Media Release: Run, Darling, run! – ‘Codename Darling’ update released for Windows, Mac, web and Android

Media Release: Run, Darling, run! – ‘Codename Darling’ update released for Windows, Mac, web and Android

An infinite neon noir platformer about the mysterious Codename Darling escaping Neon City

In this infinite, atmospheric platformer set in an alien jellyfish invasion, the player takes on the role of Codename Darling, navigating the perilous rooftops of Neon City. How far can you run?

To stay alive in this endless game, the player needs to time their jumps and double-jumps with increasing precision. A single lapse in judgment can send Codename Darling plummeting to their death, resetting the score.

The first version of the game was made overnight during Pocket Jam #5, September 14th – 15th 2020, in just under thirty hours. Pocket Jam #5 ran in conjunction with the Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki conference 2020, and the game was awarded joint second place in the jam’s competition by the PGConnects judges.

The game’s aesthetic is inspired by film noir, as well as superhero cartoons and comics. The character animations were hand-drawn frame-by-frame by Lassheikki, and part of Neon city’s soundscape are field recordings by sound designer Rintanen. Krechmer’s layered and driving music pairs with the monochrome environment to set the scene for the moody, 80’s inspired dystopian megacity.

The new post-jam update adds major quality of life improvements such as level selection, sound settings and a high score, as well as updates to sound, graphics and music. Some changes have also been made to the game’s design, adding a double jump mechanic for gameplay variety and softening the learning curve. For fans of the original version (which features an unforgiving difficulty curve) the jam version is still available as a download on itch.io.

Codename Darling is available to play and download for free on itch.io. The game was created using Unity, and is available to play in-browser on computers and touchscreen devices, and as downloads for Windows, Mac and Android.

Credits & team:

Codename Darling was made by Henri Sarasvirta (code, design, postprocessing & Unity), Christina “Chride” Lassheikki (graphics, animation, VO), Simo Rintanen (sound design) and Leo Krechmer (music, sound design, additional graphis). Sarasvirta, Lassheikki and Krechmer have collaborated presviously on the Pocket Jam #4 winning game Mochabot Organic.

Pocket Jam #5 was arranged from September 14th to September 15th, 2020 as part of Pocket Gamer Connects (PGConnects) Helsinki 2020 by the Finnish Game Jam association. The jam’s submissions can be found at: https://itch.io/jam/pocket-jam-5/entries

Contact – email:

classheikki [at] gmail.com

Play and download ‘Codename Darling’ at:

https://classheikki.itch.io/codename-darling

Media images:

App Icon
Full logo
Promotional image

Screenshots:

New article out – ‘Designing Games as Playable Concepts’ in DiGRA 2020 Proceedings

Designing Games as Playable Concepts: Five Design Values for Tiny Embedded Educational Games – article out in the DiGRA 2020 Proceedings

Hello everyone!

Currently I work as a research assistant in the Aalto Online Learning-funded Department of Media pilot project Playable Concepts under the supervision of games scholar doctor Annakaisa Kultima. During the spring, our team also included Solip Park (now doctoral student at Department of Media) and Tomi Kauppinen from Aalto Online Learning and the Department of Computer Science, with some additional support from programmer Teemu Kokkonen and game designer Noora Heiskanen. Our aim is to explore how tiny, embedded and partial games communicate – if they do – and how to teach new game makers to adopt games as a communication tool!

To further explain the framework, we wrote an article, and it’s now available in the DiGRA library (free for personal and classroom use!):

Designing Games as Playable Concepts: Five Design Values for Tiny Embedded Educational Games. 2020. By: Annakaisa Kultima, Christina Lassheikki, Solip Park, and Tomi Kauppinen.

Click to Access PDF in the DiGRA library.

