Earlier in November, Cogswell’s Game Development Club hosted a 48-Hour Game Jam. Many excellent games were showcased after weekend of intense work, from a 2D platformer games featuring dinosaurs, jetpack adventures, and cyborgs, as well as 3D games like a spy infiltration video game, and a virtual reality carnival game.
The event lasted from 6 PM on Friday, November 3rd to 6 PM on Sunday, November 5th. All the attendees were divided into teams, and each team’s responsibility was to build a game to present to all participants on Sunday afternoon. Each team could make whatever game they wanted as long as it related to the theme, “Steampunk”, and the prompt, “Seeking”.
Teams consisted of four main positions: Designer, Engineer, Artist, and Audio Engineer. Additionally, Game Jams sometimes include a few “floaters”, who can either move from team to team offering help, or explore each team’s game until find one they want to be a part of. Teams were encouraged to follow a basic timeline to make sure they were on the right track for creating a game. The timeline began with a brief pre-production where all the concept development for the game was created, followed by a long production period where the bulk of the work was done, and a post-production phase where everything was pieced together and touched up.
There were several students who attended Game Jam, all from various majors at Cogswell, and each with talent to bring to their team. Teams were allowed to interpret the “Seeking” prompt in any way they wanted to as long as they could make a game out of it, but this was certainly no easy feat. Each team experienced their own unique obstacles.
When asked about his team’s greatest obstacle, Freshman DAT student Ryan Caven responded, “Probably communication. It wasn’t that bad, I’m just thinking it was our weakest aspect. [...] It would be early in the morning and us audio dudes would be working on something, [...] and we would ask the engineer [something], and we wouldn’t hear anything for a couple of hours.” Realistically speaking, a couple of hours may not seem like a lot, but with the time limitations of Game Jam, every moment spent working counts.
Game Development Club officer and sophomore GDE student Richard Cole also experienced some rough points within his own team. “I’ve never had experience, and I don’t really know what I’m doing,” he said. “This was going to be an opportunity to learn some stuff. Trial by fire, jump in, fail, and know what not to do next time.” It was Cole’s first Game Jam, and he was the Designer for his team. Despite his lack of experience, his enthusiasm combined with the talents of his team allowed them to present a functioning game based on spy infiltration of an enemy base.
President of Game Development Club and senior CS student Scott La Fetra mentioned that the biggest obstacle his team faced was the art aspect of the game. “With art, you kind of have to start from bare minimum every time[...] so a lot of our time later was spent producing art assets and getting them into the game.”
Ryan Caven mentioned how, despite a few bumps in the road, his first time attending a Game Jam was a success. “I signed up as a voiceover artist. The group that I went to wanted me to do a couple lines for the main character,” he said. “It was fun. Within the first couple of takes, I thought I sounded horrible, and I wanted to do retakes, but upon playback they sounded really good.” Caven’s team created a jetpack adventure game, in which the goal was to get the main character to the top of a tower with limited amounts of fuel.
When asked about the best aspect of his team’s game, Scott La Fetra mentioned the bobblehead of the main character’s design. “One of the earlier character concepts had a spring head, and I said ‘Oh hey, I wonder how hard it would be to make it like physics for the spring!’” La Fetra’s team created a 2D character platformer game called Crank’s Oddysea in which the main character, Crank, is a bobblehead robot searching for new upgrades and parts.
There were eight teams total who presented a game at Game Jam. Most of the games were 2D platformer games, in which the character moves back and forth, and jumps onto ledges and over obstacles. Some of the 2D platformer games involved combat, while others involved the character looking for something. There was also a 3D game with a top-down camera angle, and a Virtual Reality game based around a carnival, with rides and traditional amusement park games.
Despite how exhausted all Game Jam participants were by the end of the event, it seems that everyone had fun showcasing their games. And some teams are looking to continue fine-tuning their games. “We’re going to try to do a Game Jam every semester,” said Scott La Fetra. “Next semester will be Global Game Jam.” Global Game Jam is similar to 48-Hour Game Jam held by Cogswell’s Game Development Club, but on a global scale with many more participants. It gives all aspiring game makers something to look forward to for the Spring 2018 semester.
Photos courtesey of Cogswell ASB