Last weekend, I participated in the 2019 Global Game Jam. I’ve participated in Ludum Dare several times in the past, but always as an individual. This jam is a little different. You go to a jam event location to participate. Everyone at the event location watches a keynote video that announces the theme for the jam. You are then encouraged to form teams and come up with ideas.
I went to to the jam location not knowing anyone there. I ended up getting paired with another lone jammer, who did know a couple folks there. We started brainstorming ideas, and as the night went on, several other lone jammers came to the event, and ended up on our team. In the end, we had four people on our team who had never met each other before.
We came up with some rather ambitions ideas for a game, and we were able to implement most of them during the jam. We made a first-person puzzle game, where you had to roam around rooms on an abandoned spacecraft trying to escape. The twist is that you are a disembodied AI (Artificial Intelligence). You don’t have a body to move around, so you have to interact with the environment by taking control of other technology.
You start off controlling a security camera, and move on to three other robots that have varying skills. There is a garbage robot who can carry small things. A loader robot that can move heavy things, but can’t manipulate delicate things. A very complicated repair robot, that can, well, not do much because only its head is left. He’s so damaged, all he can do is shine a light. Now, a light is very important for levels where there is no outside illumination.
You need to work your way through the ship to get to the core, where you can physically take your consciousness and move it to an escape pod. The final puzzle never got fully implemented, as there was to be a moral dilemma at the end. But, no spoilers here. In case the game ever gets completed.
Overall, the experience was a good one. I met some very smart, talented people who also like to create video games. We created a good base of a game, that has potential to be expanded and completed. We survived a pretty big snowstorm that impeded our ability to meet in person on the final day. I learned a few things, and created some new standards for myself for future game designs.
Most importantly, I had fun. I’d definitely do it again. Thanks to Nate, Elliott, and Brian for making the weekend the fun event that it was. Alone, I never could have completed what we did as a team.
Check out our game at our GGJ 2019 submission.