ABSTRACT

Digital games transform our lives; they provide an opportunity to engage with other worlds in a playful way, in many ways similarly to what other forms of audio-visual communication (like movies, paintings or photos) have offered for a longer time. However, learning materials still use rather traditional ways for accompanying media, ranging from static figures and graphs to videos and animations. In this paper, we explore the notion of Playable Concepts: tiny games that are embedded as part of educational material instead of separate and standalone products. We argue that games could be in a similar role as static graphical elements in educational and communicational material, embedded in the text, together with other media formats. We suggest that the design space of Playable Concepts can be framed with five distinct design values: Value of Partiality, Value of Embeddedness, Value of Simplicity and Immediacy, and Value of Reusability.

Playable Concepts is a pretty exciting project in the field of game development education and educational games. In addition to the research, so far we’ve created a library of 12 moddable playables and a graphics and sound asset library for people to use that is CC-by-3.0, and written tutorials.

We’ve also organized a handful of workshops on the basics of game making for different audiences, including the Academic Mindtrek 2020 conference audience, the Turku Edu Game Jam for high school students, Aalto games students, and Aalto staff and educators in the A!OLE community. The global pandemic forced our concepts to become fully online, and so some of our workshops were carried out over Zoom.

PlayCo Workshop at Academic Mindtrek – Tampere, January 2020
PlayCo Workshop over Zoom – Topical content for March 2020
Asset library – CC-By-3.0 Licensed pixel art assets for games by yours truly

During the academic year 2020-2021, we’re further improving our learning resources, and looking further into science dissemination through games – How could researchers use playables as figures to help explain and illustrate complex concepts?

Take a look at the paper if you’re curious about our design framework, or head over to our Playable Concepts platform to start learning how to make your own playable concepts using Construct 3!

Tips for solodev game jamming

This post was written following my first solodev game jam experience, and originally published on the itch.io community March 30, 2020.

Are you considering flying solo for your next game jam, but you’re feeling a little nervous? Perhaps you aren’t that experienced a coder, or you’re just wondering what it’s like compared to working with a team?

I’m a narrative designer and game artist who’s all about game jams, clocking in at around 20 over the past five years. I’ve taught game development through jamming, and even wrote my MA thesis on game jams and learning. (You can download it over at ResearchGate if you’re curious about my findings)

Over the past week I tried my hand at solodeving a game for the first time for a game jam! The result is Grumpy Librarian, a visual novel / game made in Ren’Py. You can check it out and play it over here if you’re curious: https://classheikki.itch.io/grumpy-librarian 
It was made for the Aalto University Games Now! Online Jam 1, and this was also my first time doing a fully-online jam.

So what did I learn from jamming alone, and what are my tips to you? 

Let’s get to it – Solodev game jamming vs. team game jamming:

A note: This is not an exhaustive list, and in no way a guarantee that the game you make turns out good. But these are things I’ve found helpful. Take them with a grain of salt, or a slice of lemon if that’s your preference.

1. It is definitely possible, but you’ll have to make sacrifices

Let’s start off this list by saying; YES, you can do it, and NO, it doesn’t have to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in game development. A solodev game jam can be super fun, and my Friday was mostly spent cackling at the project I was working on.
Making a game by yourself is also a very good exercise for any aspiring developer, since it makes it clear just how much work goes into creating a full game and how much expertise each role in game dev requires to achieve professional results. I definitely recommend it to anyone aspiring for a directorial role or designer role, since it shows you just how you deal with the responsibility of a full game experience.

One of the sacrifices you are making in taking on this extreme generalist role of solo developer is that your core skill probably won’t get to shine. Most people find it at least somewhat difficult to switch between tasks and different mindsets. For me, the experience made me more empathetic to how my demands as an artist or narrative designer might look to other disciplines.

Then again, when we’re talking game jams, we’re not talking professional results to begin with. I wouldn’t based on this jam game apply for audio positions at game companies, and I’m doubtful whether or not the game I created works as a portfolio piece in any of my core disciplines, even. Considering the time I had to create character art, it’s pretty amazing, yet on an objective level I can tell it isn’t up to snuff. Same goes for dialogue. And, of course, code, which leads me to…  

2. You don’t have to be a coder, but it helps, kind of?

 I am not a coder, but… // I am not a game programmer, but… // I am not a computer scientist, but…

These are all ways in which I’ve started sentences while teaching game development, because, even though I am not trained as a programmer, through game jamming and narrative design I’ve gotten proficient enough with code and scripting that I can read code. Not with ease – it’s kind of similar to trying to understand the meaning in a poorly translated Facebook post.

