Petal to the Metal

petal petanque.png

Critical Charm recently held our first internal game jam. Here’s Minna’s account of the two days of festivities!

Game jams are thrilling. There's something about coming together as a team, and building something from a vague idea to more or less complete game - with a time constraint that keeps people working almost around the clock, chugging down energy drinks and/or big mugs of strong coffee. In words it sounds a bit daunting, crazy even, yet I have only good memories of the game jams I've participated in. Including the latest one we had at the office last month. 

We've been looking for more code power, and had interviewed some candidates. As a final test so to say, we decided to have a jam with the potential new recruits. What better way to see people in action? And more importantly, see how smooth working with our new crew would be, as the most important thing for getting a game done is teamwork.

We started in the morning by sitting down in a conference room, and brainstorming around our theme: spring. The platform would be VR, same as our main project A Giant Problem. I felt a bit stuck, as I so often do with time limited creative exercises, but luckily there were no shortage of ideas by the rest of the team. We spent quite a long while going through suggestions, and voting for our favorites, and at the end we decided to go with a flower planting game, similar to pétanque.

Then it was time to jam! We used this huge whiteboard to write down the core of the game, and dissected it to assign tasks for the programmers, artists, and sound of course. Marjo took over producing, helping everyone keep track of the priority tasks at hand. With a team of 8 people (Greg was ill at the time) it was vital that someone saw the big picture at all times. 

I had my hands full making 3d-models, but when I glanced up from my work I could see people buzzing, making good progress, and helping each other through any problems that occurred. The game was coming together nicely. It was a big morale boost. So big in fact that I stayed at the office almost 'till midnight after everyone had gone home (except the cleaner who I probably scared with my blasting music).

The next day was about piecing the parts together. As often is the case, the time limit seemed to loom too close for comfort. And we did end up exceeding it by an hour or two. But everyone agreed that sacrificing a bit of time for a playable game was quite alright. After two days of hard work the game was ready! It has its minor faults, but for a game jam game, I think it's pretty neat. With code power this strong, we can tackle problems as big as giants.