Delicious Jam

Even the most passionate of workers can become lackadaisical. After all, what good is working late nights when you’re stunted by apathy? I’ve written about six-hour workdays and killing deadlines to combat overwork, but a creative mind can also become lethargic from monotony — even if it’s unnoticed. How do we rekindle that enthusiasm? Make something new.

Last weekend, I jammed with some friends and made a game. I’ve previously compared game jams to whetstones — the perfect device to sharpen your development tools. But, they can do more. This time, I didn’t need to grind new skills; I needed a change of pace. I’ve spent a year developing a text-heavy adventure game, it’s not even close to releasing, and I’ve been doing it by myself. My game doesn’t have the instant gratification of Super Mario — I can’t see the immediate joy of “beating” a level. And all of the assets — art, code, writing — I painstakingly scrutinize, polishing any imperfections, to proudly say this game is the best I can make it.

The weekend’s game jam was the exact opposite. Four developers, all in the same room. No writing, no polish, and shallow, fast fun! I always feel unparalleled joy hearing the laughs, squeals, and howls of somebody playing my creations. And everyone who’s touched this game has said “Okay, just let me do this one more time!”

It isn’t perfect, but it’s done — over a weekend! — with a crew of the best mates and coworkers I could ask for. Can we sell this game? Not a chance. Would I play it for more than fifteen minutes? Hell no! But those fifteen minutes are a rollercoaster that ends in hilarity!

Did I have a good time? YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT!

The vast majority of game developers — and all the ones who I’d want to work with — love making games. It’s important to stoke that passion in many ways, and game jams are an excellent avenue. This applies to solo development, but it’ll be even more critical when my team grows larger. Variety can be the best elixir.

What about that other game? I’ve been working on the new travel mechanic. I’ll write a more detailed post about it soon, but for now, here’s an in-progress screenshot of a taxi bouncing along. See you next week!


Background image by Andrea Parrish-Geyer