The story so far
Gamejams are great. Hundreds of people each spending their weekend on minimum sleep, frantically designing and implementing scrappy video games filled with quickly scribbled art, cheap sounding sound effects and gameplay as fun as reading a particularly wordy run-on sentence.
My first gamejam entry Sporg, in which you move a round ball into a square hole. Groundbreaking.
These factors would be enough to discourage many from wanting to ever jam a second time, but many love the experience of conjuring a complete (if limited) game from thin air in such a short space of time. It can be addictive - competing with your peers in a mad crunch, working yourself to mental exhaustion to get your game finished before the deadline.
Although some jam games go on to become fully fledged games worth playing, the vast majority can be charitably described as being as buggy as they are ugly (buggly?), dull and derivative, and mostly quite forgettable. These games were perhaps fun to create, but not something that many game players would enjoy.
Me in grey making a face as we win "Judge's Favourite" at Global Game Jam Belfast 2015.
I have enjoyed many gamejams over the last seven years, and I owe whatever skill and ability in game development I have to them. The realisation that 'I can make games' is a direct result of joining Ludum Dare (thrice annual gamejam). I have more gamejam buddies online than I know people offline. So I have definitely benefited and enjoyed the gamejam experience.
BUT it is not enough. Jams are a fine way to have fun, get some experience and even make friends. They are not a fine way to produce games that anyone will want to play or buy, and making games that someone will want to play and buy is exactly what I want to be doing. Hence this new blog.
Serious, documented professional development in the following areas, which I consider important to fulfilling my goal of making and distributing worthwhile games.
- Technical ability: programming games, content pipelines, deployment.
This one is a given. Creating games for multiple platforms, using different languages, frameworks, engines etc. I have opinions on which I like already, but there are so many that I am unfamiliar with; perhaps there are better choices out there than those I already like to use.
- Design: understanding the elements and mechanics of games and how to create and combine them effectively. Reflection on games in general and how their facets combine to create the play experience. Analysis of individual games and their specific mechanics and design choices.
- Media creation: producing static visuals, audio and video. Improving my graphical design, 2D and 3D creation skills. Video editing and production. Foley and synthetic SFX techniques. Learning music theory!
- Communication: letting people know about my progress and games. Web development. Progress transparency and visualisation (this website).
I expect this list will change over time as I become more aware of gaps in my knowledge, but should be a suitable starting point.