From last January 24 to 26, independent game developers and members within the game development industry came together in various campuses in the Philippines and all over the world to participate in the Global Game Jam. In a nut shell, this Game Jam is a 48 hour game development contest. I say it is a contest because of the presence of an overall theme, judges, participant voting, and of course winners but the true purpose of the Game Jam is really to share each groups’ and/or individuals’ passion and ideas for (creating) video games.
While there is no rigid screening process, hefty entrance fees to pay, or a ritualistic hazing initiation to join the Game Jam you need the know-how on how to code a game and hopefully enough sense to actually make an actual game. A game by its definition needs to have rules and a win condition be it determined by skill, strength or even luck. The main feature that makes a game great, not necessarily how it looks, sounds, and is definitely NOT how “deep” you think the storyline of a game is.
A well crafted game will be a hit to an audience regardless of how much effort is placed into the above mentioned secondary features. A prime example is the new “hit” game Flappy Bird. While I would rather watch paint dry than play that game, people DO find it entertaining so something in that game appeared right. Games are not art and they never will be. Art is secondary to a good game and I’m glad most of the Game Jam participants focused on the mechanics of a good game rather than the abstract theme of this year’s Game Jam: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” What…? and then I roll my eyes.
While I certainly don’t understand why the theme is what it is, fortunately, the Game Jam hosted at Globe Labs bore fruit to some pretty fun ideas with some of them even adhering to the Game Jam’s theme. Here are my top picks in no particular order (you can click each game’s title to their Game Jam pages to download them):
The game as presented is as plain as it can be with very simple graphics. They remind me of a pen and paper game we used to play as kids called “shooting star” but what really appealed to me about My Candy Hearts is how the simple timing-based mechanics used to pop all the hearts to advance to the stage can easily be used to make a rhythm game.
Blind Spot’s premise is simple: You are blind and you have to get out of a maze and your only tool to assist you is sound. This game is designed to simulate the experience of being blind. I guess it adheres to the theme of the event aside from being an interesting and challenging game.
This is a simple yet twitchy espionage game. It starts out with surveillance where you try to locate the spies in a crowd of moving sprites. The number of spies per room depend on the difficulty level. Once the player outs the spies, you are given a few seconds to either shoot the spy or get out of the spy’s reach because they will shoot you and the game will be over.
Speaking of twitchy games here’s a maze game with a twist. On top of a time limit, every time you try to face another side, the entire maze rotates to whichever side you’re facing (left or right). You will need a lot of spacial recognition and memory on top of fast fingers to quickly navigate through each stage.
There are more games on the Globe Labs Game Jam page where you will find some of them with 3D environments and even one built for the Oculus Rift (good luck testing that game). Or you can head down the the Benilde Campus Game Jam page for more entries. Benilde has a game development course by the way, for all you aspiring game developers.
This is normally the part where some self-serving “Pinoy Pride” cheer is written… but NO. I would rather see an awesome game become globally successful then find out it was actually developed in the Philippines. That way we don’t have to see games coated with Filipino novelty (Jeeps and what-nots) in order to be “relevant” to the local media because let’s face it, the Philippines is far from a sustainable economy for video games. Filipinos keep bantering about being “world class”, let’s do that then. Screw trying to appeal to “local gamers.”
Having said that, good luck to everyone who participated in the Game Jams. May you find success in your game development endeavors. I look forward to seeing what 2015 has in store as well.
This Game Jam was hosted by Globe Labs in coordination with the IGDA Manila chapter and sponsored by Manila Rush a “run” game now available on Google Play where your micro-transactions can be funded through your Globe cellphone load.