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The Last and Final Word: Adam Atomic
Adam Atomic has steadily climbed the rungs of success in the independent gaming community with Flixel (his now widely used rapid prototyping library for Flash) and such releases as Gravity Hook and Canabalt.
Credit to Matthew Wegner of Flashbang Studios for the photo.
Global Game Jam 2012 is approaching: my book is your guide to surviving it
As is now tradition every January, the IGDA-organised Global Game Jam development marathon is fast approaching. GGJ 2012 takes place from the evening of Friday 27th through to the evening of Sunday 29th and in the 48 hours in between programmers, artists, designers and more will band together to create some goddamn amazing videogames based on similar themes, allowing for some serious exchanging of inspiration and creative genius.
If GGJ 12 is a dark, dank cave to be explored, allow me to offer you a smouldering torch: my book, the appropriately titled Global Game Jam.
Regular blog readers or Twitter followers will no doubt be aware of Global Game Jam, published as it was in November last year. Following some glowing reviews and stellar sales, the book’s true primetime is now, as the next Jam looms.
Global Game Jam is a 187-page saga retelling 2011’s Scottish event at Glasgow Caledonian University written from the point of view of yours truly. It’s part mind-bending first-hand account and part handy help guide, designed to help you understand how to approach a Game Jam and what not to do once you’re there first and a guide to a minor mental breakdown second.
Around two fifths of the book were written in real time, with rewrites of the first draft exploring five of the very different games created at the Jam (out of a total of 14 created by the end of the weekend). The book also features photos of the Jam, doodles by yours truly and interviews with GGJ co-founder Gorm Lai, Flixel and Canabalt developer Adam Saltsman and Game Jam participants David Farrell and Sarah Morris.
Reviews so far have included one written by TheSixthAxis, one of Europe’s largest independent gaming site, who said of the book:
If you’re involved in the creation of games then the book’s probably worth picking up, even if you don’t have any interest in taking part in a game jam it has some useful information on rapid development and prototyping and there’s almost certainly something in it that will pique your interest…it’s an easy read, well paced, interesting and whilst not laugh out loud funny will raise a smile frequently and even the odd chuckle. (thesixthaxis.com)
You can read more reviews of Global Game Jam, read a more in-depth pitch of it or consider buying it from Amazon. Global Game Jam is also on Kindle, saving a third off of the paperback price, but personally the paperback is far better at capturing the presentation style of the book than the Kindle could hope to.
If you’re considering taking part in the Global Game Jam at the end of the month, I’d be honoured to be your guide. I wrote this book as a journal of my own experience, and as a guide for those perhaps wary of the idea itself; those who have been at Jams before may even find experiences they can relate to if they happen to give it a look. Either way, Game Jams are amazing experiences to be a part of, whether a developer or simply sitting in like me - and it’s worth witnessing, or at least reading about to understand just what it’s like.
You can find out more about Global Game Jam at globalgamejam.org.
“We are in the midst of the most important and influential movement in video games in a decade, if not ever — a movement that is vital to the ongoing cultural relevancy and maturation of our medium — and almost everyone involved in the conversation is, intentionally or otherwise, looking for ways to ignore everyone else. We can do better than this, and we have to, in order to make progress. This is our real empathy problem in video games. Instead of figuring out some reason why this person we disagree with shouldn't even be at the table, we should be trying to figure out why they so badly want to be part of this discussion. We will always, always, always learn more from people with whom we disagree than from our own personal echo chamber, as safe and comfortable as that place may be.”—
Adam Saltsman looks for the middle ground in the current formalist/antiformalist discussion around personal games.
All I would want to add is that I truly don’t think anyone on the ‘pro’ side of the discussion ever said you can’t critique personal games at all. Of course you can! It’s just about how you critique them. It’s about making sure your words and tone don’t work to exclude the work or the artist from the discourse by ignoring embedded power relations. There is a huge difference between ”This is a bad game” and “This isn’t a game” when critiquing a work.
Good Game Get! Interview
… in which we ask a game developer three specific questions based off our site name!
GGG! Interview #004 Adam Saltsman
Adam Atomic’s Canabalt is the best iOS game. I want to gift it to everyone I know with an iPhone or iPod touch. Brandon Boyer said, “It’s going to be quite some time before you find something so simple so thrilling again.” Tim Rogers calls it “Super Mario Tetris.”
Either way, Adam’s made in five days masterpiece is one of the best games ever created.
Adam was kind enough to answer our GGG! series of questions, and his answers are fantastic.
Photo via mrnorush
My favorite things in right now are MYSTERY and CONSEQUENCE. To me, mystery means there are unexplored places, unsolved problems, or subtle little flourishes to uncover. Video games have a bit of a knack for discovery and exploration, in both the external and internal sense, and when I find that I love it to death. The only way to make that better is to have consequences for your actions in this new, unexplored world (be it real, virtual, or just an interesting problem space). I want to face the unknown and experiment on it, and get meaningful results.
I’m going to quote Baiyon here, who once said “making games is the best game you can play” (or something to that effect). Making games is a process that is so wrought with MYSTERY and CONSEQUENCE it can be really overwhelming, but always compelling. It is playful and expressive and frustrating (in a good way) and sometimes you can even discover new things, or re-discover wonderful old things. It’s pretty much the best.
Oh, hmm. I haven’t given this a whole lot of thought, really. I think what I hope for is that I might engage their imagination on some level above or next to but intertwined with the gameplay or mechanics. Most of the games that I’ve made and released don’t spell out much of the story or setting, in the hopes that players will imagine what’s going on back there for themselves, and that that will enrich what they’re actually doing in the game. MYSTERY and CONSEQUENCE.