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.
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: “DID SOMEBODY SAY… GAME JAM!?” 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.
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.