Mini Game Jam, April 2010
Posted at 23:33 on 19th April 2010 - permalink

Last weekend, a collective noun of UK indie games developers were invited to the North London home of Honeyslug‘s Ricky Haggett for an intensive two-day programme of designing and implementing experimental games.

Among the attendees were the host Ricky (Kahoots, Poto & Kabenga), Terry Cavanagh (Don’t Look Back, VVVVVV), Craig Forrester (Ishisoft), Elliot Curtis (Making Fun Games), Jim Riley, Adam Schofield and on piano accompaniment, Rob Haggett (The Slips).

Among such formidable company I felt a bit like someone turning up for a jam at Eric Clapton’s place with a kazoo, but my lack of practical coding ability (and, erm, a laptop) were quickly accommodated for, allowing me to spend the time pottering around with DeluxePaint and Klik ‘n’ Play.

The format was simple. A list of themes was collected from the participants (including “maps”, “chickens”, “sewing”, “umbrellas”, “bacon”, “chimneys” and… “chunting”?), and then selections were made from this list at random. There then began a three hour session in which everyone was to attempt to make games inspired by the chosen themes.

Saturday’s session spawned two completed games: Ricky’s Eyjafjallajoekull and Terry’s Kongregate-baiting defen. I understand that the Sunday session brought some other games near to completion, which may find their way onto the internet soon.

Having not attended any kind of ‘jam’ before, I was sceptical that anything substantial or interesting could be produced within such a brief timeframe. While the released games are rather lightweight and silly, the actual ‘jam’ process was both entertaining and informative.

The bizarre themes encouraged everyone to perform experiments they probably wouldn’t have considered otherwise, and ideas and suggestions were bounced around in all directions. Seeing the working methods of seasoned developers outside of the typical development schedule and considerations was also illuminating.

The event was successful enough among the group that future jams are already in the planning stages. Will these sessions shed light on the mysteries of “Mothsps”, “Chicky Wizz” and “chunting”, or will they throw up even more inexplicable things? Either way, it’s sure to be a fun time.

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