Over the weekend BongoHive hosted the first ever Game Dev Weekend which was put together to introduce the process of game development to our guests from concept to publishing and also introduce absolute beginners to programming through the creation of small text based games. It was also a means of bringing together Lusaka’s current game developers with the hope of establishing a small community that will strive to support each other. As expected(and encouraged), there was lots of geeking out over the recently concluded E3 Expo and the release of the next generation of consoles. It was the perfect setting for the intersection of coders and gamers.
The hive was buzzing with activity on Saturday morning as we soon found ourselves filled to capacity with curious guests. Soon after registration, some refreshments, and mingling, the guests were separated into two groups. Those who had previous programming experience were exploring jMonkey, a 3D cross platform engine powered by Java. On exploring jMonkey, our participants previewed the features that would enable the creation of a platformer. Those without programming experience were given the chance to learn programming through the creation of text based games using Python, a versatile easy-to-learn object oriented programming language for beginners. The session ended at 2PM as we broke off for lunch.
At 3PM we began the Game Development Panel, one of the key sessions of the event. The panel was organized by Dennis Banda, an indie game enthusiast and blogger. Throughout the session he discussed the important aspects of indie games and what makes for an unforgettable experience to the players. Speakers on the panel included Ifunga Ndana who talked about the creation process of his own game, The SCND Genesis: Legends, Daniel Bhadurkhan who covered the use of engines to support your game, and Nchima Kapoma who talked about the methods of publishing.
The second day started off with a continuation of the beginners’ programming class. The class looked at more text-games with python and even worked on the code for a clone of Zork, an early interactive fiction game and one of the most famous text based adventure games. By the end of the day they had also explored the code for the famous word guessing game, Hangman. While this was taking place, others were gathered in the main room to review some videos from the E3 annual conference, which took place last week in L.A. There was lots of informative content discussed. This continued for most of the day. At 4PM everyone gathered in the main room to watch some demos of the Construct Game Development kit which had been distributed earlier. We closed the event with some group photos and networking.
Those who were able to attend the event greatly enjoyed it and each went home with something new to play with. As everybody explores the game development kits we distributed we hope they will come up with great ideas for Part 2 of the event, where we will actually put together some mini games in a 2 day hackathon.
“It all comes down to innovation. Unlike most big name games, indie games dare to be different. I feel more of a personal connection with the creators. Their passion almost seeps through the game…you can feel it!” – Dennis Banda on Indie Game Development