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Global Game Jam 2014 @ Facebook HQ! My experiences

by on January 29, 2014

by Jake Rushing

Original post can be found here on his blog Jake of All Trades!

Howdy ho everyone!

I just settled down from moving to San Jose to start my new job in a neighboring town. What did I do since my move-in at San Jose aside from working at my new job? Oh nothing big. Just participated at the awesome Global Game Jam at the Facebook HQ in Menlo Park!

2014-01-28 21.20.34

Got some sweet Facebook swag!

Game Jams are contests where you have to form a team and make a game based on a theme that is given to the participants in a time period. Some of these jams give the participants 48 hours to make a game, but others give a longer deadline. Global Game Jam is the most well renowned Game Jam known to Game Developers because it is an international event that participants throughout the globe partake in this event. Where could you attend a Global Game Jam event? Well you could go to the GGJ website and find a site that is closest to you. Or you could even create one yourself if there is the closest site too far for you. But of course you have to find some people who would make a game with you.

At the Facebook HQ, we were to make a game that is based on the theme, “We don’t see things as they are, we only see things as we are.” At that point, we had 48 hours to form a team, come up with a game, and go through crunch time to make a game. I ended up in a team with people who I barely knew from college and with people who I had no idea who they were. Despite the lack of familiarity with one another, we managed to come together as one and worked our butts off with some of us getting as little as 3-5 hours of sleep at night.

We ended up making a game that turned out to be…a little more ambitious than we expected. Our idea is to make a Facebook multiplayer game which allows players to log in and then have them play as their profile pictures and have their friends join them. In this game, which is inspired by Agent Smith from The Matrix, you have to tag other people that don’t share your persona and transform them into one of you. How did this turned out to be ambitious? In order to implement the multiplayer aspect of the game, you’d have to understand how to implement networking which is essential for making multiplayer games. I don’t know exactly how it’s done, but what I do know is that it is one of the hardest features of a game to implement.

We worked our sleep-deprived rear ends off in attempt to make a game that is decent enough for everyone else to play. Despite our best efforts, we ran into a good amount of issues while making the game. If the networking aspect of the game wasn’t hard enough for us to implement, there were times when some of the work that we did that got overwritten by other people’s work. There were also some people (like me) who couldn’t even push their work into the repository. Between those two frustrating factors, we may have lost around 10 – 15 hours worth of work. This was a frustrating experience for people who weren’t familiar with version control software called Git which allows many people to push their work into a repository.

Curse you git!!!!

Curse you git!!!!

Thankfully, one of the team members brought a lot of USB drives, which saved our bacon near the end as it prevented more loss of work.

Despite the fact that nobody knew each other, we worked well together as a team and we did spectacular in contributing our efforts. However, at the end of the jam, our game wasn’t as complete as we would have liked. We managed to implement networking along with AI and a good amount of other features. Another sad thing about the outcome is that we could not implement the Facebook login like we wanted to on time. In the end, the only way that anyone could play the game is if you have an Access token which is used to debug and test Facebook apps, which, for this game, the token is only known by two of the people I worked with. For this reason, we didn’t upload our game to the Global Game Jam site, so if you were to search for Agent Borg, you wouldn’t find it. The only evidence I could scrape up that says that I made a game is a couple of pictures here.

The only way to ever get into the game

The sphere on the top is trying to convert another being into a sphere like itself

The sphere on the top is trying to convert another being into a sphere like itself

I feel bad that the game was limited in access as well as playability. But I am rather pleased with the experience that I had from this year’s Global Game Jam. I leared a alot from working with a bigger group in crunch time. I learned that when working with a big team, you have to figure out on what your role is, what you will do to help out your team, and you gotta work fast in order to get features implemented quickly. And being organized in terms of what the game needs done helps too. And learning how to work with 3-5 hours of sleep a night also helps as well.

Since Agent Borg didn’t turn out well enough for me to share with you guys, I will make it up to you. As of now, me and Sean Willis, a fellow member of Last Token Gaming , are joining forces to make a game for another Game Jam. This Game Jam has already started and we have until next Monday to create a game. What is the theme of this new Game Jam? What game are we making? That will be revealed on my next posting!

Until then, farewell and don’t be strangers!

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