Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gaming Jams

John Marine | 1:40 AM | |
The way I understand them, gaming jams are challenges in creating a game within a certain amount of time. These jams challenge you to make as complete a game as possible within a certain time, sometimes even creating to a theme. Some of the most unique gaming concepts result from these jams from developers ranging from single hobbyists to multiple people part of a team. Whatever the case, gaming jams can really bring out the best in developers. This blog post offers a few thoughts of mine in regards to game jams.


BEFORE I BEGIN...

I have never participated in a gaming jam as of this post. Thoughts expressed here in this blog post are all based on opinions and ideas of mine.





--- Gaming Jams: General Thoughts ---

NOTE: Some topics and thoughts expressed here may be featured in their own blog posts in the future.

Creating a game from start to finish takes a lot of time and money. Especially among the independent gaming circuit, however, games don't have to take ages to complete. They also don't have to be overly fancy. So to put people to the test, people take part in game jams. In the past, I thought game jams was like when you have musicians who simply perform music to others. You know- like jam sessions. But as I learned, game jams and their namesake are named for trying to put in as much content to make a proper game within a short amount of time. Some jams even have an added challenge- making a game to a certain theme. If taking part in a gaming jam, people do have an opportunity to try to practice their skills before taking part in a gaming jam proper. This sort of practice will sort of ease the burden and limits being completely unprepared and inexperienced. Some people on YouTube set up YouTube videos showcasing time lapses of their created games from concept to completion.

Of all gaming jams, one is considered the biggest and the most popular of all game jams. That gaming jam is called...


Ludum Dare.

The most popular of gaming jams is Ludum Dare (pronounced: "loo-dum dar-eh"), a 48-hour gaming challenge. Many developers of various levels have made a number of games within these challenges. The challenge of gaming jams like Ludum Dare involve creating a game that is as complete as possible. Sometimes, a theme is offered that participants must try to stick to as part of the Ludum Dare challenge. For example, participants in Ludum Dare may be asked to build a game with the theme of friends and family. So developers want to try to make a game focusing on these concepts. Once the time limit has expired and once the game has been submitted for review, it is up to gamers like you and I to test them out and play them to determine who wins.

Now if you think Ludum Dare is some brand new deal with very few iterations, think again. As of the date of this initial post (August 13, 2015), Ludum Dare is about to enter its 33rd iteration with Ludum Dare 33 happening between August 21, 2015 and August 24, 2015. Good luck to anyone who may be taking part in LD33 and in future Ludum Dare jams.

IN CASE YOU'RE INTERESTED: Learn more about Ludum Dare by visiting its official website at ludumdare.com.


The Psychology of Game Jams.

Hypothetically, a game could be completed in just one day. In theory, anyone could create a game in less than 24 hours. Some even could create a decent game in even less time- even in one hour or less! Can you imagine making 365 or 366 games- one game each day? We all know this is humanly impossible since we need to take part in a variety of activities to stay alive and such. However, in the case of game jams, it shouldn't take forever to build a game as long as you have the proper skills to build a game from start to finish. What if you were trying to meet deadlines to complete games for a company or some client? Can you complete a decent game within the time frame of a game jam?

The primary challenge of a game jam is to try to create a game within a certain amount of time. It does not have to be overly fancy- it just has to work and work properly. The game can be made by one person or be part of a team. Many people who participate in gaming jams learn lessons in trying to create games in short order.


Learning from Gaming Jams.