So, here are some of my strategies for coping with coding at a game jam as a non-coder:

1. Don’t panic – You can always ask for help, if you need it. I recommend having a person in mind to turn to if you run into big issues. It helped me not panic, and in the end, I didn’t need their help.

2. Focus on your strengths – be it art, sound, design, music, or writing. Make a game that emphasizes the things you are good at. You don’t have to prove your worth as a coder, so don’t. Is there a tool you already know? Use that, if you don’t explicitly want to learn a new one. Embrace the spaghetti code; embrace the bugs; embrace that the game has simple mechanics.

3. Start by modding a tutorial project – You have limited time at a jam, but I would still encourage you to start from an official tutorial project and modding it into your own thing. Learning the most basic ropes of your engine will save you time in the end, and the engines I’ve used so far have pretty good tutorial projects offered to get you started (Good examples: Unity, Unreal Engine, Construct 3, Ren’Py. Not so much: Godot, Twine)

4. Start by reading relevant documentation, and then look for examples on forums of how it’s used. This one I’ve learnt the hard way. For example, I spent over an hour fixing a splash screen issue for Grumpy Librarian because I tried to figure this out from forum posts and source code alone. I even looked at the game on different browsers to figure out where the splash screen was coming from. It turned out the solution was well-documented in the official Ren’Py documentation, and took all of ten seconds to implement through simply placing the splash screen in the correct folder.  Similarly, I spent a silly amount of time trying to adjust the volume of the music from looking only at the documentation, not understanding that the issue was about syntax.

5. In general, when switching between languages, syntax will be your biggest source of frustration. To be honest, my coding is at the level of “I guess I could make this well, but maybe I can get this done with simple if/else logic and for and while-loops?”. Again, I am not a coder, and you, an experienced programmer, are allowed to frown at me. The good part about that, however, is that most languages support all structures I can come up with. When switching engines, I don’t have to learn everything anew, and I don’t have to learn the engine fully to get started. You, an experienced programmer, are allowed to cringe at that statement. What will however frustrate you for the first few hours is syntax. I chose Ren’Py for this jam, something I had never used before, and compared to Twine, it is much, much stricter with indentation. It took me a while to understand why I couldn’t use ‘&&’ in my conditional logic statements (and I sighed so hard when I found out you simply use the word ‘and’ in python). My first two hours were spent screaming at error messages I didn’t understand. And that leads us to…

6. Error messages could be much, much easier to understand. You have my sympathy. This is true for any engine I’ve used. Ironically, the ‘easier-to-use’ engines and tools don’t necessarily have easy to understand error messages. The best strategy is therefore usually to Google the error message, but here the size, and activity, of the development community online matters. Depending on what you are working with, there is or isn’t a community of newbies like you who are asking the most basic questions. For Unity, there’s a lot of complete beginners asking silly questions about the first steps, so you’ll find answers easily, even if the engine itself isn’t the most beginner-friendly.

3. Deadlines and rules are arbitrary*

Look, you should aim to make the game happen in the time assigned for the jam, but more than that, you should simply finish your game, even if you run out jam time. Jake Parker, comics artist and the founder of Inktober, has two mantras that I strongly stand by (despite no longer standing by Parker): firstly, Finished, not perfect, and secondly, You need a product, not a project. This sentiment of finishing things being the ultimate teacher is also a rule in the game industry: Just Ship It.

Controversial opinion? Well, I’ve never been that respectful of game jam deadlines or design constraints, which comes from being a member of the fairly non-competitive Finnish game jam community. It’s all about fun, learning and building networks, less so than winning competitions. Think of it as a NaNoWriMo sort of challenge: everybody wins by participating, finishing something teaches you more than abandoning the project, and you are competing only against yourself. This strategy is actually the same for me as a solodev as in a team.

My strategy goes something along these lines:

1. Scope the game to fit the time-frame of the jam. This usually means a game that plays in 10 – 15 minutes, single-location, few characters and one game loop.

