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.

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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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Grrrl Games Spring Jam

Spring time; bouncing lambs, daffodils, sunshine and the perfect time to smash the patriarchy. Whilst our Spring Jam lacked lambs, we did have a room full of women (trans-inclusive) making games in less than 24 hours.

Supported by UWE Bristol’s Computer Science Creative Technologies department and held at the new steampunk-esque Foundry space – we welcomed absolute beginners and games-curious to come along and have a go at designing and making a game in a fun and friendly atmosphere.

Tend + Befriend

Our theme was inspired by Brie Code’s keynote at last years European Women in Games conference. She spoke about our responses to stress, referencing research that says rather than ‘fight or flight’, most women (and many men) instead respond with ‘tend and befriend’: “Like much other research, most stress research had been done with men and male animals. Prior to 1995, only 17% of stress research had been done with women.” – you can read more about this from Brie here.

 

Food!

We were also lucky enough to get sponsored by BJSS Bristol – we struck a good balance between healthy snacks and yummy yummy pizza.

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A crèche!

When we said we wanted a creche, Jane Berry (acting head of UWE’s Computer Science Creative Technologies department) made it happen! Ideally we’d like to run every jam we ever do with a creche, to widen participation as much as possible. If you are reading this and it’s something your company would like to fund, get in touch.

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And of course… Games!

Grrrl Games Jam: What happened

Back at the start of July we held a 1-day Grrrl Games mini jam at the Bristol Games Hub. Focusing on the theme ‘What game would you like to have played when you were 9?’, three teams of women* who had never worked together before, made three games.

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We used a great resource list that’s been put together by Ciro Continisio (GGJ Rome), which includes a ton of generally free tools for games jammers.

So, the games… Considering our teams had just ONE DAY, they created some amazing things – some of which they’re hoping to continue developing!

Clare, Nat & Lauren decided to focus their game on environmental change, using the domes at the Eden Project as inspiration. Wanting lots of exploration and interaction, the player would walk around inside a big sphere with mini-puzzles contained inside. 

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Nat learnt how to use Audacity during the jam and created some awesome music to be used in the game by mashing together fine different tracks. Lauren took charge of the 3D models and Clare built the scenes in Unity.

Anne and Claire got impressively far with their game Tebahpla! – a platformer word maker crossover. Anne coded it using a phaser.js framework, which she’d just started to learn earlier in the week and Claire made some nice pixel art in Piskel.

You can even try out their playable demo on Anne’s website.

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Last, but by no means least, AJ and Gicela made Teeth Rex, which definitely won the award for most impressive title screen.

Centered around a dinosaur who can’t brush his teeth (cause t rex’s arms are too short – GENIUS), Gicela used Game Salad for the first time to start making the game and AJ took charge of 2D pixel art (see more examples of her work here).

 


It was a great day, with some really good outcomes. We hope to run another one in the autumn and are always looking for people or orgs to help support these kind of activities!

At the moment Bristol Games Hub generously let us use their space, but we’d love more options for bigger jams. Other things we need are people and money… Anyone who is able to be on hand to provide to tech support or if you know of any funds to make our events better, please get in touch!

 

*When organising and running Grrrl Games activities, we define ‘women’ as female, transgender and non-binary people who identify as female.

Workshop with Ben Pitt on TextMesh, Ink & Unity – Sign up now!

This Saturday we’re running a free workshop at the Games Hub in Stokes Croft. From 1-4pm, Ben Pitt has kindly offered to take us through some fun things you can do in Unity with text.

You can sign up for free on our Meetup page, but space is limited so please make sure you turn up!

1-2pm TextMesh in Unity
Come with a laptop that has Unity installed. We’ll be looking at how to make text look nice in Unity.

2-4pm Incorporating Ink into Unity. 

For the second part of the session  we will be having a go at taking narrative text adventures built with Ink/Inky (nb that’s your prep pre-workshop) and integrating into Unity.

Inky is the editing tool to write Ink with: http://www.inklestudios.com/ink/

Download Inky first so you can have a play with it before Saturday and prepare something to work with – there are probably samples online but get that sorted before saturday so we don’t all try and download things on the day.

nb I can make myself available on Friday afternoon if anyone wants to have a pre-workshop meetup to do the Ink side of things – I am not at all expert but will be stumbling through it too!

Head over to our Grrrl Games meetup page to sign up for free – space is limited!

Any questions, email Constance via constance@grrrlgames.org

Come to our 1 day Grrrl Games Jam!

What game would you like to have played when you were 9?

Come and make it in ONE DAY at our Grrrl Games Jam in Bristol! We are inviting women, transgender and non-binary people who identify as female to come and make a game for your 9-year-old self.

No background in tech or previous programming experience is needed – we need artists, sound designers, organisers, writers – and of course enthusiasm!  People will be on hand to help out where you need it.

We advise you to bring a brownbag lunch to the jam on Saturday. A small suggested donation of £3 will cover snacks and refreshments, with any money leftover going towards future events!

The event will kick off on Saturday at 10am, although we encourage people to arrive from 9.30am to get settled in the space and meet your fellow jammers. It will finish at 6pm.

Find out more and sign up >>

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.

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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

Announcing the XX+ Games Jam

UPDATE: Thanks for all the interest and applications – we will be curating our list of participants for each venue and get back to you asap.

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Calling all women who like games – have you ever wanted to make one?  ReFIGuk are delighted to announce the xx+ games jam, 24 hours of fun and games design for women, transgender and non-binary people funded by ReFIG.  UK sites will be running in Brighton, Bristol, Leamington Spa & London.

XX+ Games Jam is an international jam, happening over 24 hours at 5 sites in the UK and 2 sites in Canada.  The Jams will be a relaxed affair, and people of all talents, professions and skill levels are welcome.  Any kind of game can be created, including digital, physical and paper – and teams will be formed to work around a theme – announced at the start of the jam on  Friday (but shh – keep it a secret until Canada starts too!)

No background in tech or previous programming experience is needed – we need artists, sound designers, organisers, writers – and enthusiasm to come up with cool game ideas!  People will be on hand to help out where you need.

Drinks, snacks and tech support will all be available – the venues will be open from 6-10pm on Friday and then til 6pm on Saturday. Some venues will allow for optional late night jamming.

~ there are 24 spaces in each location so apply now!

~ xx+ runs from 6pm Friday 14th October to 6pm Saturday 15th October 2016

~ application deadline is 4th October 2016 – we will let you know by asap after that date if you have been successful

nb this event is for over 18s only

There will be concurrent xx+ jams in Montreal & Toronto so you’ll be working alongside women in UK and Canada, expanding your networks and meeting other women who are changing the games industry one step at a time.

If you would be interested in supporting the xx+ jam in other ways – by being a volunteer mentor or tech support on the day then please get in touch: xxplusgamesjam2016@gmail.com

 

Locations: Bristol ~ pmstudio/watershed
Leamington Spa ~ Arch Creatives
London ~ Kings College
Brighton ~ The Skiff
Norwich – cancelled, sorry!

REFIG is full of women who believe that 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.