What we did at Global Game Jam 2016
The Global Game Jam 2016 has been and gone. This year over 36,000 developers in 93 countries got together and created 6800 games. Truly insane numbers! The theme was “ritual”.
We at Unity love game jams and think they have enormous value for the game development community worldwide, which is why we’ve been supporting Global Game Jam since 2008 and hope to continue to do so. The advantage of having employees placed all over the globe is being able to support more local communities close to where our staff work and live. A number of Unity people took time from their weekend to attend Global Game Jam locations and help with all things Unity.
Andy, Hamar Games Collective, Hamar, Norway
I travelled to snowy Norway to join the gathering in Hamar. Despite its size, this town is the home of the very lively Hamar Game Collective, made up of talented studios such as Krillbite and Sarepta. With 200 developers in attendance and 50 volunteers helping out, it was one of the biggest sites in Europe!
This is a 4-player rhythm game where players had to align their tribe-members’ arms to form certain positions that causes a town’s well to fill with water!
Slap That Brødskive
A 2-player competitive game where each player has a slice of bread strapped to his or her hands. This bread is connected to a computer via a Makey Makey and the player that slaps the other person’s bread slice the most wins!
Tai Chi Trip
Made for the HTC Vive, this VR game focuses on the player aligning their controllers with the floating orbs that appear in front of them. The controllers and the orbs synch up at various moments of the electronic ambient music leading to quite a euphoric experience!
I also took part in the game-jam, creating a game called ‘Son Of A Pitch’. I teamed up with Henriette Myrlund (Producer at PlusPoint & PM at Framverk) and Martin Kvale (Sound Designer on Among The Sleep, Progress & Teslagrad). We created a game where the players have to draw ritual symbols using different sounds made with their mouths! Moving the drawing-marker up and down is determined by how loud the sound is. You can move the drawing-marker left and right by increasing and decreasing the pitch. Here is Adrian Husby (Game Developer at Krillbite) testing it out:
As the microphone input doesn’t restrict the game to one player/sound-made, we tested the game with three players. Then we tried it with everyone attending the Hamar site; 250 players! However, 250 completely different noises unfortunately doesn’t get the best results in accurately drawing ritual symbols. Might need to keep this game aimed at a smaller number (30 and less) of players!
Olly, Edinburgh, UK
Edinburgh was the city of choice for my 2016 GameJam as it deftly box checked: a well supported institution (Edinburgh Napier University GamesLab), a nice, previously unvisited city within convenient travel distance and ideal game jamming weather.
Many teams seemed like they we already pre-formed at the theme launch, so I gathered some remaining troops and we set about ritualistically brainstorming, whilst inadvertently creating a fire hazard at the entrance to the gamesLab. We became somewhat fixated with daily rituals, and spent too much time thinking about a breakfast simulator. Eventually the idea of a endless runner where your character has to run through the daily rituals with ever depleting energy levels came about.
Things can and do go wrong at a game jam. Blue screen of death, Max crashing in Parallels, corrupt Windows 10 startup config. Disabling my favoured machine and modelling solution completely. A few hours later, my reluctant modelling weapon of choice was now installed on one of the gamesLab machines and work began on all the assets in earnest.
Time was short, so the quantity of assets required we use flat colours rather than UV mapping and texturing. Before we knew it, it was the middle of the night and those with sleeping bags worked through until we regrouped for day 3. We were still kinda in the middle of merging some art changes (lighting, materials and geometry updates), before we realised something was broken, actually most of it was broken. Countdown 4:45 – Revert!!
17:00 came and went, with our exe and with the project uploaded (pheweeeeey), the GGJ closed for local playouts! Sam (the Dooglz) hosted the ‘present & play‘ session to check out all the games and somehow, perhaps thanks to ideas and intent rather than implementation we won the local vote. Boom first GGJ done, now where did I put that pillow?,
Josh, Kerkrade, Holland
I attended the studio of ‘Asset Jesus’ himself, aka Kenney, at Kenney Land. The weekend was continuously live streamed on Twitch from his in-house security camera. Developers from Holland, Germany and UK (myself) gathered there for some hard-core weekend crunch and gratuitous pizza consumption.
We were slightly obsessed with the idea that the surroundings of our daily rituals might not be what they seem..
Arturo, Guadalajara, Mexico
This year, I had the pleasure to attend the GGJ in one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico; Guadalajara. I decided to join the venue at the Tec de Monterrey.
I was surprised to see Luis Zuno (creator of Elliot Quest) at the GGJ. Also, the full game studio 1 Simple Idea attending. In fact, their games were my favorite from this GGJ and I invite you to play them here.