2. Realize I won’t be able to finish the game during the jam, because I got distracted from the initial design.In the case of Grumpy Librarian, distraction was making art for 7 characters.

3. Get the game ready enough during the jam, so that I want to finish it in the following two-three days, when I still feel motivated.

It usually helps if what I leave for after the jam is easy to do and fun. If you leave gaping holes in your game design, or big scary bugs in the code you won’t want to go back. But, if you just don’t put in the animations, or need to add some writing to a specific scene, that’s much more fun to do. After the jam, I (or team mates) usually only want to make changes that are direct and fast improvements and polish to the game. Which brings us to motivation in general…

4. Task lists help you keep up the motivation

From what I’ve talked to other developers, staying motivated during your solodev jam is harder than if you have a team cheering you on. I found it helpful to keep a task list. In the task list, I list out what needs to be done, but more importantly, every single thing I’ve already done. Seeing that row of green makes it so much easier to feel accomplished, and not feel like the list is endless.

Even if it’s just for myself, keeping a task list helps me focus. These kinds of lists are what I usually make if I am the producer at a game jam, and they give structure to what I’m doing.

Here’s my task list for Grumpy Librarian at the start of the jam:

Screenshot of partially filled in excel spreadsheet with columns for “What?”, “Status?”, and “Important?”. Categories I use are Art, Sound, Writing and Code. I divide art tasks by character assets, environment assets and graphic design / GUI.

Here’s my task list for Grumpy Librarian March 30th:

Screenshot of mostly filled in excel spreadsheet. Note the fleshed out character art list especially and red status of some essential code…

A few tips I’ve found good for your task list:

1. Let the list live. Some things will move about, some will be removed, some will be added.

2. Don’t mark things in red before you have green markings. Seeing the whole sheet in red is almost certainly guaranteed to make you feel demotivated.

3. Prioritize, but don’t get boggled down by what you’ve marked high priority. As you can see, one of the first things I marked OK was fonts. Why – the default font of Ren’Py isn’t that bad, is it? Well, it isn’t. But by switching the font I learned how to edit the GUI files, which was important. (Sidenote: Also, in a text-based game, typography is going to be visible on every single development screenshot...)

5. If no one is around to hear your terrible puns, does it make them less terrible?

Alright, here’s my last tip, and this one goes out to all of my game writer colleagues: it is funny, but not that funny. Practice a little self-restraint. Or then don’t. This is your chance to make a game that looks exactly like you want – in good and bad….

Hope you found my tips helpful!

Overall, I definitely recommend trying your hand at jamming alone. I still prefer working with a team, and in person, but if I can do this, so can you 🙂

Do you have any tips & experiences of your own? Questions?

Why I’m not doing #inktober this year, and 5 tips if you are

The year is 2016, and for the first time I’m not working on a massive project as October rolls around – so I decide to try that cool challenge that has been going around my social medias – Inktober! 31 days of ink illustrations around different themes. October 2016 I’m not yet on instagram, so I decide to post my results on facebook and tumblr.

So, late September 2016 I gather my bookbinding supplies, and followed Sea Lemon’s youtube tutorial on how to make a coptic stitch bound sketchbook. I used Canson Imagine paper and some old backings from sketch blocks (and washi tape to add a stripe of lilac-backed stars, just so it doesn’t look too ruggedly stylish):

My handbound inktober sketchbook lying on a bamboo clipboard.

The month starts. As you can see on that photo above, I made a little vinjette as an opening, to get used to my tools.

Inktober day 5, ‘Sad’, 2016

I was planning on really using the month to get better at inking. I end up getting the whole list of prompts done, make a little timelapse video, and learn a bunch about different ways to use my tools; how to combine watercolor and fluid ink (watercolor first); and which ones of my brushpens I actually enjoy using (tip: not the Sakura ones).

All in all I have a great time; great enough that I do inktober twice more for 2017 and 2018 (I end up skipping 2019 because of burnout). 2020 rolls around and this year I technically have time. But I’m choosing not to do inktober. Why?

