About 1 month ago (August 27th, 2012), the ACG co-founders decided to take a little “retreat” to recharge ourselves and instead of doing trust falls and ropes courses, we decided to make it a game jam retreat. We’ve talked about game jams a few times on here before so if you’re still not sure what it is please click this link.
We had talked about doing a game jam for a little while as a company but it unfortunately kept getting pushed back because of other projects or everyone’s schedules not matching up. Instead in mid July we decided to pick a date, during the week and chose that time to have our game jam.
We also made the decision that the game jam could not occur in our office, it had to be some place else so we could really feel that it was recharging us. This decision was also supported by a blog post by Jonathan Blow Jordan had read that talked about how he and a few other developers got a nice beach house to help relieve stress and make the environment much more comfortable. Of course we are not as well off as the developers at Blow’s Depth Jam, so we could not afford a nice beach house and catered food, but we were able to plan ahead by assigning each of us to bring food and Shawn was nice enough to offer his family’s cottage for the 48 hour time period.
Now since this was intended as a time to recharge ourselves as a team and make us happier and not stressed, we decided to take a bit more lax attitude towards the game jam. Now I know some other developers would frown on this notion, arguing that you should utilize every second of your 48 hour period but we wanted to have a fun time and that mentality did not sound fun. Instead we all had full nights sleep, took breaks to watch TV(Adventure Time and Breaking Bad specifically) and breaks to eat. Now granted this did shorten our actual amount of work time but we were all in much better moods by the end of the game jam had we pushed ourselves to not break or only get a minimum amount of sleep.
The Jam broke down very roughly as follows:
Monday August 27th, 2012, 1:30pm – Jam Start and theme decided
Monday afternoon – Brainstorm game ideas and pick our favorite
Monday late afternoon to night – write short design doc, start level design, art and prototyping
Tuesday morning to afternoon – Continue art, level generation, UI creation and fleshing out prototype more.
Tuesday night – Assembling and finalizing all assets to be ready for finally implementation in the morning.
Wednesday Morning – Implement all assets and quickly creating any assets that were missed.
Wednesday early afternoon – Post final playable build on our website.
Overall I think the game jam worked out exactly as intended, we created a game that we are all really happy with and we all felt super recharged and excited to tackle the next task. I knew the the game jam was a success when at our next company meeting we were already discussing the fact that we wanted to do another Adventure Jam, sooner rather than later. I highly recommend this to anyone that works with a team, I know for us it was a great experience I’m super excited for the next one.
p.s. Be sure to check out the game we created Balloon Chase and let us know what you think.