Fast Game Development: UWE Game Jam Part One

With our tiny team, outsize ambitions and limited resources, Natural Selection 2 took UWE six years to create. Is all game development like that? Is there such thing as fast game development? Absolutely, and it is happening right now. This weekend the UWE office is playing host to a ‘Game Jam,’ an event where nerds inhabit a confined space for a short time, and spit out a whole bunch of games. This series of posts will give you an insight into the technology, creativity and skill that go into creating them.


Game Jam’s often have a theme, to give a general direction and impetus to ideas. Brian chose to make the theme of this Jam ‘Public vs Private.’ Good Jam themes are always a little ambiguous and offer plenty of room for creative interpretation. Each team has chosen a different way of expressing the theme through a game. Here is an introduction to what each of the teams wants to accomplish by the end of the Jam:

Team 1: The Bearded and Non-Bearded Men

Brian and Chris are going for a board game/video game mashup. Players will have to choose between interacting digitally (via Xbox controller) and physically (via board-game style tokens) in order to gather certain resources, and achieve objectives. Both bearded and non-bearded members of the team are contributing programming and art, and the game is being built using Love, a 2D game engine.

Team 2: Doctor Steve’s Merry Band

Steve, Jorge and Sam are exploring the concept of private and public property, and how people interact with them. Using Unity, the are creating a multiplayer game in which players start with a piece of private land, and attempt to expand their landholding. Players may engage in combat over resources, but may only kill another player if that player is on their private property. Steve is handling primary programming, Jorge secondary and Sam is creating game art.

Team 3: The Glass Table Coalition

James and Jim have chosen to explore one of the first-world’s most pressing problems. How does a silicon valley employee manage their beard? Players must manage the beard of said employee, using various shaving utensils and products. Each day, the player will receive feedback on the quality of their shaving by watching a Twitter feed in a silicon valley office. The game is being built in Flash, with James in charge of beard rendering technology and James handling non-beard rendering responsibilities.

Team 4: 3 Macs + a ThinkPad

GJsomethingNot content with being normal people and building one game per team, Pete, Ryan, Alex and Brad have chosen to create two games. One is a paparazzi adventure, in which players receive tip offs about celebrities leaving clubs, and must photograph said celebrities. The other is an evolution of that culture gem of the 80’s, Crossfire. Rather than just having to blast the other player, this new game will introduce secret goals for each player. Should a player achieve their secret goal (Such as missing 50% of shots) then they will receive lots of points. But if the other player correctly guesses the goal, points are lost.

Team 5: The Self-Flagellators

Which engine do you think Max, Dushan and Brian are using for their game? A custom built one of course! The game idea is a Real-Time-Strategy game played out on a representation of the Tube. Each player controls a syndicate made up of agents moving around the Tube network, attempting to achieve objectives and capture other agents. The game art will be Isotype, and is being created by Brian, while Max and Dushan create their C++ 2D render engine.

Next up, we will look at how each team is organising their games as they are created.

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