Fire Hose Games Explodes Cuteness All Over Global Game Jam 2011

Ice Breaker Trio

Penguin In Trouble!

This past weekend three of your favorite developers took a break from working hard on Slam Bolt Scrappers to, well, work hard on something else.

The third annual Global Game Jam drew thousands of developers around the planet to meet and make impromptu games over just 48 hours. Here is a post from our participation last year:

This year, FHG programmer Sharat Bhat, artist Jason Wiser (me), and marketer Caroline Himmelman participated at the MIT Gambit Game Lab site. The theme was Extinction. Sharat pitched a concept of Ice Skaters vs. Cracks in the Ice, and when he agreed to skin the game cute and fuzzy, I climbed aboard. We were joined by programmer Owen Raccuglia and Berklee College of Music composers Rachel Dziezynski and Akash Thakkar.

Our game is called Ice Breaker. It is two-player. One player controls a flock of skating penguins trying to survive by performing tricks for a judgmental Walrus, and the other player controls an ever-expanding network of cracks in the ice, trying to pitch the penguins into the ocean to feed Killer Whales. The project was coded in XNA, with 2D sprite art generated from 3ds max models textured with Photoshop.

Like any jam project, there were features planned that did not get in, but a surprising amount went smoothly for the Ice Breaker team. We were good about prioritizing critical features first so that the game could be at least minimally playable on Saturday, which was of course important for making further decisions about playability. On the art side, I started Friday evening gathering lots of reference assets so while the programmers were waiting for me to get the full characters finished they would have placeholders for testing.

Ice Breaker Team Pic

It was a pleasure to take a break from the higher-stakes decision-making of professional development and just have fun throwing in as many features, characters, and coolness as we could. The music composed by Rachel is a delight, Akash’s sound FX are hilarious, and Sharat and Owen managed to get an extraordinary number of features working well, including a fully playable battle level between Penguins and Ice Cracks, interaction with the Walrus and Killer Whales, and a passable menu system. On the art side, a style and color set for a cute penguin was decided on the first evening and easily extended to the rest. All 3D characters were created, animated, and revised, along with a couple dozen other environment, FX, and menu assets, in time to get in the game by the 3pm Sunday upload deadline.

You can download the game, ICE BREAKER, from the GGJ2011 site here (once downloaded, please hit the SETUP application to get XNA before hitting the ICE BREAKER application):

Out of the twenty-plus projects proposed at MIT’s Gambit Game Lab, fourteen got made, most of which were playable by Sunday! Caroline’s team made a punk rock battling game, still in progress, with extremely cute Scott-Pilgrim-like opponents. Among our other favorites were:

* Twitapocalypse in which you play Death, late for the End of Times, who then tries to catch up by beheading the most recent tweeters on your twitter feed:

* The Human Chain, in which you play the hand of the almighty sort-of rescuing members of hapless humanity,:

* Sredavni, a reverse Invaders:

Much thanks to the Global Game Jam organizers and the amazing crew at MIT Gambit Game Labs.

And now, back to work!


Ice Breaker Title Screen


  1. “Jason Wiser”?

  2. Owen

    As a programmer I also loved Conway’s Inferno, also from the same jam — I’d hate to see it go unlinked:

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