15 Years!

Mythos Challenge

The Mythos Council invites team submissions for the Museum Play Challenge. Entries are due by May 15th and should be submitted to the Challenge.

Any OGPC team who feels that their game also matches the criteria for the Mythos Challenge should strongly consider submitting!

Teams must register before submissions are accepted. You will find both Registration and Submission forms on the page link. File uploads are limited to 50MB. Contact Jeffrey Sens jsens(at)GameEducationPDX.com if your file size is larger to arrange for delivery by Drive, DropBox, or other file service.

Read or sign up for the Mythos Challenge newsletter

OGPC 8.0 Awards

Congratulations to all of the winners of OGPC 8.0!

Middle School Awards

Best in Show
Awarded for overall excellence and total score in all categories
Three Amigos
International School of Beaverton

Judge’s Choice
Awarded by the Judge Council for outstanding gameplay and mastery of the OGPC mission
Cascades Academy Gamers 1
Cascades Academy

Programming
Awarded for technical excellence in code and other control systems
Sneaky Baboons
Stoller MS

Game Design
Awarded for excellence in game design process and creativity
Wildcat Game Designs
Saint Pius X MS

Art and Assets
Awarded for excellence in graphics, audio, and other media content
Lexors
Valley Catholic MS

Theme and Style
Awarded for excellent use of theme and narrative crafting
Marsupial Odyssey
Cedar Park MS

Professionalism
Awarded for excellence in presentation, teamwork, and outreach
Cascades Academy Gamers 2
Cascades Academy

High School Division

Best in Show
Awarded for overall excellence and total score in all categories
Team Henry
Wilson High School

Judges’ Choice
Awarded by the Judge Council for outstanding gameplay and mastery of the OGPC mission
Crimsonites
Tualitin HS

Peoples’ Choice
Awarded by your fellow participants who voted for their top 3 games
Wilson JV
Wilson HS

Programming
Awarded for technical excellence in code and other control systems
Paradigms
Wilson HS

Game Design
Awarded for excellence in game design process and creativity
Space Crusaders
Jesuit HS

Art and Assets
Awarded for excellence in graphics, audio, and other media content
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Franklin HS

Theme and Style
Awarded for excellent use of theme and narrative crafting
Apathetic Companion
Tigard HS

Professionalism
Awarded for excellence in presentation, teamwork, and outreach
Combustible Lemons
Hillsboro HS

Rookie
Recognizing outstanding promise in a new team
Cardinal Coders
Lincoln HS

Project Management Basics: Part 2

Now that Game Jam is over, it’s time to get to work on your games! Some teams will already be on their way, while others have waited. If you are just getting started, you now have a design document ready to go. If you got started already, it might be a good idea to slow down and review your ideas. The design document outlines your general game idea (the elevator pitch), the player, enemies, other characters, good items, and bad items. You should also have notes about what makes good gameplay along with ideas that don’t work as well. The next step is to start planning out how your game will be made. Part of this is deciding on tools, but tools aren’t the most important part! In fact, if you jump right into tools and engines, you might very well end up wasting time later.

If you want to have the best experience, it’s important to plan ahead and be really confident about the game you are going to make. You might already be thinking about a platformer vs. an endless runner, but it’s time to make sure that everyone on your team agrees with this. Decide the style of your graphics (2d or 3d, realistic or cartoonish, detailed or 8-bit) so everyone knows the way the game should feel. Then, start sketching out your characters, backgrounds, and items and think about sound effects and music that you need. You’ll also want to plan a user interface to make your game really look professional. This includes buttons, the score, remaining lives, and any other things that present information to the player.

As you are planning all of these elements, it’s time to start making lists of them with quick sketches, descriptions, and anything else that’s important. You can decide if it’s one or more rooms, and one or more levels, which menus you need (pause menu, main menu, settings menu), and what kind of story needs to be written. Remember that any good game needs a good story behind it.
Once you have lists, then everyone on your team will have something to do. When people finish things on the list, they can check them off and move to the next thing. Once things are ready, they can be moved into the game code. This is how the game will slowly take shape.

Very important note to programmers: don’t wait for pictures and models to be ready! If you do this, everyone will end up frustrated. Start with simple drawings so you have something to work with in your game. If you need a rock, just make a scribble and use that. For your characters, draw stick figures. For any sounds, just make quick sound effects with your mouth! Now you can work on the code with these placeholders, then when items are ready you can pop them in so everyone can see things taking shape. Best yet, if you run out of time, your placeholders will show what you had in mind so you can still show off your game at the Main Event!

Remember that your game doesn’t need to be finished to bring it to the competition, but you want it to be far enough along that you can show the judges and it still makes sense. You can also show the judges your lists and design pages so they can see what you were imagining. If you just have a half-finished game but didn’t do any planning, then it will be harder to talk to the judges and they might not understand your ideas. You can also communicate your ideas with posters, signs, or a commercial! If you have someone with the right skills, you could make a clay or plush character. These are all great ways to show off how talented your group is!

The most important thing with OGPC is to have fun! Planning might not sound like fun, but this is where your best ideas come out, and once you have your ideas out you can focus on just making the best game you can for others to play. Good luck!

Project Management Basics: Part 1

Creating a game is a lot of work. There can be as many people working on a big game as many movies! There are writers, sound engineers, musicians, artists, voice actors, and even a few programmers! Keeping track of all of these people is work for another member of the team: the project manager. This person needs to keep track of what everyone else is working on, who is waiting on things from other people, and how much work is left. Keeping track of all of this is called project management. Imagine a wall full of notes with things like “laser blast sound”, “power up theme”, and “dialog for cut-scene #5.” Maybe each of these notes has notes for when it is due and who is working on it. That wall fills up pretty quickly!

