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IGJ1 was the second installment of the Indie Game Jam, a yearly game design and programming event designed to encourage experimentation and innovation in the game industry.

IGJ1 took place February 28th through March 3rd, 2003, in Oakland, California, and it was an amazing success! 17 game developers created 18 experimental and innovative games in 4 days!

The IGJ1 Invitation

From: Chris Hecker
To: A Small Group of Game Developers
Date: Thu, 09 Jan 2003 18:50:00 -0800
Subject: Indie Game Jam 1, the details

Okay, so everybody who responded wanted to know what the IGJ1 idea was so they could ruminate on it beforehand, so here goes.

This year we're going to be doing games using Zack Simpson et al.'s "Shadow Garden" system. It's a wacky and cool interaction and presentation platform, it's significantly different from last year, it's ready to go, and Zack has agreed to GPL it, all of which are vitally important characteristics. Zack is being super gracious to let us use Shadow Garden, and we really appreciate it! Thanks so much, Zack!

Shadow Garden, in its fully setup form, is comprised of a projector (like an LCD projector for PowerPoint presentations), a screen/surface to project onto, a camera, and the software. The camera is off to the side or above, and aimed at the screen. The player stands between the projector and the screen, casting a shadow onto the screen. The camera sees the player's shadow on the screen, and the software reacts to the person's shadow in interesting ways by drawing stuff either into a bitmap or with OpenGL.

The SG system has plugins for individual games/experiences. So, for example, there are plugins that have sand drop from the top of the screen and pile up on the player's shadow. Little creatures can hide under the shadow, and if you move fast enough you reveal them. Butterflies land on the shadow if you hold still. You get the idea. You can see examples and videos of some of the plugins at



Some examples of Shadow Garden plugins

Who was involved in IGJ1?

The Shadow Garden system and core IGJ1 engine were designed and written by Zack Simpson. The event was hosted by Chris Hecker and Sean Barrett at the definition six code barn.

This year's jammers:

Sponsorship and Support

Intel generously loaned us a bunch of hardware.

We would like to personally thank Kim Pallister from Intel's Developer Relations group for making this sponsorship happen, and we'd especially like to thank and praise Intel for supporting experimental game development! If only game publishers were so forward-looking!

SourceForge Logo We'd also like to thank for hosting the project and webpages. SourceForge is an amazing resource for developers, and they enable us to share the Indie Game Jam code with everyone.

Besides Intel, companies who graciously loaned some of their employees and equipment include:

The IGJ1 Games

IGJ1 games explored an amazing variety of experimental gameplay ideas. The use of the Shadow Garden system really helped generate some unique mechanics. The addition of two dedicated artists and a sound designer raised the ante on the production values of the games as well.

The games are previewed below, and are [i.e. will be] available as binaries and in source.

Paris Plague Dodging
Ken Demarest, Ryan Ellis, Michael Sweet

This is a cooperative game, where the spectators help out the main player. The main player stands in front of the screen and covers the pulsing heart in the middle. Meanwhile, various microbes crawl around the screen. The red bugs are poisonous and sap your health if they crawl under your shadow, so you need to move out from under them. But you can't actually see them on the screen when they're in shadow. This is where the spectators come in -- since the bugs are projected onto the back of your body, bystanders can see them and call them out.

Like swimming in a microscope slide.


Double Dutch Swingers
Zack Simpson, Ryan Ellis

Two players hold laser pointers and project bright spots onto the screen. The ends of a springy simulated jumprope are attached to the bright spots, so by working in synchrony, the players can cause the rope to vibrate rhythmically around the screen. The object of the game is to swing the center of the rope through a sequence of spots on the screen, forming a regular pattern. An organic experience.


Sean Barrett

The world's oldest videogame, but different. This time you propel the ball using a force-field that emanates from your shadow. The ball is massy, and your force is stronger in areas of high curvature, so winning technique involves crazy gestures and spiky hand shapes. Work your aura!


Ranjit Bhatnagar, Michael Sweet

Pulsing squares bounce around the screen -- the green ones are "good", and you need to cover them, while the red ones are "bad", and need to be avoided. An athletic dancing game with a throbbing soundtrack and mesmerizing procedural graphics.


Abstract Beat Matching
Ranjit Bhatnagar, Michael Sweet

The gamelab team pleases again with fresh beats and clean procedural visuals. A musical Simon-says game -- tokens light in a pattern sychronized to music. Your shadow must match the pattern on the beat.


