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Pepper Ranch Sponsors Game Jam at SPSU


Students Develop Games, Skills, Friendships in 48 Hours

It all started innocently enough on Friday, September 18, 2009. Twenty students and faculty from Southern Tech, Art Institute of Atlanta, Georgia State, and the University of West Georgia met in the Games Lab in the J building for a weekend of fun and game development.  Forty-eight hours later, with rain drenching the metro Atlanta region, two complete games were built from the ground up using nothing but adrenaline, caffeine, pizza and raw talent.

On Friday night, students were informed that the theme of the weekend’s game development would be “heat” in honor of our sponsor Pepper Ranch who graciously donated hot sauce for all participants.  Pepper Ranch is a local company that makes fantastic spices and sauces with habanero peppers. The students would have to incorporate this theme of “heat” into their games and that the play experience should last no more than 5 minutes. Teams then self-formed and began designing how their games would play.  They then worked over the next two days with little sleep to crank out a game with original art, music, and core game mechanics.

Nick Dolce, A.J. Savino, Kristina Dutton, and Rob Nale developed the winning game, “Paragon,” and each took home a triple pack of Pepper Ranch sauces.  “Paragon: Where Some Friends Don’t Make the Cut,” a side-scrolling platformer that focuses on quick mechanic subjecation and simple micromanagment implementation.  The object of the game is to lead a herd of innocent critters through the daily dangers of their world. The main goal is to help two critters to the door at the end of each level. In doing so you proceed to the next area. As the player, you have to help navigate your little companions past hostile inhabitants, dangerous pitfalls, and hot burning coals. During the journey you find elemental stations that grant your critter the power of ice and fire. Take note: with great power comes great responsibility. These powers may be great but will destroy its host over time. As the sheppard of your herd, you must utilize your environment to help you reach your destination.

Paragon – crush your enemies and save (most of) your friends

Another team of students from AIA and SPSU developed a Super Smash Bros. Brawl clone called H.E.A.T. – Hyper Extreme Attack Tanks – where up to 4 players can battle it out using different tanks, bikes, and mechanical spiders with different weapons and abilities.  This game was unique to the jam in that it was the only game that was developed to run on the Xbox360.  Look for this game to show up on Xbox Live Arcade in future months as the team may develop it into a full game!

H.E.A.T. (Hyper Extreme Attack Tanks) – 4-player Xbox360 Brawl clone by SPSU/AIA students

Two other teams competed but still had some work to do before their games were ready for prime time.  Look for those to show up later – perhaps even at the upcoming Global Game Jam 2010.  This next jam will run Fri-Sun on January 29-31 next year and will be coordinated worldwide with over 1500 other participants building games.  We encourage everyone at SPSU to join us to build and play games that weekend.  Please see for more details on this past jam or the upcoming jam next year.

Beyond the fun of the weekend, the Fall Game Jam serves another purpose: The Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office sponsored a VIP room at SIEGE for the students to show off their games to potential employers and others in the game and digital media industries at SIEGE 2009.  SOUTHERN INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT & GAME EXPO [SIEGECON.NET] is the definitive center of gravity for knowledge exchange among video game industry professionals and students in the southeastern U.S. This year, the show hosted 600-650 attendees who enjoyed 2 keynotes, 60 break-out sessions, and 15 social/networking events over a 3-day weekend from October 2-4.


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