Bitsy time

Tonight at First Tuesday Claire Morley gave a great introduction to the joys of Bitsy Game Maker software and how to get started making games with it. We followed along on our laptops as she patiently answered all our questions. I can see why Claire likes Bitsy – it’s a lovely way to play with making games and the simplicity of the software means it gets you thinking really creatively about how to build the game you want.

Bitsy is free to play with – go to the Bitsy site and have a go at building something, then go on itch.io and search for Bitsy games – there’s some stunning ones out there. Claire showed us Mark Wonnacott’s The Last Days of Our Castle which is really impressive. It is a brilliant example of how you can make something rather beautiful even within the limitations of 8×8 & 16×16 grids that Bitsy offers to build avatars and “rooms” (playing canvas).

Claire’s Bitsy tutorial HERE is a great starting point if you want to have a go. She suggested following @AdamLeDoux’s twitter feed to find inspiring games and get involved in his monthly Bitsy jams. Claire also talked us through variables and found this really useful TUTORIAL on how to use them to make more complex games.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s Bitsy ideas at the next Grrrlgames First Tuesday on 7th August. Get making, get playing!

nb Thanks again to Bristol Games Hub for the meeting space – check out the opportunities and meetups there by signing up to their newsletter.

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Summer News & Suffragette Landmarks

Hi

Just a little reminder that we have our long-awaited Bitsy session with the very talented Claire Morley tomorrow so sign up! HERE

Other news, the Suffragette Landmarks project funded by Bristol Women’s Voice is finally going ahead in a couple of weeks time, kicking off with a session at The Station on Tuesday 10th July, 10am-2pm. This is to introduce the stories about Bristol Suffragettes with historian Madge Dresser, map out where they happened and begin to think about how we can use those to inspire some games. If you want to come then email constance@grrrlgames.org

The making workshops with young women and girls aged 13-18 will start on 16th July and will be Mondays in Knowle West Media Centre, Tuesdays at Docklands Youth Centre in St Pauls and Wednesdays at The Vench in Lockleaze. All the sessions will be 10am-3pm and have space for a dozen young participants. Get in touch if you know any 13-18 year old grrrls – they don’t need any experience or computer skills at all, just an interest in making stuff up. There’s a flyer/poster you can share HERE

Come & Talk about your work!

And also let me know if you are up for coming to talk to any/all of the groups about your work in the games industry. The four weeks of workshops end on the 8th August so tell me sooner rather than later – it doesn’t matter how established you are, just come and show them what you do and have made. I am drawing up a timetable of who can come in when, and can offer travel expenses/tiny stipend if you can talk to the groups and inspire them with ideas of future careers.

There will be more Suffragette Landmarks activities in September/October, with a website launch and exhibition of the games and ideas at The Station and a couple of public talks in Bristol. It would also be great to find a way of keeping the work going after the funding has ended, maybe a monthly meetup for all the groups together, somewhere central? I’m working on it, ideas & offers welcome.

GrrrlGames is still on for August too – we aren’t taking a break this year so the 7th is the date for your diaries. We don’t have a named speaker yet – so this is a chance for you to talk about and test out your personal games projects and get supportive feedback. Let me know if you want to book a slot ~ constance@grrrlgames.org

Suffragette Landmarks

Hello all, with my Grrrl Games hat on I am running the Suffragette Landmark Games project for Bristol Women’s Voice this summer. It’s a series of jam-style workshops bringing young women aged 13-18 together to have a go at making games inspired by suffragette stories in Bristol (UK)

I am looking for women in games who are up for coming to Bristol to talk games/careers with participants.

First workshop is 10th July, others will run Mon/Tues/Weds from 16th July til 8th August.

Let me know if you would like to support the project in any way – you can always email me on info@prettydigital.co.uk

cheers!

Constance

nb There will be some public talks and exhibitions in October/November that will be open to all to come along and marvel at the games. Am also on the look out for freebies and stuff, from stickers to tshirts to offers of feeback and mentoring from games developers when the games are nearer to being finished. All offers and suggestions welcome.

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We Sing In Fire and Blood

Our First Tuesday in June was a vr-focused session for Grrrl Games, so we invited artist and writer Hazel Grian to come and talk to us about We Sing In Fire and Blood, her VR choral piece. It’s a moving piece of work about how we come together as communities after traumatic events, and is inspired by Hazel’s story of surviving a life-changing event. It was interesting to hear her process of developing the project, building on past experience of creating work and realising that past projects had been too ephemeral – she wanted to create something that would last longer, after all the creative effort that goes into experiments using new technology.

