Get your hands dirty – CanJam 2013

During the course of the weekend of the 9th and 10th March 2013, the computer laboratories of the University of Lincoln were buzzing with excitement, madness and traces of uranium. People reported that they could not fulfil certain computer activities with their shoes on, some others requested their “bro” if they even script, while others were wondering how their baguette would even be able to shoot. Bystanders described that over seventy individuals from many universities (e.g. University of LeicesterDe Montfort UniversityUniversity of Lincoln) merely wished to ‘get their hands dirty’ on some activities that involve developing original, juicy and fun applications, which some of us know as ‘video-games’. This is only a subset of  what could be described as a rather peculiar behaviour. However though, such activities were most common, most normal and seen as everyday routine amongst the participants of CanJam 2013

Canjam 2013 was the second major video-game jam organised by the University of Lincoln Computing Society (ULCS) in cooperation with the Lincoln School of Computer Science (LSoCS). Based on the major success of the ULCS GameJam in 2012, CanJam attracted over 70 competitors, regardless of their background, knowledge, experience or ability to get their hands dirty developing a video-game in less than twenty four hours. Developers from the video-games industry (Crytek GmbH and Rockstar Games) judged games based on their originality, juiciness, fun-factor and best use of the given themes. Over £500 worth of prizes were awarded to the category winners alongside many honourable mentions.

This year, the crowd-sourced themes were based on objects and concepts. On Saturday morning, competitors were requested to submit one object (.e.g. moustaches) and one concept (e.g. smuggling) into the theme suggestion box. Judges chose the most fun and original contribution. This year, they settled on the themes of Uranium (object) and Madness (concept). Following the announcement of the themes, participants rushed towards their teams to discuss game ideas, development plans and workload distributions. Actually, some of them preferred to head towards the local pubs to find some much required inspiration.

CanJam 2013 had a great line-up of representatives of the video-games industry, including Rockstar Games and Crytek GmbH. They took their time throughout the event to chat to all participants, and they provided useful feedback on the games. On Sunday afternoon they independently judged every game submission throughout the game presentation session on Sunday afternoon. Judging was described as a most difficult task, as the judges strongly believed that all of the submissions were worth a prize.

We highly recommend to have a peek at the two minutes team interviews of Canjam 2013 participants on YouTube. Furthermore, some participants uploaded videos of their submissions (e.g. Atomic 92 Uranium Madness, Totally Illogical Meltdown). Additionally, Dmunkeys (GameArt Jinx) wrote a brilliant blog post about their experiences at CanJam, Oxyoxspring describes CanJam as the most tiring yet pleasurable Game-Jam experience, and David Saltares, one of the Crytek GmbH judges, underlines the tremendous effort of the organisers and takes his hat off for all participants.

There were more than 200 pictures taken throughout the event. They are all available on the public Canjam Facebook Page. We wish to thank Jonathan Woodliffe and Joshua O’Rourke (Follow him on Twitter) for their photography skills!

This was a great opportunity to show off students’ skills, to enjoy great fun times with other similarly minded people, to develop a game in teams up to four and to create a great piece of work for their portfolio!

See you all next year for CanJam 2014!

Presentation by David King about Quality Engineering at EA Games

We were pleased to recently enjoy a visit from David King, a former University of Lincoln Games Computing student, who gave a presentation about his experiences within the game development industry. He talked about his role at Electronic Arts (EA), his experiences developing tools and how it feels to work in such a large organisation. Furthermore, he shared tips for students interested in getting into the games industry, and shared news of an exciting opportunity to work with him at EA.

Kindly, David agreed to share his slides with us, which should be visible below, or available here.

Cheers David!

GameMaker Challenge #1: One Button Games 2012

Just go make something. But really you want to do more than that. You want to create something, then you want to release it, you want feedback on it and you want to keep getting better.” – Chet Faliszek (Valve) to budding game developers.

