So the three of us here at Fervent Interactive took part in the Global Game Jam 2014 in Austin Texas. We decided to give it a shot so that we could meet some other game developers but more so that we could break our routine and think a little outside the box when it comes to game design. We have been stuck in a bit of a rut making games that are good but at the same time don’t seem to get any press or attention from the community and thus do not sell as well as we would like. So, time to break out of our shell and create something different.
Day 1: Decide, plan, work
We all sat down and discussed what we wanted to do and we came up with a great story and scoped it to what we thought we could get done in the 48 hours we had to work. We decided on making a game that was more of an interactive story rather that trying to come up with some new gameplay design that may or may not work. Not knowing exactly what we could accomplish in 48 hours we wanted to be sure and get something finished. We wanted to make an experience for the player, something that would hit home and make them think.
Day 2: Work, cut, finish
Sillyness, bad food, good company and making a game in 48 hours, what’s not to love? We scoped the game perfectly. First rattle out of the box we nailed the scoping and execution. We used every minute of our time and submitted the game 2 minutes before the deadline. The creativity in our game is in the story, the experience. It’s trying to figure out what's going on and being affected by the ending that makes it special to us. We didn’t get all of the polish items in that we wanted to but we were able to stick to the main theme and get everything that was mandatory into the game before the deadline. I’ve never created an experience for the player quite like Gumdrop. I can honestly say that this is the first time I have created something that I would consider art. Artistic aspects of any game aside, there is just more here to evoke emotions that are more than simple frustration or elation which most games provide at some level. To me that is what art is, a work of the creative mind which evokes strong emotions in the observer.
Presentation: Be Prepared
48 hours of nonstop work takes a toll on the abilities to think and to make decisions and there was no shortage of struggle towards the end. We weren’t sure what was going to be involved in the presentation phase of the game jam and we were all exhausted so it didn’t go as well as we would have liked. We really needed the ability to let the audience hear the game since the audio portion of the game is SO important. We did not have a male to male headphone cable and so we had to use my laptop speakers. Be sure to take everything you think you might need and more, then look at the equipment they have on hand so that you are ready to show off your hard work! Laptop speakers in a large room really don’t work very well FYI so we were forced to do a little explaining along the way. In the end we were awarded “Best In Show” for the Central Texas Global Game Jam location. We were all on cloud 9, some due to lack of sleep but mostly from being recognized for our work. I think we all want to entertain and affect our audience and I think we were able to do that after 48 hours of fun, pain, sleep deprivation and dedication to our goal.
So… To answer the question stated above. It taught me that I was right, making games is what I want to do. The experience of making a complete game on such a ridiculous time table underscored that fact. I had nothing but fun, stressful, wacky, immersive fun. I look forward to the next jam but I plan on taking the experience and applying it to our daily creative process as well. Even though all of our games are created on the side and in our spare time, after our day jobs, there is always time to infuse a little art into everything we do.