Choosing a ridiculous theme for a game jam lowers concerns over risk of failure for participants and gives designers freedom to explore ludicrous ideas. This was the message from Anna Kipnis, senior gameplay programmer at Double Fine and organizer of the Molydeux game jam event, while speaking at GDC 2013 this morning.
Kipnis organized the "What Would Molydeux?" jam in 2012 after proposing the idea to turn the tweets of Peter Molydeux (@PeterMolydeux
) – a Twitter account that parodies the grandiose game concepts of veteran game designer Peter Molyneux – into actual, playable games. The idea for the jam was seized upon by other game-makers and journalists on the social network.
"I kind of felt a responsibility to do it after that," said Kipnis. "If I didn’t do something I’d have been bailing on everyone. Even the parody account gave the concept its blessing."
Kipnis, a first time game jam organizer, explained how the idea quickly snowballed into a global event, with groups in cities around the world signing up to the event wanting to host their own local Molydeux game jam across the first weekend of April.
The owner of the Molydeux parody account agreed to judge the games, while Peter Molyneux himself offered his support to the event, putting in an appearance to the London jam.
"We didn't want Molyjam to be a competitive event," she said. "Rather, it was about having fun and making ridiculous games together."
In order to enable to event to go as smoothly as possible Kipnis and the team approached various game engine makers to provide tools that would help artists, coders and musicians create their games more quickly.
"By the time the jam started we had fully featured temporary licenses for these engines," she said.
Kipnis offered a number of tips for anyone wanting to create and host their own game jam event.
- Choose a good theme, as this takes the pressure off participants
- Ensure you use a venue with enough power, internet, sitting places and water for the duration for the event
- Secure temporary licenses for game engines to offer participants the best possible starting point for their game
- Include a show and tell party at the tail end of the event for participants to share their work
- Open the entire process to the public, providing walk-through, interviews with teams and even a segment where someone does their work live on the internet.
- Encourage participants to crowd-source assets for the game
Kipnis received a huge amount of positive feedback for game-makers after the event with many claiming that working on a game during the jam removed writer’s block.
"Embrace ideas that appear to be ludicrous," she said, "and you never know what you might discover."
For Gamasutra's full GDC 2013 event coverage this week, check out the official GDC 2013 event page.