MGSA CT MAR 2015 Meet


This past week I have the pleasure of attending another MGSA meetup. After announcing the meetup, the community received the sad news that we’d need to find a new home, with our old venue of City Varsity no longer available to us. Luckily a great Plan B was easy to devise as we relocated to Miao, already the Wednesday night home of Cape Town maker-gang, The Modern Alchemists.

With the amount of time I seem to to be spending in Miao, I should consider remaining this blog “No magic, Just Miao”. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a more excellent space to be frequenting, and the unique venue was a great new home for The Make Games meetup. Quite a change from the serious environment we were used to at City Varsity, the playful venue found itself over-run by game devs. We were possibly a little too spread out for my liking (for future nights setting up more consolidated seating could be good), but past that I thought our new home was an awesome one.

Nic gets things going with Community News. Our touring friends are welcomed back from GDC. Nic provides some much needed clarity on the troubling policy document that the Film and Publication Board published. Then there’s a bit of MGSA housekeeping to do before Nic hands over to the night’s first speaker.

Next month Formula D‘s Marco Rosa will next month be flying to New York to speak at the Annual Games for Change Festival. With the awesome work he and Formula D have been doing, we really couldn’t ask for a better person to be representing South Africa in this setting.

Still formulating his speech for the festival, Marco takes the opportunity to chat to the rest of the community about games for change in South Africa, if people have any suggestions for points he should bring up or messages they’d like to see carried across. I find this subject one of the most fascinating aspects of the potential games hold. I’m personally coming into game design with some quite ambitious long-term plans for making The World a better place through games. After he gets back from the festival, I’d love to see Marco give a report back on the event, what he landed up speaking about, and what he learned from others.

Next up Retro Epic’s Megan takes the stage. Observant readers would note this is the third meetup in a row where the studio has had something to share. It really seems they’re one of the most constantly busy and driven collectives within the community.

This month Megan is showing off the completed trailer for their upcoming iOS puzzler, A Day In The Woods. As I mentioned in last month’s post, this game looks beautiful and I’m dead keen to try it out. With the title launching this Thursday, I’ll be able to do that very soon!

As the last feature of the evening, Peter of Made With Monster Love steps up. I wrote previously about our involvement in the duo launching a Kickstarter campaign for Cadence. Sadly, despite mountains of hard work by Peter and Rodain, amazing support from the local community and great buy in from some publications, the campaign was not a success.

Peter gives a pretty long talk about the whole thing. How they prepared for it and how things played out. It’s pretty heartbreaking that a game as beautiful and special as Cadence couldn’t gather the attention it needed to reach the goals set on The Kickstarter. That said, it’s amazing to see how Peter’s turning that around into a positive, providing the community with a priceless insight into running a Kickstarter campaign. (If anyone’s interested, bits of the talk have been rehashed and discussed on the Cadence thread on the forum.)

Peter ends the talk with a tweet that launches the next step. Pulling out his phone while he speaks, he unveils that Made With Monster Love will be launching a new campaign, The World’s first Noodle Starter.

As you might guess from the above image, I was in on the plan, contributing some art for the campaign. Designed as a way to still harness the support shown during the Kickstarter campaign, The Noodle Starter allows fans to pre-order the game right now, gain access to the beta and help Peter and Rodain not starve to death as they finish Cadence. I see it as rolling with the punches in the coolest way possible and I’m so very proud of the guys for bouncing straight back into the fight.

Click here to show them your support!

After Peter steps down, the social bit of the night starts. I get to play a bit more of the Alien Infestation campaign of Broforce. It’s great. There are lols.

IMG_5812Then someone asks about my cats and I remember that Earthling had been away from home all day. I check my phone and discover he didn’t come home for dinner, so I’m now all panicked. I try racing home, but have a few pressing conversations to conduct. One is about a mega exciting future Cool Your Jets projects. The other is all Super Friendship Arcade. Both great chats, but I’m constantly worried about the missing feline. I race home to discover a familiar pair of faces on my couch. And with that, all is well in Kittenville.



Super-interdisciplinary-friends at Miao!


Things have been quite calm on the Super Friendship Arcade front of late. In part, this has been the result of the party’s founders (Peter and Richard) traveling the world to promote their respective games (Broforce and Cadence) at a bunch of events across The States (GDC, PAX East, SXSW Interactive). The guys returned to Cape Town last weekend and we made some very last minute plans to magic up an SFA Jam, this time focusing on getting as many different sorts of people there as possible. The concept of the first Super Interdisciplinary Jam was born.