1. The case of alleged plagiarism

The founder of the #inktober hashtag is Jake Parker, a comics artist who also runs the Society of Visual Storytelling online school, and hosts the podcast Three Point Perspective. Parker also makes educational youtube videos, and I genuinely find both his work – from the comics of his I’ve read in high school in my friend Santtu’s copies of the “Flight” comics antologies – to the short and informative videos on topics like finding motivation as an artist, really great. I subscribe to his philosophy of you need a product, not a project (within limits) and the podcast has taught me a lot of useful skills to apply to my own visual storytelling. Granted, I’ve heard some call his no-bullshit-approach to sticking with your projects ableist (and I somewhat agree).

But this is not the reason the online art and illustration community has been boycotting the Inktober project this year, and why for example DeviantArt cancelled it’s inktober awards.

The first reason is this video, which I recommend you watch, and form an informed opinion:

In Finland we have very strong libel laws, and because of that, I won’t claim one thing or another. As an art teacher, I have a lot of sympathy and find the whole thing quite sad, for both Parker and Dunn.

But, inktober isn’t Jake Parker’s thing anymore, is it? It doesn’t directly support him to use it, right? Well, no, but:

2. The inktober trademark

The second reason, however, is that “inktober” as a term has been trademarked by Parker. And that makes it hard to use as an independent artist. The rules for usage of the “inktober” term are fairly lax, but still there. For example, if I hosted a workshop on inking techniques and wanted to advertise it with the word inktober, I would technically need to clear this use of the trademark with the trademark holder.

Ironically, as I subscribe to the I need a product, not a project philosophy of Parker, the trademark makes it trickier for me to do just that; create a product out of my inktober project, since there are rules of how inktober can or can’t be in the product name. Funny enough, my 2017 inktober zine does abide by the rules by sheer dumb luck alone.

3. The saturated hashtag

I also have a third reason, which is that I believe, on a personal level, that the kind of gain you get from taking on an art challenge should align with your current goals as an artist. So, if you’re alright with the alleged plagiarism, and with the trademark, then you still need to ask yourself; what do you expect to gain out of creating 31 ink drawings around themes someone else picked out for you?

You won’t get much visibility and recognition by default. It’s amazing to see how many pick up the nib pen as October rolls around, but for the past two-three years the trend has been really saturated, to the point where participating in Inktober no longer gives you higher discoverability on social media. Heck, some youtubers will create a video about every single day of their inktober journey.

As an art educator, I’m thrilled to see former students early in their careers or studies, and I can only aspire to have an ounce of their enthusiasm; as well as seasoned industry professionals, who I can only aspire to have an ounce of their skills; but that makes it very hard to stand out as a young professional whose beginner charm has run out, but still has an online following in the hundreds, not thousands.

So the lesson is this; you aren’t owed anything. The call to the inktober challenge is heeded by the masses, and your herculean effort will not give you glory. You need to set yourself a goal in the work, or just in having fun with challenging yourself, not the recognition it might give you.

I’m still doing a 31 day challenge this October, what are the 5 tips?

Alright! Don’t get me wrong, I applaud you. Let’s look at my five tips to you:

1. Figure out an overarching theme

2016 I followed the official prompt list and let my imagination run completely wild.

That is how I ended up with images like this:

Day 11, 2016 – Relax – Doggos relaxing on inflatable floats in purple acrylic ink and copic

But also these:

Day 19, 2016 – Flight. Witch in leather jacket with dog, zooming past the moon. Watercolor and nib pen.

It’s good to mix it up a little, but some consistency makes it easier to see the pieces as parts of a whole, and to see your own progress through the month.

Of course, if your goal is to mainly explore new possible mediums, then do that!

But, I felt, flipping through that 2016 sketchbook, that it would be better to have a consistent thread running through the whole thing. These days there are a bunch of alternative hashtags, and alternative promptlists you can go with, but I did something a little different:

  • 2017: #Dragontober. Every prompt interpreted as a dragon. I also named each dragon and wrote a little description. I can’t say for sure that I was the first, but during 2017, someone else joined me in the hashtag – and now there are a bunch of #dragontober projects out in the world.
  • 2018: The House of Magic. Every prompt interpreted as a room of a magic house, each leading into the next one. Alliterated alcoves and star sculleries; almost all of them with a tenant or visitor as well.

