Game Jams!

Welcome!

This page is devoted to all the game jams I have participated in. “What’s a game jam?” you might ask. Well a game jam is an event of a specified length of time where developers get together, form teams or go solo, and try to create a game based on a common theme in that time-frame. The length of time could be as short as a day, or as long as a month, but they are typically only a couple of days.

My experience with them has been nothing but eye-opening, inspirational, and just flat out fun! Each jam offers the opportunity to experience the entire arc of game development is a compressed amount of time and frees the creative mind to experiment with ideas that a developer may not have considered before.

In short: Game Jams are amazing!

 

Without further ado, here are the games that I have participated in creating during jams. (In reverse chronological order)

 

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Project 2201

(Global Game Jam 2015 at Phosphor Games)

Click Here to see the GGJ page

Click Here to play it in your browser (I highly recommend you read below, first)

Jam duration: 2 days

Theme: What do we do now?

The team: Collin Farrell (Character Art), Richard Borys (Programming), Tony Wojnar (Sound, UI Art, Dialogue), Me (Environment Art)

Platform: Windows PC

Tools: Photoshop CS5, Unity4, Blender 3D

 

Important note for players! : This game is meant to deeply challenge your coordination. All the inputs are randomized throughout the keyboard. When the game starts and you don’t know where the move keys are, that’s the point. Every time you start the game again, the keys will have moved. It’s different every time. *maniacal laughter*

Another Global Game Jam under my belt, this time at Phosphor Game Studios in Chicago, IL. It turned out to be a great jam with great people and a great venue. I really enjoyed this experience. Also, this was my first 48 hour jam without a competitive framework, with awards and such, and I ended up liking it even more. It gave me a chance to just focus on the game, and not have any unwanted emotions tied up in trying to win anything. That can be fun, but I think I’m done with that. Most likely I’ll end up at a competitive jam again, but I’ll try to ignore the more competitive aspects of it. I just want to make the game…

Anyway. Sorry for the tangent.

Project 2201 turned out to be one of my favorite jam games I’ve contributed to. The premise of randomizing your inputs throughout the keyboard is just pure insanity and flies in the face of game design best practices, but I still really enjoyed designing around the constraint. It turned out to be a very fun and frustrating game. I encourage anyone to try it, but I understand if you don’t finish. I kind of look at it as a way of challenging your memorization, coordination and patience. The theme “What do we do now?” felt like a statement of confusion, to me and the core experience we created flowed from that idea. Throughout the weekend we talked a lot about how this game can be a tool to have gamers see what it’s like to start from scratch as a non-gamer playing through a game. A common question you hear from them being, “What do I do now?”

For this project, I focused on environment art and level design, as well as getting the ball rolling with the nontraditional concept. When I suggested the idea of having a simple top-down shoot’em up game with the inputs being placed all over the keyboard (the original idea was to have U be “up”, D be “down”, etc) to all the jammers, I had no idea that people would sign on to that. We ended up taking that idea and improving on it quite a bit, and I’m really thankful to my team for giving it a shot.

 

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Heart Diseases

(IGDA Chicago Game Jam 2013)

Click here to download and check it out!
*Xbox 360 or PS3 controllers required*
2-4 players

Jam duration: 2 days

Theme: Death

Team Vicious Vices: Whitaker Trebella (Programming, Music), David Mann (Art), Me (Art)

Platform: Windows PC

Tools: Photoshop CS5, Unity4, Audacity

 

It was good to be back to the IGDA Chicago Game Jam! This time, I had the privilege of teaming up with a couple awesome game devs, Whitaker Trebella and David Mann, to create something for the theme “Death”.

Well than!….Death! As simple as it sounds, that’s actually a reasonably challenging game jam theme. It’s usually not a good idea to be too simplistic with your application of the theme, and “death” is  something that is very prevalent in game design. In fact, it’s one of the most common themes in video games. We needed to proceed with caution on this one.

