The 2016 Blackbird Interactive Game Jam

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Last month Blackbird Interactive held our first studio game jam. This week we are releasing articles talking about the experience we had with the event, and showing you what we made!

Four Games in Five Days

First, a little background info.

A few months back, BBI sponsored the Vancouver Global Game Jam. We had two groups participate as jammers, while several people staffed a Blackbird booth at the event. It was a fun experience held over a weekend, and it turned out to be a great opportunity to get out and meet members of our local gaming community. Full credit goes to the local game studios and organizers of the event for putting it together.

The team from BBI who attended the event had such a great time they suggested we run an internal game jam at Blackbird. Given that we had a window between major projects, we decided to give it a shot. Chances like this don’t come up often in game development, and we didn’t want to miss out.

Planning the jam

We’d seen the results of several other studios’ game jams, and drawing inspiration from them, we made the following choices regarding our own:

  • – We invited the entire company to participate. This meant people who weren’t normally working on projects would get an opportunity to try out a portion of game development.
  • – There would be few constraints or theme requirements, in the name of encouraging fresh original ideas. The one rule was the game had to be something that worked with a new IP.
  • – That also meant that all platforms and genres were on the table, it all came down to what each team wanted to do.
  • – The game jam would last one full work week, with the team presentations happening on the following Monday.
  • It’s a big commitment to devote an entire company to a whole week of speculative work, but many of us had always wanted to have a game jam at BBI, and after a long project shipping Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, it seemed like a good change of pace for the studio. The above goals also spoke to Blackbird’s desire to maintain a culture of creativity at Blackbird, and take chances that lead us to exciting, new ideas.

The Prep

To get the teams fair coverage across all the disciplines we assigned teams in advance, but also allowed them to make trades between members, provided everyone could agree it was fair. Ahead of the game jam we set up mailing lists, source control, and chat channels so everyone had easy communication tools during the week.

Each team was given an hour meeting the week prior to the jam to discuss some planning details, like where they wanted to sit, if they wanted to make some staffing swaps, and what they wanted to name their team. All conversation of what they wanted to build was saved for the start of the Game Jam.

The Kickoff

On the Monday morning we gathered the team to explain the goals, answer any questions, and kicked off the event. Each team set off to make their games shortly after that.

The game jam begins!

The game jam begins!

The Results

 

We are happy to say each team was able to show something cool during the final presentation. We are looking forward to showing the results to you. Members from each of the teams have written articles detailing the making of each of their projects and we will be releasing them throughout this week. You can read about the first project below…

Game # 1: Simon says, “Shrink!”

article written by Jeff Lydell