For me personally, the added challenge of the content of the illustration was exactly what I needed to make it suitably specific. Long on its own is alright, but a long dragon? Clearer.

Sally the Short and Lars The Long – day 8, 2017.

You can probably come up with a bunch of other ideas! May has the project MerMay for mermaids and merfolk, and September Swordtember. Some do #WitchTober which I would’ve done had I done Inktober this year.

2. Plan a product

Imagine holding a 32-page zine with your art, and a few words about your process. The creamy, textured paper of the cover. Your name and the year on the back. Flipping through those pages – nice, right?

The National Novel Writing Month used to have a winner’s perk that was one paperback proof copy of your novel from a self-publishing house. There was some paperwork included, and I was accidentally sent a copy of someone else’s family memoir as well – but that was such a motivator for teenage Chride to write 50k words in one month.

These days it’s actually fairly cheap and quick to make a limited run zine. I’ve sold my 2017 Dragontober zine at Christmas markets, comics festivals and online – and it makes for a pretty neat gift for friends and family as well, to hand over your own art work in print.

Let me know if you want a tutorial on how to prepare a zine for print as PDF, or you can always contact me if you’re looking for graphic design work.

If you don’t like the idea of a zine, perhaps you want to gift yourself your best illustration as framed? Or make a Holiday card out of it?

3. Get it done, but cut yourself some slack

Finished, not perfect is another of Parker’s sayings that I aspire to abide by. You don’t have to post every day, but try to finish the images. Schedule in your hours when you can work on your project.

If you fall behind, be ready to lower your standards in favour of keeping up with the project. I was able to catch up mainly during weekends, but only 1 or 2 days.

Didn’t finish after all? Don’t feel embarrassed – I still need to finish the 2018 project (one day…).

4. Thumbnail, then sketch, then ink

The practice of thumbnailing is the perhaps most important practice I’ve found that A) wasn’t taught to me at school B) saves time and C) improves your final work. For a quick illustration, I try to get 2-3 thumbnails done – then choose my favourite (or client’s favourite) to refine.

Basically, it’s a quick, miniature sketch. Think of it as the matchbox-sized version of your A4 or A5 piece. Use it to figure out composition, perspective, relations and basic character design.

Alphonso Dunn explains it better:

Once you have your thumbnail, sketch your illustration out in your real size, and only then ink it. If you’re working digitally, you can scale up the thumbnail to use as a guide, even.

5. Erasable colored pencils and kneadable erasers

My fifth and final tip is a tool I found made sketching a lot nicer. It’s a little tricky perhaps to find, but, if you come across these in your local art store, I definitely recommend picking them up.

Erasable colored pencils.

Why? Well, this is a question of preference. Most graphite lead – found in your typical mechanical or regular pencil – smudges, and especially when working on porous or textured surfaces you may end up with hard-to-erase lines that. And, depending on your inking tool of choice, using an eraser after inking can lead to faded ink lines or the ink smudging.

Graphite lead is also typically a blackish shade of grey, which means the contrast to your ink line might not be that great if you decide not to erase it; and to top it off, the graphite forms a smooth metallic surface that ink doesn’t necessarily penetrate.

But if you work in colored pencil instead, you get to choose what color the lines are – and you might not even want to erase them (look to artists like Loish). A non-photo blue pencil used to be my go-to, since it was easy to edit out in post, but I found I like working in purple, red and green as well. The pencil blends in with watercolor better, and gives an extra hint of a hue to the black-and-white pieces.

Then, a kneadable eraser, or artist’s putty eraser – allows for precision in erasing. It also doesn’t harm your paper as much as a hard eraser, I’ve found, and acts as an excellent stress toy.

Go forth, make good art!

I want to leave you with Neil Gaiman’s words: Make good art.

