Game Jams are a lot of fun, but if you haven’t attended one before fear not! We’ve chatted to some of the people who came to GameHack earlier in the year to find out why they came, what they did and how they got on, the first is Chris Hannah
Who are you?
I’m Chris Hannah, I’m 20 years old and I’ve been doing different forms of programming since secondary school.
What is your favourite game of all time and why?
I can’t really answer this with one answer. My favourite game was always Pokemon Yellow, because I spent all of my childhood with it and as it followed the TV episodes, I chose this one! But I also play (I know many will dislike this) World of Warcraft, and I think this has the best experience of a game I’ve ever played, plus it has a few million players and there is endless amounts of things to do.
Do you regularly attend Game Jams? Or was GameHack your first one?
I’ve entered Ludum Dare 3 times so far, but GameHack was my first competition where I actually met with other developers and all worked in one area.
How did you find it?
Terrifying. I’d never really communicated with other developers at all, apart from the few friends I know or a few people on different forums, so It was very different to actually see everyone getting on the coach to Pinewoods because I’d never been with so many game developers, it was awesome.
The actual event I found was planned out very well, the mornings presentations got everyone thinking of what they could do and gave everyone a boost. It’s incredible to go from programming apps/games in your spare time to being in Pinewoods Studio with other developers watching presentations from people like Facebook and Mozilla.
The amount of food and drinks was nice, and there was plenty to go around. Plus Beer and Pizza is always a good choice with programmers, the only thing else you could do to give them a better experience would be to give them all a programmers cat.
What was your idea?
The idea was a simple platformer, but we we’re trying to add weird features to it that were so odd I can’t even remember them! But it had lovely graphics, and the idea just grew as we were making it, we didn’t really plan.
How did your game idea work out?
It worked out well for the first half, we had a decent set of graphics, music was on its way, and we had the basic game working. But as we were 4 different types of developers and all trying to collaborate on a project using something called Stencyl which makes flash games, it didn’t go well because the software starts to bug out when sharing files, and contributing to a project. So out idea of using a basic flash maker didn’t go the way we planned as it turned out more complicated than we thought.
Sadly, we didn’t get anything finished to show to everyone which was a bit of a disappointment, but I suppose there is still other opportunities. The game was really buggy and as we were working on more features, more were breaking.
How did you get on?
I personally thought I didn’t do as well as I could, but I would do a lot better if I used Java or focussed on an iOS game as they are my strong points, so maybe I will learn that from now on. I can’t comment on the game because not much came out of it, but I did make a little chatroom in node.js while I was there. But the whole experience was great, and I’d definitely plan what I am doing before and if i was in a team, make sure everyone knows what they were doing. So nothing was completed, but I gained an amazing experience.
Any tips to share about making a game in 24hrs?
I can say this from my perspective of doing GameHack and also 3 Ludum Dare competitions (They are 48h). Making games in a short amount of time is very hard, but it is possible. Make sure you do everything you can do to prepare, so work out if you are in a team or not, and then work out the roles of each person. Get an Idea of which programming language, software, and any libraries you will use as you will be able to start faster. An ideal thing that I would of liked to do was to get something working fundamentally in the first few hours and then work on the feature that will separate your game from the rest.
Anything else you would like to share?
Just that GameHack is awesome, and I might even come back next time. This time I think I may work on an iOS app!