Hack This Game: Hackasaurus game sprint Aug 8 – 12

Web-making and remixing as game

HTML5 opens up amazing new gaming and storytelling potential. What if we could combine that potential with Hackasaurus to turn web-making, remixing and learning basic HTML and CSS into awesome game-like experiences? Where kids use the X-Ray Goggles as a controller / magic wand / portal gun to unlock hidden dimensions, solve puzzles, and sharpen their web-maker kung fu to level-up and advance through the game?

HTML5 games: A buncha cool cats converging

That’s the discussion a bunch of interesting folks in and around Mozilla had in last week’s Hackasaurus community call. A number of us have been dreaming up  HTML5 game ideas, all messing with the idea of the open web as a giant Alternate Realty Game.

  • David Humphrey is interested in building HTML5 games that break out of the usual gamespace box, using the open web itself as the game world — plus enabling greater collaboration amongst standalone HTML5 game projects.
  • Atul Varma wants to turn the Hackasaurus X-Ray Goggles into a “controller” for web games, creating an API that makes this easier for developers, and experimenting with web literacy puzzles like “The Parable of the Hackasaurus.”
  • Jono Xia has been teaching a School of Webcraft course on HTML 5 game development, and wants to reduce the barrier to entry for novice game developers.
  • Jess Klein has worked at Sesame Street creating games for smartphones and is interested in ARGs for Hackasaurus jams and storytelling.
  • Brett Gaylor has been exploring the gaming potential of Popcorn.js, thinking about a comic-book / WebGL hybrid, and possibly adapting a property like Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother into an interactive gaming experience.
  • Anna Debenham is interested in learning more about how kids can build their own games, instead of just consuming them.
  • Geoff MacDougall has spent 10 years in the game industry (mostly around MMOs) and is interested in helping to make introductions and find additional funding or resources to support these efforts.
  • Ben Moskowitz is interested in adapting classic arcade games like Pac Man or Asteroids for Hackasaurus, and drawing on our Knight-Mozilla innovation challenge model for Hackasaurus design challenges.
  • Plus many, many others… many of whom we haven’t even met yet. (Like you?)

Next steps: how do we work together?

Games are a core part of what Hackasaurus is building. So how do we capitalize on all this momentum and interest? We need a framework for effective collaboration, while also giving everyone the freedom and flexibility they need to purse their own projects. Here’s the plan we landed on in our community call:

  1. Document our thinking. Too much of this stuff exists in our heads — we need to get it down on paper and in blog posts.
  2. Run a hack sprint. Come together to build a minimum viable game prototype, using the X-Ray Goggles as the play device. A bunch of us are going to be in Toronto Aug 8 – 12, so let’s try then.
  3. Launch a more robust “Hack This Game” innovation challenge for Hackasaurus later in Q3 / Q4. Probably with the launch of Hackasaurus Beta in September. This will establish some open innovation infrastrucutre and web presence, making it easier for designers and developers to share ideas and code.
  4. Turn up the volume at the Mozilla Festival In London this November. We can showcase our early progress, and use that as a jumping off point for more hack sprints and testing with kids and game designers. Dovetail with what Jono’s already planning there.
  5. Constantly involve kids. That’s the secret sauce for Hackasaurus generally. Whatever we do — as Jess Klein keeps reminding us — we need to constantly involve kids as co-designers and testers to increase the awesome.

“Hack this Game:” Design challenge and hack sprint | Aug 8 – 12

With that in mind, a bunch of us will gather August 8 – 12 for a game design and hack sprint. We’ll use the new Mozilla Toronto office as home base, and do our best to enable effective remote participation as well.

How do we make the game sprint as successful as possible?

  • Start sharing ideas for a minimum viable game prototype. Let’s start sharing ideas and documentation for the prototype we want to build in the sprint. The one major requirement: use the X-Ray Goggles as part of the game mechanics.
  • Keep it simple and focused. The key will be coming up with something we can prototype effectively in 3 – 5 days. A lot of people have ambitious ideas — but the art will be quickly building a single atomic unit of fun.
  • Involve youth effectively. We’ll need to involve kids at the right points in the process, so that it isn’t boring or ineffective.
  • Encourage side-by-side collaboration. The key to past successful sprints we’ve done is having developers work side-by-side with filmmakers, educators, etc. We’ll need to do the same with game designers and players.
  • Share cool assets & tools for developers to play with. Like:

Want to get involved?

  • Physical space is limited, so if you’d like to participate in the Toronto sprint, please get in touch with me through matt [at] mozillafoundation [dot] org.
  • If you’re interested in participating remotely, please get in touch through the Hackasaurus mailing list.
  • I’ve started an etherpad for folks to self-organize and help work out logistics here.
  • Please share your prototype ideas and goals for the sprint as comments here, or on the Game Sprint etherpad, linking to your own blog posts, napkin sketches, etc.
  • We can work out further details in Tuesday’s Hackasaurus community call. See you there!


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