Everyone loves a good game jam. It’s the intersection of games, creativity and ambition; giving small teams a limited amount of time, usually a weekend, to make a completely original game. While most of the “games” end up being more proof of concepts than actual games, it doesn’t make sifting through the entries post-jam any less entertaining.
Glitch, a non-profit seeking to help shape emerging game designers, and the International Game Dev Association, teamed with the University of Minnesota to host GameCraft. The event was a smashing success. In 48 hours, the relatively small game jam was able to produce 31 games in all. Let’s take a look at some of the standouts. Browse the full list at their homepage.
Oh no! The volcano is angry! As seems to be the case with most primitive-types living at the foot of a massive volcano, you feel it’s necessary to sacrifice all manner of things to the rupture in the Earth’s crust. A variety of interactable objects are dotted around the surprisingly large map, and must be chucked up the mountain to appease the angry God in the crater. The developers apparently ran out of time before adding any detection, because the sacrifices don’t appease the angry tiki man, and hot, raining death seems to be inevitable. Regardless, it’s a fun little ditty, and it’s endlessly entertaining to throw llamas 300 feet in the air.
As a tragically doomed Bovidae, you will be doing your damnedest to avoided a nameless, faceless human who has resolved to sacrifice you for some reason. There isn’t a lot to Escape, Goat! outside of trying to avoid your indomitable pursuer, but there doesn’t need to be. This is part of what makes jam games so stimulating. It’s not uncommon to see a jam game to do one thing well, and in this case, it was the pursing AI. It feels more like the devs were interested in honing their craft, rather than making a fully formed game. It’s an exercise, and that’s pretty cool.
GunRunner is a deceptive game, and the one I found myself spending the most time with. The knee-jerk reaction would be to compare it to something like You Must Build a Boat!, but as you fiddle with the rows, the game’s depth slowly reveals itself to you. The absence of any instructions makes plumbing the surprising depth of the mechanics very rewarding. I don’t want to explain anything, you’ll just have to try it yourself!
One of the things that make game jams so much fun to poke around with is the breadth of content they generate. A first person volcano sacrifice simulator, a goat escaping a crazy person, a match 3-esque puzzle game and Joe Vs. Volcano, an isometric rhythm game. How could you foresee that level of variety? Old Joe is hopping to the beat and collecting goodies to be thrown into the volcano. Presumably to appease an angry tiki man. The game is a little finicky due to it’s take on what direction “forward” is, so be ready to take wrong turns directly into lava flows. The game also doesn’t feature a win state even after sacrificing every possible object, but it doesn’t really need one. It’s a crazy addition to an awesome collection of games.