This guest article is fromÂ Tim Stoddard, a Windows Games Ambassador currently studying at Staffordshire University.
On the 4thÂ May, I organised a games jam at Staffordshire University, the Windows Game Jam.
The Jamâ€™s aim was to make a game in 24 hours, using tools recommended for building games for the Windows platforms (Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8). As an added bonus, releasing the game on either the Windows Store or Windows Phone Marketplace would enter you for a chance to win a Kinect and other swag for each team member, donated by Microsoft.
Having taken part in a few game jams myself (such as the Global Game Jam, Midsummer Jam Week and the GBJam), I find them to be very good events to take part in as an aspiring or current game developer. Not only do you get experience in game development under short deadlines, as well as rapid development and team work, but it is the best way to interact with other students and developers on game development. Therefore, organising one had been a big interest of mine and I highly recommend either attending or organising your own.
We had 11 attendees, comprising three teams. Despite attempts to promote the jam to both programmers and designers, only one attendee was a games design student, the rest being programmers. The attendees were also a mix of first and second year students. The jamâ€™s theme was comic books, to tie in with the dateâ€™s annual Free Comic Book Day, so it was clear that all three teams would make sure their games involved comic books. Each team used a different engine, so we got to see a variety of work using MonoGame, Unity, Wave3D and Construct2! Thatâ€™s right, one of the teams made two games!
For the majority of the jam, everyone was focused hard on their work, since 24 hours is surprisingly short amount of time to make a game. One of the issues we had was due to risk assessment and supervision issues, which meant we were unable to book an overnight stay at the room. This meant we had to leave in the evening and wait until morning to use the room again. It didnâ€™t stop one of the teams moving to the 24 Hour Library to continue their work.
So after a little over 24 hours of hard work, pizza and very little sleep, four games were finished and shown to everyone in attendance.
You can check out two of the four games shown below:
The top-right game, Komik Runski (developed by Ben Woodford, Nick Steer, Chris Lathem and Sam Cooper), is available to download on the Windows Store -Â http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/app/komik-runski/314239e0-ebd6-4ac9-beb6-202d1eb4b1d0
The bottom-left game, Cats (developed by James Sanford, Blake Sanders and Grace Tee) can be downloaded from this link (requires Unity Web Player) – http://adobe.ly/12DaSBI
The bottom-right game, Sketch Book Adventures (developed by Will Kirkby, Eric Sutherland, Matt Lord and Tristan Teasdale) can be viewed on Youtube here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUt2Ubv-qEA
Unfortunately, the last game also made by Ben, Nick, Chris and Sam has not been uploaded online since the event finished.
In conclusion, organising my own game jam has been a great experience, and despite issues such as a lack of overnight booking, the students who attended said they had a good time. I’d definitely organise another one next year, although since Iâ€™m currently away from the University for a year, it would be difficult without some support from the campus. If it’s possible, I’ll try to arrange it for a longer period of time and approved for overnight booking, and encourage more students from a larger range of disciplines.
Ready to build your game? Register today for aÂ Windows Store account, download theÂ Windows 8 SDKÂ and youâ€™ll be flying. To build your game for Windows Phone – get yourÂ store accountÂ andÂ WP8 SDK.