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Maria is a full-time software developer and FC Barcelona fan who got unexpectedly swept in Global Game Jam 2020 in Lusaka while she was hoping to use the venue space for practice for a different hackathon. She ended up using her programming skills to contribute to a web-based game called 00 days left about making choices that add or remove from humanity’s life on planet earth. Learn more about Maria and her first game jam experience here.

Tell us about yourself Maria

My name is Maria Situmbeko, and I’m a software developer. This year was my first ever game jam, and I hope I can participate in more in the future because it was a lot of fun.

What are some of your favorite games of all time?

A lot of my favorite games are those that I attach great memories to. The first game I remember truly playing and investing my time in was Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and I played it with my brother all the time. We were playing on our PC, and the keyboard controls were spread all over the place so he would use half of the keyboard keys and I would use the other half, and we took turns with who would use the mouse.

Another game that always gives me good memories was this Flash game my brother and I would play called Fireboy and Watergirl. You needed to use the WASD keys to move Watergirl and the Arrow keys to move Fireboy, so just like Tomb Raider, it was a game that we played together, him using the arrow keys and me with WASD. It was such a silly game too, and we were probably too old to play it as much as we did but we loved it so much and always tried to finish the whole game. I love it so much for the memories and nostalgia.

What was your favorite contribution to the Global Game Jam game, 00 days left?

Our choice-based game relied on some randomization, and we were freaking out when we realized our choices weren’t random at all. I managed to get some code working, and that was very satisfying because it was a huge part of the game.

How did your team choose the tools and frameworks for the game?

We took quite a while to start, and it was because we were trying to figure out ideas and tools to use to make those ideas a reality. My teammate Daniel eventually suggested we use Vue because he uses it a lot and he thought it would be great if those of us who had never used Vue before experimented with it, and another teammate, Kacha, suggested we use Animejs for any animations.

As a programmer, how was working on 00 days left different from your usual projects?

It wasn’t so different, really. We still had objectives and we still used code to solve them. The main difference, and I think this is with most hackathons, was that there was a lot of pressure to get things done in that small space of time. I usually take as much time as I need when I’m coding my usual projects.

What were the biggest challenges over the weekend? Any funny stories?

I think the biggest challenge was that by the end of the first day, we still didn’t have anything done. A lot of things we were trying didn’t work out on the first day, and so the next day, we were scrambling to put out a finished product.

A funny story, I didn’t actually go to the venue to participate in the Game Jam at all. Isaac, a friend of mine, and I wanted to participate in a certain hackathon, and we were looking for ways to meet up and practice. For some reason, we thought the venue for our Global Game Jam was the perfect place to practice some algorithms for this future hackathon, and we planned to just hide away in a corner and solve random challenges. We signed up for GGJ so we could be allowed into the venue. The day came, and I walked inside the place and saw Isaac in the main room which was filled to capacity, and I went over to say hello. I found he was part of a team and they had gotten started with their game, and we realized we weren’t going to do what we had planned. I moved into the second room where they had cleared out some space and found a team and went along with everything like I planned to be there the entire time.

(Comment from Sithe: I’m so glad you got swept up in GGJ!! 😃)

Have you worked on any games outside Global Game Jam? If not, what would you be interested in contributing to other games?

No, I never have worked on any games before the Global Game Jam. But I would definitely like to practice building little games in the future. Maybe I could build my own little silly Fireboy and Watergirl knockoff one day. If I could contribute anything to someone else’s game, I’d contribute my code and imagination.

What would you like to see more of in the game development industry in Africa and the global industry?

I would love to see more of our mythology shown in African games. When you think mythology, you’re usually thinking Greek, Roman, or Norse, and the only African mythology that’s popularly touched on through media is Egyptian. It would be cool to see more African mythology and spiritualism used to create fascinating stories and gameplay. Telling more of our history in our games is something I would also like to see. Just more African period piece type of games, whether it’s a historical period or an Afro-futuristic period being shown.

Is there anything else you want to tell us? A fun fact about yourself?

I really love peanut butter! It tastes so good and goes well on anything. As a kid, I used to sneak into the kitchen and steal large spoonfuls of peanut butter, and then join my mom in fake confusion when she would wonder why her peanut butter was finishing so fast.

You can play 00 days left in your browser here: https://zerodaysleft.netlify.app/

You can see more about the development team from GGJ Nerd Otaku Lusaka here: https://globalgamejam.org/2020/games/cashitos-3

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