Global Game Jam 2014 is just over a month away!

Next month is the Global Game Jam 2014!

What is the Global Game Jam 2014?

Global Game Jam 2014
Starting Friday night, January 24th 2014 and going into Sunday, January 26th 2014 participants will attempt to make a new game from scratch in approximately 48 hours.

The jam is always fun to attend every year. You get to meet with other game developers, work late into the night, have fun/joke around with new and old friends, and usually you end up with something close to a game afterwards!

Why should I attend?

Jams are a great opportunity to practice your skills, get more familiar with a tool like Unity or GameMaker, or try out a new experimental game idea you’ve been working on.

What makes the Global Game Jam 2014 extra special is the sheer number of jammers. Last year, the jam was hosted at 319 sites in 63 countries, and 3,248 games were created!

It’s a great feeling knowing not that you and your team, but thousands of other developers will be staying up late on the same night with a common goal.

Where is it and how do I sign up?

You can check out their website to find a jam site near you. If you live in the SF Bay area like me, I know of three so far:

I would sign up early to make sure you guarantee a spot, many of the venues “sell out” reaching their max capacity. If that happens though, you can always host a venue yourself or just participate remotely in your own home/office.

 

Last year they set a Guinness World Record with 16,700 developers, and they hope to beat that and grow to over 17,000 jammers this year.

I’m excited to see all the games that will be made this year. Hopefully it’ll be the biggest jam yet!

-Tobiah

LAUNCH Hackathon 2013

This weekend, I competed at the LAUNCH Hackathon 2013 in San Francisco.LAUNCH

What was it about?

The goal was to create a product + company in a little less than two days. The hackathon started on Friday night and all coding stopped at 4pm on Sunday.

Prizes ranged from $250 to $5k for SDK implementation, and the grand prize was 50k in venture funding + AngelList investment of $800k

My team was all Microsoft Evangelists. Myself, Kevin Ashley, Alice Pang and Craig Presti.

What did we do?

We arrived on Friday and started planning our project. We debated a lot over different ideas and business models, trying to find the right balance between technically doable (with time constraint), profitable business model, and what would pitch well to judges.

By early Saturday morning, we settled on the idea “RENTAG” a “one tap rental solution” Website with screenshots and info: http://aka.ms/rentag

We got a simple prototype working on Saturday, and Sunday we focused on perfecting our pitch. Kevin even brought in his Skis (with NFC sticker placed on) we could “rent” for our live demo.CraigWorking

What was the result?

I thought we nailed the pitch! Alice tapped her phone to the Skis, and the rental appeared almost instantly on Craig’s Surface. The judges seemed interested throughout and understood the idea. Afterwards, they had positive things to say.

Our review we got afterwards:

“9 out of 10. Great team and great implementation. Good use of hardware too and finding a partner! Would be great to see more platforms as well (but know that is easy.)”

Despite our good review, we were not selected as one of the final 15 (out of 147 teams who finished products and 1,000+ contestants). But we showed off some cool technology (Windows 8+Windows Phone devices and app development, as well as NFC), talked to a few other developers, and overall had a great time.

Congrats to all the awesome teams who participated, and especially the winners and finalists!

-Tobiah

SJSU Game Workshop and Game Demo Night

Last week my co-worker Doris Chen and I went to San Jose State University and talked to students about game development.

SJSU Game WorkshopAt the workshop we gave students instructions on how to sign up for DreamSpark to get free tools and Windows store developer accounts, as well an overview of what they need to know to start their own independent game development.

Then we showed them how to make a basic game in Construct 2, websites where they can go to find game assets, symbols, and sounds, as well as other resources.

After the workshop, we issued them a challenge to make their own games, and then next week come back and present what they made. We also invited other student game developers to join in the challenge if they wanted.

Last night, we had 14 games demoed for us! Every one was impressive. Some had never worked on a game before! There were shooters, platformers, puzzlers, some action/runner games, and even an RTS.

It was great to see student’s excitement on making their own projects!

SJSU Game Workshop and Demo Night - SnakeWe picked a “judge’s choice” out of the bunch, and it was hard. The winning game was “Gravity Drift”, a puzzle game where you used planets gravity to move an alien floating in space.

There was also an “Audience Favorite” prize, and a game called “Snake Battle” won. It was a new take on the classic “snake”/Tron type game in Unity, with power ups and up to 4 player multiplayer.

SJSU Game Workshop and Demo night - Shirts
Every student who presented a game got a prize of some kind!

I encouraged all the students to continue developing their games. Right now is one of the best times to start your own company, especially if you’re a student. The risk is at an all-time low, and the potential reward an all time high.

I can’t wait to see them all released in the store!

-Tobiah

ASU CIS105 class and SVCC wrap up

Last week I had the honor of guest lecturing for CIS105 at Arizona State University.

ASU CIS105 Workshop
Students created their own apps for Windows Phone 8 and submitted them to the real Windows Phone store. It was cool helping them sign up for DreamSpark and go through the entire development process in just a matter a days. Very inspiring considering most students had not done any kind of development before.

My favorite part was hearing student’s questions after the lectures. There were some good ones! I hope some of the students felt inspired to continue learning about programming and app development.

As soon as I landed back home in the bay area, I went to straight to Foothill College for Silicon Valley Code Camp.

Silicon Valley Code Camp 2013
I’ve never been before, and I am glad I got the opportunity to. It was a fun event with a very diverse variety of people, from students just starting out to experienced industry veterans.

I didn’t get to go to as many talks as I would have liked, but I got to hang out at the Microsoft booth for a bit and talk with people. We had a few different Microsoft devices for people to play with, and let people know about some of our resources such as App Builder, MVA, DreamSpark and BizSpark.

I had planned to just go Saturday and take Sunday off to rest, but I ended up making it back there for a couple of hours on Sunday just because I enjoyed myself so much the day before.

I definitely look forward to the next time I get to visit ASU, and will make plans to attend SVCC 2014!

-Tobiah