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ThunderPerfectWitchcraft
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« on: December 20, 2023 @823.74 »

Hi.
I would like to hear your opinion about my opinion regarding game jams ;).

Personally, I'm not convinced of them: Many games that were made for a jam that I played rather rough (in the sense of "unpolished", "not fun", or "broken"), and often unfinished. Especially when specialized engines are combined with a set theme, you end up with many low quality tech demos that are in the end very similar; most likely, nobody will ever want play them.
Also, while the setting of a theme might inspire some people, I believe often a theme is just spliced upon a game concept without considering how good it does fit together. The result seems often unsatisfying.

What I dislike the most is the usual time limit. Jams encourage people do games fast, quality is a minor concern. Doing a good game takes time, and by limiting the time, you will reduce the quality and create strain for the participants at the same time. Some jams try to counteract this by setting high time limits, but these rarely produce many, and even more seldom really good results - I believe this is because, if one spends much time on an idea, they want it to be purely their idea and inspiration; something they deeply believe in - and not some "induced" theme by someone else (I might be wrong about this).

Another problem I have is the fact that the developers are often set into competition against each other; one might argue that they do it for fun, but I have the suspicion that many feel they need to do jams to generate attention - at least this is an idea that I regularly encounter in game dev communities.

In the end, we have many games that were hammered together fast, are quickly glanced at - if things go smooth - by those interested in the jam, and then are of no further concern, sometimes not even to their own creators. Isn't this somewhat a waste of time, energy, and motivation?

I see that there are exceptions. I played a few good (and, very rarely: excellent) games that were jam projects, and some good games even where successful after - indeed - getting attention from winning a jam (needful to add: most of them were heavily improved afterwards). I also once saw a jam that had a lush time limit, a rather open theme, and no contest - and it produced some good results (but not really attention for them, as they were still few compared to many, many low effort ones).

I sometimes think about alternate concepts to allow collaborative game creation, and have some (rough) ideas about it. But I'm interested in other opinions on this matter: Am I mistaken? And - if not - what you'd expect of an "alternative jam" to do? Should it help to learn game creation, should it create attention, should the target be to create good games?
What are good targets for such a thing, and do you have ideas how these could be reached? Or do you think that game jams are fine as they are?
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2023 @464.39 »

I think a significant part of the motivation to make and participate in jams is, in a way, being pushed to make something. It's rare for the first iteration of anything to be good or even passable, but taking the first step is often the most difficult - paralyzed by decision-making, procrastination, research, etc. With a jam, the intense time limit means that if someone wants to participate, they just have to Make. There's no time for deliberation, of fussing over details, of finding excuses not to work; if you want to have something semi-complete by the end, you have to GO GO GO.

For people who struggle to decide what ideas to work on or what tools to use, jams with strict themes or limits make that decision for them. "What engine should I play around in" can legitimately be a hard answer for some people. But there's a jam for a specific engine, so might as well give it a whirl. It ascribes purpose to play and exploration; an excuse to mess around and get the enjoyment of something finished by the end of it, as well as a community of other people going through the same thing as yourself.

I agree that a lot of jam games are kind of low quality, but that's also the point of them really in my opinion. They're first drafts, idea tests, playgrounds. And they're also a symbol of someone's ability to see things through - someone who's entered in a lot of jams and completed them gets things done, even under pressure.

Does something have to be "great" to meet that criteria? I'm about to get esoteric a little, but I've always discarded the idea of perfection in art and creation. Finished is supremely better than fretting over quality to me. You can always go back and polish something, but a presentable/finished project is king. Ideas and words are cheap! But something that other people can see, touch, play around with even if it's not great... that's so much more tangible!
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2023 @545.21 »

I've never participated in a game jam but I did do similar writing events back when I was more into writing fanfiction, and while the stuff I wrote wasn't the best it still got me to write, even with my writer's block. So I think the idea of it being a good way to get pushed into the "first step" is pretty apt.
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2023 @656.20 »

Objection!

I participate in many game jams. They make for excellent practice in skills I am weak at, such as animation or 2D art. They also make for excellent oppurtunities to meet new, like-minded people, and network with people whom you can help and vice-versa for future projects.

I participate in many jams that require the use of a specific toolset or to a specific homebrew platform. As someone who is trying to break into the industry commercially, I don't normally get to try them out, so game jams make for perfect excuses to delve in. Not to mention they help me take a breather from my main projects, which can get tiring as it's what I see every day.

Aside from all of that, it gives people more practice and theoppurtunity to become more efficient in their field. I find that I get a lot out of jams that can be transferred to my commcercial games.

I'm going to attempt an analogy. Your argument comes off to me as the equivalent of saying boxers waste their time and energy punching punching bags instead of just beating up people, because the bag can't feel the impact of your punches, so what's the point?

