4 minute read

The Global Game Jam 2011 happens later this month and I’m really excited.  A few months ago we had our local Triangle Game Jam for the 4th year in a row.  It went pretty well, the theme was “blocks” this time.

Against my better judgment I decided to make a 3D game, which is typically a no-no in a game jam, they almost always complicate things far beyond your limited access to both time and artists.  The game concept I pitched was “Reverse Jenga”.  Simply put, your job was to build as high a tower as you could with randomly generated pieces without it falling.  The blocks would come in different colors, if you managed to get 3 blocks touching of the same color, they would solidify giving you a new base to build from that wouldn’t wobble.

I ended up being a team of 1, my requirements were a bit too risky for others.  So I went ahead and chased the dream alone.  It started off pretty good, found a decent XNA physics engine, Henge3D, quickly and was able to throw together a simple play area to stack the boxes.  Then, everything went to hell.  As soon as I started getting a handful of boxes in the scene the physics engine started generating tons of NaNs and my simulation broke down.

I’m already half way into the competition by this point, so too late to turn back.  I drop the physics engine I’m using and use another one, JigLibX.  I was able to integrate it, but it was more unstable than the first so I ditched it.  Left with only option I considered viable I went back to using Henge3D.  I then began debugging and fixing the NaN generating issues in the physics engine.  Which was a terrible idea but I managed to fix them.  I then had to make additional modifications to allow me to perform collision tests that didn’t result in simulation.  That way users could place blocks without a collision occurring until the user ‘released’ the block.

I was finally making progress when I started feeling sick.  So I ended up getting things to a semi-working state and then going home.  Sadly I wasn’t able to put the final touches into the game in the 5 or so hours I had left to complete it, which would have made all the difference.

I used a program called Chronolapse to record a time lapse of the game’s development.  Below it is a quick video of the game where I left it in development.  It needed more randomized shapes, and better controls so you could position blocks in the X,Z plane.  As I left it, you’re only able to move up and down…I think this game would have been much easier to design for if I had a 3d controller, 2 joysticks are just not enough. Anyway, enjoy!

Check out The Triangle Game Jam games to see other games that written this year and in the past.

Super Block Tower Extreme 1,000,000

Super Block Tower Extreme 1,000,000 (Chronolapse)

The song I used was, Bit Shifter – Activation Theme, from the Free Music Achieve.