Global game Jam was held at Napier University for Edinburgh this year. I took part with one of my friends, Tom Joyce. We had previously taken part in a game jam before. The theme for the 48h game development event was a picture of a snake eating its tail laid out in a circle.
Our interpretation for the theme was the circle of life, but we also took more literal elements in the form of snake poison. Our game celled Apoptosis (official term for the cellular mechanism of programmed cell suicide) follows the journey of a poison acting on a body, at the cellular level (level 1), the arterial level (level 2) and organs (level 3). Hacklab is kindly hosting it here (Chrome recommended).
Tom and I’s background is in artificial intelligence, and we produced a game typical for this niche. The main mechanism of the game using Conway’s game of life, a cellular automata capable of complex behaviour from simple rules. What we added was an extra layer of cell types, blood, which followed diffusion dynamics and could be displaced by the game of life cells. This is really showcased well in level 2, where gliders actually pump the blood through the level. You can disrupt the glider flow and see the blood stops flowing through the long range blood pipe.
48h is not long enough to really play with the dynamics enough find out what other mechanism are possible with this hybrid cellular automata model. One fun thing we noticed is that some interesting structures are spawned when you place 8 or 10 elements in a straight line. In the prologue we included additional tools for the user to paint the canvas in different cell types. Furthermore the whole cell update mechanism is dynamically loaded from the interface found at the bottom of the page (very useful for developing the system live).
One of the main problems with the game of life is that it is exceedingly sensitive to perturbations. Many of the (young) game players at GGJ had not encountered Conway’s game of life before so could not play our game in any sensible fashion! You need to spend time discovering recipes in order to get anywhere. Our staple structure is a 2×2 grid of cells which is stable under update. Its niche gaming to the max, which is probably why we finished 5th out of 7 :/ Those that liked our game though, really liked it though, and I expect the game to be quite compatible with many Hacklabbers tastes too.
So I hope you enjoy Apoptosis (comments below), and I hope you enjoy a GameJam in the future.