The point to me isn't the final product, it's practice, it's a way to socialise, and above all, it's fun!
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2023 @703.98 »

I think like most things; a jam is just an opportunity, and you can make it into whatever you like. Ozwomp was invented in a jam, as was the MelonEngine that powers significant bits of 3D stuff on my sites - I went into those jams knowing what my intentions were; I was there for myself, I wanted to make something in 48 hours and I didn't care what anyone else thought of it. Iv been to other jams where I knew I wanted to get to know other people from college who were also jaming and I focused on making it a social activity, and it worked great for that too.

All that said though; I think "jam culture" can be gross; there are professional jam groups that just go to jams with premade ideas and modular code blocks that fit into any theme, they just go there to win - if that's what they wanna do thats fine, but I'd rather not know that kinda person.

Iv also found jams can be very lonely; I don't always fit in with jam people and I do find a lot of the stuff people make at them can be very generic from a game design perspective; but if you go in knowing what to expect, or you have a few friends who are fun to work with it can really turn it into something special.

The monster game I worked on at the Global Game Jam in Glasgow was totally out of whack, everyone else at that jam just looked at our team like a bunch of weirdos, but we had so much fun in our own little bubble making jokes and eating sweets that its still one my my fondest memories from college ^^
« Last Edit: December 21, 2023 @705.41 by Melooon » Logged


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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2023 @408.10 »

I think what draws most people to game jams is the fact that it's the easiest way to find a group of people who want to work together to create an indie video game. I know for me, personally, that's the draw... And I find that the time limit is more of a hindrance than a fun challenge.

Some folks just can't make a game alone, but also don't really have the resources to find other people outside of game jams, I think. So, I think a game jam with either no time limit, or a veeeery long time limit (just to make sure stuff actually gets done, as time limits are often motivators to work) would work really well for that.

Although, I suppose, you wouldn't need to make a whole new "thing" for that... Just make a game jam with a long time limit. And I do, indeed, enjoy game jams as they are for many of the reasons I've seen listed here already! (Never mind that I've only joined two; one of which was a project that was cancelled early because the programmer saw that I reblogged from someone they didn't like on tumblr, told me to block them, called my writing and art shitty and said they didn't want it anyways when I refused to, and then blocked me and everyone else in the project, lol. I wish I was joking... But even then, I had a lot of fun, came up with a cool story concept and worked with a whole team of cool people who WEREN'T jerks!)
« Last Edit: December 22, 2023 @410.47 by Bede » Logged

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ThunderPerfectWitchcraft
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2023 @550.37 »

@Kolo I see that the "thriving force" that a game jam might bring might be welcome for some people; but I wonder if it is a constructive solution. Isn't the insecurity about what to do and where to go rather a product of a uncertainty that needs to be worked out to come to an end? If you take the impetus from outside, you merely go over this uncertainty by ideas that come from outside - might be good in some cases, but I believe it is often not the "true" solution (Needful to say: If it works out for you (or somebody else), who am I to talk - but can you see where my doubts come from?).

I wouldn't say that I'm an perfectionist, but I strive to get things done as good as I can; perfection is - in my opinion - always a ideal that can't be reached. A game that is as good as the dev can get it is in my book "finished", and as close to perfect as it can be; my resent is that jam games are usually less than that, and often never become anything else.

@wygolvillage I think that things are different in other areas of art: Drawing,  writing, or making music take less time than doing video games; "On the road" was written within three days and is a master piece; I doubt that anybody can do the playtesting for a video game that is needed to make a "good one" in this amount of time.

Some other points still apply, in my opinion: I think that the competitive nature of such events and the given themes might help some people, but often do more harm than good. I know a guy who is a pretty good illustrator - and I can clearly tell apart his "real" works from those that he does for "inktober" or such stuff. It might technically help, but wouldn't experimenting with techniques and ideas help even more?


@Cobra! Do you plan to enter the industry as developer in a studio or as a indie dev?
As said in the OP, many of the points you bring up (networking, professional skills, etc) are common reasons to do game jams. Does it really work out? When reading about it, I often wonder if they aren't really a preparation for dealing with working conditions in either fields that nobody should voluntarily bear: strict, very short time limits, set themes and tools, and crunch time. Personally, I don't want this stuff in my work, let alone my free time.

@Melooon Aren't you basically telling me that you go to jams while not caring to win and not caring for the jam? I think that they are no harm with this mindset; I wonder if there wouldn't be theoretically better platforms for your purposes.
I already played your monster game, found it quite hilarious, and indeed wouldn't have guessed that it is a jam-work.