Whack-A-Mole Sunshine
Thatcher Ulrich, Mike Linkovich, Ryan Ellis, Michael Sweet

In a garden, the moles prefer to eat your flowers, so you whack them. When the rain falls, cover mushrooms to avoid nuclear devastation! Plus bonus round, hooray :)

A shadow biathlon of sorts -- gameplay alternates between Matrix-speed kung fu and frozen tai-chi poses.


Supermodel Shootout
Sean Barrett, Mike Linkovich, Michael Sweet

Two supermodels enter, one supermodel leaves. A pair of photo frames capture the shadow images every few seconds. First one supermodel poses in his frame, then the image is zapped to the other supermodel's frame, where she must match the pose. Then the challenge goes the other direction. After a few rounds, both models are posing and matching at the same time, head to head.

This game typically turns into a frenetic jumping contest.


Squisy Marshmallow Maze
Atman Binstock

A race to push your squishy block through a maze. The other player is doing the same thing in the other direction. Where they cross, there's usually a brawl. Very serious physics, both virtual and real!


Sticky Blocks
Atman Binstock

Separate a tangled mess of sticky blocks into single-color groups. More physics!


Sweet Bling
Charles Bloom, Ryan Ellis, Michael Sweet

A two player game, where the goal is to look at the back of the other player's body, to detect the color of a dot projected there, and then press the correct button. The basic strategy features a lot of leaning backwards, but there are a surprising number of alternative strategies based on the game mechanics -- for example you can try to physically shove your opponent in order to get a glimpse of the dot projected on the screen, or reach all the way underneath the center-barrier to push the wrong button on the opponent's side, or hold your opponents arms so she can't press her button, or change into a very dark shirt so the color on your back is hard to discern. Has a lot in common with greco-roman wrestling.


Let's Get German
Charles Bloom, Mike Linkovich, Michael Sweet, voiceover by Casey Muratori

Full-body beatmatching a la DDR, but instead of stepping on pads, you form your entire body into geometric shapes. My quads were aching for days after playing this.


Rock Paper Scissors
Dean Macri

Two players face off across a battlefield. Each player uses one hand to aim a cannon, and the other hand to form the image of a rock, a sheet of paper, or a pair of scissors. The cannon then fires an object based on the image, and where the objects meet in the middle of the screen, the usual victory conditions apply. The first player who manages to plow some ammo into the enemy is the winner.

We're pretty sure Dean implemented a secret "dynamite" hand-signal, but he won't show us how to trigger it.


Turbo Scrabble
Brian Sharp, Chris Carrollo

Another two-player head-to-head game. Letters scroll across the top of the screen, and you grab ones you like to form words. Points are awarded based on Scrabble-like rules. Requires quick thinking and coordination. One strategy is to steal a likely letter before it flies above the other player, even if it ruins your word, to prevent her from finishing a high-scoring word.


Owl Simulator
Casey Muratori, Michael Sweet

A tour de force of owl cool. This is a 3D flight-sim, where your arms serve as wings. You have continuous control of left, right, climb and dive by raising and lowering your arms. The goal is to perform stunts to impress the female owl. Includes field mice, a slalom, fish-pond, cloud hoops, etc.


Stealth Game
Chris Carrollo, Brian Sharp

A Kilroy-like figure with googly eyes sits at the top of the screen and roves his gaze from side to side. Two players face off; the goal is to snatch points off the board when Kilroy isn't looking.


Hungry Hungry Hackers
Ken Demarest, Ryan Ellis, Mike Linkovich, Michael Sweet

Bounce tasty morsels into the gaping mouths of each IGJ1 jammer. Avoid the ravenous checker!


Juggling Boom
Doug Church, Robin Hunicke

A WWII juggling shooter. Toss juggling balls into the air to down enemy aircraft. Don't hit your allies though!


Chris Hecker

A physical game where you balance a stick on your shadow. Includes the fanciest title screen of the jam -- to start the game, you topple a physically-simulated model of the word "start". (Yes, from the same person who decided to number the jams starting from "0th".)



Pictures from IGJ1:

Trip Reports

Trip reports, memoirs, reminiscences:

Press Coverage

If you're a journalist and you'd like to cover the Indie Game Jam, please contact Chris Hecker at checker'at'

Stuff To Do

There's still some stuff to be done before putting the IGJ1 project to bed:

Chris Hecker <checker'at'>, Thatcher Ulrich <igj'at'>