Perth’s pizza-powered programmers

Following on from J-OMG’s coverage of the Global Game Jam & it’s Aussie entrants, I’ve had a chance to catch up with the local organiser & ask him about pizza, programming, energy drink promo teams & the Perth game dev scene.

Simon Wittber is a Perth-based programmer who’s worked at Interzone Games (They’re about to launch a Soccer MMO!) & Subversive Games (Who’ve released a number of web/casual games including Road to Riches).

Dan Adams confuses the PA system for a DJ booth

Dan Adams confuses the PA system for a DJ booth

Simon, how did you end up organising the Perth game jam?

I’ve run a few game jams in the past, which you can see on the
Perth’s GameJam website. These jams tended to be virtual events
over 2 weeks, rather than a intense 48 hour jam in a physical
location. I came across the Global Game Jam website in August last year, and offered to host a Perth event.

And how did the event end up at Murdoch Uni?

I ended up working with Murdoch University as I had a good contact at Murdoch (Josh Whitkin) who was able to help arrange the rooms. Besides this, the facilities at Murdoch are outstanding. There was a whole lab of computers with (3D Studio) Max, Visual Studio, CS3 & graphics tablets. Almost everything an Indie team needs!

Tell us about your role during the event…

I started out being an MC I guess, which involved organizing the
crowd, helping to arrange teams, showing people around etc. I had to pick up and deliver pizza, which was quite fun as the boxes filled the boot and passenger seat of my two seater car! The Red Bull Wings team needed escorting around.
(I bet they did😉 -JOMG) Once the jam started, I started working with most of the teams to produce music and sound effects.

Have you ever run an event this size?

I was flying by the seat of my pants all the way! I wanted to make this jam memorable, so I arranged a lot of things that others may think were not needed. Free pizza, coke, loot bags, Red Bull girls etc. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!

The Red Bull Team hand out programmer juice

The Red Bull Team hand out “programmer juice”

Many J-OMG blog readers would have been to a LAN party before. How does the atmosphere of a LAN – compare to a game jam?

It’s much more intense than a LAN party. There’s a lot of frustration, anger, as well as relief and joy. It’s common to hear some poor programmer hurling verbal abuse at a misbehaving engine or obtuse API. It’s usually very quiet, with loud noise and game music frowned upon.

The constraints/themes for the Perth Gamejam were:
A. The game lasts for 5 mins or less
B. “As long as we have each other we’ll never run out of problems”
C. Sleepless, cloudy or destined

…what did you think of the 5 minute game limit?

Initially, we thought it was a little unfortunate, as it would create too many ‘countdown’ type games, which put negative pressure on the player. As we discussed it further, we realized that it was forcing everyone to focus on creating a casual game, which is a good thing.

Josh Whitkin works on the end screen for Zeppelin

Josh Whitkin works on the ‘end screen’ for Zeppelin

What did you learn from this first global “jam”?

I’ve found that you really need to have good help to be able to pull something like this together. At least one other person. You also need a lot of time to chase sponsorship, handle registrations and maintain a web site.

What’s the game dev/indie game scene like in Western Australia?

I believe the scene in Perth is outstanding.

We have Pigmi which facilitates communication among developers in Perth. We’ve got a few game companies, (Interzone, Floor, Subversive, Ezone, Bungarra to name a few) and the local Universities and TAFE colleges all teach some form of Game Development degree or diploma.

We also have the Nullarbor party each year which brings together many local developers and artists. If you’ve got the right connections, there are random lunches held everyone now and then for game developers and entrepreneurs to network and discuss opportunities.

Robert, Nigel & Jason hard at work

Robert, Nigel & Jason hard at work

Plans for the rest of the year? Plans for next year?

Assuming I am still in Perth next year, we’ll be doing another
global game jam. In the meantime, I’ll still run quarterly jams via
gamejam.org.

Final comments?

I must thank Josh Whitkin for his help in securing the venue. Murdoch Uni is awesome for allowing a bunch of random people to use their rooms 24 hours a day. Subversive Games provided pizza and coke for all 23 jammers, which is much appreciated, and Transmin helped provide a bunch of loot for the bags of swag.

All these people and companies, as well as the jammers themselves, combined to make an awesome jam. Thankyou!

Thanks Simon for your time – and if YOU haven’t tried the Perth entries yet, you’ll find links to them here.

3 Responses to Perth’s pizza-powered programmers

  1. The question is… would you have played better if you had been supplied with Pepsi? Under perfect experimental conditions everything else must stay the same, only the drink can be substituted.

  2. Ganry78 says:

    LeftLane stream to work, maybe because of a lot of traffic. ,

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