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Developing a digital game in 48 hours

I was only intended to stay for the keynote speech at the Malta Global Game Jam, held for the first time in Malta at the Institute of Digital Games. But when I met acquaintances Anthony Demanuele and Neville Attard, they managed to persuade me to stay and take part.

The Global Game Jam is a global event where people get together to create a game in 48 hours. This year’s Global Game Jam was held in over 450 locations worldwide, including Malta, and a total of 4,291 games were created.

One of the interesting aspects about Global Game Jam is the eagerly-awaited theme since the game design heavily depends on it. This year’s was: ‘We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are’.

As we brainstormed while munching on a burger, crazy ideas started flowing, and after sifting through them, we decided to start prototyping the one which had the most fun core mechanic and which was doable in 48 hours. We called it Perspectron, a play of words between ‘perspective’ and ‘Tron’.

The game is a 3D infinite runner with a twist. The player can change perspective (or scale) of the level between two modes, a large rolling sphere and a small rolling sphere, each with its own unique difficulties.

A total of 4,291 games were created

When the player is in the larger state, the goal is to avoid moving wall obstacles, wrecking balls and bridges, whereas when in the small state, it might be easier to avoid certain obstacles such as wrecking balls but the speed of the sphere appears faster and there are new obstacles one needs to avoid.

Why Tron? We all liked the sci-fi movie Tron and its visuals. And for a team of programmers without an artist on board, Tron’s feel is easily achievable using just our very basic art skills.

We had great fun developing the game and are currently getting feedback from players to see if there is potential to commercialise the game.

A playable version of our game, where you can leave feedback, is available at: http://bit.ly/tom_perspectron . The game has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Perspectron. We encourage all aspiring gamedevelopers (not just programmers) from all over Malta to take part in the next game jam that will be surely organised in the near future.

Ryan Sammut is a software developer and game designer.

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