Video games can take years to develop. Duke Nukem Forever took a decade and a half, and people are still waiting on Half Life 3. But this weekend, amateur and professional developers alike gathered to create games in 48 hours for Global Game Jam 2015.
Developing a fully functioning game in two days is a challenge, but participant Tanner Pye-Richardson says it’s a worthwhile venture.
“It’s a great exercise in doing stuff quickly.” He says that in games that take longer to make, developers can get stuck in a rut, letting the work pile up on them. Having a 48 hour deadline forces the participants to stay on top of their work.
Every year, Global Game Jam has a different theme. This year’s theme is a simple phrase: “What do we do now?”. This is the only constraint the developers face, and leaves lots of room for experimentation. One of the games created by a group at Algonquin was a four-player beat-em-up, another saw the player trying to calm a crying baby. Pye-Richardson and his partner, game development professor Brad Flood, are doing something different.
“(Brad) had the idea that you would be inside Chernobyl, at the controls, as the meltdown is happening. He has a log of all the events that happened leading up to the meltdown, and you’re gonna be at a computer terminal trying to open and close doors and trying to get people out to safety.”
Despite the 48 hour window to develop a game, Flood, himself a developer with several successful mobile games under his belt, says it’s an entirely possible task.
“Usually, on the Friday, you brainstorm, then on Saturday and Sunday everyone just comes in and program like mad, and at 4 on Sunday we show them off.”
Emotions can run high in a game jam, but ultimately, the participants say it’s worth it.
“There’s a lot of high tension,” says first-time participant Matthew Withers. “But I guess the idea of being done and having that finished project is worth it.”