I set to work on chopping up photos of cherry blossoms, a tiger, office morale stock photography and kittens in leather jackets. Richard got in touch with  our favourite venue, the awesomeness palace known as Miao, to see if they could host us. And so, in the space of a few hours, the jam suddenly had a poster and a home.


Fast forward to Saturday morning, and I’m very happily walking through Miao’s front door. The venue’s been an awesome home-base for the weekly Modern Alchemist meet ups, and was a wonderful home to the previous SFA jam. Anja, Dan and I arrive to find Richard had already befriended the handful of people who arrived early. I start to set up my workstation. Our friend Mhlaks arrives, commissioned to document the day, and from  here, things become a bit of a blur.


Looking back on the day, bouncing between making things and meeting people, I’m mostly just left with lots of warm fuzzy feelings and very few concrete memories. The turn out grows by the hour, with people tapping in and out.


Past Richard, Peter and I, we’ve only got a handful of old Super Friends in attendance. This leaves the vast majority of people in the category of new faces  – and what excellent faces they were! I’m also really stoked to have my long-term, but-never-see-you-enough friends (hi Leigh, Egbert, Dean, Daniel!) from outside the MGSA gang there.  I don’t even get to meet everyone, but we’ve managed to entice a small army of people into getting together and making things.


Between welcoming all these new Super Friends, Richard and I try get some work done on Bear Party. This is a 4 player platformer about a ball full of bears smashing it’s way through people’s lives. We’ve designed the game for use on Quadrabutt, and while we don’t manage to get the game running on the cabinet on the day, the progress refuels my excitement for what it will be.

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Meanwhile, Dan is modeling 3D whales. The other Ben (not me) is working on a platformer of his own. Jason’s making musics.


Egbert’s melting brains with his light drawing magics.


Mhlaks is bouncing between drawing and photographing the fun.


Nanna is working on her not-yet-announced new comic.

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Dean and Daniel are finishing off a song for their not-yet-announced new band.


Jeanne is making lines for her awesome Lunimaries 2015 playing-card-based project.

Ryan, our youngest super friend, spends the jam building a voxel-based world.


Frank’s actively blowing my mind, playing around with feeding elements back and forth between Unity 3D and an excellent piece of VJ Software called Resolume.

I didn’t get to meet  Caitlin, or find out what she was working on, but we spent part of the jam listening to a record of instrumental songs she made with her friends and it was rad.


Shaun was studying quadrabutt and drawing up plans for a MK 2.


Leigh’s was creating illustrations for a children’s book.


All too soon we need to wrap things up. Richard ropes some jammers into playing a bit of Spaghetti Stand-off and on that fun note we start to pack things in.

We high-five our ways out of Miao, with a bunch of fun work finished and new friends made.

The gang is currently making plans for the next Super Friendship Arcade, so watch this space for details!

*pics by Mhlanguli Gcobo and Nanna

SFA: Super Interdisciplinary Jam!


Good news everyone! Tomorrow some Super Friends are congregating at Miao for a day of making things of all different kinds!

While you can be sure there will be some of the usual working on games and custom hardware, we’re encouraging anyone to come through and work on anything. Our dream is to see the SFA community grow into a mega-diverse beast. We want to pull together a really wide variety of people, focusing a broad spectrum of creative talents into making all sorts of things to make people happy. In that spirit, we’re proud to announce the first “Super Interdisciplinary Jam”!


We’re encouraging people to come by and work on anything. It doesn’t need to be game related, or even be something that could tie into our nights at all. Mostly, we just want to see people coming together to share in the joy of making things!

If you have any interest in making just about anything, we’d really love to see you there tomorrow! To help us reach people beyond our own groups of friends, please invite others and spread the love. We’d really love to see a lot of new faces at this event and rope in as many new Super Friends as possible! SFA-Jam-poster

MGSA CT Feb 2015 meetup


The last Wednesday of February sees Jaysong and I heading through to City Varsity for the monthly Make Games SA Cape Town meetup. Once there, we’re reunited with some friends. There is pizza. Robbie becomes the king of pizzadom, combining 4 kinds of pizza into a monstrous Frankenstein slice.

