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Last Baby Standing

Last Baby Standing is a game/sim/toy for Facebook, made during last weekend’s Global Game Jam. The game generates statistics for your Facebook friends, then lets you “mate” any two together, producing statistics and a unique biography for each “child.” The game tied for first place in the “Wild Card” category in NYU Game Center’s chapter of the jam. I was part of the extremely talented crew that made this game—here’s the GGJ page for the game, which includes full credits. And here’s the Game Center’s write-up of the event, which includes a full list of winners and links to the all of the games.

Oh, and here’s the github repository.

The theme of this year’s jam was “extinction,” which we found a bit difficult to work with. For the first few hours on Friday night, we worked on an abstract puzzle/gambling game based on the definition of “extinction” in psychology. (The initial prototype of that game is still in the repository as mimetree.py.) We couldn’t figure out how to make that fun, so we searched for alternative ideas; Last Baby Standing is the result. I’m extremely happy with how we were able to corral all of our technical and creative talents to make something interesting and fun that (mostly!) works great.

Things I learned (mostly technical):

  • FQL is a finicky playmate. Queries that work fine for 200 friends time out with 400. (We used LIMIT clauses and ORDER BY RAND() to get around this limitation. I didn’t know FQL even supported those clauses!)
  • Tornado‘s Facebook Graph authentication mixin doesn’t work right out-of-the-box. I needed to make some changes to the example code and also use the version fresh from the repository (rather than the currently released version).
  • If the whole comedy writing thing doesn’t pan out for him, Rob Dubbin has a real future in generative baby biographies.
  • All you need to produce satisfying portmanteaunomastics is about ten lines of Python code and a regular expression.
  • It is possible to get a decent amount of sleep during the Global Game Jam. You just need to feel confident in the talents and time management skills of your teammates.

I hope everyone enjoys the game! Thanks to the NYU Game Center for hosting, and to Matt Parker in particular for keeping everything running smoothly.

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