No, not perfect. No, not good to me. Good art – to you. Make it your own.

Thank you for reading this far. Let me know if you want me to write on another topic as well!

Cheers, Chride

Disclaimer: This is a work of critique and education. I am claiming fair use of the term “inktober” within this blog post. Please contact classheikki [@] gmail.com if you are the trademark holder for the term “inktober” and feel this is not a fair use case.

Setting up reaction roles and pronouns on Discord with Zira

I’m the Community Parent for Pride Game Jam HKI 2020, which means I am an admin on the jam’s Discord server. Discord is a communication platform, widely used by gamers, that is flexible, free, and has built-in support for video and audio chat channels.  It’s also popular among game companies as a way to build and communicate with fan communities. To me personally, it’s reminiscent of my teen days on the internet, of MSN Messenger, IRC and forums.

Since the game jam is jointly run on-site and online, the server will be used extensively during the jam, as the central hub for brainstorming and communication. Still, Discord can feel a little impersonal, and so we wanted to setup a way to let our participants choose roles and pronouns for themselves to make communication easier between participants and allow the users a level of customisation.  It took a little figuring out, so I was requested to write this documentation by my fellow organizers at Finnish Game Jam, so that it could be used for jams in the future.

The system is simple from a user perspective. In a dedicated Discord channel, #roles-n-pronouns, the participants click emojis to react on a pinned message, and the server’s bot Zira automatically assigns them the role(s) they chose. This is how it looks:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 19.07.56

 

The Basics

I followed this guide at Wiki-How: How to Add Reaction Roles to a Discord Server on PC or Mac, but since it took a few tries to get it all set up right, I thought it good to write some notes on the process while I still remember which parts of the Wiki-How were a little hard to grasp:

Creating roles and pronoun roles

In a Discord server, roles can be used to give users access to different channels. The roles we set up show up in the server listing as colourful usernames ordered by jam role, and the pronouns a user has chosen can be seen by checking the users info in the server participants listing. We allow multiple roles (and pronouns) for each user, but the latest chosen one defines the username’s color:

To add roles, you need to access your Server settings > Roles. Roles can be added by users with admin rights.

Once in Roles, click the little plus-sign (+) next to Roles to add whichever roles you want to allow your users to choose:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 19.31.30

Edit the name of the role, and assign it a color if you want. We decided to assign colors to the jam roles, but not to pronouns:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 19.32.31

If you wish for the role to show up as a group in the server’s online user listing, check Display role members separately from online members. On Discord, hierarchy of roles matters for permissions, but also for which order roles show up in. You can reorder your roles by dragging and dropping.

If you want to copy our role listing, these are the roles on the Pride Game Jam HKI server:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 19.19.50

Invite Zira

Click this link, and then click Invite to get Zira to your server: https://discordbots.org/bot/275813801792634880 .
Zira is a Bot designed for this use, and will handle the automation for you. Grant Zira all suggested permissions (this feels a little scary, we know).

Go into your Server Settings > Roles again, and drag Zira above the roles users can assign themselves in the Roles-hierarchy. Otherwise Zira will not have permission to assign roles.

Create:
1) a channel for role assignment and
2) a channel for bot control

In your server, create 2 new channels;

  • 1) #roles-n-pronouns (or similar name)
    • This channel is where users can react to messages to grab roles.
    • This channel will be accessible to your users
  • 2) #roles-setup (or similar name)
    • This channel is used to tell Zira what to do
    • This channel should not be accessible to your users
    • When creating your channel, check Private channel and allow access to your (admin) role and Zira, but not to your jammer roles.

Get your special developer powers on – read message and channel ID:s

In order to tell Zira in which channel users will react to messages, and which messages to react to, you need to be able to read channel ID codes and message ID codes.

To do this, first, go to User Settings > APP SETTINGS: Appearance > ADVANCED: Developer Mode, and check it to turn it on.

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 19.56.59

User settings can be accessed next to your username, at the lower left of the screen.

Now you can copy message ID:s and channel ID:s by right clicking the channel name or message and choosing Copy ID (the lowermost option).

