August 23rd to 25th I attended the Alberta Game Jam at the Lethbridge location. Knowing how bad I suffer from being a Scope-Creep, I decided I’d lend my services to helping others make their games. The theme wound up being “What lies beneath”. A great theme that led to a long list of Lovecraft-esque creations among others you can check out on the itch.io page!
I personally came up with a concept, but realized it would be too big for a 48hr jam. I call it “Our Son Loves Arson” which is similar to an inverse “Hello, Neighbor”. In other words, you’re the parents of a kid who seems like an innocent little angel. But at night, becomes a pyromaniac setting the neighbors houses on fire. You either have to stop him or cover it up by framing another neighbor. Pay attention to this site for more info on this concept later…
Nothing like a room full of Gamers
For the most part I just sat back and enjoyed working in a group environment again. I missed that since I left Vancouver Film School (VFS) after finishing the Game Design course.
I still helped out the team James was working with out in Calgary by blind coding (aka, didn’t ever test my code, just threw something together and hoped it worked) a Finite State Machine for their game, Tamathulu. It was a tamagotchi-style Cthulhu raising simulator, which was a neat little idea.
Scope is a real concern for a Game Jam…
Other than that, I just helped give some people advice/help with coding and made suggestions… Like avoiding Unreal Engine for a 2D game made in 48hr’s. I do feel I was a bit rude to one group that left, potentially because of my rude response. They had a great small idea that had perfect scope for a 48hr game and were expressing their desire to make it in Unreal. Remembering the headaches I had with Unreal out at VFS led me to suggest against using Unreal for a 2D game. I could tell it would be more hassle to get it done in such a short time frame than it was worth. Also, the only reason they were insistent on Unreal was to put their foot in the door for industry. Although that is understandable, it wasn’t a proper fit for this situation.
They started grilling me with questions and made me feel like they just wanted to use me as a tool to accomplish their goals. I told them they’d have to pay me for my help as I don’t like being treated like a tool. Even though I am (double entendre intended), but I’m a professional tool! For instance, the Professional version of Unity3D is a tool that is paid for. If they wanted to use me like a tool, they could pay.
I was impressed with a handful of the games that were released at the Jam in Lethbridge. Between a Monster Dating Sim using RenPy.
Another team of two creating a 2D and 3D version version of a digging dog game at the same time I was quite impressed.
There was even a microRTS about creatures under the couch gathering resources!
All in all, it was a great experience and I met some awesome new people! It had been years since I had done a Game Jam. Even longer since I met up with a group of similar minded game creating nerds for such an event… 11/10, would do again (and maybe even try and scope a decent idea out that I could do in 48hrs). I look forward to letting you guys know how my concept for “Our Son Loves Arson” turns out eventually! Also, below is a picture of the Dice I was given for participating in the event…