ACEE 2005 Report

Late I know but I was hopping the ACEE organizers would give some more information I missed (which they didn’t). so anyways here it is.

There I was waking up at 9am Saturday morning and during Ester vacations, anyone could see this had to be something important for me to do this :D.

So I toke my breakfast and toke of, this time alone (dam you cebola) but at least I was driving the family car so the trip was a short and comfortable one. When I arrive there I could see this year’s ACEE (Image) was going to be very different, there were man in suits all over the place with name tags and two ladies (that’s right ladies, this time they showed up) were putting up a big ACEE sign on the wall.

I was a bit early but still, I head straight inside, as soon has I enter I greeted familiar faces from last year and continued my way to the exhibits. This year’s games were not that many so I decided to write about them all:

  • Pac-Man Arena by Nuno Subtil, also made an appearance since last year, I didn’t noticed any changes since then, so I just moved along.
  • Ladrão dos Esgotos (Thief of the sewer) by (Can’t remember the names) it was a Pac-man style game with a odd theme, I still can’t figure out what a thief would want to go down a sewer for, but of course to each is one, the game was really retro with old NES style graphics but considering the authors were still in the 11º grade it wasn’t that bad :).
  • Frog game by Ricardo Santos was a bloody weird game if I can even call it that, I really couldn’t figure it out (and I wasn’t alone in this). The flash game consisted in a frog that would began a quest and you could control if he was walking or standing still, every time I stopped the frogs eye would pop out and drop into the floor, I figured out that you could click stuff but all I could do was pick up a violin and open door to odd characters that told me to only return if I could help… I just considered this one too “innovating” and “artistic” for me and moved on…
  • Mine Sweper style game by (also can’t remember the name), pretty much seemed to be like the mine sweeper that comes with windows, never been a fan so moving along…
  • Reaktor by José Miguel Salles Dias, Tiago Rodrigues e Rui Pires, o yeah baby multiplayer rocks, the game itself was quite basic, there were no animations to the player actions, the bullets appeared in front of the characters, but dam it worked, and it was all made from scratch by the authors making it dam good all things considered.
  • VIGDP01 by Filipe Amim and Jaerden Sousa, this one brought me old memory’s from galaga and space invaders, the game play was pretty much the same but with “better” graphics, probably to good since sometimes it was hard to see what was going on, in any case it was a nice game 🙂
  • Enemy Territory AI mod by some French/Swiss Clan (I think) and dam those BOTs were tough bastards, they supposedly were at a mid level setting but still head shots were common, I only tried them in defense and noticed some flaws mostly how they would allow me to build stuff unharmed as long as I was behind cover or how they wouldn’t even try to destroy the tank, still their sharp shooting more them compensated for that.
  • Tranceball by Paulo Faria, one of my favorite games from last year’s edition, this time the sound bug was gone and I actually managed to complete some levels :), this was a still a beta version but I didn’t found anything wrong with it so I think that it really will be released next month as Paulo Faria claimed, a game worth waiting for.
  • M.I. – New Dawn by Helder Pinto’s Team, all that was available was a video but dam it look good, if the mod lives up to the images it’s gona be one hell of a ride :p.

Also as usual there were lectures (surprise, surprise :p), after the almost boring official opening the first off in the list were Bitbang (Telmo Menezes e Tiago Batista) who spoke of the well know problem of AI (or lack of it) offering a possible solution by using evolutionary intelligence, a dam good discussion, so good that I had to shower the lecturers with questions after the presentation during the “oh so nice” Coffee breaks (we even had cakes an drinks on the house, the luxury of it all :D).

Alaney Dória, was also present as before this time talking on the progress of the IGDA chapter Lisbon, they are planning a new website and more collaboration with the gamedev-pt community, which can only be a Good thing.

After the delicious lunch of BBQ chicken at my house, I returned for Clemens Pecinovsky lecture on professional game developing and current trends, (even if nobody mentioned it a bit of googling seemed to indicate he was working in RockStar Vienna) he gave us a good look at how game studios work these days and some advice to the hopefully future game developers in the audience.

Óscar Mealha also had an interesting lecture about Transdiscipliner education, even if it was not game specific it was of interest since as a person studding to become a game developer often thinks it should focus on OpenGL Programming, Modeling and stuff forgetting other areas that are also important like Team Work strategies, having a good writing, etc…

Finally we add one of the coolest presentations, the Demo scene, we got to see the tools used to make to make those “little” pieces of art, and yes it’s all pure Assembly code all the way, from the music to the textures, everything in the demo is generate from a bit of assembly code, I was blown away…

And that was the end of that, the jury decided and handed out the awards. Honorable mentions were given to Ladrão dos Esgotos, M.I. – New Dawn mod and the Enemy Territory AI mod. 3º place was given to the Reaktor FPS, 2º to the VIGDP1 and finally 1º place was given to Paulo Faria (it would be very hard not to considering the quality of TranceBalls).

