On the act of Jamming

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I have it, my master degree in Game Design. I got the best grades of the class (ex aequo with Philomena Schwab, one of the most successful game designer in Switzerland). I finished my master with a Play Jam, a nice experiment on the act of jamming.

I have started creating games since the end of 2013, having the chance to work with very talented artists like Dan Iorgulescu, Valentin Terramorsi, Hamza Haiken, or Virgile Paultre, with whom we rose to the top of the Ludum Dare Jam ranks.

Those were my days of jamming, discovering the world of game development and game design. I had the chance to meet a very active and friendly game developer community in my region. Those game developers were also jamming, not as much as me, but I could meet awesome people like Frederic Dubouchet, Kevin Péclet, David Javet, Jérémie Wuthrer and many others.

Jamming allowed me to meet some wonderful people online. Like a job or a rent, you just need to send a mail, then you can have positive or negative answers, but you did it. Not everyone is nice. Sometimes, you have to fight for your idea. Sometimes, when everyone agreed on a game idea, there is this person who still want an other game idea.

Most of all, jamming allowed me to learn a lot of practical tips on game design. Do you know that when you are creating a sword attack in an hack’n’slash, your box collider should be 1/2 to 2/3 bigger than what you see, otherwise the player feels that his attack is too short.

When I started jamming, I had a dictatorial boss attitude. The more I jammed with different people, the more I learned to let go of my ideas and to collaborate, to listen, and to let other choose game ideas, even if it would cost me.

One game jam each month is one hell of a rhythm. You lock down a week-end and you work until the end. It becomes a tradition more than a passion. Importing the Input plugin, implement the Player Character, finishing the Title Screen, all those typical game developer actions become natural.

I started to change my habit as jammer. During the Indie Train Jam, I chose to compose music for different teams, making my experience of this jam more playful. Meeting awesome people like Gorm Lai, one of the founders of the Global Game Jam and the Nordic Game Jam.

But I lost my first love with jamming. It is hard to be surprised at the new game ideas when participating in a game jam. I can optimize my experience pretty well, but I have a hard time enjoying it.

This passion has gone to long-term game development. Last year, Kevin and I created Super Splash Fisticuffs during the Ludum Dare 32. I took the opportunity to show it at the Fantasy Basel and based on the overwhelming positive feedback that we received, we started to work on it weekly. We organized tournaments and show it to several festivals. I realized what real game development meant.

Don’t worry, I am not stopping to participate to game jam. I still enjoy the act of jamming. But I need to slow down, I need to find again what it means to jam. It is an act of creation, but I have created enough already. Maybe in several months, I will long for jamming. And then, I’ll create again.

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Post-Mortem Frankenstein Play Jam and Epic Game Jam Round #3

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What a monster did I create. “Return to Castle Frankenstein” is an experimental game, switching narration and mix of horror. I had to put together completely different assets and the result is a monster of a game. You can download it here.

Okay, I cheated. I did not use all the assets, but I could not do miracles. I had a very limited amount of time and exams at the same time. The execution was pretty random, but it is the goal of a Play Jam. I am expressing this notion of play, not of game, no rules, fuck the rules.

Did I enjoy it more than typical game jam? Yes and no. When you see a new asset arriving, you think about it, you try to think how the hell you are going to put it in the game. The funniest part is when artists only gave me atlases of their models. Do not expect me to put the arm at the correct place. The end of the game jam was though. I just finished my master and I just wanted to sleep, but no, I had to finish the game that so many people were waiting, and I was alone.

When I released the game, I enjoyed a whole day of sleep. And I also started to move out from Zurich, putting everything in boxes.

As soon as all my boxes were in my room in Lausanne, I left for the 3rd round of the Epic Game Jam, completely exhausted. Like every Epic Game Jam, I went with Frederic Dubouchet and we planned to crate a 3d game on Unreal Engine. With Ramiz as an artist, I started to create the music.
We finally crated Green’s Revenge a 3d shmup with a 2/3 camera view: here.

During this summer, I will start working on Soup Raiders, a tactical-RPG remake of our GBJam 4 game Black Whiskers with Alexis Simonetta, a lot of fun in perspective. I will also continue to work on Splash Blast Panic, adding Online Multiplayer, a lot of fun in perspective :D.

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Frankenstein Play Jam (9-19th June)

Game jams are mostly gameful events with playful outcomes. It means that game jams are regulated events that allow participants to create crazy games. But often, as we participate in game jams, the event by itself is not fun or memorable, except for exceptional and extraordinary moments. In the continuum of Ludus (game with rules, like video-game, chess) and Paidia (game without rules, role-play), what if game jams become Paidia events, what if game jams become play jams.

In this context, let me present the Frankenstein Play Jam. Inspired by the Kid Game Jam, anyone can come and create assets (images, animations, music, sounds), that I have to include in a final game and that is the only constraint. There is no theme, anyone can do any assets (respecting the Swiss Law, which is pretty unrestrictive). The goal is a merge of several art style in a Frankenstein monster manner.

If you are interested, send me a mail at: elias [dot] farhan [at] gmail [dot] com

You can import your assets here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B7RPgWbE-u7UeXVRMDl3MlpIb3c&usp=sharing

You can also participate locally, from June the 12-19, in room 5K07, Toni-Areal, Zurich.

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