@Bede I can relate; I would also wish for better ways to connect small-time game devs. Neither the modern social networks nor the specialized forum do really work out for this issue, aren't they?
I actually made a game jam with a giant time frame on Itch that is mainly intented as a meeting place for non-commercial, non-jerk devs; thing is, since I set a very high time limit Itch did delist it :D. Will send you the link (as I don't want to use this board to overly promote my stuff), there are few participants but it might - in the long run - help to find like minded people. If anyone else is interested, feel free to shoot over a PM.
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2023 @638.06 »

@Kolo I see that the "thriving force" that a game jam might bring might be welcome for some people; but I wonder if it is a constructive solution. Isn't the insecurity about what to do and where to go rather a product of a uncertainty that needs to be worked out to come to an end? If you take the impetus from outside, you merely go over this uncertainty by ideas that come from outside - might be good in some cases, but I believe it is often not the "true" solution (Needful to say: If it works out for you (or somebody else), who am I to talk - but can you see where my doubts come from?).

I'm not 100% sure I'm reading your post right so do correct me if I've misunderstood you! But - what is unconstructive about finding some inspiration or drive from outside forces? I can't really see where your doubts come from because the idea that taking inspiration from outside sources is avoiding an internal hurdle is... strange to me! People seek outside prompts all the time - there's blogs and sites dedicated to generating prompts, I see people doing "ask my character stuff!" all the time, many people post "what should I work on next?". It's only human to enjoy mixing creative ideas with others' input, and it doesn't mean that you yourself aren't adding your own creativity and ideas to the mix. If I ask my partner which one of my characters I should draw and she provides a name, I can usually think of a fun idea or pose or interaction to draw based off that name that I didn't have until she helped me.

It's impossible (for me and the people I know, anyways) to be generating fresh ideas every single second of a day and it's natural to have lull periods; if you have a motivation to create during those lull periods then external inspirations are a godsend, and I don't think them being spurred on externally makes them any lesser or anything like that! Inspiration is a tide; it ebbs and flows, but if it's the sole driving force of your creation then you'll struggle to maintain an output especially under deadlines or expectations. Of course there's nothing wrong with letting your inspiration guide your creative process, but I've always more heavily leaned on motivation myself! Perhaps that's where our paths are diverging?
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2023 @693.82 »

@Kolo nothing wrong with external inspiration (I don't believe in the genius at all), rather the motivation. I believe that a idea that you believe in and want to do does want to come to the light nearly by itself; it won't let you rest until you realize it. By replacing this "thrive" through a external force (a deadline and a theme) you force yourself to do something you only want half to do, and you only want to do it half since you basically know that there is still something lacking.
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2023 @165.81 »

@Cobra! Do you plan to enter the industry as developer in a studio or as a indie dev?
As said in the OP, many of the points you bring up (networking, professional skills, etc) are common reasons to do game jams. Does it really work out? When reading about it, I often wonder if they aren't really a preparation for dealing with working conditions in either fields that nobody should voluntarily bear: strict, very short time limits, set themes and tools, and crunch time. Personally, I don't want this stuff in my work, let alone my free time.

I plan to go solo or independent, working with publishers for certain projects. I plan to set up an LLC in January and have a Publisher interested in my next game!

Some game jams actually worked out great! One game I helped make was Telocation: Gemini for the Nintendo 64, which went on to win the contest we were making it for, won a cash prize. We’re expanding to other systems, the main developer is porting it to PC using SDL, whereas I’m porting it to the Sega Saturn.

I didn’t mention this earlier, but game jams can also be a great way to explore ideas you have for games. One jam I made a prototype of a game called Head Out, which is an FPS where you throw your head go attack enemies and solve puzzles, and people absolutely loved the idea, so I plan to expand that into a full game in the future.

That said, most jams don’t result in anything as teams fall apart or sometimes someone is too busy to put work towards the project, sometimes that someone is me.

I think the deadlines and themes are good motivators. They say creativity stems from limitation. Usually if there’s no deadline, I end up slacking off & not working on the project at all, and just lose all motivation. If there’s an active deadline and other constraints, it helps propel me forward, you know?

You do raise a fair concern, and it’s something I’ve been dealing with recently myself. Sometimes you’re just too busy to work on anything. I’ve been busy dealing with stuff around my own projects. It’s frustrating because there is so many projects and ideas I want to realise, but I just don’t feel like I have the time to do so… I should plan better time schedules…
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ThunderPerfectWitchcraft
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2023 @680.71 »

@Cobra! Couldn't disagree more on a idea than the one that deadlines or barriers are good motivators or helps for creativity, but this is probably the area where we enter the realms of personal tastes, needs, and ways of working.

Your N64 game looks pretty interesting; gonna check it out somewhat soon. About Heads out: Might also check it out, but what was the channel you used to get the feedback? The comment section of the jam itself seems to be empty, and this is one of the common impressions I have - what am I missing?

About your plans: Best of luck! You have a quite stony path ahead, given the state the "industry" and the cultural segment of video games are both in atm, but I'm sure you don't need me telling you to know this.

