TO Jam 5 – Development Video Blogs (Part 3 of 3)

Posted by aBethke on Wednesday May 26, 2010 Under TO Jam

In a short time the TO Jam Arcade and final judging for the People’s Choice Award will be upon us. Andrew and I have been doing some revisions on the game slowly while working on other projects. At this point Ive kicked most of the remaining work to Andrew at his request and have moved onto other Golden Gear projects.

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TO Jam 5 – Development Video Blogs (Part 2 of 3)

Posted by aBethke on Tuesday May 4, 2010 Under TO Jam
Reentry - Missile Stage

Reentry - Missile Stage

*sniffle* Oh how I already long for the arrival of TO Jam 6 next year.

Andrew and I are continuing development on Reentry, which is going good for the most part. We are having a big debate between us at the moment because he really likes the point and click control system and I want to use the keyboard system I have implemented. Its a big problem because of game balance and how the game would evolve from here so we need to make a decision soon. From my play testing research most people find the mouse based system really annoying. I think the game would benefit much more by allowing the user greater control and increasing the overall game speed. We will get it sorted out soon enough though.
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TO Jam – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 1 of 7

Posted by aBethke on Monday Apr 19, 2010 Under TO Jam

Quick Overview
If you are reading this you probably already know what TO Jam is but just in case, the quick and dirty is that it’s the single greatest Toronto based event all year. 72 hours of video game making madness where you and your cohorts (who must be equally insane to have signed up) will take a game from concept to complete. Noobs, Veterans and the spectrum in between will be in attendance all trying to make the greatest of Toronto Indie games.

As someone with experience in game development and TO Jam I wanted to offer some advice on the event to anyone who was interested. :)

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TO Jam – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 2 of 7

Posted by aBethke on Monday Apr 19, 2010 Under TO Jam

Why attend TO Jam?
At TO Jam, there are a wide range of participants from beginners to professionals. Various people attend the event for different reasons and I thought I would start with a quick breakdown of some of the reasons why someone would want to be involved with TO Jam.

Fun
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TO Jam – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 3 of 7

Posted by aBethke on Monday Apr 19, 2010 Under TO Jam

Finding a Team
So you have decided to attend the event and need a team. First off, good for you! TO Jam, as was previously stated and will certainly be stated again, is an awesome event. Ahh but now you are faced with the logistical challenges of finding a team. You have a number of options:

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TO Jam – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 4 of 7

Posted by aBethke on Monday Apr 19, 2010 Under TO Jam

Game Selection
This is an extremely important topic for TO Jam and one that usually requires a little bit of experience to properly temper your final choice. One of the best ways to break down the decision of what type of game to make is to determine what purpose you want the game you make to serve. What do I mean? Allow me to elaborate…

Your First Game
Perhaps you have never made a game before or its your first time at TO Jam. For these people TO Jam is a great opportunity to sit down with a bunch of other very passionate people and try to make your very first game. Even if it goes horribly wrong and you don’t finish your game you will have gained a ton of valuable experience, especially for next year, and hopefully had some fun in the process.

Start Now, Finish Later
This is an approach I have taken in the past with games like Der Baron von UberCheesen’s Cheese Factory and Flip the Beach. The idea is very simple, start a project at TO Jam which will become a prototype for a larger project later. One of the best features of TO Jam is the fact that it makes you do a lot in a very short amount of time. What would have taken potentially weeks or months on your own gets done in a single weekend. As such, TO Jam becomes a great place to prototype game concepts that you want to take further after the event, while still giving you a completed game for the event itself.

People’s Choice Award
Ahh yes, the coveted People’s Choice Award. Who doesn’t want their game to rise above the rest to shine like a golden shiny thing of shiny goldeness and wonder; to be hailed as the greatest amongst them all! The People’s Choice Award, as quick background info, is the award given to the top three games as chosen by you the people at the TO Jam Arcade post-event event. If you are making a game with the idea of winning this award then you should focus your game design on something that is visually crowd pleasing, quick to learn, easy to play and it doesnlt hurt if more than one person can play at once. Take into account the logistics of the presentation event when picking a game type: Multiple games displayed at once in a crowded bar style environment (historically speaking) jammed full of TO Jam participants and as many of their friends that would come out to support them. Over the years Ive seen many types of games do well as far as the judging goes but some of the key characteristics Ive noticed that they all share are simply: They are entertaining for the passive audience to watch, they usually allow for more than one player at a time and they are easy to pick up and play with minimal to no instruction.

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TO Jam – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 5 of 7

Posted by aBethke on Monday Apr 19, 2010 Under TO Jam

Theme vs No Theme
Those that know me should know that I could not have written an article on TO Jam without at least mentioning the use of theme vs not using the theme. The ultimate goal of TO Jam, as related to me by the organizer himself, is to have fun and grow the Toronto Indie Community. As such the organizers would always rather have people at TO Jam making games regardless of theme rather than not attending TO Jam at all. I wholeheartedly agree!

…. but if you are going to do something, do it right.

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TO Jam – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 6 of 7

Posted by aBethke on Monday Apr 19, 2010 Under TO Jam

Feature Creep
Feature creep, scope management or “shit lad we’re over our heads!”. No matter what you wanna call it this is arguably the single most challenging aspect of TO Jam. How do I design a game that I can complete in 72 hours? My best recommendation is layer your game play and iterate your design based on features. To expand on that, what I’m really talking about is careful planning and time management. Plan your game in such a way that at any major milestone the game is playable, somewhat stable and feature complete for that milestone. As a more tangible example lets look at a game like Mario and how one might approach it in the context of TO Jam.

Milestone 1: I have a man on screen!
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TO Jam – A Beginner’s Guide – Part 7 of 7

Posted by aBethke on Monday Apr 19, 2010 Under TO Jam

Pacing
This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way, but Ill get to that later.

Pacing is extremely important at TO Jam and doubly so if you are going the route of programmer(s) and not planning to sleep for the weekend. Some people can do it, some people can not and some people can but crash and burn in the last hour *shifty eyes*. I highly recommend sleeping at some point during the event but being the general non-sleeper (Z?) that I am, and I know most of you are as well, I know that some of you out there are planning to go like gangbusters and try to power through the event. You may make it, but I doubt it. I would be so bold as to offer some advice, a strategum if you will, as to what has worked for me in the past.

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