Posted On: 2019-07-22
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.
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?
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.