At first things look quite subdued, but by the time we’re ushered into the hall, the place is full of friendly faces. There are nametags, but not quite enough. Being the last 3 people to enter the hall, Jayson, Rodain and I each find ourselves each as a man with no name.
Nic is back and leading proceedings. Various comments about impending babydom make me wonder if we’ll see him next month, but for now he’s here, giving us the rundown of community news. Over the month Kickstarter campaigns have launched for two local games (Albert and Otto and, the previously blogged about Cadence). Other exciting news is that a small army of local devs will soon be on their way to San Francisco for GDC!
Raxter gets up to say a bit of a farewell to the community, as he and Beth will soon be leaving Cape Town for Berlin. Personally (while being very stoked stoked for the two of them) I find it very sad to see them go. Raxter’s one of the most enthusiastic, friendly members of the community and a great dev to boot. It was thanks to Raxter and these great qualities that I got to see my first original game concept, Kick In The Door, realised. Not knowing each other at all, Rax and I teamed up on the game and the local multiplayer stomp and smash turned out to be one of the proudest moments in my brief career in game design. The two of us are planning to keep producing sequels to the game and I know he’ll only be a mouse click away, but it’s still pretty heartbreaking to see Raxter saying his goodbyes.
Next up, Super Massive Crate Dash gets fired up with a bunch of players jumping in to show off the progress on the game. Originating as a January GGJ entry, the game has grown considerably over the past month. There are now multiple levels, each with their own set of rules. In one level you can reverse gravity, in another, jumping spawns little wings that give you some lift. It’s a great twist to a great core concept and the new artwork for these additions is fantastic. People seem stoked and make a bunch of awesome suggestions (ghosts!).

Bernard gets up to show off his latest creation. He’s built a tool that allows for the telling of tiny pixelated stories. Personally I’m mega excited about what he’s started and where he’s coming from in putting it together. With the current working title of “Anything” the game incorporates a tool for creating and animating sprites for characters and background tiles. Then there’s the scripting of actions, what your creations do and say in your world and how they interact with each other. With this framework, users can create little stories that play out in any way they could imagine. The best part is that whatever people make becomes a part of the whole game. If I make a little yoda sprite, anyone after me will be able to use him. The same applies for animations, background tiles, actions and dialog.
Bernard’s clearly incredibly passionate about the possibilities of what he’s set in motion. Once the game is out there for the rest of the community to play around with (edit: the alpha is here!) this thing could really snowball. It could become a beautiful, unique amalgamation of ideas from a bunch of people. The idea is super ambitious and, admittedly, still very much a work in progress, but I’m massively excited to see someone creating something that’s not only about playing with narrative, but centers around harnessing the magic that comes from drawing people together creatively. As such, “Anything” is very much my kinda thing.

Retro Epic‘s Megan takes to the stage to show off the trailer for their upcoming mobile title, A Day In The Woods. I’m very impressed by how pretty the game is, comprised of “carved” characters and objects that look more like something you’d find in a board game than on your tablet. I’m pretty intrigued by the gameplay as well, which involves shuffling pieces around a board with the goal of getting Red to her grannies cabin. The rest of the community seems really stoked as well, providing a bunch of feedback on the video’s progress.
Next up Rodain and I head up to show off the trailer for Cadence’s recently launched kickstarter. It’s a nice feeling to see it projected onto the big screen, and I’m pretty proud of our little team for pulling this thing together. People proceed to be super nice about the trailer. After a grueling final two weeks on the project, it’s incredibly heart warming and encouraging to get such kind praise from other members of the community.
In the night’s last item of business, Danny and Marc give us a preview of the talk they’ll be delivering shortly at GDC. The speech is still being figured out, but all the pieces of an awesome talk on open development are here. Both Danny and Marc are such engaging speakers, I’d honestly be happy to listen to them talking about anything, but it’s really great getting a bit more insight into the years they’ve spent developing Desktop Dungeons. They take it in turns, bouncing off each other, tick-tocking between reading their progress or just talking to the community. I’m left feeling like this is just one more reason to regret not being able to go to GDC.
With that everyone starts filing out. I don’t even make it out the door before I’ve high-fived Bernard and start chatting about what he just showed the room. He gives me a bit more of an insight into how Anything works and we chat about the possibilities of his creation. I discover it actually started out as a god game and grew into this narrative tool.

Outside, people are playing games that have been shown. I try get my hands on something to play, but find myself instead in Perseverence Tavern, my hands wrapped around a beer. I guess that’ll do.

The next stretch of the night is just great; bouncing around ideas, catching up with friends, making some new ones and generally having a good time. Raxter and I start talking about the genesis of a games; the difference that arise when something is started with exsisting creative goals versus purely mechanical ones. It’s a pretty intriguing subject, and something I’d love to explore over a blog post or two in the future.

Ultimately, I’m still feeling pretty exhausted after the Cadence Kickstarter marathon. We say our goodbyes and our party hits the road, looking forward to being reunited with our brethren again, this time, next month.