Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 7 – Utah Indie Game Jam

Tuesday, October 6, 2015.

We pitch our project in front of the whole class again.  Shahbaz, our talented technical artist, volunteers to present the whole thing, to which Eric and I add only a few lines at the end.  We name Shahbaz our Producer for a Day.

I share my success at the Climate Game Jam (People’s Choice award, aka First Place) with my professors and a few classmates.  Over the weekend, I also got in my two minute pitch video to the White House for national consideration and for a chance to be on display at the Smithsonian.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

We get some devastating news by email…  At least 729 people submitted applications for the HoloLens RFP, and only five were selected to receive two units and $100,000.  Somehow, contrary to all analyst predictions, after careful consideration, our white boxed concept was not one of the top 0.7%…  So Microsoft is giving us a chance to buy up to two units at $3,000 each.  I put in a pre-reservation application, but official orders don’t start until January, and will not ship until sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

I spend some time considering the tradeoffs between jumping right into my own game studio vs. getting a game design or production internship at EA, Disney Avalanche or React! Games.

Thursday, October 8, 2015.

As my Co-Producer since last month, Eric has been in charge of our Trello task organization since early September.  I am now taking over again, and did some spring cleaning, arranging the format in line with Jeff Sutherland’s format as found in SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice as Much in Half the Time.  Jeff is the co-creator of SCRUM, and his book is one of the best I have read on process.

Friday to Sunday, October 9 to 11, 2015.

WyS+BVSo guess what? I won six more awards (links to video of the award ceremony) Sunday night at the Utah Indie Game Jam!  Possibly more if Indie Speed Run selects us for anything!

Bag of Secrets” – Team Katamari 1

Best Music

Best Educational Game

The Wishing Well” – Team Katamari 2

Grand Prize

Best Gameplay

Most Innovative Design

Left Field Award (Most Artistic/Indie)

I was really only marginally involved in “Bag of Secrets”, helping with the brainstorming, making sure they had a strong idea, and providing minor support along the way, but I was officially the Producer on both projects.  I put the composer on both teams as well, who really deserves all of the credit for “Best Music.”  After assembling a seven person team called Team Katamari (because we gathered up every non-teamed person we could find), we discovered that we could only have four people on a team to compete for prizes in the Indie Speed Run.  This led to us dividing the team into Teams Katamari 1 and 2, with me on both teams and, after an Engineer decided to do his own project from home, the composer, Kenneth, also on both teams.

The runner up in most of these categories was the very smart CEO of Ninja Bee, the private label side of a local contract game studio that spoke at UDEN three months ago.  (They also won one of the awards outright!)  He selected every artist in the competition to support his project, and did a really impressive game that I hope makes him a million bucks!  🙂  The game is called Lumonstrous.  I rated it five stars during the People’s Choice voting.  It was definitely the most polished of the twelve games submitted.

In addition to the prize designations, “The Wishing Well” won $160 in Amazon gift certificates, of which we gave $100 to the composer and kept $20 each for the other three of us. I didn’t keep any of the money from “Bag of Secrets”, which was an additional $40, so a total of $200 out of $300 in prize money went to Teams Katamari 1 and 2!

Also winning prizes tonight were The Stranger and Sphinkta Method, easily the funniest game of the competition.  Mystiko won an honorable mention for best technical achievement as an online multiplayer game.

We also each got a Ninja Bee t-shirt, and Josh “The Wishing Well” Engineer #1, Kenneth the Composer, and myself were interviewed for a Twitch.tv stream that should be broadcast in the next week.  Our other Engineer, Jon, could not make it tonight.

slcmf-logoIn other news, I spent an hour on Saturday at the Salt Lake City Mini Maker Faire, modeled after the famous Maker Faire in the Bay Area, checking out underwater robots, virtual reality, and 3D printers and scanners!