I guess everybody who is somewhere into a segment of art without making a living from it has the problem of a very limited available time. Maybe its noteworthy that there is a difference between milestones and to-dos (create structure) and time-schedules (create pressure); at least this somewhat helps me to deal with my projects. Again, this might be a personal thing.
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2023 @832.95 »

@Cobra!Your N64 game looks pretty interesting; gonna check it out somewhat soon. About Heads out: Might also check it out, but what was the channel you used to get the feedback? The comment section of the jam itself seems to be empty, and this is one of the common impressions I have - what am I missing?

About your plans: Best of luck! You have a quite stony path ahead, given the state the "industry" and the cultural segment of video games are both in atm, but I'm sure you don't need me telling you to know this.

I guess everybody who is somewhere into a segment of art without making a living from it has the problem of a very limited available time. Maybe its noteworthy that there is a difference between milestones and to-dos (create structure) and time-schedules (create pressure); at least this somewhat helps me to deal with my projects. Again, this might be a personal thing.

The feedback was mostly on Discord and in Itch reviews.

Yeah, game dev is very difficult. My game is selling a lot for a first time commercial project, and I still haven't broken even because of how much of the revenue gets taken away for stuff like taxes and digital sellers taking their cuts...
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2023 @887.30 »

Yeah, game dev is very difficult. My game is selling a lot for a first time commercial project, and I still haven't broken even because of how much of the revenue gets taken away for stuff like taxes and digital sellers taking their cuts...

Even some big fishes are drowning nowadays. Mimimi-Productions recently announced to stop since they said that it wouldn't work out anymore, and their games were modest hits.
But I'm getting OT.

---------------------------

A thing I'm thinking of are game jams that primarily attempt to create a collective and linked work of art by setting up manifestos, comparable to the "Dogme 95" manifesto; you could kick the deadline, and set up a small concept (either like "Make a game that depicts a scene or aspect of Macbeth", or by making something up within a community) and/or some rudimentary rules ("without written words"/"as audiogame"/"using only cliparts as textures"/"save for work", or whatever). The corpus of games created with this ruleset defines itself as a piece of art assembled from pieces of art. It always remains fragment, but might continue to grow more and more; there might be experiments and variations, and a intern curation and processing of feedback could take place. Could you imagine to partake in such a project, and, if yes: What would rules or setting would be of interest to you?
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2023 @55.72 »

Even some big fishes are drowning nowadays. Mimimi-Productions recently announced to stop since they said that it wouldn't work out anymore, and their games were modest hits.
But I'm getting OT.

Yeah, and combined with most gamers seemingly not understanding that games cost a lot of money to make, and therefore having unrealistically high expectations, I can see the industry crashing as a result. It's just not sustainable.

A thing I'm thinking of are game jams that primarily attempt to create a collective and linked work of art by setting up manifestos, comparable to the "Dogme 95" manifesto; you could kick the deadline, and set up a small concept (either like "Make a game that depicts a scene or aspect of Macbeth", or by making something up within a community) and/or some rudimentary rules ("without written words"/"as audiogame"/"using only cliparts as textures"/"save for work", or whatever). The corpus of games created with this ruleset defines itself as a piece of art assembled from pieces of art. It always remains fragment, but might continue to grow more and more; there might be experiments and variations, and a intern curation and processing of feedback could take place. Could you imagine to partake in such a project, and, if yes: What would rules or setting would be of interest to you?

Many game jams already do this. I've partaken in many that restrict the game size, the tools used to make them, etc.

I'm not too sure how your idea differs?
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2023 @504.16 »

Many game jams already do this. I've partaken in many that restrict the game size, the tools used to make them, etc.

I'm not too sure how your idea differs?

The kicking of the deadlines is the most important difference to a traditional game jam, the replacement of a competition through mutual feedback another one. A person could pop up in a community either just directly or years after the "concept" or "manifesto" was worked out and say: "Hi people, I made a MBeth24-Game; I didn't follow rule x because y, but other than that I got every point". This person could than receive feedback for the implementation ("I believe that z didn't work out, but rather like n", "I think that rule x is most essential, is this even a MBeth24-Game?"), and people could get inspiration from the results arriving. A community where such "alternative jams" are performed could somewhat stir the development of games that are - somewhat - congruent with shared values that these communities develop. It would also still work as a platform to smite some rudimentary connections among each other, and come into dialogue about the process of game making itself; you could also search for people to team up with at the places where this "jams" are defined and discussed.
I'm not aware that something like this exists, the existing manifestos I'm aware of (including my own) are more about the conditions of production; game jams have often a time limit, a competition, and handle their themes usually very different from what I'm describing here - but I might be mistaken here, if you know such (or similar) jams I'd gladly check them out!
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