Hazel went through a long process of writing and rewriting funding applications, sticking to her sense of purpose about wanting to tell her story in her own way. After several months We Sing In Fire and Blood was funded by Arts Council England and Watershed, and she was able to assemble a team of talented composers/musicians (Duncan Speakman & Sarah Anderson) and VR people (All Seeing Eye) to bring her ideas to life. She showed photos of the design process – using TIlt Brush to sketch out the piece in vr, and the filming of actors in green screen, and her design for how the audience views the piece, as if they are sat around a communal fire.

HazelTalkGGamesJune18

The current version of We Sing In Fire and Blood is a 12 minute VR experience. It is moving and inspiring, and definitely worth the experience if you come across it at a film/vr festival – hopefully it will be heading out into the wider world this year. Hazel is currently seeking more funding to develop the work into a longer operatic piece – she played a snippet of one of the bits of music and that on its own was pretty stunning.  Bristol based people may be able to try We Sing In Fire and Blood if they get in touch with the PMStudio. She is heading to Sheffield Doc Fest next week and we wish her well.

Hazel is a resident at the Pervasive Media Studio – read more here – and we want to say thanks to them for hosting our meetup this month!

April Foolishness

We held First Tuesday on the Second Tuesday this month; not to confuse everyone but because Easter meant there was a bank holiday at the beginning of the month and we try and avoid bank holidays.

So there were a couple of new faces, which is always nice, and we went round for a catch up to see who is up to what then came up with a list of possible workshops we’d like this year ~ I am on the case…

Our skillsets covered photography, filmaking, manga, games writing, software development, 3D & 2D art, so between us we could create a game or two! One thing that came out of the conversation was that a lot of us are trying to teach ourselves Unity and it would be good to have a focused working group to suport each other. It is always a bit of a problem finding a time to suit everyone, but Saturday daytimes seemed like a popular idea for occasional workshops. Watch this space for a Unity workshop on 2D games for beginners, which will include a troubleshooting session for those of us who are a bit stuck on our projects. It’d be great to see all our Fuse Jam & Spring Jam games polished and published.

playmat
Background artwork by AJ Murdoch for Kissy Kissy Game at FuseJam

Plans

Our next First Tuesday is May 1st and we have Ben Pitt from Unity coming to talk through using GitHub & Unity Collaborate. Sign up on our meetup here

June 5th ~ we’ll be back at the VR lab. Hazel Grian is presenting her VR Opera project, and we will also get a chance to test out some more VR games.

July 3rd ~ Claire Morley introduces us to making games with Bitsy. She’s written a tutorial HERE if you want to swot up first. Bring a laptop if you can!

Workshop ideas

So from everyone’s interests came up with list of workshops for an evening (E) or weekend daytime (W)

nb If anyone wants to get together on Tuesday mornings to work alongside me on their games in a cosy cafe somewhere then get in touch.

MeVRopposable
Jess’s photo of Constance looking really intelligent

News

We also talked about what other game-related events are on locally and further afield, and I am making a note of them here to try and remember to follow up with reports back from people who go to them, myself included, and also to keep an eye on deadlines to sign up as volunteers for events, or submit games to showcases eg Big Indie Pitch at Develop

  • The Bristol VR lab has regular lunchtime talks – this week it was on AR and had a line-up of three talks
  • EGX Rezzed London 13-15th April
  • UKIE event at Games Hub 19th April
  • Unity Developers Meetup 25th April
  • gameshub antisocial 26th April
  • Gameshub pitching event 23rd May
  • Feral Vector, Hebden Bridge May 41st – June 2nd
  • Develop/Big Indie Pitch Brighton 10-13th July
  • EGX Birmingham 20-23rd Sept – need to keep an eye out for when they are taking leftfield submissions

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Spring Jam 2018

We are very pleased to announce our first jam of 2018 – hosted by PlayWest and supported by FET/ UWE Frenchay. The GrrrlGames Spring Jam is on 23rd/24th Feb at the Foundry, Coldharbour Lane, and is open to all women (trans-inclusive) with all levels of experience. Absolute beginners and games-curious people are very welcome to come along and have a go at designing and making a game in a fun and friendly atmosphere.

