As you may already know, this past weekend was the annual Global Game Jam, where game developers lock themselves away for forty eight hours to make a game. My track record with game jams in the past have been pretty pathetic. It can often be difficult to find forty eight free hours in order to sit down and focus on churning out a game. Add the fact that most of those jams have been online in nature, leaving you to work from home where distractions galore can divert your attention, and I’m sure a picture quickly forms of why I’ve been completely unsuccessful in the game jam arena.
The Global Game Jam is different however; you are required to make your game at the site of the jam. The local site for here was Atlanta, GA. And on an almost complete whim, I decided to give it a shot. While the jam started Friday afternoon, I was unable to arrive until around noon on Saturday – see the aforementioned difficulty finding a full two days available. I got there, pulled out all my work stuff, and started jamming.
The jam’s theme dealt with different ways of perceiving things, and so I drew up on my experience tinkering with VR to come up with a game that involved navigating around a maze while being able to switch between three separate characters. Each character perceived the maze differently. The eventual plan was to have it so that in order to progress through the maze, you had to solve different sorts of puzzles by switching between the characters. However, with only a little over a full day to work, I vastly over estimated the amount of work I could accomplish in such a short period.
There is a video, however, of the work I did accomplish:
I do ask you forgive the bare-bones quality of that video; it was thrown together in the last minute of the jam, since it was a required part of the jam submission.
As the jam was taking place, I was stressed and tense. I described it later to being like when you have a massive project due in the next few days that you’re cramming to finish. I don’t believe I had ever had to experience such a strict deadline in any of my game making ventures. By the end of the entire venture, I was completely exhausted.
Yet, after I got home, I found myself feeling extremely accomplished. I hadn’t achieved the goals I wanted, but in a very short time frame, I had made something that had been seemingly impressive. A number of people, after submissions were over, came by where I’d set up shop and were interested in giving my demo a try. I’d always knew that people seemingly loved game jams, and I had always really failed to quite understand why. It was that euphoric high afterwards that made it all click for me. I felt motivated and excited for making games in a way that I haven’t felt for some time.
There’s another game jam here in Athens at the end of February. And I’m totally going.