I have read multiple posts on Ludum Dare's website and in others' blogs about what they learned in working on the games they attempted to create for gaming jams. Many wish they had more time and resources to develop games. Some others think of taking certain measures to be more efficient in developing games, especially when you don't have so much time to work with. So while the challenge of making a game in such a short amount of time is a great challenge, there is a lot to learn. I would say that people in gaming jams learn of the essentials to making a game before refining them further. Most gaming jams mean most developers have to do with certain development pieces since you don't have as much time to create certain elements as you probably would you had seemingly unlimited time to develop a game. The impression I get from those who do jams like Ludum Dare is to find out how much game they can create in the allowed time one has to develop a game. Because you have a set amount of time, does that mean you will create a game as complete as possible? Not all the time. Some games created in jams may even be broken messes that still are remotely serviceable. A game jam is NOT a contest of perfection, and games are only going to be as perfect as what one deems perfect (or at least decent) with games created in game jams. You're going to have to be REALLY good if you're going to make a game in a gaming jam that even would challenge any Triple-A developers or Triple-A games. If you're expecting perfection or play to a level of perfection, then you've already lost the battle before the battle even starts. Just like in life, you sometimes have to learn some lessons from mistakes you make from making games in gaming jams.


Would I Participate in a Gaming Jam?

Programming is not one of my strong suits in creative work. While I am a stay-at-home person not in college or having any proper job, I seemingly have all the time in the world to do as I please. That unfortunately doesn't mean I could create a game from start to finish should I take part in a gaming jam. As a solo person who takes on a vast array of publishing tasks ranging from art to music to blogging, I don't think I could stay focused enough and be as educated enough in programming to develop a game within a short amount of time. I also tend to think highly of myself. I would feel bad releasing something that isn't to a level that I think is acceptable of my talent level. While not the very best, I certainly don't see myself the very worst.

So the chances of me taking part in a gaming jam would be rather unlikely. Maybe I'll try a gaming jam when I feel I'm experienced enough and talented enough to take one on.



--- Gaming Jams: Final Thoughts ---

I think gaming jams exist for one purpose among others- challenging people to create games in a short amount of time and usually without resources that most major developers and games would utilize. On a positive and encouraging note, being able to make so much using so little is always something encouraging. The dedicated developer would participate in gaming jams and be able to learn how to make their games more efficiently. I also feel gaming jams are the cornerstone of game development in a gaming culture in which games somehow have to be pretty and elaborate to be worth caring. Some people these days won't even go next to a game that isn't something Triple-A quality in every possible aspect. What such people would miss out on is the pure essence of games- playing them. Games don't have to be overly pretty. While not to say that games made by independents are ugly, at least there are people who remember that games are about proper play and are not beauty contests. In case anyone wants to know why the indie gaming community is so strong and appealing and why it seems almost anyone can get into the indie gaming scene and be their own star, follow game jams and games made in gaming jams. I would probably go as far as to say that gaming jams help you appreciate and respect the indie gaming scene and why games from indie developers have the sort of appeal that they have. So I'd say these gaming jams are the perfect platforms for indie developers ranging from hobbyists to proper studios.

If you take part in a gaming jam, be sure to try to create a game as complete as possible giving your full effort and dedication. Each game created in a gaming jam is both a chance to enjoy gaming, but also to learn how to make games more efficiently. Make something great while also being ready to take on various challenges in putting a game together to begin with. Your title probably won't be a Triple-A game killer, but at least making something you can be proud of through so much time and effort (and in such limited time) is something to be proud and boastful of. You are not going to be the next legendary game developer or lead gaming's next top gaming studio or company through gaming jams, but you have a chance to push yourself and your skills to the limit while also making great games through gaming jams.

Gaming jams are both great challenges and learning experiences. I salute all who take part in these jams regardless of talent and/or talent level.





These are at least my thoughts about gaming jams. I want to know what you think, though...

What are your thoughts about gaming jams? Have you participated in one? What would you recommend to others who may want to try a gaming jam?

This concludes another post of my creative works blog- "John's Creative Space." This is a blog where I share my own creative works as well as thoughts regarding making such creative works. It falls in the "anything and everything" mantra I follow for all of my online publishing work. If you enjoyed my blog post here, then please subscribe and follow this blog and my others. Get social with me on social media if you want to connect with me better. Thank all of you for your support. Simply visiting my material is the bare minimum that you somewhat care. That's all for this post, have a great day/night! Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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