Feedback Of Our First Game Jam
Hi! We are Camille and Ludovic, and we want to share with you our feelings about our first participation in a Game Jam. Spoiler alert: we didn’t win.
We heard about the jam called Ready Player Forty-Two thanks to our internship supervisor who is by the way an alumni of our computer programming school, 42. This game jam was created by an organization called 42 Entrepreneurs. Its mission is to develop the entrepreneurship of students by organizing events.
As you may know, a Game Jam consists of developing a game concept in a short timeline. Our internship supervisor challenged us to integrate in our game concept a part of the company’s business field: Procurement World. We tried to do so without success, let us tell you about this story.
I. GAME JAM BASICS
First of all, we want to start this story by explaining what are the Game Jam basics. A Game Jam is a contest where participants try to build a video game from scratch. Depending on the format, the contest duration usually ranges from 24 hours to a whole week. Participants might work independently or in teams. Competitors are generally developers, game designers, 2/3D designers, or writers. Usually, game jams impose a theme in order to avoid participants submitting games that they already worked on.
The first known game jam named 0th Indie Game Jam was founded by Chris Hecker and Sean Barrett in March 2002. They invited a selected crowd of well-known designers and programmers to develop games for a specific game engine.
Let’s talk a bit about Ready Player 42; even before it started we knew several things about the rules:
- Create a game from scratch
- Participate in teams of 2 or 3
- Follow a given theme
- Submit a working demo of the game
- Publish it on the platform itch.io
Several prizes to be won:
- Jury’s special award
- Megatron award: Based on participants votes
- Pre-sales award based on number of purchases on the platform
II. OUR JOURNEY
The Jam starts! We were so excited by the kick-off call, the theme was revealed: we had to build an addictive game! So we started to brainstorm to find out a game type, their mechanics, and gameplay features that can make it addictive.
After a few hours, we chose a management game based on the supply chain, so we could integrate the procurement world into our game. We also had a workshop at 5:00 pm to introduce us to the basics of game design with Camilla Avellar, a game designer from Supercell. It was really cool to have advice from a game designer who is working for a huge and successful game studio like Supercell.
We spent the whole day defining more and more precisely our game, its mechanics, and what could make it addictive. It was frustrating to know that we would not have enough time to develop all our ideas for one single week.
At 11:00 am we had a workshop with Jean-Nicolas Vernin from MadBox studio, he talked about his experience in the video game industry. Even though it is not an industry we are interested in at the moment, it was really instructive!
We spent the morning doing the same as the day before, continuing to write documentation about how our game would work. Then, we finally challenged our original idea and took the decision to make it easier to implement. So we thought about a new concept that was way more adapted to the theme: addictive game.
We started to code our game in the afternoon and it was really satisfying. It was the real starting point for us.
All-day long, we wrote a bunch of code. We designed quite simple gameplay to make it really addictive, then we implemented simple graphics elements to make it catchy and appealing. The gameplay was basic: your character shoots almost every second, and you just have to rotate him with the mouse and aim at enemies that spawned around you; killing them allows you to earn score points and get coins that can be used to buy extra lives. We planned to make it multiplayer, 1 versus 1, so the coins could also be used for spawning boss into the other player’s area. It was a bit hard but so cool to develop!
The final rush! To participate in the jury’s award, we had to send a 1-minute long video. We recorded a video of ourselves playing and introducing the game. We also needed to provide a working demo of the game to the jury so that they could test it. We spent the whole day improving this demo by adding visual effects, addictive and catchy elements. But we finally had to give up the multiplayer mode due to not enough time.
We started making the video around 6:00 pm, and we finished at 9:30 pm. It was really hard for us because we never had any experience in video making. We finally submitted the video and the demo. It was a huge challenge!
Why we did not win
The fact that we changed our objective along the way made it harder for us, and we couldn’t go through with our first idea. We are pretty sure that we could have had time to code the multiplayer mode if we had started with this idea from day one. Also, the fact that the theme was so broad didn’t help us compared to some teams who came with already designed games. The “Addictive game” aspect could be interpreted in many different ways so that almost any kind of game could be considered as addictive, and it permitted existing projects to be used.
We also think that the trailer played a huge role in the jury’s decision and our lack of experience in video making did not help us.
What we can do better next time
When we learned that the theme was so broad we should have asked for more restrictions or impose them ourselves. We could have had improved our time management: we made our video at the last moment and due to our change of idea in the middle of the game jam, we started to code it too late. We could also have had communicated more with colleagues or even friends about our ideas throughout the game jam and get some feedback.
Why it was so cool
Because it was super challenging! We needed not only coding skills, but also other ones like video making, game designing, communication, etc. We had a Discord server available for the participants: comparing the progress of the other teams day by day gave us a pinch of adrenaline that helped us maintaining our level of excitement and enthusiasm.
We participated in workshops with professionals of the video game industry, which gave us some insights on how to define a game project.
We also had interesting discussions with the other teams. We tested each other’s games and it was interesting to see how they worked.
What was not so good
We relied too much on the live presentation with the jury which has been finally canceled, in order to be able to clearly introduce our choices and ideas. We also didn’t get any feedback from the jury, and it might have been interesting to see the positive and negative points.
Not all the teams respected the number of teammates allowed and one of the game jam’s concepts: designing a game from scratch.
One of the rewards was for the game which got the most pre-sales on the hosting platform: we didn’t find this really interesting or even challenging. It was already hard enough to deliver a viable game so that we kept focused on finishing it rather than trying to sell it. But hey, it was a good experience anyway!
IV. THE LAST WORD
We really enjoyed to develop our own game and to participate in this Game Jam. Sharing our ideas and debating at all time was really interesting in terms of communication and teamwork.
We constantly challenged ourselves during this event and did our best, we now support this kind of event that animates the video game industry.
Here is a link to our game: https://calin42lyon.itch.io/circles-battle
Thanks to 42 Entrepreneurs!