Game a Week: Week 24



This week’s game was made during the Game Changer’s Game Jam in Århus, Denmark, which I was invited to keynote at. This was a wonderful game jam that focused on making disruptive games with a purpose.  The theme of the jam (Justice) was announced by Michelle Mildwater, a representative from Hope Now which is an organization focused on helping victims of human trafficking and bringing those responsible to justice. She explained the various methods that are used to traffic people, the issues that arise when trying to bring the perpetrators to justice, and on figuring out what ‘justice’ means to the victims of trafficking.  Please, read more at Hope Now and check out some of the other games that were created at this jam.

So yeah, once I decided to also partake in the jam (as well as keynote), I sat down and tried to think of what I could do with a theme of ‘justice’. To get a better understanding of what justice means in the literal sense, I went straight to wikipedia. The two things that really stuck out to me were the concept of justice as a harmonious type of living and justice as a divine commandment. When I started thinking of harmony, I started thinking of music, and that basically led me straight down the path of a crowd source musical composition. I wanted to give everyone one chance to add something to this community and see if we could all work together to create a harmonious (and just) output. In addition, I thought it would be a fun experiment to (very rarely) add a type of ‘divine command’ mode, where the user could change the overall tone and feel of the song (key signature, temp, etc), to emulate the divine power determining what is harmonious and what isn’t.

What went right

Well, it seems to be working so far. People are adding notes and I (very loosely) put in the logic to only allow one note per IP address. So far, it’s mostly just notes, but I’m looking forward to what happens as time goes on.

Also, I discovered a super wonderful musical note rendering API called VexFlow, so definitely check that out if you ever need/want to display musical notes.

What went wrong

I way over-scoped this idea. To make this work, I needed to program in html, javascript, and PHP (none of which I’m particularly wonderful at), I had to have a few different modes for the site (pre-submission of note, post-submission of note, divine-mode) and I had to figure out how to display the notes, have a user input their note, and play the notes back. Even just divine mode itself was entirely over-scoped (it was to be a mode where you could basically change everything about the playback).  So yeah, the finished product is nowhere near what I wanted to do for this. Divine mode doesn’t exist, the user input is extremely confusing, and the playback is not very well programmed. Also, you can only place quarter notes….in the treble clef (there’s no bass clef support at all yet). The Overscope Monster definitely struck me hard this week.

What I learned

Obviously – don’t over-scope. If you’re going to only give yourself about 12 hours to make something, don’t program a game that requires you to interface with a database and uses three languages you’re only about 70% comfortable with.

Outside of game development, I learned a lot about human trafficking (both in Denmark and outside of Denmark). It’s something that I’ve thought about and read a lot about before, but I definitely learned some new aspects of it (e.g. it’s not just limited to the sex industry – it extends to factory workers, construction workers, organ harvesting, and more). Please, if you have a moment, read more about this issue – there are plenty of resources online to educate yourself on it.

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