. The moonshot is winning the competition when you win you could battle the moon literally as a boss maybe. (Gackowski 2020)
A brother and sister, are chased through the forest for being ‘different’. They fight off enemies in the forest, which is a personification and manifestation of their fears. They both attract a different type of enemy that they are weak to. Their sibling is unaffected by that fear and therefore are stronger against each others’ enemies, inviting players to protect each other. They are left weapons and artefacts by the Norse gods, who favour them against Ragnarock. You can use food to heal. They leap from a cliff in a test of faith and transform into Mani and Sol, the sun and moon. The chase then continues through the heavens where they must use their tools to fight Managarmr and Skoll. In a twist ending, they must fight Loki, the master of tricks and deception. The moonshot again is evading Ragnarok. (Thorn 2020)
Platformer You are introduced to the myth of Fenrir (they are mean to a poor wolf – super fun to illustrate). You play Fenrir’s child (a wolf) in Ragnarok who wants to eat the moon in revenge of his father. The moonshot is achieving Ragnarock. The game ends when you eat the moon and Ragnarok happens. Your traverse the terrain by latching onto objects by swinging your indestructible chain. The same chains used to ensnare you are now used against the other gods. At the end of the game, you must make a one-in-a-million swing at the Moon before time runs out and the moon sets. Co-op play has a 2nd player as your brother, and you also go after the sun. Have the ability to call upon the power of Loki to aid you. (Author 2020)
Lagertha is resurrected by Odin, to stop Ragnarok. Saving the world from Ragnarok is the Moonshot. She faces foes, rival clans, Draugr, but you get bonus weapons and skills from other Norse gods (what fun) She starts bar fights and insults to heal in taverns You save the world from Ragnarock The game is a side-scroller focused on combat and timing; with shield-parrying being the key to progress. It also features a list of 200 unique insults. Lagertha has a special potion/incantation she can use to call on the Valkyries to remove one foe/group of foes from the battlefield or weaken the boss. (Handley 2020)
The creative process was fun, we entered with the understanding that Game Off 2020 should be fun and that the MA in Indie Games Development work should take priority. Gavin and Elliot were working on programming, Nick background Art and myself Character Design. Inevitably two simultaneous game jams were hard work but I learnt a lot from the process of Game Off. Working in a team of four people requires more formal communication than a team of two.
While there are things that could have gone better, I don’t see Game Off as a failure. We all learnt more about each other, game jams, developing a game in a team, and we all produced some work which will support and develop our practice for the future. Completing two game jams at the same time was ambitious, I wanted to have fun, which I did and so I consider Game Off a success.
List of figures
Figure 1. Sarah MASTERS. 2020. Female Viking side-portrait draft.
Figure 2. Sarah MASTERS. 2020. Female Viking pencil.
Figure 3. Sarah MASTERS. 2020. Female Viking side-portrait draft2.
Figure 4. Sarah MASTERS. 2020. Female Viking draft3.
Figure 5. Sarah MASTERS. 2020. Female Viking draft4.
GACKOWSKI, Mikolaj. 2020. Discord to the author re: Game Off 2020 Round Robin, 2 November 2020.
Game Off 2020. Available at: https://itch.io/jam/game-off-2020 [accessed on 4 December 2020].
HANDLEY, Elliot. 2020. Discord to the author re: Game Off 2020 Round Robin, 2 November 2020.
MindTools. 2020a. ‘Brainstorming: Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas’. MindTools [online]. Available at: http://www.mindtools.com/brainstm.html [accessed 15 December 2020].
MindTools. 2020b. ‘Round-Robin Brainstorming: Allowing Everyone to Contribute’’. MindTools [online]. Available at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/round-robin-brainstorming.htm [accessed 15 December 2020].
THORN, Gavin. 2020. Discord to the author re: Game Off 2020 Round Robin, 2 November 2020.