Experimental 3D Game

For those that don’t live in the area/don’t care, this week was supposed to be the week of the East Coast Game Conference. This is the largest industry-facing event on the East Coast. To people that are familiar with GDC, I tell them it’s like a mini-GDC. And it actually is. For three days in the beginning of April, Downtown Raleigh is swarmed with game developers ranging from students, to indies, to working industry professionals. The conference occupies the convention center and the place is lousy with talent and bright shining stars. As vibrant as the days are, they don’t hold a candle to the evenings which hold a host of after-parties fueled by social lubricant. It was during one of these that Ubisoft Red Storm opened a massive beer tab and let conference attendees drink on it for a good chunk of the night. We grabbed an excellent barbecue dinner with a community manager from Ubisoft and capped the evening with a wild goose chase that involved trying to pin down a rumored group of Epic employees with hiring clout.

These were the visions that were in my mind when I bought my ticket for this year’s con. They were still there right up to the point where we got the news that the conference was cancelled due to concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic. This was beyond understandable and I had no trouble at all getting my ticket refunded, but I was left with one issue. I blocked out the time in my schedule to go to the conference, and now that block of time was void, no work, no school, no outstanding commitments. I decided that, given the circumstances, that week would be an excellent time for a game jam.

We settled on the theme of “PS1” as there’s been a glut of absolutely fantastic recreations and send-ups of Playstation era games. The typical first-person horror Twitch fests that dominate the itch.io homepage had started adding filters to lower the resolution of their renderer and capture that PS1 vibe. Beyond the idea of making something that could have conceivably popped up on the PS1, I lacked the imagination for any real restrictions or theme considerations.

To begin with, before the jam started an artist from our game development group expressed interest in partnering up for the jam. Give that he was an experienced 3D artist and I had no experience in 3D, I immediately went for it. We came up with a beautiful plan to make a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater inspired platformer. This will become very funny for you if you end up playing the game that I actually released.

Things went pretty smoothly at first, I began picking up some simple assets from the asset store to practice some of the 3D pipeline stuff. I became enthralled with the level design and environmental art using a city prop set I grabbed. About 3/4s of the way through playing with that, I began to realize that I didn’t have a game yet. While I had plenty of time, I decided I would be better served switching focus. I thought I could maybe get away with a really simple shooter. This lead to me bringing in some enemy models I had gotten in a bundle a year or so ago. This also lead to more playing.

I have a phobia that I’ve seen called Megalaphobia, which is generally the fear of large objects. It’s weird and selective, but it mostly applies to things like statues and certain kinds of shipping vessels. This phobia, however, inspires a morbid fascination in me. While I would suffer a panic attack in the presence of such objects (the Washington Monument got me once), the safety of a screen gets me close enough to the fear, without having it become overwhelming. Because of this, I started toying with the scale of the monsters.

This is where things went off the rails. I realized my coursework would completely knock me out of continuing the jam tomorrow. This meant finishing up the ‘game’ with what I had. By this point I’d begun making traffic that drove and respawned. This lead to some hilarious results and I just cranked them up to 11. I made everything I was playing with as ridiculous as possible and called it done. No real objective, no clear point to any of it. The game is effectively an exploration of my first time with the 3D tools. I don’t expect this to mean anything to anyone besides me, which should absolutely not be interpreted as it meaning anything at all. You can play it here, if you’ve got a few minutes you don’t care to absolutely write off.


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