Scary games and Scary Futures: A Game Jam Postmortem

August 26th, 2016.
My humble team of 6 fellow students sits down in our “studio” for the weekend.

We take roll.
– Three Game Development majors
– One Software Engineer major
– One Information Tech major
– One Graphic Design major

But in this environment, majors don’t matter much. What we really had:
– Two Programmers
– Two Designers (and board game jammers!)
– Two 3d modelers and 2d texture-ers

We had just finished closing ceremonies, and were incredibly giddy at this year’s theme: Beat.
While others’ were buzzing about with rhythm games and vegetable puns, we took it in a different direction.
Heartbeat.

This was the most challenging Jam that I have ever jammed. We finished the Friday night drawing board with a lot on our plate! Our goal was to have a scary game with some complicated systems.
Dynamic, randomly selected “stress events”, where the player must go about an empty house turning off loud objects that keep re-activating themselves
3D audio management of several different objects
An inner “stress level” value being managed by in-game time and manipulated through the stress events
Screen border notifications based on trigger events
Jumpscares (yes, yes. I know. But none of us had the talent or time to produce more sophisticated horror. Still works just fine.)

And to top it all off, we wanted to make all assets from scratch. Props to our artists for actually pulling that off. Like, holy chips.                  ey

silent-night-logo

 

Anyway, each of us got maybe 10 or 12 hours of sleep that weekend. Experienced jammers might call that pretty scrub level, but I firmly believe in productivity though rest. We worked hard during the day, furiously cranking out assets, programming for hours, and trying to make cameras behave correctly. With one master computer that was on the projector board 24/7, it was a total blast.
Or maybe that’s the soda, pizza, Cheetos, and dry cereal talking.
(Shoutout to Claire’s lettuce and water)

The stakes were high this year. Winners of the best trailers at closing ceremonies get tickets to SIEGEcon, a huge convention here in Atlanta that’s by game developers, for game developers. Throughout the next week, the judges would be playing all the games from ~160 people, and the winners of Best In Jam would get to represent the university with their own booth at Siege. With impressed vibes given from the judges throughout the weekend, the following 5 school days were a nerve-wracking mess.

Friday’s CGDD meeting came along, and,

We’ve won.

Our little child, Silent Night, won. Alongside of two other teams, you can find us October 7th – 9th proudly handing out our business cards and portfolios at the single most important event in our lives thus far. Not just because of the potential employers- but because of the entire collective knowledge in one place. The workshops, the Q/A sessions, the parties- I can’t even imagine what lies in the road ahead.

We’re all humbled to a point without words.
Thank you, Kennesaw State University. Thank you, all of the judges who gave their time to look at our game. Thank you, Josh, JerekQ, Sterling, Professors Fowler, Jones, and Gesick.  You’ve all inspired us to do great things and achieve more than we ever thought possible of ourselves- especially in just two short years of college. But most of all,

Thank you to my team.

Casey: You’re a total pro at this.
Your iron will to stay up late, always keep pushing,
and never desiring to stop, fills me
with so much motivation. I’ve seen you spend
hours on a single script and get itchy after
taking a 15 minute break. You’re a natural
leader by example.

Melissa: Your creativity astounds me.
It honestly takes a lot to contribute to a video game
AND a create a fully functional board game in one
weekend. Even out of our Jams, you’re always
coming up with so many ideas with a
fire in your eyes and passion in your
soul. It’s heartwarming, and pushes me to
continue my own creativity.

Dustin: Where would we be without you?
Honestly.
Dustin, the realist who predicts how mechanics
will play out with uncanny precision.
Dustin, the manager of time and team.
Dustin, the reasoner, and decider.
Dustin, the designer.
You’re more important to us than you know.
I can’t wait to see what you will accomplish.

Claire: Where are the words?
With a focus on 2D design, you
jumped on board with almost total strangers and spent
the weekend with us kicking total ass in the art department.
You showed extraordinary skills in both modeling and
texturing, and took us all aback with such beautiful work.
Don’t ever stop creating. The world needs your talent, and so do we <3

Lane: Dude. I’m gonna get real here-
I saw you transform that weekend.
Before, and I mean even the day before, I could see your
self doubt starting to brew. I know it was a bit bumpy deciding
to make games with us, but what I witnessed was incredible.
The very minute you sat down at your desk, you started
cranking out assets like nobodies business. You greatly impressed all of
us during our time together, and I saw a spark in your eyes explode
to an enormous bonfire of passion when your sink was put into the game.
You were born to create.

And finally,
Duncan.
I’m sorry you weren’t there to share this with us.
I can’t say we didn’t need you, either. With Casey, and I taking
on the bulk of the programming, we really could have
used an extra critically-thinking mind to proof-read and
design scripts with us. We had you there with us in spirit the entire time.
You’re a critical part of <Null>, and don’t ever forget that.
I look forward to what we will make in the Jams to come.

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