Newbies & Vets Game Jam Winners

Jason Martinez

From October 25-27, USC’s talented students participated in MEGA’s (The Makers of Entertaining Games Association) annual 48-hour Newbies & Vets Game Jam. Creators of all experience levels came together to create games that centered around the theme “boundless”. We got to speak with some of the winning teams about their games and future projects:

Best narrative: Buggybackup by Team BuggyBois

Team members: Ayush Ambastha, Allbright Dsouza, Masato Lin, Matthew Opara, Kobe Weinstein

The game was buggy. The dog in the game wouldn’t stop barking. “It was also our backup,” the team laughed. Hence, the game was titled Buggybackup

Newbies & Vets was Team BuggyBois’ first time taking part in a game jam. “Our [game] started on the story first and then the gameplay. Most [teams] focus on gameplay and then story.” One lone Roomba must figure out a way to escape the house in order to become “boundless”.

When the Roomba escapes the house, the team wanted to incorporate a final cut scene so that the Roomba would happily jump around while the dog furiously shot lasers from its eyes. But the 48-hour time limit restricted the team’s ability to add in and fix everything. “We had an oil spill that spilled vertically, and *laughs* no one knew what was going on.” But, if there weren’t a few bugs, it wouldn’t be the charming Buggybackup we know.

Help the Roomba sneak past the dog in order to reunite with its friends:

Best audio: Spaceship Earth by Team Paction Fraction

Best art: W1LL 0VERFL0W by Team Roundtable

Team members: Maxwell Chai, Dennis Contreras, Timothy Dale Lin, Richard Ortega-Amezcua, Aman Savani, Reid Weston, Shon Xiao, Wei Zhang

This meta-style game captivated players with its intriguing, 2D pixel art style. In W1LL 0VERFL0W, players are inside the mind of an android named W1LL who is battling viruses that threaten its UI. When viruses attack, they float to W1LL’s health bar in the upper left corner, rather than attacking the character’s sprite. 

The members of Team Roundtable were all really compatible with one another. Only three of the teammates knew each other before the event, so the team was surprised to find how easy it was to collaborate together. 

Team Roundtable is in the works of expanding the game to include more plot, core mechanics, and vertical scrolling amongst many other features. They plan to debut the modified version at the USC Games Expo 2020 in May.

Help W1LL free himself from virus attacks in this meta side scrolling game:

Best game design: Mallow Mansion by Team Ghost Hunters 

Team members: Skylar Kelley, Juan Lobo, Billy Wang, Evan Wright, Haotian Zhang, Katie Zhao

When asked to describe Mallow Mansion in one word, Team Ghost Hunters replied “pursuit,” and “chaotic.” 4 players act as ghosts and compete against each other to possess 3 marshmallow bodies. 

The team took inspiration from a wide array of games such as Minecraft’s “hot potato” styled minigame, PAC-MAN’s chasing aspect, and Dark Souls’ theme of death and rebirth. When coming up with ideas to match the game jam’s theme, they highlighted the fact that ghosts are boundless as they can travel between different worlds.

This was the majority of the team’s first time competing in a game jam. And there were many firsts for the team: doing pixel art, doing audio design, guiding as a veteran, and working within a group. Now, Team Ghost Hunters is looking to make even more games. Juan, one of the team’s artists and level designers, shared, “People care enough to want to play this. What about the other ideas we said?” 

Compete against your friends to take possession of the elusive marshmallow bodies:

Best overall: Boundless by Team Peppa Pigs

Team members: Sheehan Ahmed, Steven Atha, Taygh Atwal, Jack Bailey, Zong Chiang, Alan Karbachinsky, Aidan Takami, Alex Tomkow

It’s very fitting that the voted best overall game of the night shares a title with the theme. A wounded crusader must traverse through a dungeon hoarded with enemies in order to make it to the altar to pray with his king. Players must switch between two worlds to play as both the burdened crusader in the material world and the phantom king who can slip past walls and enemies in the abyss.

Team Peppa Pigs hopes to debut a new version of the game at USC Games Expo 2020. The new game, currently dubbed “Project Rat,” will keep the core mechanic of switching between worlds, but the team hopes to shift the level design to feature exploration rather than linear dungeon crawling. 

Switch between worlds of the suffering and the free as a crusader and king both strive to reach salvation:

We can’t wait to see what comes out of the next Game Jam! Stay tuned! 

Photo credits: Sy Suo