Stephen Fisher - Designer and Developer Stephen Fisher - Designer and Developer

Creating a Game: Game Jam Post review and Persistence

Last weekend me and a group of students at the University of Lincoln took part in the Global Game Jam event, if you do not know what it is well I’ll summarise: The global game jam is a 48 hour event where teams from around the world take part to create innovative and exciting games around a provided theme.

This years theme was: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

island pic 3

This year I decided to work on my own to see how much I could realistically do on my own within a set time frame and as it turns out quite a bit (even more if PC hadn’t lost first file), I decided to create a game in UDK cause tbh its the engine I understand the best (still learning unity) and given short time frame decided it was best route to take. Now like any good games designer you do not rush into creation and I spent around 3-5 hours playing around with ideas on paper some including a mobile AR game, a board game etc until I decided to go down the episodic story puzzle route, thus LIfE was born.

I spent a good 24 hours making the first iteration of the game then DISASTER my PC (which has been acting up alot recently) decided to lose my files and thus all my work and as such this meant I had less than 24 hours to remake my game as such had to compromise on features and assets. Anyone who knows me can vouch for me saying when I get into level design I kinda get totally adsorbed and can happily spend months making one level before adding in any of the gameplay elements, this sorta shows in the build for the Jam as alot of the game play features such as Twitter NPC’s were never to be.

So what was the game meant to be?

The game was meant to be an exploration puzzle style game where the player could explore the island, collect toems or destroy them and thus change the islands appearance and available quests from NPCs. One of the innovative features was going to be the option for players to ‘talk’ to NPC’s via twitter using a third party on-line application, by asking the NPCs the right questions they would be messaged back with clues and pass-codes and information that would open up more quest routes thus game play. Sadly this didn’t make it into the Jam version due to concerns regarding third party management system and the fact I had to rebuild the island from scratch.

The player at points in the game will have the choice to nurture or destroy parts of the island which will change parts of the islands appearance (done via level part switches) thus changing quest logs and gameplay elements open to them. The game is simple has a survival element to it whereby the player must also gather food and water to survive as over time they will lose health thus driving the player forward to complete quests and solve puzzles quickly.

In the jam version there is one half completed quest and that is it which makes me very sad however cause im stubborn I won’t let this lie until I have at least implemented the features I originally wanted in there as such will continue developing LIfE bit by bit when I find time.


Since the Jam I have learnt new tricks and mechanics implement into UDK and even solved a memory leak issue that would arise from having such a large play space loaded at all times, the island can now be incrementally loaded as the diagram below illustrates the island is split into sectors each sector / chunk loads and unloads based on players position in overarching handler level.


I hope to develop this game into a downloadable episodal series where each object in the game will open up a separate interactive story level e.g. A pushchair may load up a level where you are looking for your lost child e.t.c. the aim is to get various writer friends of mine to create little game stories around the theme of LIfE all accessible via this central island nexus. It will be a larger scale transmedia project than that of  #Suspicion but is in theory easier to distribute and IF focus tests deem it fun may even start a Kick-starter for it to expand it further past the realms of just UDK.

I will post updated version links to this blog site under Projects > LIfE from build to build until a more stable version is made then its future will be reviewed.

Game Jam (Sh**y version): 

#Suspicion: Where being social is Deadly!


Over 250 million tweets are posted each day, there are around 1 billion Facebook accounts in operation and everyday we are leaking more and more information about ourselves on-line. 

#SUSPICION is aiming to place you in the most socially deadly game of who dunnit yet to be created using modern leaps in technology alongside traditional card based game play elements you will be competing to work out out who commit a series of murders with ‘live’ interactions with victims friends and families. Build up points by correctly asking and interviewing friends and family but watch out as one of you will be placed as the killer and it is there jobs to tamper with the evidence, scare witnesses and otherwise ensure they don’t get found out.

Featuring NFC technology players can actively interact with game elements and using social media keep a breast on what is occurring, each play experience will be unique. Utilizing transmedia techniques the game transcends cards to make use of twitter engagement, Facebook lore, YouTube evidence to enhance the experience whilst also being completely playable if such technology is not ready to hand.  Via the power of Conducttr acting as a middle organiser each case will feel unique with your on-line friends able to keep track on your play experience and if you so desire taking part, the long term goal is to be able to market the game as case packs with customisable options available for the price of a retail board game however development is is in the early stages at present.

How to Play – Brief

The game is designed for 4+ Players each player if playing on-line will enter there twitter ID into the checking system, each player will receive a personal message from the automated on-line system nearly instantly with one of the players being told they are the Murderer.

Each turn has a set amount of actions, these include:

  • Scouting for evidence (Evidence Cards)
  • Interviewing Alibis (Character Profile Cards)

As a team they must chose which action to take with not all evidence or alibi cards corresponding to each case. The detectives score points upon successful completion of each action HOWEVER murderer can tamper and sabotage these actions as it is all handled on-line with scores revealed after each 5 turns thus making it difficult to work out who and when espionage occurred. The team win if they accuse correct murderer or score desired amount of points within the games time-frame, actions can be bought for points which can be helpful but also serve as a risk. Murder wins if wrong person is accused or points don’t reach landmark.

WIP Template

How NFC / QR / On-line adds to game play

IF players opt to play on-line and have access to NFC devices or smart phones they can actively chose actions on-line via tweeting it through and score is managed on-line. On-line adds a level of social interaction whereby they can watch custom made videos, look at victims profile pages and find out more clues to help or hinder the case in question, cause the murderer changes all the time the game mechanically is never the same and its down to good bluffing, the goal is however to be able to remotely change cases / update but also release extra case packs at a low rate frequently to extend the games meta narrative. If players wanted to make it more engaging they could by the fact they actively can tap items which could in theory be hidden around a play space to make finding evidence more engaging.

Obviously the game works offline too with pen and paper replacing some of the on-line interactions and details stored in ‘authentic’ feel case files.  Mechanically at its core the game is simple to pick-up and play with its selling point being its interesting added elements and level of experience it aims to generate.

So where is it at presently?

At the moment it is more at proof of concept stage with narrative links,plot details and social links being finalised with a proposed test session / version desired late February this is to ensure game play works as intended and visual / interactions are appropriate.

The future

Ideally as mentioned earlier I would like to market this game / experience mid this year via an on-line funding campaign and distribute as possible, ideally would love to get this game backed by other writers and release expansion case packs adding new characters, cards and options to game play even potentially option for players to customise packs to have their own details on printed materials and such. but at the moment this is all long term hopes and dreams.

I will update you with more details shortly including character profiles, test versions and how it works at a later date. A lot of the core mechanics and secrets are yet to be revealed cant be saying it all now can I.

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