GameJam 2015

Having nurtured a passion for video games since my youngest age, I’ve always told myself that one day I’d create my own game in which there would be an incredible and fascinating story – a story so unbelievably powerful that players wouldn’t be able to turn off the game console!

And then, luck would have it that I was given the opportunity to produce such a game for the outrageous Game Jam event. The goal: to produce a game in a single weekend. Contrary to what people might think, we are under no obligation to create a video game; we can also invent a board game or even a card game, although most games crafted during the event are video games.

In order to make this task a little more challenging, participants also have to respect a theme. This year’s theme: What do we know?

I embark on the journey, confident. We are a team of 4 individuals: a mobile video game developer, a graphic artist, a sound engineer and me, a web developer.

First step: brainstorming

While it’s not easy to create a game with such a specific theme, ideas start emerging quickly and everyone is contributing.

Gradually, we start shaping a very dynamic multi-player game that encompasses multiple minigames. We implement the concept while trying to respect the theme. The games have to be user-friendly and players have to be a little destabilized. We use the Unity rendering engine to develop our game.

The project takes off pretty easily since everyone is working in their area of expertise. After designing a model for every game, all that’s left is to start creating!

Second step: get to work!

The challenge takes place in an open area with more than 200 individuals, which is not ideal for team work.

After a few installations and recaps of everyone’s tasks, we start creating our game.

Since I have no experience with the motor we chose, I am put in charge of the network. Our server is running on NodeJs and my mission is as follows: to make sure Unity and the server communicate adequately, to implement the entire user and score management and to load the minigames. Taking ownership of Unity is pretty easy.

Hours pass and “almost” everyone is moving forward. The Javascript script on the server is really easy to understand. Unity works in C#, which is child’s play for me! My friend then explains to me that I should be done soon and once I’m done, I can help him design a scene on Unity. I start taking over the Unity part, putting in place one plug-in, then two, then three…

To my surprise, I end up spending 8 hours on a server that should be super easy. Communication is set up but unlikely errors keep popping up. In order to solve these issues, two of us have to work on the network. Six more hours are lost for the both of us!

It’s 12:30 in the morning; we decide to call it a night and go rest when a stroke of genius hits my friend, who tells me that he has a working library at his office.

The next day, with the right library in place, we decide that I should work on a game scene.

This helps me discover how it is at once simple and complex to use Unity. We have a few hours left and even if the hours lost yesterday due to network issues make it impossible for us to implement all anticipated scenes, we continue moving forward.

Minutes flash by as I implement a music and sound management class. Soon enough, it’s 3 p.m. and time to hand over our project. We smooth out last-minute bugs but the game can be exported to iPhone and can be played in multiplayer mode.

Judges go by, we explain our project, they test it. And it’s a wrap.

To conclude

While I am still a long way from my dream of producing a legendary game, I absolutely loved taking part in this event. I learned so much, in terms of technical and project management aspects. We also mostly learned from our mistakes. The only thing I wanted to do when I left was to start getting ready for the next GameJam