We will run a FREE creche for 2-10 year olds on the saturday 24th to make it easier for parents to attend, whether they are coming as participants or tech support. DEADLINE FOR BOOKING CRECHE SPACES IS 18th FEB.

• What we’ll do
Kick off: Friday 23rd 6-9pm by announcing the theme, forming small groups and brainstorming ideas.
Saturday 24th 10-6pm we will carry on working in groups and then present ideas from 4pm.

Sign up here on the grrrlgames meetup, or email constance@wthub.org if you are need more info or want to offer tech support on the day.

• What to bring
Pens, paper, laptops, ideas…

• Important to know
Absolute beginners welcome, we don’t expect finished games in 24 hours.

We ask only for a fiver towards refreshments.

Ideally you can come for friday AND saturday but if you can only make the Saturday then do sign up anyway.

nb This will not be a women-only event as we have mixed tech support.

HERE’s the link again

First Tuesday ~ Princess to the Rescue

This evening at our Grrrl Games First Tuesday meetup we were treated to a preview of Princess to the Rescue – a puzzle platformer from A Little Red Panda game studio. It’s absolutely charming (great colours and cute butterflies!!) and has evolved way beyond its origins as Viki Johnson’s student project. Viki talked us through the process of making Princess to the Rescue, which she built in Construct2 pretty much single handed. It’s a great showcase of her artwork and game design skills, and is currently in tester mode – if you want to have a go yourself sign up here. The current version plays on pc/mac/linux and we had quite a discussion on game platforms, publishing and what steps to take next to get a game out there for people to buy their kids. A Little Red Panda is definitely one to watch.

Princess to the Rescue

After Viki’s presentation we had time for a troubleshooting session with Ben Pitt (aka @robotduck) which tonight mostly focused on discussion around using Twine with Unity and Wwise audio. There are a few of us developing projects that include text on screen so we will organise a more in-depth session focusing on using Twine & Unity together. This will either be at a First Tuesday or on a Saturday afternoon, soon.

Talking twine & unity

Ben also quickly shared a few more introductory game editors for people new to making games ~ Flickgame ~ Scratch ~ Bitsy ~ PuzzleScript ~ which all definitely seem worth exploring as a quick way to get started with no coding experience.

And finally – we talked a little about going to games events and conferences to get networking and get your game noticed. So if you have a game that just needs a final polish, why not submit it to the Develop 2017 Indie Showcase?

“On top of the opportunity to show off their game to around 2,000 developers and publishers in Brighton, all 10 finalists will receive one two-day pass to Develop:Brighton (Wednesday & Thursday), up to five Expo passes, pre-event publicity and a profile on the event website.”

It’s worth a crack ~ you have until the 19th May to submit so get going! HERE’S THE LINK

 

First Tuesday ~ Audio & Games with Alison Bown

March 2017 First Tuesday meetup at bristolgameshub was on all things Audio, with a really useful presentation from Alison Bown about how to get started creating and editing sounds for your game. Alison has years of experience working in film and games; she was recruited straight from film school by Electronic Arts to work on games and is currently in the throes of an Interactive Narrative and Spatial Audio PhD.

We had a wide-ranging introduction to useful software and hardware, from free stuff to top of the range. I learnt that protools can be evil but necessary if you want to work in film sound, and that an iphone is a more than adequate recording tool if you don’t want to shell out for an ambisonic Zoom H2N with four microphones on top. We even covered how to make an ad-hoc sound recording booth – basically walling yourself into a cupboard with blankets or sticking a mattress behind your head.

Alison played us some of the sounds she has created over the years and showed us how she layers up from component parts; pretty much the same techniques are used in film and games but with game you need to know more about compression and chopping up files into re-usable bits. (That’s my non-tech explanation of what she actually said). She recommended we read “From The Shadows of Film Sound” by Rob Bridgett to get a good overview of sound techniques and how to use audio to good effect in games.

We covered sound fx, copyright, atmospheric sound ( randomised sounds on top of a base sound), memory, routing (a fundamental in film & games so I’ll be reading up on that), setting reverb in Unity, making MIDI sounds, file formats (mp3 vs wav vs .ogg), pitch/shifting, sound seeds (! another one to investigate further), and so on. It seems to be a lot about layering. I also learnt that stems are how you organise sound for a mix – I will be downloading myself a list of terms to bandy about when talking audio!