After kicking around a few ideas, we landed on “Heart Diseases”. Considering the size and experience of our team (3 people) we decided to start small and build from there. The result was a king of the hill style game where up to 4 different diseases are competing to kill an ailing man. The rules are basic: Get on the heart and use your burst ability to repel any rivals away as you fill a petri dish at the bottom of the screen. Be the first to a full petri dish, and you are the winner! (Although I can’t say the same for the poor man whose heart you’re stopping…)

A bit dark, but I’m really proud of the work we did for this. A big thanks to Team Vicious Vices and IGDA Chicago for making this happen!

 

TorchRunner

Torchrunner

(Global Game Jame 2013: DePaul University)

Available now on the Global Game Jam 2013 site! Click here to check out the game and meet Team Pineapple Teeth!

 

Jam duration: 2 days

Theme: The sound of a heartbeat

Team Pineapple Teeth: Barathy Rangarajan (Character Art), Jared Pace (Producer), Steven Crump (Programming), Zachary Cassity (Programming), Me (Environment Art)

Platform: Windows PC

Tools: Photoshop CS5, Illustrator CS5, Unity4

 

The Global Game Jam is an annual event that, as the name implies, is worldwide with hundreds of locations and thousands of participants. Team Pineapple Teeth, a collection of former strangers, got together and hammered out Torchrunner for this event. Drawing from the sound of a heartbeat, we decided to incorporate it into a cross country sprinting game where the player sets a rhythm with the spacebar, determining the speed of the runner. At the same time, the player has to keep a keen eye out for approaching obstacles and weave back and forth between the 3 lanes available on the trail.

 

My favorite part about this concept is the unconventional relationship the player has with the speed of the runner. People typically think that moving fast is what raises their heart rate, but it is actually the heart rate that facilitates that increased speed. So in a way, the heart beat is the driving force behind a runners speed, not necessarily the result of that speed.

 

Dooodgeball

Doooodgeball

(Six Pack Game Jam)

Currently available on The Indie City Arcade located at Emporium Arcade Bar, Chicago!

What’s the Indie City Arcade? Check it out: Polygon article, Red Eye articleSix Pack Game JamIndie City Games

Jam duration: 1 month / a few days

Theme: Drinking Games

The team: Benedict Fritz (Programming/Design), Me (Art)

Platform: Indie City Arcade Cabinet

Tools: Photoshop CS5, Unity4

Doooodgeball was created during the Six Pack Game Jam, a month long game jam with the explicit purpose to make games for an arcade cabinet that the game development group, Indie City Games, put together. The intention of this cabinet is to be filled with game jam games each time it is moved to a new location, with the theme of the jam based off of the location itself. The first location to host the arcade cabinet is the Emporium Arcade Bar in Chicago, and thus the theme was drinking games.

Benedict Fritz and I teamed up to make a simple game that we knew would go over well in a bar, dodgeball. Highly competitive and very intense, this game gave us both opportunities to try out new tools/methods (Unity4 for Benedict and pixel art for me). Grab a pint at the bar and fire it up with a buddy and be careful not to hit yourself with your own throw!

 

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Fire Starter

(IGDA Chicago Game Jam 2011 1st Prize Winner)

Available now on Kongregate! Click here to play!

Jam duration: 2 days

Theme: Chaos Theory

Team Sweeeet!: Andrew Mortega (Sound Design), Benedict Fritz (Programming),  Jay Yearley (UI and Item art), Ted Molinski (Programming), and Me (Character and Environment Art)

Platform: Web Browser (Flash)

Tools: Photoshop CS2, Ogmo Editor

The goal of Fire Starter is to burn down as much of the city as you can before the city’s firefighters chase you down. This game won 1st Prize at the Chicago Game Jam of 2011 and was a blast to work on. Previous to this event, I had been working on a project that was, quite frankly, a bit out of my league with a scope that was too massive for a single developer. Having the opportunity to sit down over a weekend and quickly put together a game seemed almost too good to be true.

This was my first finished game and it completely changed my outlook and attitude on game development and how to approach the scope of a project. Pretty fun game, too!