Global Game Jam 2017

Over the weekend of 20th-22nd of February was Global Game Jam.
For those who don’t know a game jam is when a bunch of people get together and over a set amount of time, usually a weekend, create a game, sometimes there is a theme or sometimes it’s set around a certain software or hardware.
This particular jam, as the title suggests, is a jam that takes place over the same weekend all over the globe, with thousands of people making games at the same time with the same theme.

This was my first ever jam and it was so much fun and learned a lot and meet heaps of awesome people, it was amazing to see what people could do over a single weekend!

Now I had initially planned on working in a team and making something in Unity, however, a separate project of mine game me an idea.
One of my lecturers had recommended to me to check out PICO-8, a fantasy console which has strict hardware limitations and limited API meaning most things have to be done from scratch, now as luck would have it PICO-8 just happened to be in a humble bundle around that time and I bought licence to check it out.
Now I can understand why it could be foolish or ill-advised to use a development environment that you have no experience in, using a language you have never used and having to do it alone due to the platform not really allowing for multiple person projects, and on top of this have never done a game jam before, however it seemed interesting to me so that’s what I decided to do.

A lot of my peers were concerned that it wasn’t a good idea and I should just stick to what I already knew and I’d do better, however, I thought the opposite, the restrictions the PICO-8 provides me with not much opportunity to over scope, something that I’m not too guilty of but having never had to make a game in 48 hours it seemed useful to have a hard limit in place, and since this whole thing was a learning experience I decided I wanted to make the most of it and learn something over the weekend.
To that end working in the PICO-8 meant having to use Lua, a scripting language I’d never used before, My hope was that I would be competent enough as a programmer that with a reference to the API I would be able to pick it up as I went, which, actually went pretty well!

So We got to the jam, had the opening talks from industry people, a video from the guys at extra credits made just for Global Game Jam which was excellent and we found out the theme, which this year was Waves.

As soon as the theme was revealed there was a buzz in the air of people getting straight into brainstorming mode, it was amazing.

At this point, I decided to make a battle arena game where you would fight waves of enemies, not super creative I know, however, earlier that day a friend of mine had asked if I could make my games protagonist a ballerina, which I said sure, and that is how Ballerina Battle Arena was born!

Now I’m super excited about Ballerina Battle Arena, but that is not what this post is about, it’s about the jam, so I will do a follow-up post soon about it so stay tuned for that.

The next 48 hours were full of coffee, little sleep, programming, trying to figure out how to animate a tutu in an 8×8 pixel array.

It was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait for the next one, it was a tremendous growing experience and I feel so much more confident in my programming ability, AND I now have a new project to¬†work on!