Indiecade East and The Story of Oath

John is an internationally exhibiting new media artist and the academic director at Babycastles Gallery. Yuxin is a journalist and multimedia technician. She is currently working as the resident video producer for Babycastles Gallery. We have been friends for a while and have offered each other advice on projects but Oath is our first true collaboration. The story of Oath starts when Yuxin decided to sign us both up for the Indiecade East alt-ware game jam. Yuxin’s interests are in narrative driven interactive storytelling so we had some conversations about how we could work some of her ideas into this game jam.

Once we started the jam, and we really understood what the hardware limitations were, we started planning over again from scratch. John began prototyping hardware ideas and Yuxin started playtesting them and thinking about rules. John wrote an initial version that could cycle through 3 colors randomly and increase the probability. Next John tackled tile to tile communication with Blinks and getting that to work. Yuxin spent this time testing and coming up with tweaks for numbers. Whenever we got something new technically working we would break and talk about how this feature should influence gameplay. Even though John did the programming, the design was completely collaborative. Yuxin worked tirelessly testing for bugs and tweaking the variables in order to hone in on that elusive game feel.

By the end of the Jam we got something running mostly as it should and to our amazement we won the “Out of the Box” award. This motivated us to continue working on Oath for months following the event. There were still some inconsistencies and rough edges in both the code and they way people played. The code was scrapped and rewritten twice, we did play sessions at parties, NYU Game Center, Babycastles and Move 38 headquarters until we got something we felt was just the way we wanted.

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