What is 2Jam? Well, according to VFS Game Design Instructor Chevy Ray Johnston, “2Jam is a two-day rapid game development session. The goal is for each jammer, with a single partner, to create an entire game from scratch in just one weekend!”
Chevy was the creative energy behind this invitation only event, which was sponsored by VFS and held at 88 Pender St on November 3rd and 4th, 2012. He stayed on hand throughout the event, to help when needed, to adjudicate, and also to the participate. Mentor Kimberly Voll was also on hand to help. In the end, 36 people came in teams of two to develop 18 new games!
“I’ve been planning the event for a long time,” says Chevy, “I always wanted to do a game jam like this where everybody has to create a simple competitive two-player game with a partner. This is fun, because you can easily test your game with your partner during the event, and the competitive nature of the games makes things exciting and social.”
The event kicked off on a Saturday at 9 a.m. with an introduction to the concept: 2 people create a 2 person game in 2 days. The 2Jammers were definitely excited by the prospect of spending their entire weekend doing this — For two days they went straight from 9 in the morning until 7 at night. They were a committed group. On the first day, some of them met afterwards for a drink and to compare notes, and some continued to work things out at home.
The teams of two broke, perhaps fittingly, into two groups occupying two different Game Design classrooms using two different versions of Unity — the “pro” and “free” ones, respectively. It was interesting to note that the energy of the two rooms was different at the start: One being a bit more lively than the other. When asked about it, Chevy pointed out that the livelier room was the one with more experienced professionals in it.
Each team consisted, for the most part, of one person chiefly handling the programming, while the other chiefly handled the art work (but this was not a hard and fast rule — and there was plenty of collaboration). It was evident right away that there was some very talented people in both rooms.
The participants were a good mix of students and professionals. It also turned out to be a fair playing field. In fact, one team, made up of the freshest intake of Game Design students in their first term (Luciana Abe and Liam Semeniuk) were very close to winning Best Game (As chosen by 2Jammers) for their game Sushi Showdown.
According to Chevy, “there were students, graduates, independent developers, freelance artists, and industry professionals all taking part. Game jams are an awesome opportunity to put your skills to the test, collaborate with your friends or coworkers, and see what you’re creatively capable of! There’s no long-term commitment to a jam game, no publisher pressing you, no project manager telling you what to do, and no obligation to seek out a target market. Because of this, game jams are an excellent time to try out that crazy risky idea, experiment with new control schemes, make something far out, hilarious, or even controversial.”
Regardless of how the different groups started out, by late in the second day, when everybody was trying out everybody else’s game in both rooms, the energy was high, and it was fun and excitement everywhere!
But it wasn’t about just about prizes, it was about the whole experience, an opportunity to do something with games that developers and artists, professional or not, rarely get a chance to do. As Chevy says, “At an event like this, you can design whatever you like and there will be dozens of people to play it. It’s the ultimate chance for game developers to flex their creative muscles, show off their workflow, meet new friends, and socialize with other developers and creative people. The more game jams and competitions, like this, the better.”
If you’d like a chance to play some of these games, go to Game Design Expo in 2013 (and there are many other good reasons to do so), where a couple of the winning games will be available.
Here are the prize winning results (The official Judge was Alexandre Mandryka) :
Judge’s choice = Gentleman’s Duel (Game Design instructor Calder Archinuk and TA Mario Granillo)
[ Two gentlemen dueling in a most civilized manner — Flip the table to win. ]
Weirdest Game = Screw the Pooch (Game Design instructor Rupert Morris and TA Damien LeLievre)
[A two-sided dog is at odds with itself — eat doggie treats with one head at one end while keeping the head at the other end from doing the same; mayhem ensues!]
Prettiest Game = Match of the Century (Jacob Schwartz and Eric Poulton)
[Ragdoll boxing match on the iPad — Fight dirty to win!]
Best Game (chosen by fellow 2Jammers) = Goodbye World (Game Design alumni Richard Harrison & Jordan Fiander)
[Planets dueling — Knock each other out of orbit.]
All in all, it was a great success and lots of fun for all the participants! Congratulations and thanks to everybody!