Thoughts from the Global Game Jam

This past weekend as you may have noticed was the 1st Global Game Jam. The Global Game Jam is a worldwide game jam that was hosted at over 50 different sites this year and had over 1500 participants. By the end of the weekend hundreds of games have been made and those games are now in the process of being submitted. Everyone is encouraged to go to the online game browser and check out the submissions. With so many games its hard to get through them all, but I definitely encourage everyone to check out anything that’s remotely interesting to them. Students, developers, and just about everyone in between worked extremely hard over the 48 hours to create something original and interesting.

The requirements for this first game jam came in three parts. First, all games needed to be 5 minutes or less. Second, each game needed to be themed according to this quote, “As long as we’re together we’ll always have problems.” Finally, and this was different for each time zone, the game needed to demonstrate one of the following attributes: pointed, persistent, or illusionary. It was a semi-difficult theme that seems to be heavily influenced by Jason Rohrer’s The Passage.

That being said, I’d love to recommend some games from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (the Triangle). I may be slightly biased due to being the lead organizer for this site, but I think the games made here were all incredible for the time created and they all are unique entrants for the Global Game Jam.

Breeder by Team Minions
An interesting click-and-destroy game by Team Minions. You click to kill enemies and the goal is to survive for as long as you can. Enemies have a life cycle of sorts and will start mating and reproducing if left alone too long. Wait long enough and new enemy types will emerge that make your life even more complicated. A solid effort that shows how you can pack a lot of interesting ideas into even a small game.

Robot Love by Robot Love
Robot Love is a game lovingly inspired by The Behemoth’s Castle Crashers. The gorgeous artwork and surprisingly addictive music coupled with tried-and-true gameplay creates a pretty solid little side-scrolling shoot-em-up that shows with a little grit and two talented artists you can create a great demonstration in just 48 hours.

SpaceFish by Carbonated Bacon
SpaceFish is an entry that vaguely reminds me of Geometry Wars in its design. The original game title was “Buttons and Mindy” like the old Animaniacs characters where the black hole is Mindy and you play the orbiting globe Buttons. Feed the Space Fish (or Mindy) the bad red energy balls and avoid feeding the blue energy balls to win. The grab and slingshot mechanic makes for an interesting dynamic as you avoid trying to bump into other balls while maneuvering close enough to grab them.

Space Defenders of the 23rd Century by Team Tether
The fourth and final game on the list, Space Defenders (formerly just called Tether) has you or a friend control two equally powered ships that are tethered together. You need to navigate your environment while destroying enemies and avoiding asteroids. What’s even more cool than the initial first level (and hopefully something we’ll see soon) is the versus soccer level where players can use their tether to bounce an indestructible asteroid back-and-forth as a loose “ball” to score goals.

I need to stress again that all four of these games were made in just under 48 hours. It’s an impressive amount of work accomplished in such a short time and even though these games are a tad unpolished and a tad unfinished, you don’t need to look very hard to see the potential in all of these games. So enjoy them and all the other games made from around the world this weekend. And that’s all until the 2010 Global Game Jam!