How To Game Jam Like a Boss? – Over 15 Game Jam Tips
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“I’m a junior gamedev, and I would like to find my first game developer job. The problem is that I don’t have any commercial experience (and most game studios require that). So what should I do?”
Sounds familiar, huh? We get asked that a lot. And we have the perfect advice for you:
Join a Game Jam, my dude!
But before you start jamming hard, read this blog post.
We have a few tips for you.
Let’s make sure that your indie game jam experience is as fruitful as possible.
Set a goal for yourself – Game Jam Tip #1
What do you want to get out of a game jam?
Before you start the prep for the event, you need to set up a goal for yourself. It can be anything:
- project for your portfolio (especially for juniors)
- learning game development skills (pick something that you would like to learn in particular)
- challenge yourself
Setting up a specific goal can help you get a proper mindset to achieve what you want from a game jam.
Learn from mistakes of others – Game Jam Tip #2
Learning from your fails is fantastic, but do you know what is even better? Learning from the fails of others.
Just go and look for the post-mortem dev updates after game jams. These are the mines of knowledge and conclusions after finishing projects.
Just dive in and read. Check out the archives of the Ludum Dare event. One of the biggest Indie Game Jams events.
(Oh btw – we really hope that after your game jam – you’ll also share your thoughts with the rest of the community. Let others grow as well, kk? ;))
Create a game that you really can finish – Tip #3
Let’s keep it real: you won’t be able to develop a multiplayer FPS game. On your own. In 24h. Try to look for something that is actually doable by you in a very limited amount of time.
One finished project tells much more than hundreds of unfinished games developed.
Keep it Simple, dammit! – Game Jam Tip #4
Don’t overcomplicate things. Your game doesn’t need an advanced crafting system paired with a complex character progression. It also doesn’t have to provide hours of playtime.
Develop something short, around one cool mechanic. Your game needs to be picked up by the players from the get-go.
(Remember that you can work around your idea after the game jam and polish the hell out of it. Later.)
Invite your buddies – Game Jam Tip #5
Do you have any gamedev friends? Or do you know someone that you know that you can work really well with? Team up! Do something cool together.
Brainstorm ideas – Game Jam Tip #6
“But there will be a theme!” you’ll say.
So what? That doesn’t mean that you can’t think of a type of game you would like to make.
You can always try to incorporate a theme into your initial idea.
It’s better to have a limited number of picks to choose from than to start from scratch and think about possible games you could make. Staring at the blank page, it’s a waste of time.
How to get ideas for a game jam? If you’re not exactly an idea guy? Use idea generators. 😉
These are great and can help you kickstart some crazy, creative thoughts. You never know what you can come up with. 😉
Prep your game jam tools – Game Jam Tip #7
You can choose your game jam tools beforehand if you have an overall plan of what type of game you want to do.
Do you want to create a 2D sprite platformer game? You need some software for that, my friend.
You need an engine (like the Unity Game Engine or Construct 2)+ some kind of graphics software.
Ah nvm – Here, grab a list of programs that can help you to make up your mind:
- Install everything you need
- Update your software like there’s no tomorrow
- Make sure that you have all plugins you need
- Update them if needed
- Oh, and make sure that your OS is updated *No, you really don’t want to run a Windows Update in the middle of the game jam. Trust me.*
- Test. You need to be sure that everything works
Working in teams? Set up a repo – Game Jam Tip #8
If you want to keep your experience fuckup-proof, it’s good to set up a repository on Github.
Even if something will go wrong, or if someone overwrites your changes, you can quickly get back to the not-fucked-up-point. Saves you some time if something goes wrong. And it’s good for your nerves.
Commit and push your changes regularly, though.
Plan your meals – Game Jam Tip #9
It’s a legit point. Srsly.
You want to plan your video game jam menu beforehand.
Decide what you are going to eat during the whole time and buy all the groceries you’ll need in advance.
You don’t want to waste time on grocery trips.
Oh, and stay hydrated.
Cut corners – Use placeholders and templates – Tip #10
Work on placeholders or templates.
Your game should be, most importantly, fun to play. When you have that covered, you can try to make it pretty.
Hack the heck outta it – Game Jam Tip #11
Your code doesn’t need to be nice and tidy. Cut corners where you can. Remember that you’re working on a tight schedule.
You have only one goal at this point: it has to work.
Have a working prototype asap – Tip #12
You need to have the basic prototype of your game early. Prepare for unexpected errors. They will come 😉
Playtest – Game Jam Tip #13
You can’t entirely trust yourself. Something obvious for you might not be obvious to anyone else. So ask your friends (or other jammers) to test your game.
Are the controls easy to get? Is your game fun?
Ask for feedback and offer them playtests too!
Audio matters – Game Jam Tip #14
Some game devs forget about it during the game jam events, but adding even the simplest sounds or a piece of music can do a lot for your game.
Set up a tone and build an atmosphere.
Rest – Tip #15
Even on a tight deadline, your body needs its rest.
So plan your sleep. Regenerate. And remember to take short breaks from the development process.
If you feel that you’re stuck somewhere, go on a short walk or take a shower. It should help you clear your mind.
Finish at least 1 hour before the deadline – Game Jam Tip #16
You don’t want to upload your game at the last minute. The website might be down due to the huge traffic. Better safe than sorry.
Have Fun – Game Jam Tip #17
And I guess it’s the most important one – remember that this whole experience should give you some joy. Make some friends, learn cool things, and create awesome games.
What are your game jam tips for others? Share with us your fav stories. Drop us a note here in the comments or on our social media: