Catpcha – a PROCJAM post-mortem

From November 7th to November 16th 2015, I participate with Ivan Guliza to the PROCJAM. The goal was to have fun creating a game with procedural generation. Of course, I wanted to have cats so we set up for a genetic game with cat where you mix them to express alleles.

If you don’t know much about genetics, the game is about to be very hard to understand. The game adapts the difficulty by calculating the allele expression difficulty and see if it under the difficulty max cap. Then you have typical Mendel genetics with some crossing-over, but nothing completely fancy in term of genetics.

PROCJAM has this typical British notion of relaxed entertainment so the week was not too stressful, except on Sunday where I crunched to finish the game. So now on to my post-mortem.

What went right:

  • Funny idea
  • Lot of motivation due to simulate genetics behaviour.
  • First time working with procedural

What went wrong:

  • Gameplay is a bit clunky, if you don’t understand anything about genetics, you are doomed.
  • Realistic genetics behaviors are not fun to play.
  • Sound & music done at the last minute.

That’s it for me, you can play the game here. Next game jam is Level Design Game Jam in Lausanne the 6th of December.

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Junior Research Conference & Player Q


Thursday the 12th was a very long day. My Zürcher colleagues took the train at 6am from Zürich to arrive in time at ECAL in Renens. I was smart enough to go the day before and sleep at my mother’s place with Andi. We slept well and were all fit for the conference.
The JRC (Junior Research Design Day Conference) brings together all the master students around Switzerland from Bern, Luzern, Basel, Zürich, Geneva, Lausanne. I was expecting to meet some new people, maybe in my domain (Game/Interaction/Media Design).
The whole morning was about talks, 4 trios of students presented their project and the workshop they would organize in the afternoon. At the end of each trio, there was a little discussion. Those talks were very heterogeneous. From textile design about religious cloth of the Renaissance, to designing waste containers for the third world (especially Kenya, a nice project from our ZHdK colleague Joshua Uerli), to the world of sound design (behind the scene of movies’ sound), finally with colour blind perspective.
Just before noon break, we could register to one of the workshop and I had the chance to be one of the first, such that I could register to the world of sound workshop. I hesitated with the “selfies” workshop, but sound was the most interesting one for my game design skills.

The workshop was amazing. Even if it seemed disorganized, we began in the dark (the most awkward start I ever had). In the introduction, we had to identify some sounds. Fire? Wood? Water? Plastic? Quickly I understood that it is a very hard process to identify from what a sound comes from.
Then, we had a sound extract from a movie. We had to identify the whole sequences of sounds and draw it. I understood that the identified sequence had no coherence as I was trying to interpolate it. Still in the dark, we had to form groups (best team forming ever as you just go to the nearest group next to you). Light came back and then we had one hour to produce a sequence of sounds out of our drawings.
I was with a group composed exclusively of HEAD girls, so we could speak French. The first thing you see is that every members of the group have a completely different set of images. Someone heard something nobody did, or someone is sure that a certain sound had certain features. After we organized our storyboard to have a set of precise sound to produce and we then went on sound production.

We went out to make some walking on leaf sound. We went on a computer room to record some keyboards sounds, etc… We then came back with a set of separate sounds. We did not have the time to mix them. Other groups had completely other production process. Some of them did an accapela version that was hilarious.
At the end, we had to hear our sequence of sounds with the movie images. Our sequence had three perfectly synchronous sounds that came out of nowhere. We just played the sounds on iTunes. The workshop process was super interesting: Sounds->Visual->Sounds.
After the workshops, we were invited to an apero and in the traditional way of Waadt, you had white wine and red whine. I started with the white one and it was very tasteful. All my swiss-german friends were on beer. I then switched to the red wine that was disgusting. We discussed with a bit and then with Andi, we went on Player Q, an LGBT event.
I was already a bit drunk, but I did remember the address of the event: Rue des Côtes-de-Montbenon 18. At least, that was what was written, because actually, the VoGay space was at Rue des Côtes-de-Montbenon 15. I was angry at the organizer and made him the remark when we finally figured it out.
With pizza and drink going around, we first watched a documentary named “Gaming in Color”, that shows this rising Gaymer community in the US. That was one of my first impression: the claims of Gaymer comes from the gay movement of the 80s and does answer to American problematic. It gives a place for gay people that are gamer, two different communities that have none in common.

As a game designer, it is always important to know that such communities exist and that they have a place, not just in the communities, but also in our games (as characters or themes). The thing is, I create games around the themes that interest me and the LGBT thematics does not interest me, so even informed, I won’t create games around those themes.
After the documentary, a Smash Bros tournament was organized with only female characters allowed (Kirby and Jigglepuff were considered female, but Pikachu not). I’m not a huge fan of the WiiU version, and the fact that female character are really slow made the tournament less entertaining for me, but I did meet some very fun people, even not as a member of the LGBT community.
In the end, I liked the Player Q, but there is still something that buggers me. Do we need the Gaymer tag in Switzerland? I don’t say that Switzerland is a perfect place for LGBT people, but the problematic are not the same. The fact that space like VoGay are available, seems to show me that the problematic is completely different than in the US. I don’t always like some US phenomenon that comes in Switzerland like it is all-truth.
It was a long day, but I learned a lot of things from sound design to LGBT gamer community in Lausanne. Next stop, finishing PROCJAM (the procedural generation game jam).

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