Every year for the past five years, Birmingham City University has welcomed both students and non-students alike to take part in Global Game Jam, a worldwide event where people of all skill levels are encouraged to band together (or sit alone) for 48 hours to create a game to fit a certain theme. The event serves to help develop skills, improve time management, and in the case of BCU’s site, practice presentation skills.
This year, fish in a bottle were invited to judge students’ presentations and games and in this article our esteemed game jam judge and accomplished game developer, Adam reflects on what was presented while second judge Jake offers up a summary of the pair’s top 3.
Following a brief presentation from us, student teams presented their games to judges and other teams.
I’ve taken part in a few game jams myself so I can completely relate to the pressure of the limited time and resources available to anyone who subjects themselves to such a process. Even with these challenges looming, the quality of ideas and finished products on show at GGJ 17 was impressive.
The perseverance of the teams throughout the gruelling development and presentation processes should be commended and it’s evident that each team gave it their all.
The suitably vague theme of ‘waves’ was a key part of (most!) of the entries. Some were quite blunt with the theme, producing inventive pirate themed adventures on the open seas, while others take a more subtle approach and worked with the ideas of colour or sound waves.
Our personal favourite was a rhythm action game which made very inventive use of sine waves. This quite polished product demonstrated ingenuity with the provided theme and also showed promise in how the game could be expanded upon, or used in an educational context.
It’s worth noting that the list below is only our top three because if we’d written about every game, we’d never publish anything. On-the-day winners for innovation and comedy included Signal, Wanishing Waves, Zen(x), and King Booty – and every game on show is worth a quick play.
Zen(x) was probably the most original concept we saw, and our personal favourite. A rhythm game that made the theme integral to gameplay as well as using maths to increase the complexity of gameplay. The game’s elegance and simplicity hinted at under-the-surface complexity which, when combined with the ease-of-play and minimalist style, made for an enjoyable and intriguing gameplay experience.
Zen(x)’s wave is generated by one of six possible equations – each tougher than the last.
As fans of any game that brings unruly chaos into otherwise calm friendships, Ooodle Showdown is a game after our hearts. Its hide-and-seek gameplay created frantic escapes and near misses. With a risky penalty to making mistakes, players were forced to think quickly in order to keep their Ooodle alive and fool other players.
The day/night cycle in Ooodle Showdown is a fun little touch too.
Crazy, colour-matching, arcade style bullet hell game Deep Spectrum is another one that nailed ‘easy to -pick up – hard to master’ gameplay that’s key to on-boarding and consistently challenging players.
Deep Spectrum’s gameplay is colour-based craziness. We also enjoy the fishy enemies.
Everything we saw was impressive and well-considered – and you can see the rest over at the BCU Global Game Jam site
If you’re a talented student doing a games, computer science, or related course then keep an eye on our talent page for upcoming placement opportunities.