Approaching Jam

Posted On: 2019-07-22

By Mark

This coming weekend, I will be participating in the 2019 GMTK Game Jam. For those that are unfamiliar, GMTK (Game Maker's Toolkit) is a youtube channel created by Mark Brown, which provides analysis of game design topics in a video essay format that is highly approachable. Each year, GMTK hosts a game jam, during which participants have 48 hours to create a game that satisfies a set of constraints focused on making particularly interesting/novel game designs.* The details of the constraint(s) won't be available until the day it starts** - so everything, even the ideation process, has to fit in the 48-hour timeframe. (Most game jams are highly improvisational in this way.)

* Last year's constraint was "[Genre] without [Mechanic]".

**If you happen to be reading this on/after August 2nd 2019, then you can visit the jam's itch.io page to see the details.

Looking back

My participation this year, and in this particular game jam, is something of a fulfillment of a promise to myself. Before I had made the decision to make games full-time, I felt I would have few chances to participate in game jams, so I focused on picking just one that most matched my interests: interesting design constraints. The GMTK 2018 jam was a great fit, and I'd long enjoyed the channel, so even when it was a year away, I committed to myself that I would participate in it. As the year progressed and I prepared to announce my intent to become a full-time game developer, I knew I would have to juggle increased work obligations with attending the game jam, but I was hopeful I could make it work out.

When the exact dates were announced, however, all hopes I had of attending were dashed: the GMTK game jam was scheduled for the same weekend as my largest (and final) product release with my (then-current) employer. To console myself, I told myself I would have other game jam opportunities: after all, by the time Ludum Dare 43 rolled around, I would be working full-time to create games, so scheduling that should be easy. Except, of course, it wasn't.

Personal commitments crowded out LD43*, and I found myself yet again having to decide how best to proceed. Rather than continuing to chase game jams just to feel satisfied that I attended one, I instead enlisted the aid of my wife: together, we would make sure that I would make it to GMTK 2019 - the one game jam I was most interested in.**

* Coincidentally, the theme of LD43 was "sacrifices must be made." By the time that was revealed, I already knew I wasn't participating, but I found it slightly amusing that it worked out in a meta sort of way: the (non-existent) game was itself sacrificed for the sake of others' happiness.

** Technically, GMTK2018 was actually the one I was most interested in, but what's a year's difference matter?

Looking Forward

So, here we are, less than a week away from GMTK 2019 and I am still on track to participate. Barring unforeseen catastrophe, I think it's safe to assume that I will be. As such, I'll explain a bit of what this means for you: next Monday I will post a link to the new game. As the product of 48 hours, expect it to be short and rough around the edges, but I hope that it will be something that is interesting from a design standpoint (that is the goal of the jam, after all.) Additionally, I might be a bit sparse in that blog post - If I have time (and lucidity) I would love to include a postmortem of the experience, but with less than 24 hours between jam completion and blog write-up, I might need a bit more time than that to create a quality post on the subject.

I hope you will join me next week, for the next step in this game jam story: creating the game itself.