Global Game Jam 2012: The Aftermath



Type: News

The Global Game Jam is a yearly event where game developers around the globe spend 48 hours creating a game (usually a prototype) based on a common theme.  This year, the theme was Ouroboros, a picture of a snake eating its own tail.  The Ouroboros is apparently an ancient symbol with a variety of meanings that you can look up on Wikipedia if you’re interested. 😀

This year, I attended the gathering hosted by Social Chocolate in San Francisco, CA.  The event ended up being held at Citizen Space SF, an awesome co-working location inside of what seemed to be a warehouse.  It was an awesome venue, if you freelance and this place is near you I’d definitely recommend it.  Social Chocolate did an awesome job of organizing everything giving a unique take on how to do the game jam.  It all started with an email containing the skills of each attendee which they used to arrange us into teams.  From there, we were to brainstorm a game idea based on the Ouroboros theme as a group.  The twist was that after the brainstorming session the team would write a concept on a poster and each member was allowed to either stay with the idea or split off and join another team whose idea they liked better.  I REALLY LIKED THIS.  I felt that this allowed people who were passionate about each idea to join their respective projects and let those who weren’t in love with ideas leave teams without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Brainstorming

For the initial brainstorming exercise, we decided to have everyone write down 10 things they thought of when they saw the Ouroboros picture or concepts behind the symbol.  We then went around the table listing them off while each picking and choosing which ones we wanted to expand on.  The team came up with two concepts.  The first concept was very literal, a puzzle game where the player is a snake that generates new pieces on its tail and has to eat pieces on its body to make matching triplets at its’ head.  The second concept involved having players take turns molding an amorphous shape into something where each person could work for or against the current project.

After cementing our team we went with the first concept and elaborated on it.  All three of us were competitive gamers so we decided to make this a competitive game by changing the objective to eating pieces from the enemy snake.

Development

  • Create the core gameplay involving a single snake eating pieces and making matches at its’ head.
  • Spawn a second snake and change the gameplay to eating from a different snake’s body.
  • Polish… Polish… POLISH!!!

Polish and Playtesting

THIS IS ALWAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!  Our primary goal was for the game to be fun, an objective to be met at all costs.  We made tons of adjustments to increase fun while attempting to decrease the length of each match.  We implemented three skills each player could use to add an aspect players had to master to become better.  To make matches go quicker we changed matches to making pairs instead of triplets and with each pair the player would receive a benefit in speed, rotation, or skill cooldown.

Conclusion

Game Jams are amazing.  Here is the project we completed in the 40 or so hours we had to jam for.  If you’ve never participated in a game jam I highly recommend doing so whether it be for Ludum Dare, TIGJam, the Global Game Jam, or a local IGDA Chapter’s sponsored jam.