 

Write your role assignment message

In the #roles-n-pronouns-channel, create messages that describe your roles and which emojis correspond to them. You can use our messages as base:

– Grab a jam role –
React to this message to assign yourself a jam role based on what you would like to do at the jam. You can add multiple roles by reacting to many emojis, or reassign yourself at any time. Note that your username color will reflect only the latest role you choose:
:game_die: for Game Design
:gear: for Programming
:art: for Graphics and/or Animation
:musical_note: for Music
:loud_sound: for Sound Design and/or Voice Acting
:books: for Writing and/or Narrative Design
:coffee: for Coffee Making
:lion_face: for Other

– Pronouns –
React to this message to add pronouns to your notes. You can add multiple pronouns by reacting to many emojis, or change this at any time:
:one: for they/them
:two: for she/her
:three: for he/him
:four: for no pronouns
:five: for other

Pin these messages if you want to.

If you have a large server, we suggest you change your permissions for @everyone in the #roles-n-pronouns channel unless you want users to use the channel for other purposes. Press the cogwheel next to the channel’s name and choose PERMISSIONS on the left, and tick the following ones:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 20.00.39Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 20.00.49

 

Tell Zira which channel to read

Copy the channel ID of your #roles-n-pronouns channel (the first one, the one that users will use).

Then go into your bot control channel (#roles-setup, the second one) and write the following:

z/channel

This is a bot command. Paste the channel ID you just copied, for a message similar to the following, and press send:

z/channel 123456789101112

If it’s successful, Zira will let you know:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 20.08.58

If Zira does not reply, check that Zira is included on the channel, and has Read messages– and Send messages-permissions.

Tell Zira which message to use

Go into your #roles-n-pronouns and find your message for grabbing jam roles. Right-click and choose Copy ID at the bottom of the list that pops up.

Go back into #roles-setup, and type the following:

z/message

Then paste the message ID you just copied, for a message similar to the following:

z/message 123456789101112

Press send. If it’s succesful, Zira will let you know:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 20.14.43

Help, I got an error!

First time I setup Zira, I forgot to grant Zira Read messages permissions and got the following error message:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 20.16.07 If you get this error message, simply edit permissions in the channel settings. You might have to add Zira by clicking the plus next to Roles/Members and choosing Zira:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 20.17.22

Then check the Read Messages, Read Message History and Add Reactions-permissions.

Tell Zira about the jam roles to assign

Alright, now we get to the fun part! It’s time to add those emoji-reactions. This is done with an individual message for each role.

In the #roles-setup channel, type the following:

z/normal

Next in the command, add the emoji you wish to use as the reaction. Lastly, type @ and choose the role you wish to assign with the selected emoji. Press enter.
Here’s an example:

z/normal :game_die: @Jammer Game Designer

If it’s successful, Zira will approve and create the reaction:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 20.23.28

Go through this with each jammer role and each emoji. If you set them up identically to us, you can copy paste the following messages.

Note that you’ll have to do this individually for each role, and that the reaction emojis show up in the order you create them:

z/normal :game_die: @Jammer Game Designer
z/normal :gear: @Jammer Programmer
z/normal :art: @Jammer Artist/Animator
z/normal :musical_note: @Jammer Musician
z/normal :loud_sound: @Jammer Sound Designer/Voice Actor
z/normal :books: @Jammer Writer/Narrative
z/normal :coffee: @Jammer Coffee Maker
z/normal :lion: @Jammer Other

 

Next, setup the pronouns almost identically, but first tell Zira to switch which message ID to add reactions to. Copy the message ID of the pronoun message, and then give commands. If you have chosen the same setup we use, you can copy and paste these commands:

z/normal :one: @they/them
z/normal :two: @she/her
z/normal :three: @he/him
z/normal :four: @no pronouns
z/normal :five: @other pronouns

 

If all goes well, you’ll end up with something like this in your #roles-n-pronouns-channel:

Screenshot 2020-08-17 at 19.07.56

And that’s it! Good luck, and happy jamming! If you make a mistake, check the wiki-how guide (step 10) on how to remove a role.