Rose Valley Jam: Students Edition

Rose Valley Game Jam participants

For two and half days earlier this month, Pasadena high school students teamed up and built games with mentorship from industry veterans at the Rose Valley Jam. At the end of the game jam, the community had the opportunity to play their final games. We asked some of the students to share about their experiences. For all, Rose Valley Jam is the first game jam they participated in.

What made you interested in joining the Rose Valley Jam?

Luis B.: I was interested because my friends were joining, and it sounded like a good way to bond with friends and have fun over the weekend.

David G.: I knew that there would be years of professional game development experience in the building and I couldn’t afford not to try and learn some of it.

Pou K.: What made me interested in joining the Rose Valley Jam was that in the future, when I start my career, I want to become a game designer.

Oscar R.: I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how it would feel to create a video game.

Max S.: I’ve always wanted to learn how to code.

Teams showing off their works

Describe your game and how your team arrived at your final result.

Liam D.: [Floral Apocalypse] was planned to be a zombie survival game where the world had been wracked with a pandemic facilitated by roses. One of these survivors has a weapon, which this rose grows around her arm, she could use as thorn-shooting gun or an extending whip to be used in combat. Gameplay would revolve around stealth, the occasional 1v1 combat, and scavenger aspects intermixed. The goal of the game was to make it to this “safe-zone” which repels the zombies, going through this once-suburban town to do so. What actually happened was completely different.

Our final version was only the bare-bones of this, with an unpolished version of the stealth mechanics, unfinished level design, nonexistent combat, art that didn’t match with the initial vision, and an unfinished map lacking the objective. My friend Khai and I were the main programmers, and we suffered a major break in communication. We (team) did not write out a set procedure in how and what we would develop with the two of us pretty much doing whatever we felt like at the moment. This was also how we assembled our code, as we only had two code files, with the two of us working on both of them at the same time, resulting in it taking an exhausting amount of time to just assemble the code and test the program. We discovered that Khai and I write code in completely different styles, making it near-impossible to use code working off the others’ systems. At the start, everything was moving smoothly, we had two people working on code, a dedicated artist, and two others who were working on the selection of sound and music. We spent too much time working on the framework systems, and just adding random functionalities, instead of working to get a quality product out the door. We wasted too much time on these setbacks that we were unable to adapt fast enough, and ultimately ended with an unfinished product. I am convinced that if we had had just one more day to implement the artwork and sounds, fix bugs, and polish level design, our game would have been ten times better than what we ended with.

Jaimyn D.: We decided to use the inherent properties of a rose and its dangers to create a game that was fun and intriguing. To do this, we used the concept of above and below ground. Eventually, time limitations forced us to cut extra mechanics from our game. In the end, we have a short speed-running game that gives a small concept of what could be achieved with a game like this. Our result is a sort of demo that one might provide as a teaser at a game convention.

Charis G.: Our game turned out to be like a cross between Google’s dinosaur game and Flappy Bird. I coded the game. We had three artists and one audio person. We were originally going to make a hero’s quest, but then the web editor I was using deleted hours’ worth of code. We changed our plan and continued.

Cameron H.: Our game was where the player was able to move in a 2D plane and shoot projectiles. The goal of the player was to survive as long as possible. The main enemy was a boss on the right-most of the screen, who was moving up and down ejecting smaller enemies that tracked and damaged the player. The player was able to defend themselves by shooting the enemies but once they got hit 3 times they died.

Max T.: Our game was about a horse who had a goal to reach the Rose Valley. On the way there, the horse must avoid the deadly cacti and survive. We arrived at this by brainstorming and working as a group solving problems as they came to us.

Share one memorable moment from this weekend.

Jaimyn D.: One memorable moment from this weekend is the surprise during the closing ceremony. We had no idea we were sitting next to the mayor!

Daniel G.: When everyone was playing our game and we realized we had made a difficult game and everyone was determined to beat it. That felt really good.

Brandon N.: Making our game and winning a game from the raffle.

Khai S.: The most memorable moment was the project presentations. It was fun to look at people’ projects and try to crash them and find flaws. In all serious regards, it is to note that there are room for further improvements.

Max S.: I created my first song by myself.

Mayor Terry Tornek stopped by the game showcase

What have you learned from this weekend that you will remember in the future?

Luis B.: I learned that programming is not for me but level design is.

Liam D.: I learned what not to do, and what I can do better the next time I try to work in a team like this.

Charis G.: I have learned how to simulate gravity in my code. I also learned how to work with a team and to make a game with fun music and beautiful art.

Pou K.: What I learned from last weekend is that it’s ok to mess up, as long as you have a backup plan to fix the problem.

Brandon N.: You don’t need prior coding experience to learn to code. If you work with your team, you can get stuff done.

Oscar R.: A lot of things can go wrong when making a game, so it’s important to not get frustrated easily.

Would you recommend joining a game jam to other students?

Cameron H.: I would 100% encourage other students to do a game jam. It was an amazing experience where I was able to see what it was like working with others, being able to express my creativity and create a game of my own.

Khai S.: I would definitely recommend joining a game jam. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and build connections. Even if coding isn’t exactly up their alley, being a part of group is a great learning experience. This can be used on a resume as work-based experience. Moreover, there is free food! There is essentially no reason to not go to one unless there are time constraints and an allergy to electronic devices or rock-paper-scissor.

Max T.: Yes I would recommend this to other students because it was a great experience and I learned many new things.

Many thanks to the following students for participating this questionnaire: Luis B (freshman), Liam D (junior), Jaimyn D (freshman), David G (freshman), Charis G (freshman), Cameron H (senior), Brian H (freshman), Brandon N (freshman), Pou K (sophomore), Oscar R (senior), Khai S (junior), Max S (sophomore), Max T (freshman).

Playing and testing out the final product

The game jam fosters new friendships between schools, shares a perspective on the game industry, and inspires a new generation of game developers. Visit itch.io to see and play students’ games. Learn more about Rose Valley Jam at their website. Congratulations to the students and we can’t wait to see what games and ideas they come up in the future.