Dan @ Develop Live Game Jam

 

Twas Hallow’s eve and I found myself in a conference suite in central London, with a couple of programmers who I had only met earlier that day. It was jam time! I’ve never done a game jam before and I decided the first ever Develop Live Game Jam, hosted at the Future Games Summit, was the right jam.

It was intimidating at first. We were a team of 3. Our opponents were a team of 6 from Greenwich University. They had an artist. We didn’t. There were only 2 teams and there could only be 1 winner. Little did the “Artist Wanted” team know of their destiny at this point.

Over the course of 18 hours, us 3 programming folk produced a little twin-stick shooter called UsTree (working title). It’s a co-op game where one player controls the left hand side of a two headed tree and the other player controls the right. If the 2 players walked in opposite directions, the tree would move nowhere! The idea was to produce a small, arcade, couch game which friends could play whilst shouting at each other. Enjoyable not only for those playing but for people watching too: Streamable.

As expected, we only made a fraction of what we wanted to. We were learning GameMaker on the fly, some things were not as simple as they seemed and, naturally, we encountered many a merge conflict. However, at the end, we had a 2 headed tree moving around a 2d modern city RPG (thanks to Kenney for the open-source assets!), being followed by some men in boiler suits carrying flamethrowers. You could fire weapons (my personal favourite was The Squirrel Pistol) but we couldn’t get projectile collision working in time, so that’s basically it.

Considering the Greenwich team had produced a playable, high quality prototype in the same amount of time, we thought we didn’t stand a chance. Yet, somehow, we WON. Maybe it was the idea. Maybe it was because we were half the other team’s size. It doesn’t really matter because it’s not really about winning. The experience was incredible. I’ve met a couple of talented programmers and we’re going to try and develop this game further, hopefully aiming to release the GameMaker prototype on itch.io and then maybe a more polished product in the future!

Pretty good going for my first jam. I’ve got my second in a couple of weeks. Let’s see how that fares.