What’s a Game Jam?
A Game Jam is an organized get-together with the intention of creating a full game – from conception to completion – in a pre-determined, short period of time, usually one weekend. Popular Indie games such as World of Goo and Crayon Physics Deluxe were both created during this same type of rapid prototyping.
Where is it?
The August 2012 Game Jam will take place at Simutronics Corporation, 218-C Millwell Drive, Maryland Heights, MO 63043. If you’ve come to any of the recent St. Louis Game Developer meetups? Yeah, that place, flying balloon animals and all. Check here for directions.
When is it?
Things kick off at 4 pm on Friday, August 3, 2012. We’ll do some team-forming, and then announce the theme around 5 pm, and get to work! The venue will be open non-stop until we’re done on Sunday, so it’s up to you if you want to drive home and sleep, catch a nap in your car, or just chug the caffeine and go for it!
That’s a lot of hours. Do I need to be there the entire time?
Nope! But if possible, try to be there at least for the kickoff on Friday, when we’re brainstorming and forming teams.
How much does it cost?
Nothing! It’s a free event.
What do I need to bring?
You must bring your own computer, which must be enabled for wireless access. No wired internet connection will be provided. Also, your laptop should already have any software that you plan to use, already installed. Trying to install and configure new software at the Game Jam itself is a bad idea, trust us. See below for suggestions on good things to install and learn beforehand, such as Game Maker.
Why can’t I just do this at home?
You could do this at home, but the primary goal of the Game Jam is camaraderie, teamwork, and making friends. We want the game development community in St. Louis to be united and grow, and that will only happen through the unity that comes from events like this one.
Why such a short time frame?
The short time frame is there to create restrictions and encourage creativity. When you see the ticking clock, you’re forced to think on your feet and focus on your game’s strong suits rather than spending hours perfecting the way light reflects off of your grass texture.
So I can finally begin my RPG that takes place entirely in a Hermit Crab cage?
It’s possible, but it will depend largely on the theme.
Yep! To prevent people from “cheating” and to further encourage creativity through restrictions, we ask that all games revolve around a certain theme. The theme is decided by the Game Jam organizers, and will be announced on the first day of the Game Jam. For the Global Game Jam, there may also be several “elements”, which you can optionally choose to incorporate into your game for an added challenge. The benefit of using these is that your game will be more easily searchable on the Global Game Jam site.
What technologies can I use?
You name it! Everything from Game Maker, to homebrew Nintendo DS development, to C# and XNA, to Assembly, to Pen and Paper will be accepted. Be aware that some technologies will make sharing your game more difficult, so if you want people to actually play your creation, you will need to use something appropriately widespread.
What technologies do you recommend?
You may wish to check the games from previous Game Jams at http://www.globalgamejam.org to see what has been used. The most common platforms tend to be Game Maker, Game Salad, XNA, Flash, Unity, and Objective C, but anything is welcome! The following are some suggestions:
But you can basically use anything you want. If you have an existing engine from a prior project with all of the essentials in place, just go ahead and use that. You could potentially mod a game, but be warned that if the theme of the game can’t be easily expressed through your chosen technology you’ll likely be fighting with your tools the whole time.
So I can use this time to finally learn Assembly, right?
Uhhh, no. You’re going to want to come into this with a technology in mind and the knowledge of how to make a game with it. If you’re spending your time learning a new technology from scratch, your game will suffer for it, guaranteed.
What if I don’t know how to program? Is there a place for me?
Probably! People will likely break out into teams of coders, artists, and sound people, with many people taking on double-duty. Even unskilled participants can do things like making icons for power-ups, putting together highly repetitive title screen music using free software, or searching for cool sound effects on sites such as http://www.freesound.org. This can lighten the load on others , and go a long way toward improving a game. If you still want to get your hands dirty with the game creation process, spend a few nights before the Game Jam brushing up on some of the Game Maker tutorials. It’s surprisingly easy!
So who isn’t this for?
We’re not sure yet! My advice would be to show up and see where we can fit you in. If you find yourself without much to do, you can always go home.
I have a wedding to go to on Saturday. Should I bother coming for the rest of the time?
Yes! We’d love it if you could make it for the entire time, but we know how life is. If nothing else, you can do some ridiculous voice acting for the 10 minutes you’re there.
Can I keep working on my game after the Jam?
Yes! It’s highly encouraged, even. We want these games to stand as a symbol of St. Louis’s growing game development community, so we’ll be doing what little we can to promote them long after the Jam is over. If your game is a little better than can be accomplished in 48 hours, it only makes everyone look better.
How can I help?
If you’d like to help with organizing or sponsoring, email email@example.com and we can figure something out.