Throughout their studies of becoming successful game-scholars, 1st year Games Computing students at the Lincoln School of Computer Science are being thought about game design tools to quickly develop and extend original game ideas into fully fledged playable games. The use of game developing challenges is one of our favourite approaches to the introductory of game studies. The rules of the challenge: Make a game based on a given theme, within the available time scale. Volunteering students present and discuss their game in front of a playful crowd made out of their colleagues and university staff members. The given theme for this challenge is “One Button Games” – games that use a range of mechanics based around the idea that a player may only use one button only. Such games are fairly popular amongst casual games such as “B.U.T.T.O.N“, “Super Action RPG” or “Canabalt“. Recently, Gamasutra wrote a rather extensive article about the game design recommendations for One Button Games.

We are very pleased to share with you some of the submissions for the 2012 One Button Game Challenge. Feel free to have a look at the video, download and play the games!

Furthermore you can find the results of the 2011 Game Challenges using the following links: One Button Challenge 2011 / ASCII Challenge 2011. Enjoy the games, and feel free to share them with your friends and family!


Legend of Groomp by Alex Saye  (Contact)

A tower defense game where you must defend against hordes of soldiers using up to nine different spells. Spells are cast by either tapping or holding the Space bar. Get experience by killing enemies to unlock more spells. Spells can be stacked on top of each other and combined – for instance, fire spreads easily to other enemies if used with the spell push!
Download (PC Windows)

Volley Orange by Jamie Bloor  (Contact)

Collect all the gold apples using the oranges to proceed to the next level! Can you find the optimal way through all the levels?
Download (PC Windows)

Balloon Button by Mike Thompson (Contact)

Control a hot air balloon through a vast and rich environment! Collect the sheep to get more points, and grab the fuel to fly even further!
Download (PC Windows)


Student Post: Project Dugong – From Experiment to Serious Ambition

“What started as a group of students completely overestimating their skills at a GameJam is now a very ambitious team, eager to make their own fully developed video games.” – Martin Smith, Team Nigel’s Unity Developer.

Team Nigel is the mind child of four University of Lincoln Games Computing/Production students, after they worked together as a team throughout the ULCS Game Jam 2012 in late March earlier this year. Given 24 hours to make a game, they cobbled together Sheer Bloody Madness, which they describe as a “crazy Viking out for revenge in a mindless hack and slash adventure”. It won an honourable mention by the judges, which were made out of developers and academics from Crytek, RockStar, LiSC, ULCS and the LSoCS. Later, the game became the source of inspiration for Team Nigel’s current work, which has been codenamed Dugong.

Dugong is the current on-going project that Team Nigel came up with to introduce themselves into the world of video-games development. Since the ULCS GameJam 2012, they have made great progress and learned much about various aspects of making fun and entertaining video-games in a team-oriented environment. They describe their current game as following: You play a character (Called “You”) in ancient times whose village gets destroyed by evil forces. This incites You to go on a violent and revengeful rampage. The player controls the game character using typical third person views through a story-heavy hack & slash background.

When it comes to the design of the game, Team Nigel’s general approach is to throw anything at the project, as long as it’s considered as fun. Although the game relies heavily on a Viking background, they decided not to keep themselves bound to the typical Norsemen lore, but to let their imagination go out of control. Furthermore, magic plays a big part of the game, mastering the four elements is key to getting to the end areas. A currency dubbed “Wonga” is used to buy equipment, consumables or to play mini-games to earn more fame.

“We love open worlds, so our game will have exactly that”, says Martin, “We want to throw the player into a land that is full of stuff that lives and works without any player interaction, so they can explore them. Rewards, in form of additional items and insightful lore are given to explorers,  which can be used on their quest to go on. We’re using a very simplistic blocky graphical style for our game. We felt it’s much easier to work with blocks and pixels than it is to create full 3D characters and environments, although we are still debating on the overall style of the game as working with blocks isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to adding details!”

You can follow their progress at which they update regularly.

GameGadget Project

Duncan has been playing with the new retro console ‘GameGadget’. He says it’s great fun playing old Megadrive games in a handheld format, but he is especially looking forward to seeing what new games can be created for the device. If you are interested in a final year project in this area, please send him your ideas via email (