In general, I love the fact that the quality of the projects is getting better and better each year. People trying new mechanics, making new friends and seeing all those crazy games makes me love this industry even more.
Ben, Brighton, UK
I attended the Brighton GGJ site with some other local Unity people from the Brighton office. The event was held at “The Skiff”; a co-working community and meeting space. There was around 26 people and the moment the theme was announced, our minds exploded with gameplay ideas and art styles.
We all decided to join different teams in order to meet new people and build new friendships. My personal favourite game was “Dances with the Elder Gods” which took it’s inspiration from the old “Mastermind” board game. The game was simply beautiful and well made.
Karl, Cardiff, UK
In Cardiff we had about 30 people. This was the second time Cardiff has hosted a GGJ, but this time we had twice the numbers! We has a good mix of industry professionals and students so very beneficial to all.
Jordi, Madrid, Spain
We were 89 jammers at Madrid University and we put together 14 games over the weekend. All of the teams used Unity, so we started talking about creating a Unity User Group in Madrid.
Joe, York, UK
I was at York University. We were around 78 people and made 17 games.
Renaldas, Athens, Greece
I attended the Athens GGJ Site. We were around 80-90 people participating in opening talks and final showing of the games. 16 teams worked together over the weekend. Interestingly there was also 3 table top games submitted. It was awesome to see less technical people being involved too!
I gave a talk about using Unity in game jams and what’s the best way to do rapid development. Local TV and government tweeted about the talk, which was great! I hope it got more people interested and knowledgeable about the event.
We tried to make a game that was controlled by a bluetooth plugin, but unfortunately couldn’t get it working. One of my favourite games was Mpumalanga Ritual, where you use a microphone as input. Players have to blow into empty bottles in order to generate rain in the appropriate pitch and in rhythm with the audio to complete the ritual.
Duck, Bristol Games Hub, Bristol, UK
The Global Game Jam 2016 in Bristol took place at the Pervasive Media Studio in The Watershed. In total approximately 30 people took part with 11 teams submitting games at the end. Two of the teams also incorporated non-electronic media including decks of custom cards and plasticine models!
Mantas, Vilnius, Lithuania
We had about 256 registered participants (+bunch of unregistered ones) who registered 54 game and delivered around 42.
Rus, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne Global Game Jam 2016 was held at Swinburne University. We had 217 registered jammers.
– 217 registered jammers.
– 67 games registered.
– 42 made with Unity, 4 Unreal, 4 Twine Engine, 2 GameMaker, 1 .NET, 1 In-house Engine.
– Our on-site keynote was delivered by the awesome Andy Sum of Hipster Whale.
– The audio jammers got together to form an audio team to create sound effects and music for all the other teams. Apparently this is a bit of a tradition at the Melbourne site. It was awesome and produced great results for all the teams! I’d highly recommend this for other sites to experiment with in the future.
– We had at least 2 games named Toil & Trouble!
– ZeroLatencyVR showed up with VR equipment for anyone interested in jamming a VR game.
– Arduino-powered katanas meet goats!! No, really: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/gotana
– Lots of demon-influenced games. Some games that explored mundane rituals like morning coffee and breakfast. And some that combined the two!
Francis, Montreal, Canada
It seemed that having someone from Unity was very welcome since many people were new to making video games.There were also many people from Behaviour, Gameloft, Bioware, Ubisoft, other smaller studios. But they were there to jam on their own games and not necessarily to help others.
I love the opportunity that the GGJ brings to open the eyes of many hobbyist and students on how easy it can be to solve hard problems with Unity. Even in that “short crunch time” that is the GGJ, we can support them to climb to the next level. But there were also many veterans, with a background with proprietary engines, other commercial engines, or even no engine in some cases. We could then have a friendly chat on how Unity can help them and what are the best practices to make an awesome game in only two days. And at the same time, we learn how to make Unity even better for the overall community. Everyone is winning!
Sean, Turin, Italy
The jam was great fun, I chose to go to Turin to help old colleagues I worked with at Milestone in Milan. There were a few people I knew mentoring, plus quite a few from other smaller studios. I was asked to help with problems to do with everything from Physics, graphics, even networking.
When I worked in Italy between 2010 and 2012, there were only two significant games companies in Italy. Unity has changed all this and now there are lots of smaller indie studios making great games and enjoying success from them.
A great example of how Unity is democratising game development. I expect to see more made with Unity creations from Italy in the future!
Some amazing games, developers and locations over one awesome weekend. At this point we’d love to thank the global organisers of GGJ for their amazing work, the organisers of local locations, all the other sponsors and everyone who had to put up with Andy Touch testing his whistling game for 48 hours throughout the night in Hamar.
See you next year, folks!