Game jams are awesome! New people, new ideas, new ways of doing stuff! If you’ve never been to one you are in for a surprise and a great time! The upcoming Dublin Gamecraft in February is an 8 hour affair that will see individuals and teams come together in one room to create something new and unseen. It will also lead to new friendships and more connections in our little indie game dev scene.
However, not to put a damper on the idea and enthusiasm but game jams are still work, in a way. The day is great for meeting people, chatting and shooting the breeze but if you want to have a game done by the end of the day you gotta knuckle down and go for it. To keep this post on topic and away from the ramblings of a mad man I’m going to condense it down to a more manageable bullet point style of Do/Don’t/Thoughts to get you through the day. There’s are just my personal views but hopefully will give an insight for those new ( and not so new) to the concept of what to expect.
Time fly’s - It really does! If you want to get to play your game at the end of the 8 hours you need to have a time plan. This means working with your new team mates and deciding who does what, how long stuff takes and when it all needs to come together.
Too many cooks - Having a load of artists / programmers / audio engineers is great for a project but if you are assembling a team on the day try and get a good balance of people. You can have the best programmed game in the world but if you are moving blocks around on screen its not that fun…. ( Someone will probably prove me wrong on the day :-P )
Battle Plan - Planning and discussing the game is important, the ideas that will sprout from all that energy and excitement will boggle the mind BUT try and keep it in perspective. You have 8 hours. Its WAY to easy to bite off more than you can chew. Try and realistically gauge the time requirement for a task or if in doubt round up time estimates.
Board Meeting - The last one of there’s I was at a chap called Andrew brought a magic board, one of those that you can stick on the wall. It was great, everyone could see what was on the to-do and it could be updated in real time. Super handy!
Tools of the Trade - Know the tools you intend to use and have them ready. Its great fun to use new stuff but on such a small time frame its unwise to crack open Maya for the first time on the day, it just won’t work the way you intend. Also having said tools already set up is super important as downloading an update for something on the day might not be possible. Internet may be available but with another 40 odd people trying to use it at the same time its going to be very slow if usable at all. Artists: If possible bring sounds ,texture samples along with you, u just never know if you can get access to fresh content.
Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince… - Easily over looked but getting some food and having a break is very important for the final evening stretch. Organise coffee breaks, you and the team will be better for it.
If anyone has any specific questions about doing a games jam, email Round Crisis and they’ll pass the queries onto me :-)
Above all else enjoy the day and don’t forget to say hello!