Key Takeaways from my Game Jam Experience
1. Develop a plan before you begin working on your game: Having a clear roadmap and understanding the scope of your project is essential for staying organized and managing your time effectively.
2. Determine if the proper assets needed for your game are available: Before diving into development, ensure that the necessary assets, such as sound effects, music, and visuals, are accessible or plan alternative solutions.
3. Always ask questions if you are lost: Don’t hesitate to seek help from online communities, forums, or mentors when you encounter challenges or feel stuck. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing are valuable aspects of the game jam experience.
4. Make sure that you learn something because that is what game jams are about: Embrace the learning opportunities that game jams provide. Experiment, explore new tools, and push your boundaries to enhance your skills and expand your knowledge.
Participating in my first game jam, the Druid Mechanics Game Jam, was an exhilarating experience. With only 48 hours to create a game based on the theme “Healing Requires Sacrifice,” I embarked on a challenging adventure that tested my skills and pushed me to learn and grow. In this article, I will share my journey, from developing the initial idea to exploring Unreal Engine and finding valuable resources. Join me as I reflect on my experience and draw key takeaways from this exciting game jam.
Developing the General Idea and Workflow
At the start of the game jam, I knew I needed a solid plan to guide my development process. I brainstormed ideas that aligned with the theme and settled on a unique concept that captured the essence of healing and sacrifice. By outlining the gameplay mechanics and visual style, I created a roadmap to follow throughout the jam.
Learning Unreal Engine
As an inexperienced game jam participant, I faced a steep learning curve when it came to Unreal Engine. However, I embraced the challenge and dedicated time to understand the engine’s interface, tools, and workflows. Through online tutorials, documentation, and forums, I gained valuable insights that enabled me to bring my game to life. Unreal Engine’s robust features and flexibility proved to be invaluable assets in creating an immersive gaming experience.
Utilizing Free Materials
One of the most exciting discoveries during the game jam was the abundance of free resources available to game developers. From sound effects and music to 3D models and textures, these resources helped me save time and maintain the quality of my game. Websites like OpenGameArt.org and Freesound.org became my go-to sources for finding assets that matched my vision. Leveraging these free materials allowed me to focus more on game mechanics and design.
Around the 24th hour of the game jam I admittedly started to feel a little worn. I was doing a ton of googling to learn how to do a variety of things within the game engine and would often get lost in documentation or tutorial videos. However, after a while I just wanted to create something that was “somewhat” complete and could be enjoyed by at least me.
Participating in the Druid Mechanics Game Jam was an incredible journey that introduced me to the exciting world of game development. From developing a plan and leveraging free resources to learning Unreal Engine and seeking guidance when needed, I discovered the power of creativity, collaboration, and continuous learning. This experience reinforced the importance of planning, resourcefulness, and embracing challenges to grow as a game developer.
You can check out the game I made and submitted at the following link: