In the last three months I’ve helped organise not one, not two but three game jams! Specifically we set up a “Ludum Dare” real-world gathering, a private 36-hour jam called the “Funkiture”, and a “Global Game Jam” event!
“Baptême du jeu”
Anyway, while back a friend offered me a job. I’d be in Paris, surrounded by a thriving game-development community, and involved in setting up student associations, organising events, making connections… this sounded like a pretty swell deal to me. It would have meant sacrificing my half-finished MSc. though and well, it’s one of those sunk cost fallacy type things…
The idea stuck with me anyway, and Epona Schweer’s “Want to be Surrounded By a Thriving Local Games Industry? Grow Yours” made me realise that I needn’t go to Paris or do that particular job to be involved in setting up student associations, organising events and making connections.
With this in mind, I created the “Baptême du jeu“ association! That’s “Baptism of game” by the way: in French “game” rhymes with “fire“, so it sounds a lot cooler.
Ludum Dare #25 – “You are the villain”
The first jam we organised with the association was a real-world gathering for the 25th Ludum Dare competition. We’d done one for the Ludum Dare 24 (more information here) as well, but there were only 3 of us that time.
It’s hard to give an exact number of participants we had this time around as some left early or came late and others didn’t hand anything in, but there were about 14 there full-time. We did it at the Informatics department of my university, which is simply called “Montpellier 2″. The head of the department was really cool about it, allowing us to broadcast our live-stream over the university’s web-TV, and even subsidising our food!
I had projects to hand in just after the event, which I’d hoped to have finished well before it started. Unfortunately the organisation took up all my free time: we needed to know who was coming before having access to the room, and we couldn’t really send out invitations until we knew whether we’d have the place or not. We also needed to hire a night-watchman to make sure nobody spontaneously combusted, and couldn’t officially let people sleep on the premises because of insurance issues.
Basically it all made me realise that setting these things up isn’t as straightforward as one might think. In the end I didn’t have time to finish my projects before the jam, so I ended up doing my them over the weekend rather than participating in the competition
Here’s the time-lapse from this first event:
Funkiture #1 – “Multiplayer games”
Watching other people make games while I worked was somewhat frustrating, so after my exams we organised a second, private, event at a friend’s house. This time there were 6 of us: we’d have liked to host more but we didn’t have room.
The event was rather informal, but we decided that multiplayer games would be the order of the day. I gave node.js and websocket a spin and made a basic multiplayer strategy game called “Hubris“. Node is fantastic in my opinion, and absurdly easy to use, though forcing the player to install it in order to run the server rather defeats the whole purpose of using HTML 5 in the first place…
Here’s the time-lapse for the 36-hour period:
Global Game Jam 2013 – “heartbeat”
Last but not least, we helped set up a Global Game Jam gathering in Montpellier, along with Kawenga and some students from the University Montpellier 3 (Arts, as opposed to Science). The latter had done most of the negotiations before we arrived, though we did sort out the sign-up procedure and final list of participants, plus broadcasting the right information to the right people at the right time.
Our game, “XX13“, is rather similar to “Spy Party” in that one team is indistinguishable from a bunch of AI civilians, and thus must be hunted down thanks to their tell-tale heartbeat. In other words it’s Blade Runner… only backwards. Again, this was a multiplayer game, using node.js and, this time, socket.io rather than websocket (well, technically socket.io is just a level of abstract above websocket).
Here’s the time-lapse:
Montpellier Unity Users Group
I should mention that we’re not the only ones trying to energise the Montpellier game-development community. The Swing Swing Submarine guys have set up the “Montpellier Unity Users Group” or “MUUG”, which has sort of unofficially become a hub for the more professional side of game development culture in Montpellier, Unity or no.
Things seem to be kicking off – exciting times lie ahead no doubt Till next time folks!