My First Game Jam

7 hours to make a game. That’s right, only 7!

Over the weekend I took a trip up to Sacramento to take part in my first ever game jam. The local IGDA chapter was hosting it and I thought it would be a great intro event for me, as I’ve been a member for a couple months but hadn’t made it to a meet up quite yet. Upon arriving I got to meet and greet plenty of new faces, and before I knew it we were getting the jam spread… err I mean going.

The theme for the day was revealed to be “Cycle.” I panicked a little bit internally here. Bicycle… maybe motorcycle? I wasn’t prepared for the theme whatsoever. However, a friend of mine who came along with me suggested Recycle, and we ran with it. Originally we conceived a game where the player would be in a park setting and would have to run around picking up and recycling trash left over from a birthday party. I figured we could quickly and easily play with the physics and color palate to make the game quirky and fun. Something that let the player shoot the trash from afar into a bin, much like trowing paper balls into a trash can. Cause who doesn’t love doing that! (okay okay, not the craziest idea!)

I got working on a document laying out the basic ideas and making sure we were both on track. More importantly I wanted to make sure we could complete something by the end of the jam, so I made sure we kept things simple. My friend, Ivan, got to work on his programming magic and I started cranking out some park assets with basic geometry.

A few hours in, we had issues with the scripts and getting things to work our way. Looking at what we had, I decided to cut what wasn’t going to make it and make a push for the finish. We weren’t able to get the pick up and throw feeling right, so we reworked some things. I over-sized the world, making the player about mouse scale. This made it so there was some platforming in the game. I rearranged benches, picnic tables, slides etc so that to reach some trash, which became just left over soda cans, you would have to do small jump puzzles. You would then have to push the waste, Rocket League style, into the tipped over recycling bin. With those two mechanics in place we had a “game.”


Finishing touches included a scoring system and having the ‘scored’ cans fade away inside the recycling bin. Oh, and making sure the player wasn’t scored and destroyed! We threw in some light-hearted music made by a fellow jammer and called it a day in the final minutes.

At the end everyone got up and anyone with something to show did so. Considering this was our first game jam and we completed something, one of the hardest parts for us, I was proud of our little project. There were some really great things made in the 7 hours including a racing game, infinite runner game and a cycle of life game. It was a ton of fun putting ourselves to the challenge and I can’t wait to do it again!


One more thank you to IGDA Sacramento for hosting this awesome event! If you are an aspiring designer, or a vet, get out there and be a part of your local community.


Til next time!