Even for a small project like your OGPC game, a project manager could come in very handy. Every time you think of something else that needs to be done, tell the project manager! That way you don’t have to remember it all, and someone else can make sure that it gets done. Most teams probably won’t have someone volunteer for this job, but what if you could all share the responsibility? Even better, what if you didn’t need a wall of note cards?

Instead of note cards or lists in a notebook, you can use a tool called a Kanban board. In its simplest form, it can be a simple table on a wall with sticky notes. To start with, you only really need three columns in your table: To Do, In Progress, and Done. Then, in each column you place notes with the items from your list of things to do:

At first, everything will be in the To Do column. Then while you are working on something, move it to In Progress. Finally, move it to Done. Now, anyone in your group can take a look to see how many things are left to get done and you’ll know how close you are to finishing! Each item can be assigned to be a team member, and you can even write notes on it. If you change your mind about doing something, you can remove it, or maybe make a new column called Changed Mind. Now, just like a project manager, you can see what the progress is on the game, and you’ll know how close you’re getting!

It may sounds like a lot of work to use something like this, but the good news is that your even a small team can benefit from project management with a Kanban board using some cool free websites! Since it’s online, everyone on the team can always see what’s left to do, and if someone has extra time they might even be able to help get more done.

To get started, register for a site like Trello.com or Taiga.io. Create a project, then start making your cards. Make sure that everyone on your team can login (make your own accounts, don’t just share them), then you can “claim” a card by assigning it to yourself. Drag the card between the columns as you get work done, and you’ll be well on your way to a more organized project and a better game in the end!

A clarification on player violence

We’ve gotten some questions about our policy about in-game violence. We understand that conflict is an important part of games, and that there are very different ideas regarding what “school-appropriate” means. We’ve attempted to clarify our thoughts on the matter below.

Firstly, direct person-on-person physical violence of any kind is disallowed. Environmental or nonspecific danger is fine, but use discretion. It’s also worth noting that changing characters to non-humans (e.g. clones or aliens) just to skirt this rule may not go over well. Robots are a little more complicated, since in many contexts robot combat may be considered perfectly acceptable. It is doubtful that anyone would consider Battlebots or Robot Wars unsuitable for a school environment, for instance.

The keys here are intent and depiction. “Disney deaths” are okay, for instance, as the heroes don’t intend to kill and they aren’t depicted clearly. Sonic and Mario are questionable, since the villain is trying to kill you, although the depiction is very cartoonish. Games continually push the limits of entertainment, but this isn’t something you want to push for OGPC. We would prefer if you avoided intent to physically harm altogether.

For some genres this could be more difficult than others. For example, making a horror game nonviolent is naturally difficult, since you need to have convincing threats to your character. Being hunted by a monster or other force of evil is okay. Dying via a fade-to-black or something similar would also be fine, but you need to be mindful of the implications. Our recommendation is that you replace the traditional bodily health with sanity, panic, or some other failure condition that doesn’t involve physical violence, even from a non-person source. Alternatively, you could remove failure states altogether, simply applying psychological pressure to the player. Regardless of what you do, we encourage you to stray on the side of caution and good taste.

In most cases, testing whether a game is school-appropriate is fairly straightforward.  Would your game qualify for an ESRB E10+ rating?  If you feel comfortable showing your game to your principal, teachers, and grandma, then you’re probably fine. If not, go back to the drawing board.

If you need advice on a specific situation or have any other questions, feel free to reach out to us on our Contact page.

Pre-Registration for Main Event

FREE Pre-Registration for OGPC Main Event. Please pre-register your teams now, so we have a better idea how many teams will be attending in April.

Select 1 ticket for each team you are registering at this time. We understand that not all teams will be able to attend the main event.

Pre-Registration Link

*BONUS! *When you pre-register for OGPC, your teams get a free Treehouse account. Treehouse has over 100 courses and hundreds of hours of video to help your teams develop their projects.

Your treehouse account link will be sent with your ticket confirmation.

Notice: You will still be required to complete a full registration in March, and submit $50 for each team that will be attending the Main Event. Don’t worry, we will send you a reminder when paid registrations begin.

Redefining the Restriction: A Heroic Change

After taking into account feedback we’ve received from several coaches and participants, we’ve decided that we made too big of a change with the new restriction structure. This was never intended to cause such frustration and we hope that we’ve found a better balance now.

Certainly the Heroism theme is the most important part of the game. Since the controls themselves aren’t directly related to the style or story of the game, we are changing them to an achievement. Just like art, design, or technical implementation, the creative use of controls will carry points toward achievements which can lead to awards.

You are free to choose the achievements that resonate best with you in order to build points toward the awards. Students who have already decided to work within the original restriction should feel free to continue down this path in order to get the achievement points, but they can also switch gears and work toward other achievements instead.

A preview list of achievements will be released soon. We are working hard to have the full list of achievements along with points values available at the Game Jam (January 31). Hopefully your brainstorming, concepting, and prototyping will continue with full force until the event! We will be posting ongoing information about how to plan and actually create a game (project management for kids!). We will also be providing as many resources as possible to help teams understand the process of game development and we hope it will make the process smoother.

Please understand that our first priority is to encourage kids to explore their own creativity through making games. This new structure should encourage creative approaches and problem-solving without being so frustrating for others. We are confident that these changes will make the process more fun for everyone!