It was a mind-reeling comprehensive intro to lots of things, with time for answers to people’s more specific questions about their projects. Lots to think about and follow up, and quite reassuring to those of us who are muddling through and now find out we were doing things right. (I mean me, using my phone and audacity to record and edit).

Alison recommended we think about using Wwise middleware (similar to fmod) that works with Unity and Unreal games engines, and sent us a link to a “Great Blog with loads of tips including why to use Wwise” from annesoaudio:

Here are a few more links from Alison ~

Reaper demos, Reaper Controls,

Unity & audio

Wwise Demo in action: Twenty mins in, show and tell of intricate Wwise project in game.

Thanks Alison – slightly fried my brain but a really useful evening.

nb we are open to suggestions for topics for First Tuesdays, just join our meetup group for women working in games and post an idea.

XX+ games jam games

  1. Nommityville ~ Chloe, Eriol, Helen, Isobel, Vivienne  14884461_1693808884269096_6124785785213460440_o
  2. Before I Forget ~ Chella, Claire, Sharon
    photo A woman wanders through an empty house piecing together memories from her life. She doesn’t remember who she is or why she’s in this strange house. Investigate objects to unlock fragments of the woman’s story. Before I Forget is a narrative exploration game, which looks at the transience of memory.thoughts
  3. Comfort Zone ~ Eloise, Fiona, Jade, Katherine, Mariya
  4. Colour Over Life ~ Ellie, Emma, Laura
  5. Escape To Mexico ~ Chew-Yean, Clare, Klaudia, Sue

This is happening ~ Weds12thOct2016!

Copied and pasted, I know it’s lazy but…

Level unlocked: facilitating women’s access to careers in the games industry
Wednesday 12th October, 2pm-5pm
River Room King’s Building Strand Campus
Register here: https://levelunlocked.eventbrite.co.uk

The video game industry is notoriously perceived as exclusionary and intolerant, particularly of women and others. ‘Re-Figuring Innovation in Games’ (ReFig) is a collaborative research project that addresses the urgent need for equity and diversity in order to stimulate innovation and greater inclusion in this significant domain of the creative industries.
This workshop will feature case study materials from initiatives aimed at supporting women’s access to the games industry in Canada, Ireland and the UK. It will feature presentations by key ReFig games industry and games education researchers and will be supported by young women currently working in games design. We welcome those interested in accessing the games industry at all levels as well as those wishing to support this access, for example educators at secondary, tertiary and beyond; advocacy groups; employers seeking guidance on inclusive recruitment strategies and structures; and academics.

Shift happens: a panel debate about exclusion & inclusivity in the games industry
Wednesday 12th October, 7pm-8:30pm
Anatomy Lecture Theatre (K.6.29) Strand Campus
Register here: https://shifthappensplay.eventbrite.co.uk

The games industry has the capacity to deliver rich, meaningful, creative and stimulating cultural experiences that can also contribute new tools for education and new avenues for economic prosperity. A diverse, inclusive and representative workforce will ensure that it achieves this with opportunities for all. However, the current landscape is very far from this ideal. To give this ambition any chance of success we will need the industry, academics, advocacy groups and educators to work together on a diverse range of tactics and strategies and to collaborate on initiatives that contribute to this transformation. Although the focus here is on the games industry these are challenges faced by many other science and technology based domains and successful approaches developed here would and should be applicable elsewhere. This panel will provide the platform for a meaningful debate between representatives from the games industry seeking to employ and address a more diverse community and representatives of advocacy groups or initiatives which seek to support the access of girls and young women.

Panel members include:
Holly Gramazio (Matheson Marcault), Marie-Claire Isaaman (CEO of Women in Games (WIGJ), Gina Jackson (Managing Director at the NextGen Skills Academy) and Dr. Chris Lowthorpe (co-author of ‘Punk Playthings: A Disruptive Approach to Making Games in the 21st Century’. Chair – Helen W. Kennedy.

refig-static-all

These events are inspired by the issues and aims that fuel ReFig. For more information about this five year international research collaboration, and its approaches to diversity and equity in the global games industry and games culture, please visit the website at http://www.refig.ca. There events are part of this year’s Arts & Humanities Research Festival at King’s College London – please see here for details: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/ahfest/2016/2016-Festival-Theme.aspx