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The Hastings Game Jam 2015 Event Summary

You might have seen my previous article about an event that recently took place in Hastings. If so, you'd know that over the course of three days, a good friend of mine from College worked in collaboration with Brighton University to host an event where the participants were set the challenge of making and completing a fully working game for others to then play, vote on and share their experiences with. So, just how successful was the event and did everything go according to plan?

Just to recap, entry was free of charge and all you needed to do was sign up on the website for a ticket. There were three types of tickets available - Beginner, Student and Industry. Beginner was for anyone just starting out with little to no knowledge of game development, Student tickets were exclusive to the students of Brighton University and Industry was for anyone with industry experience and for journalists such as myself.

Making a level.

I attended the event on the Friday night and then returned again for the last few hours on Sunday to see how everyone progressed. The Friday session was mainly for those attending to be assigned to their groups and become comfortable/familiar with one another. There were roughly nine groups each varying in number between three to five, though groups were fine tuned on the Saturday to balance things out once the "no shows" had been accounted for.

Friday - Scheduled time to get acquainted, settled in and ideas put out to the rest of your group.

Saturday - Kick off. This was the first day everyone could really get into the full development of their project.

Sunday - This was the final day of all practical work. Each group were to present their completed game to be played and judged, with prizes also on offer for the two best games of the event.

The event itself took place in the Hastings Campus of Brighton University. This was nice as not a lot really happens in Hastings, so to have something like this taking place was a refreshing moment for most local residents with a passion for gaming.

One of the working levels of a purposely broken game.

The idea was to keep things as simple as possible, so Engines such as Unity and Unreal were out of the picture. Afterall, who could make a full game from nothing over a period of two to three days? I'm not saying it's impossible but it's incredibly unrealistic, especially when you have a good bunch of people with little to no experience working together.

Due to this, Gamefroot was the platform suggested to build their games upon. It's simple to use, tutorials can be found online and Paul had a lot of experience with this, so was at hand to help anyone in need of assistance. This worked well for some, but others found all kinds of issues with it, eventually forcing participants to split on what platform they were working on. Those who didn't use Gamefroot moved onto Construct 2 for example and had little issue getting things to work.

Participants were also free to use the Campus' Recording Studio and some who were more knowledgeable with sound/music design used Ableton (Daft Punk have used this in the past and I've got a little experience with this myself) to create the songs and sound effects to their own levels. With artwork, it was really down to the individual as to what program to use. Some used Photoshop and Illustrator, while others used a Pixel program to create more retro looking characters.

Everyone preparing themselves for the winning announcements!

Food was provided free of charge, varying from pastries to biscuits with Tea, Coffee and even Hot Chocolate to keep everyone happy and brimming with energy. T-Shirts were handed out to commemorate the event. Help was readily available at all times and even two of the Uni Lecturer's were there to help, offering tips and guidance for people over the three days. They both thoroughly enjoyed themselves, delighted by the success of the event. They also shared the name Jon, though differentiating between them isn't an issue when one resembles Markiplier (the YouTuber) in a lot of ways and regularly watches his show. It's reassuring to know you're being taught by gamers on how to create games. Ultimately though, it was nice to be surrounded by such down to earth and level-headed, friendly people who all shared similar views and interests.

By the final day many people were really pushing their luck with their deadline, but everyone had something to show. No matter how incomplete the game, every team exported something that was at least playable and wished to continue working on their projects even after the event.

The 1st place winners enjoying their moment of glory.

It was a great and successful event and fun was had all around. Even with the winners being awarded with medals, nobody was left out. There was something for everyone and not a single person was a bad sport. It was all done in good faith, brought out the passion of those involved and set up some strong expectations undoubtedly for next years event.

Notably, the game which stood out to me the most featured a playable Stevie Wonder. It was a platforming title with the intro to "Superstition" stuck on repeat indefinitely as you moved around, discovering the many ways to kill Stevie himself (poor guy). The team working on the game were sick to death with the song by the end of it, but it was certainly fun to play. Whenever you interacted with something (a door for example), Stevie would die in a random and creative way. Meteorite to the chin? A Cat randomly appearing and scratching his face off? Yea, random and creative, but arguably the funniest concept there.

I find events like this to be absolutely great because it's a fantastic chance to not just network with others, but to make some great friends along the way!

Paul Oliver (left) and Jon Nicholson (right) - Hosts and Tutors!

If this sounds like something that'd be right up your street, the good news is this year was such a success that the people involved plan to make the Hastings Game Jam into an annual event. At We Know Gamers we cover as much as we can within England, so be sure to keep tabs on our articles as we share all things related to the gaming industry and be sure to follow myself on Twitter (@CaptainCortez) before checking out our Social Networks below:


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