New Jersey Developers, Designers Show Their Games at Bloomfield College Gaming Arcade
On March 30, game developers, many of them from New Jersey, came to Bloomfield College for the NJ Arcade, sponsored by the Sheep’s Meow Community (West New York).
The event featured video games, multiplayer games, mobile games and even some tabletop games packed into two large rooms crowded with attendees. NJTechWeekly.com spoke to some of the designers and developers at the gathering. Several of them were taking the opportunity to get user feedback on their creations, while others had fully formed games that were already for sale.
Michael M. Murphy, a Bloomfield College student, told us about his whimsical game, played inside his “brain,” It’s actually four games. “None of the games actually relate to each other; every single game is different,” he said. One of the games was called “Monkey Murph” and was set in Bloomfield. “You have to avoid the cops while gathering weed.” In one of the other games he depicts himself going around town trying to find the perfect gift for his girlfriend to celebrate their anniversary. Murphy said that he had developed the games in class at the college.
Moving along, we found Ryan Daly, lead writer for a game called “Clairvoyant.” “You play as a blind thief named ‘Claire,’ who uses an echolocation program to provide hearing to navigate through the levels in order to steal objects. Nyoka Shortt, the programmer/artist for the game, said that when she came up with the game, she was thinking about how a blind character might transverse the world. “Simple stealth games nowadays have a lot of gun shooting and are more action-oriented. I wanted more of a game where the player feels limited. But at the same time, they feel that this limitation doesn’t define their character. They can become stronger, gain more information and become a better person as they transverse through the game. You may be blind, but you can still get past the levels. And as you pass the levels, you know where things are,” she explained. That limitation “wasn’t a weakness for you; it was your strength at the end of the day.”
Stephen Gonzales and John Olesko, representing an all-New Jersey team, showed us a game they had developed with team members Joshua Rovins and Matt Calamari called “Rick O’ Chet.” “You are Rick and you were captured by an evil stage magician who has captured not only you, but also the audience. He is trying to make your character go through a series of puzzles to entertain the audience in his own twisted way.” As the captive, “you have to find your way out of a storage room in the theater, escape the theater and stop the bad actors, releasing the audience.”
Michael Hayes showed us his game, “Maya Breaker,” which he described as a retro game harking back to the mid-1990s. He explained that it’s a single-player game that’s much like “reading a mystery novel to yourself.” Hayes has had some success in the business, with one of his games being adopted by the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii.
Next we found a team made up of game developers and designers half from Pennsylvania and half from New Jersey. “We started this game called ‘Rite to Flight: a Point-and-Cluck Adventure’ in January for the Global Game Jam, and have just been polishing it up,” said Gregory Lane, of Tin Heart Interactive, who has lived in many places in New Jersey. He said that the game resembled a traditional point-and-click adventure from the early 1990s, similar to Monkey Island or anything that Tim Schafer would make. If you like pun-based humor, it might be the game for you, he added. “We worked with a traditional artist that works in polymer clay. The garage door for example, the wall textures, she made this by hand.” The team that created the game also included Henry Menzel, D.J. Menzel, Zane Winey, Shara Donohue and Adam Donohue.
Jamie Murray, from NJIT, designed a game about a girl who wakes up with a feather on her head and starts to doubt the existence of the world around her. The character starts to get visions indicating that the world might not be perfect, that it might be corrupt or flawed in some other way. “This is a visual novel game, so a lot of the interactions with this are making choices that will affect the mood of your character,” she added. “You read and you feel the emotion of the character as they are going through their journey; you role-play that character and learn what they are going through.”
New York developer Michael Calvert mentioned how his team developed a game called “Meowximum Catpacity” at Train Jam on a train ride from Chicago to San Francisco. Team members Mike Enoch, June Rhodes, Jillian Stiles and Jasmijn Groot were on that train as well. Calvert said that the best part about it was developing a theme and then finding like-minded people who wanted to do the same thing, rather than going with a group of friends. The goal of the team’s four-player game was to ‘beat your fellow cat lovers by cramming as many felines as possible into your home!’”
According to Alicia Cook writing for Bloomfield College, “The Sheep’s Meow was founded by Brian S. Chung and GJ Lee, who also teach in the Creative Arts & Technology Division at Bloomfield College. Their mission is to support local creators, foster an inclusive and accessible community, and help people get started making their own games and interactive media.”