County Tipperary Schools acquitted themselves well in the Global Games Jam at Tipperary Institute, (Thurles Campus) recently. Every year, the last weekend in January is the calendar highlight for computer game developers across the world. 7,500 developers, worldwide, worked throughout a recent weekend, during 48 hours, they created computer games based on a common theme.
Global Games Jam hosts, Tipperary Institute, rose to the challenge of organising a game coding marathon for students. This was a unique opportunity for them to work in parallel with the very best game developer talent globally. Student game designers created games which were viewed live, during development and release, by international gaming enthusiasts and industry leaders. Students from Tipperary Institute and Carlow IT, including students from various parts of Tipperary, from Roscrea and Nenagh to Fethard, Cahir and Clonmel, participated in the history- making project which was held for the first time ever in Tipperary Institute.
Yet another prestigious “first“ for the County Tipperary Institute and the Premier County and one which places us firmly “on the world map”, according to one student participant.
All participants got involved to perfect their skills as game developers and designers. On the Friday evening they were given the brief to build games based on “Extinction”. Philip Bourke, Course Coordinator for Tipperary Institute’s Games Design and Development course, said “this is as real as it gets, the sandbox nature of these projects allow students to experiment with games design, development and game-play in collaboration with their peers”. He went on to say “The need to quickly and efficiently produce the code, art and audio assets for fun games is a fantastic way to develop innovation skills”.
When presented with the theme, jammers brainstormed games concepts and then pitched those ideas to attract developers, artists and designers to join their team. In all twenty two concepts were pitched and these were eventually narrowed down to just four, “Petals”, “What We Do Now”, “Human Kind” and Petri Paridice. Teams were formed with games programmers, artists, musicians and audio technicians, all of whom are essential in any games development team. All games produced during Global Game Jam are available from the globalgamejam.org website.
Lead Programmer, Conor O’ Neill, Rathdowney, and final year student of Games Development, IT Carlow, was part of the team that produced “Petals” He said “This being my first jam, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I imagined it would be extremely challenging to get our ideas into a playable game in just 48 hours. We were delighted to find everyone so helpful in both Tipperary Institute and from other countries, Everybody participated with an ethos of fun”.
A number of the participants were Global Game Jam veterans. Leo Flaherty, Borrisokane, who is a second year student at Tipperary Institute, and studies Games Design and Development, while only in second year, is a game jam veteran. His team created a game that allows gamers to pre-program their character with Artificial Intelligence to ensure its survival in a hostile jungle. The game stood out in many respects, both from the point of view of games play and art and proved to a fun way to interact with complex algorithms. Leo Flaherty said “I am so proud to be involved in a project like this, and to have worked alongside so many talented people. It is a great privilege to do this in Tipperary Institute and the quality of work here stands to these students, and puts Tipperary on the world map”.
Some of the Tipperary students who took part in the event included: Mark Green, Tipperary Town; David Ryan, Ballyroe; Callum Andrew, Cahir; Chris Staunton, Nenagh; Brian Costigan, Cahir; David Moriarty, Fennor; Craig Todd, Clonmel; David Fogarty, Templetuohy; Eanna Flannery, Thurles and Leo Flaherty, Borrisokane.
All Games Produced will be showcased during the annual computer and console game programming festival Games Fleadh next March 9th & 10th at Tipperary Institute. This year’s participants are already making plans to take on the game creation marathon in 2012. For more information www.gamesfleadh.ie