The third annual ChicTech Retreat (pronounced ’sheek-tek’) was held April 22-23, 2006 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ChicTech is an outreach program created by the UIUC Department of Computer Science, and the Retreat is the annual culmination of a year-long high school program serving 300 of Illinois’ teenage girls. The ChicTech program and accompanying Technical Ambassador Competition are designed to encourage girls to consider math and science as legitimate career and personal interests. This year’s competition winners were a team from Plainfield South High School who created a stats package for the boys’ bowling team, but several teams received recognition for their projects.
The thirty (female) winners from the Technical Ambassador Competition attended the 2006 ChicTech Retreat where they served as live, teenage judges for the 2006 Games 4 Girls (G4G) Competition. The G4G Competition is open to any group of female game developers currently enrolled in a college or university. Twenty-three teams entered the competition, although only eight managed to finish their game projects. Judging is split between the ChicTech girls and a panel of actual game developers.
Of the eight entrants, four were noted for honors. These include teams from Cornell, UC Irvine, North Central College and the University at Buffalo. Each team created a small game in Game Maker, a well-known authoring system developed to teach game design concepts in courses to students with a wide variety of backgrounds. All of these games are playable on standard Windows XP-based machines and withstood the gameplay testing of 30 high school girls as well as two professional game designers and a representative from last year’s winning G4G team.
Cornell University’s Green Eggs and Pan, took First place. Green Eggs and Pan is a platform game where two players must cooperate to win. It was described by one TAC girl as the “The best game ever!” One player plays Pan, a young girl who must collect all of the dragon eggs that have scattered across the countryside. Pan is controlled with the arrow keys. The second player controls Greeny, a cute little dragon who can blast baddies with his fire and stun them. In a brilliantly innovative move, Greeny is controlled with the mouse, allowing two players to comfortably share a computer and collaborate in interesting ways. In later parts of the game Greeny can blow smoke clouds to assist Pan in her platform jumping, another cool gameplay element. It is easy to see why Green Eggs and Pan took the competition, and encouraging to see such new ideas in gaming.
Second place went to Eterative Tale, an RPG created by a team called AssemblyLine at the University of California, Irvine. The team brought elements of their own backgrounds to the storyline, which features multiple endings and mini-games to boot. It’s a full-fledged RPG, albeit a bit shorter than any Final Fantasy title. Eterative Tale is for RPG fans who love to read and read and read. It has absolutely the best graphics and graphic design in the bunch, and feels very much like a traditional anime-style epic RPG.
North Central College took Third place with DummerUnfall, an adventure game set in a somewhat more shadowy world (albeit with ample sarcasm). DummerUnfall is cool because it has interesting hand-painted backgrounds that really make us wonder why we don’t see more variety of visual aesthetics in mainstream-published games. The gameplay is the classic point-and-click adventure games style with plenty of dialog and RPG elements.
Honorable mention went to the University at Buffalo for Fluff, another unique take on platforming. The player controls the only spikey fluff born into a tribe of much more rounded fluffs. When an evil dragon and his minions threaten the peaceful fluffs, only the spikey fluff can save them. As you jump through the forest, you must avoid the other fluffs, which flock to you as their hero, because your spikey outside kills everything it touches. The goal is to kill as few fluffs as possible and use yourself as a cannonball to defeat the dragon. It’s a clever premise with nicely done gameplay and excellent animations. The sounds of fluffs dying when you make a mistake tugs at the heart-strings.
Other teams who entered the G4G competition were Ohio State (Angels & Demons), Bradley University (Angelous), Franklin University (KeyholeChaos), and University of Illinois (Prince in Peril).
All of these games are now available for download on the competition website, and each one is well worth the effort. They are each playable as stand-alone programs on any Windows XP machine. The G4G Competition entries illustrate some excellent new ideas about game design and dynamics. These kinds of competitions are wonderful ways to encourage students to produce something beyond what they ever considered possible. Sure, the results might uphold some conventional wisdom (Is it a surprise that of the four winners two were RPGs and two were platformers?), but although these games fit into mainstream genres, they each also exhibit some innovative new feature, element, or concept that makes each game a bit different than what we’re used to playing.
Plasma Pong is a completely tripped-out version of regular Pong that incorporates fluid dynamics. In addition to deflecting the ball with your paddle, you can now use jets and vortices of fluid pressure to help guide the ball. And all of this is rendered in a super-colorful “plasma” style. If you love the visual style of games like Geometry Wars, Mutant Storm, and Darwinia, then you need to check this one out. Click here to download Plasma Pong, free for Windows PCs.
- RIP: Strike Back (3.5 Stars)
- Review: Super Columbine Massacre RPG (3.09 Stars)
- Soviet Unterzögersdorf: More fun to say than play? (3 Stars)
- Review: My Sim Aquarium (3 Stars)
Alternative Games is an independent webzine focused on all forms of unorthodox gaming, eccentric game culture, and problematic play.
Submit news to:
Send feedback to:
Users Browsing This Page: 1 (0 Members, 1 Guest and 0 Bots)