Ryan Goes to Camp

i think i only missed one Toronto game community event last year. It was called GamerCamp, and it was on a Saturday. i skipped it because Saturdays are family days, and i wanted to spend some quality time with my wife and kids.

i’ll never make that mistake again.


GamerCamp : worth forsaking your family for

People came back positively RAVING about GamerCamp. i knew this year that i just HAD to be involved.

Thus Spake Ryanthurstra

i am thrilled that Jamie and Mark, the awesomazing organizers behind the event, invited me to speak (after a teensy bit of grovelling). (… from me, not them.) They wanted someone with experience in educational game development, and Untold Entertainment’s got it. In addition to the educational preschool games we’ve built for Sinking Ship Entertainment, we’re currently working on a project funded by a high-ranking ministerial body of educational governance. i admit it sounds a little dull, so i wanted to spice it up a bit.

Here’s the advice the event organizers gave on titling my talk:

You can call your talk whatever you want and by no means self-censor. Try and make your title a declarative statement or provocative question.

(For example, Dragonette has a song called “Get Your Titties Off My Things” and if they wanted to speak at Gamercamp and call it that, I’d high-five them.)

So without very much deliberation, and because i absolutely love high-fives, i decided to call my talk “Get Your Titties Off My Things : Adventures in Educational Gaming.”

Titties and Education Don’t Mix

hot for teacher

Apparently, no one’s hot for teacher.

In updating the site, the organizers had a last-minute change of heart and decided to censor the talk title. Since it didn’t make much sense any more (not that it made any sense to begin with), i decided to re-title the talk “SCUMM-Sucking : Adventures in Educational Gaming“.

What do you do when you LOVE building LucasArts and Sierra-style graphic adventure games, but you have to take boring educational service work to pay the bills?



Time to nip in for a pint of Grog™.

The educational project is an experiment in teaching deadly-dull guidance counselor material by speaking the students’ language – the language of video games!

i’ll also be talking about how i leveraged the educational project to add features to UGAGS (the Untold Entertainment Graphic Adventure Game System), which is my attempt at building a Flash version of the LucasArts SCUMM engine. (They used SCUMM to make Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island and others.) The client benefits from our increasingly feature-rich engine, we get a better product that we can use to make awesome games in the future, and everybody wins!

Including you! Come out to GamerCamp in Toronto November 13-14 to hear the tremendous line-up of speakers, eat some cupcakes, jam out to a crazy nerd party, and battle your hangover to hear about UGAGS the afternoon following the big bash.

16 thoughts on “Ryan Goes to Camp

  1. Daniel Steger

    No no no Ryan, it isn’t that they were raving about the event and you weren’t there, it’s that they were raving about the event BECAUSE you weren’t there!

    Also on a more serious note, I’m interested to see if our two talks collide in some ways, since I’ve got a few…. let’s say “interesting” thoughts about the writing that goes into a lot of adventure games.

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      i make absolutely no claims that the writing in this will blow you away. My client wrote the script against all odds – the source material is brutal. Picture those skills assessment sheets you had to fill out in the guidance counselor’s office, and you’re halfway there.

      It’s a real uphill challenge to make this material interesting, and truth be told, i’m not even sure that it’s possible. But! Throw some graphics on it, a few items to pick up, some puzzles to solve, and a few Pokemon references for good measure …. and, as Gandhi put it, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

  2. Mary GIbson

    Your delivery – humorous that it is – will make the material interesting cause you will be making the audience laugh a bit – something I always liked to do at boring education conferences. :o)

  3. Bwakathaboom

    I won’t be able to make the trip to Toronto for GamerCamp so I fully expect a blog summary of your talk!

    I develop for non-profits, including some curriculum pieces for the schoolboard here and all I get asked to do are quizzes. Quizzes and Jeopardy games are my day to day reality. Very few are willing to stray from the teach/test model and even when they do at first, they always come back asking me to wedge in some kind of multiple choice quiz.

    How hard was it to pitch your adventure game framework to education clients?

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      i was very fortunate with this one, because the client laid all of the ground work and i didn’t have to lift a finger. The client has a young guy named Matt on staff, whose idea it was to present the material in the form of three different games – a Pokemon-style RPG, a time management game, and an adventure game. Unluckily, the budget wasn’t nearly large enough to work in three different genres – and i found that shoe-horning the content into actual full-blown examples of those genres didn’t make very much sense.

      So we agreed to use UGAGS for all three games. They’d all be adventure games, but they’d make jokey references to those genres so you still get the flavour.

      i’m really happy to be working with a client that’s trying something new and (very) different. i think this is the first time – possibly anywhere – that material like this has been presented in this format. Matt has forwarded me some other educational projects tooled to teach business/employment skills, and they’re … they’re not teach n’ test, but they’re definitely not games. They’re bone dry.

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Nope – it’s a ground-up build of our own engine. The talk is called “SCUMM-Sucking”, because i’m basically trying to reproduce a lot of the things that the SCUMM engine does. i think at this point, if i wanted to build Monkey Island from scratch with UGAGS, my engine could do everything that game requires.

        1. Ryan Henson Creighton

          How … did i mention that game somewhere on this blog? Full version was just released on YTV this week. i was gonna do a big blog entry talking about it and UGAGS.

          But yeah – same engine.

  4. Jaime

    Ooooh, censoring things felt awesome. Especially when I tell people to get their titties off those things. :P

    You’re awesome Ryan and I can’t wait for your talk. Thanks so much for being a part of Gamercamp!

    And Daniel is 100% correct.

  5. Matthew Fabb

    You got the dates wrong, it’s November 25th to 27th. Nov. 13th to 14th is around when FITC Screens is happening (14th to 16th to be exact).

    I went to Gamercamp last year and it was absolutely a whole lot of fun. Not sure if I will make it this year or not. Perhaps I might stay home and actually work on a game I’ve been developing with a friend of mine that I’ve not given nearly enough time to.

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Who got the dates wrong? Check the publishing date on the article ;)

      It may be a good time to mention, anyway that this year (2011) i’m speaking at both Screens and Gamercamp Lvl 3. i hope to see you at one or both, Matt!

      1. Matthew Fabb

        LOL! I followed a link here,and read it thinking it was an article you wrote this year.

        I’ll definitely be at FITC Screens, not sure yet about GamerCamp this year, I’m still trying to work that out.


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