Concluding, one thing that should be noted this year was the maturing of ACEE 2005 into a “real” event, the organization increased from 3 to 27 persons most of them wearing full suits during the even (pour guys I feel your pain :(), the presence of international speakers, reporters and even the offer of magazines and complimentary snacks and drinks, it all made me fell confident that ACEE is here to stay, I can only imagine that it will grown in the next few years and hopefully attract more people expectedly Portuguese amateur game developers, I know they’re out there (I know a few) but some are still working on their games wile others fell they got nothing to show (even when they do)… I expect them to make an appearance in next years ACEE, till then.

Note: Images generously made available by Nuno Subtil from his New Dawn ACEE Photo Galery, thanks dude ;).

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2 Days Left

ACEE 2005 is only 2 days way, this year it will be on a Saturday with will be good for some people (like me) who didn’t what to skip school/work but bad for others that didn’t want to get up at 9am in the morning…

Moving on, I’m really curious to see what Game Developers have to show us this here, I still remember wanting to show a game of my one but I was unable to make anything worth showing, oh well, he with the games step forward and show them to me, cause I’ll be watching…

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ACEE report

Now that I had time to recharge the batteries it’s time to tell you what happened.

I arrived at 9:30 in the company of my friend cebola by Bus, luck would have it that my car broke down. After getting a little lost inside the DEI building we finally found our way into the rooms where ACEE was taking place.

It was 30 minutes till the event was supposed to start so to pass the time we offered to help. Of course we never expected to be put in charge of monitoring some of the expositions room during the morning since the two ladies that were soposed to volunteered couldn’t come :(.

While taking care of the expo rooms we made sure we got a chance to check all the games exposed, some that caught my eyes were:

  • Crazy Wings by David Gil the game was a simple plane shooter but it was a lot of fun, I really liked this one.
  • Fog Town by Paulo Faria, I couldn’t believe it! A complete FPS (as far as I could tell) truly impressive stuff, the enemies were super hard to beat but according to cebola the author didn’t seem to have any problems with them, guess I need to practice.
  • Star Force by David Gil, once again a very impressive piece of work, I can’t even imagine how to write something like this.
  • Pacman Arena by Nuno Subtil, who doesn’t like this old classic, but what really caught my eye was the fact it was open source so I could see how it ticked (and I will too), great help for those that are still learning.
  • Tranceball by Paulo Faria, this one stood out for its use of lighting effects, unfortunately I didn’t play it much since it was still an early beta and had some annoying bugs like exiting every time you lost and complaining we didn’t have a sound board.
  • Caverna by Pedro Amaro, I kept trying to get on the high scores but I simply wasn’t good enough one day when we will meet again I shall beat it with a stick. or better yet rank nº1.

One of the things I also noticed was the number of Java Games being displayed, a very interesting tendency considering the emergent mobile gaming and that fact that all the current Portuguese gaming companies make games for mobiles. Who knows maybe, that’s how Portugal will be put on the gaming map, through mobile games :).

Anyway, that was the end of the morning so me and cebola walked over to McDonald’s and got our self’s some delicious junk food (Gentlemen at McDonald’s, I expect to see the check in the mail ;)).

On to the second round we arrived a bit late to the first presentation, something I immediately regretted since we missed most of the Lost Ages presentation, it is a MMORPG by Guilherme Santos, Hugo Mardolcar and Rui Casais, and that is all I really know (to embarrassed to ask, yes I know it’s silly).

But from what I’ve seen the game looked very promising and I seriously expect it to go places, although they might have some problems with their choice of the Torque Engine with is not the most suited to MMOG as it was mentioned by some people in the audience, I really hope they can overcome any problem they encounter.

Then Alaney Dória, talked about the IGDA and the plans for the Lisbon Chapter. He also gave us his views on the current state of Game Programming in Portugal.

The idea to unite the community is a good one and I hope they succeed but I’m not so sure, just having one chapter for the whole country would be optimal.

In the end he gave out some T-Shirts and books to some of the participants, namely to only IGDA card carrying members in the room Diogo Andrade, the developers of Lost Ages, Paulo Faria for their impressive FPS and finally to Nestor for coming all the way from Spain to be with us with out even knowing the language (we all talked to him in English).

After that David Gil gave us a presentation about his work and how he got there, then he showed some 3D techniques used in his games but very superficially. It was a shame that he didn’t get into more detail but we were already running late and probably he didn’t want to freak out possible newbies with to much details.

Finally, the last speaker of the day Dr. Licí­nio Roque took the stage and talked of the replay value of single player games and possible solutions in MMORPG and how to make MMORPG truly massive. I have some thoughts on the subject myself but I’ll reserve them for another time.

Once that was over he gathered and took a group photo of the ones that were still hanging around, said our goodbyes and went home.

The event was nice but it still has a lot to improve. My suggestions for next year is that it be held during the weekend (so that us working guys don’t have to miss a days work) and be a two day event, 1º day game exhibit, 2º day presentations and coding workshops (can you see me drool). Then Advertise, Advertise, Advertise! We want to fill those rooms with people and I know we can :)

Also those girls have to show up, I would’ve really liked a chance to have socialized with the guys a bit more, the guys from Portugal 1111 were there and I didn’t even know…

So until next year I’m off, got games to make (doing my part for the next ACEE ;)).

Note: For a more in depth review of the ACEE you can check Alaney Dória review or the Oficial ACEE report once they become available.

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