Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Global Game Jam 2010

Befuddled Game I had the unique opportunity to participate in the Global Game Jam this past weekend, January 29-31. The GGJ is a 48-hour, world-wide game creation marathon. Creating a game is no easy task, let alone doing it in such a shortened timeframe. But we did create games, many of us in small groups across the world, and it was truly an amazing experience to be part of this global event!

The Triangle Game Developers division of the Global Game Jam started off at Icarus game studio in Cary, NC on Friday the 29th at 4:30pm. Unfortunately, due to snowy weather we were not able to remain at the studio location for the entire weekend as planned. We had just a few hours to get together, meet our peers, view the keynote speech, and then get started by discussing game ideas and forming teams. After a short period of discussing our game with our new team members, we left for the evening with everyone's contact information in hand, and that's when the real fun began.

This year's theme was Deception. We had to think up game ideas incorporating some means of deception and, as an additional requirement, had to include one of the following three items in the game: a pet, a set, or a net. The idea our group settled on was a type of Bejeweled clone where players secretly choose the gems they use to score points and can also sabotage each other! Our game is called Befuddled and can be downloaded here, along with other games from the Triangle Game Developers.

One thing I learned from this event is that it takes a LOT of work to complete a game. And a lot of communication. In fact, I think that's one of the things my group did particularly well. One of our team members set up an IRC channel so we could all communicate real-time, and we were mostly connected the entire 48 hours for making design decisions, asking questions, and just chatting in general. Another thing we did really well was picking a simple game idea. It started very basic, but we were able to add on to it, giving it new visual styles and gameplay features as we went along.

One problem we had throughout was, with a basic game, trying to add the right things to make it fun. We know it still needs more playtesting and iteration to figure out the missing "fun" factor. But the best and most exciting part of it all is having something we can call a complete working game. Of course nobody stayed up the full 48 hours, but some of sure did try, and we're all very proud of our successes on this project!

Be sure to check out Befuddled and a ton of other Global Game Jam games by visiting the Global Game Jam website. You can also search Twitter for #GGJ to see posts about GGJ games.

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