Food Bank Delivery
Food Bank Delivery is the winner of the 2011 Stanford Hackathon, where the challenge was to create a game that embodied the theme of benevolence in some way within three weeks, with a set of sweet prizes that included a review on a certain casual gaming site. In JacobG's simple arcade entry, you're driving a vehicle making pick-ups and deliveries for your local food bank, earning cash at each stop that you can use to upgrade your speed, acceleration, braking, and so forth. Start moving with the right [arrow] key, and throw on the brakes with the left [arrow], trying to stop in as many green-lit areas as you can before time runs out. As you might have guessed, the game is pretty straightforward. But instead of just putting on our elitist hats and looking down our noses at what is actually a solid if unremarkable example of a relatively new developer getting his feet wet and expanding his skillset, let's instead talk about what's done right, and what needs improving. Awwwww yeah, it's time to get constructive up in here!
The game is pretty simplistic as you might expect, but that's hardly a bad thing, and to be perfectly frank, I have difficulty playing a game in its entirety in three weeks (I'm slow, okay?!), let alone making one in those time restraints. Food Bank Delivery might not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it at least runs smoothly and executes its core concept quite nicely. I might liked to have seen the upgrades have more of an impact on gameplay beyond simply improving the bare-bones basic functions of your vehicle, preferably by introducing new elements and abilities that gave you an incentive to keep playing beyond seeing your score number creep up. As it stands, the lack of any real goal or defined ending is a bit of a disappointment because the experience winds up feeling unfinished and lacking in purpose.
More than anything, it would have been nice to see the contest theme of "benevolence" represented a little more strongly. Despite the name of the game, all you really have is the reassurance that you are in fact making a delivery of food and not picking up orphans at each stop to toil in the salt mines. One of the simplest ways to communicate this would have been through visuals, perhaps making the look and feel of the car more distinctive, or having it stop at families rather than buildings... something that would have made it feel more like the content its name suggests and less "Unmarked Van Stop-n-Go on Abandoned Street".
But for all that, JacobG has managed to create something a lot of people haven't; a simple but fully functional game, and one with a working upgrade system to boot. It's a series of steps that might seem easy to you if the only thing you've ever done is play games, but anyone who has ever cracked open any sort of toolset or program to actually make one knows just how much effort and learning is involved in really turning out a finished product. While JacobG might have a ways to go, Food Bank Delivery definitely proves he's on the right track, and we look forward to seeing just how big and awesome his talent develops in the future. Development, ho!