Game Jam 101
It feels natural to join friends, pick a theme and create a game in 48 hours. There’s only one problem: How to have something playable at the end of the game jam?
The biggest enemy of every jam/hackathon is planning.
It is essential that all participants are rested, have fallen asleep early and do not feel exhausted prematurely.
Buy some energy drinks, coffee, soda, vodka, snacks, and candies. You’ll need it! If you’re working in the same place, go to the supermarket together and buy everything that is going to make you feel happy
Every hour counts, and it is essential to choose wisely what to do with it. In an hour, you can watch 10 gameplays on youtube or create a simple UI for your game.
Do not skip the time to brainstorm themes. Use the previous week to game jam to think of games that are interesting and viable, according to the team that will work on them.
Keep in mind that you need at least one programmer to get the game working. As much as there is various game development software out there, you do not want to depend on the limitations of the program, right?
The highest volume of work is in the code, and this should be taken into account when defining the scope of the jam. It’s no use wanting a hyper-realistic game, with complex mechanical/animations never created before.
You may even want to work harder in the future to improve your MVP to this level of complexity, but at this point, it just needs to work.
It is essential to be clear about what each one is willing and has enough knowledge to do. You do not have to be an expert on this, but it is essential to have prior experience.
Do not let them learn anything from scratch during these 48 hours. Either you will learn something, or you will finish the game. The two, at the same time, will not happen.
Now that you’ve defined what each one can do, it’s time to define the scope of the project.
Always remember that this is just the MVP, you do not need to create a multiplayer game with all the finished and playable characters, twenty-five stages and six bosses.
Depending on the level of knowledge of the team, a game where the character is “a solid that shoots”, is more than enough. Tibia went like this from start to finish, and thousands of people played and still play until today.
Everything needs a name, and it should be available and have a friendly domain for you to use. But you can’t spend one hour discussing it.
Set a timer for less than 30 minutes, it depends on you but 15 minutes must be enough, grab a piece of paper or open whatever software you like to write different names that come in your mind and relates to your game.
After that, everyone must read the names for the team to vote. Again, you don’t have an hour to do that. Make a poll, you all have to choose three titles and check the votes.
After that, one of you can check on the internet if it’s available and how much is the best domain for that.
The most voted name is not available? Check the second one, and third, until you find the one that fits the requirements.
No designer? No problem! Just choose a font that is easy to read and works in different situations.
If you have someone dedicated to the graphics of your game, remember that this person will have more than a symbol to create. This logo will probably lead the interface design on the menu and inside the game.
Don’t waste those precious 48 hours cleaning pixels or testing 254 different color palettes. You can always change it in the future, no need to be perfect, just need to work.
MAKE IT FUN!
Always remember that it’s not supposed to look tedious or regular work, it should make you all excited about the process.
Remember those things that you bought at the supermarket? They’ll help you refresh and keep the energy high.
If you’re working remotely, call your friends on skype and make it a “SHOT TIME!” when you reach a milestone, or to avoid falling asleep.
Listen to music together! There are tons of sites that you can use, but I always use Watch2gether. You can choose happy songs to start working, nostalgic sing-a-long music when you’re all feeling tired or needing a break, or funny videos to laugh a little while doing tedious stuff.
YOU WANNA PLAY A GAME?
As soon as you finish the development of your MVP, share a build with each of the members to test and make sure it’s working properly.
If it’s all good, why not to make a video of the gameplay and share with everybody, add to your portfolio and send a build to some close friends to play and give you a feedback?
- Set timers for everything
- Your game should be working at the end
- It’s better done than perfect
- It should be fun, not boring
- Test the game and let your friends test it
- Share a gameplay video on your social media