A Different Kind of Game Jam

While we’ve already talked about what Ludum Dare is, here is an interesting look at another kind of game jam: the Train Jam, which is a 52 hour jam that takes place on a train between Chicago and San Francisco right before the Game Developers Conference, which happens to be this week. Not only does the Train Jam serve as a fun challenge for game developers, it also serves as a way to network and get to know fellow developers in the industry. The Train Jam has run for only two years so far, the second being just this last week. 



My Previous Ludum Dare Experience

 There are many challenges that we’ll face throughout the jam. Version control, bugs, collaboration, time constraints, and scope creep to name a few.

Just to show that we are capable of making something and fully completing a game for the jam, here’s the game I made for Ludum Dare 30:


It’s called, “PLuTO.”

An image of the death screen from PLuTO.

I did everything for this game from scratch for the 48 hour jam. I designed the game, wrote the code, made the animations/graphics, created the music and sound effects, and managed to submit my game for judging with a few minutes to spare.

A zoomed out shot of the universe you can explore in PLuTO.

I have no doubt that with the help of Jason, Quintin, and Pierce, plus and extra 24 hours, we should be able to make a pretty kickass experience.

Script for Pitch

Here be the tentative version of our pitch script: 

COOPER is “debugging” by slamming his head on the keyboard
COOPER notices audience and turns towards camera
COOPER: “Oh, sorry! I didn’t see you there, I was just debugging some of my code in preperation for a game jam coming up on April 17th!”
JASON kicks the door in
JASON thrusts his hand forward, revealing a jar of jam labeled “Game”
COOPER slaps the jar of jam out of Jason’s hand
COOPER: “NO! That’s NOT what a game jam is”

COOPER and JASON sit at a table together
COOPER: “The Game Jam we’ll be doing, Ludum Dare is a 72 hour race against the clock to create a game from scratch. Every Ludum Dare has a unique theme that is announced at the beginning of the event.”
JASON: “Ludum Dare is the ultimate test for any game developer. Video games are usually created over the course of a few years by large teams of developers, with big budgets.”
COOPER: “…and we don’t have ANY of those things.”
JASON: “Then.. …how are we going to make a game?”

JASON and COOPER sit at their computers, slamming on their computers and screaming at the top of their lungs

COOPER and JASON sit at the table together
COOPER: “Without any resources and limited development experience in an environment where every minute counts, we will have to constantly iterate, problem solve, and redesign our game.
JASON: Ludum Dare games hardly ever conform to the standard conventions found in most video games, and rarely end up as they were originally invisioned.
COOPER: While all Ludum Dare games are unique, both the skill of the developers and the spontaneous nature of the event determine the quality of the game.
JASON: Not only are we going to create a game and document the entire process. Ludum Dare, by it’s nature, will let us explore game development in a way that neither research nor traditional development could.
COOPER: In short, rather than just talk about making a game, we’re actually going to make a game.
JASON: And THEN talk about it.

What is Ludum Dare?

The first thing you need to know is that it’s pronounced “Loo-dum D-ar-re” Ludum Dare is a 48 or 72 hour  game jam that takes place every 4 months. Here’s an excerpt from theAbout Pageon there website. 

“During a Ludum Dare, developers from around the world spend a weekend creating games based on a theme suggested by the community.”

Game jams are an incredible challenge, and Ludum Dare is the longest running and largest online game jam in the world.

There are only two rules for the 72 hour jam we’ll be doing. 

1- Work alone or in a team.

2- Create a game in 72 hours.

We cannot create any assets before the jam starts, and we don’t know what the theme is until it’s announced at the start of the contest. While ludum dare is a competition, developers aren’t competing to make a better game than each other, they compete to make the best game they possibly can.  Ludum Dare is always exciting, and always a new experience, we can’t wait to take on this challenge as a team.

Unreal Engine 4

For a few generations of video games now, the Unreal Engine has been one of the most used game engines in the entire industry. While the Engine was first launched in 1998, over the years it has seen many iterations, the most recent, Unreal Engine 4, originally unveiled in 2012 was announced yesterday to be completely free for anyone to use, with 5% of the profit from any game release owed to Epic Games, Unreal Engine’s creator. While there have been free-to-use game engines in the past, one of the world’s leading game engines being free to use for anyone who is even curious about making video games has the potential to change the industry.

While we will be using the Unity Engine for the Ludum Dare game jam, Unreal Engine 4 presents many new possibilities for aspiring game developers all around the world.



Combining Projects

After midterms, Jason and I decided to merge our projects and work together.

Jason was going to make a single 3D model over the course of 8 weeks and talk about the entire process from start to finish.

I was going to interview game developers and talk about the entire process of making a game from start to finish.

Now, we’re going to work together with a few classmates to create a game for a 72 hour event, Ludum Dare. Jason quite possibly could be making dozens of models in 3 days, and instead of talking to developers about making a game, I’ll actually be coding and collaborating with others to actually make a game.

We truly have our work cut out for us, but with my previous experience doing game jams, and Jason’s background in software development, we should be able to make something worth checking out.


Here’s a link to my old site:


Here’s a link to Jason’s old site: