ICT Game Jam Guide
Wisdom commonly shared by the
#gamedev channel in the Slack team for devICT
What is this??
We get a lot of questions, especially in the few months leading up to our bi-annual ictgamejam.com - so we figured it’s time to crowdsource some of the most common advice and resources out in the open. Much of this is geared towards people new to game jam
Want to pitch in? Edit this guide and submit a Pull Request for us to review in the browser!
We won’t cover everything because so much can change between events. But we can share the information that rings true for all our events, and our gamedev community in general. Put stuff in here that will help people be successful at most game jams, not so much how to pander to whoever might be judging that year ;)
How to Succeed at ICT Game Jam
Yeah, usually we have cash prizes for some variety of Judges Choice and Community Choice. But that’s superfluous. If you really want to aim for prize money, then go for it. But the only way we can guarantee you’ll enjoy your weekend is if you’re prepared to just enjoy the weekend making games, getting fed, and being around others who enjoy those things too.
Also, we’ve had plenty of people who have used this event to start learning how to make games. Some people only ever make games at this event. Fire up an example or tutorial and start breaking things! Set your own goals and give it a shot.
You might not always be able to control how much time you have to prepare, but if you do have time, here are suggestions for things to do before participating in our game jam.
- If you haven’t already, install all your tools. Some tools require additional downloads after you install them, so open them up, create and save a test document. Make sure they’re updated, or that they won’t bother you about updating during the jam.
One month (or more) before the jam
- Buy your ticket! You can usually get a discount, and possibly a t-shirt!
- Figure out what game engine you are going to use and start doing tutorials and practicing making small games.
- If you’re forming a team, and there is one or more developer who is much more familiar in a specific tool, use that tool!
- Meet with your team and discuss game ideas before hand.
- Settle on tools and how you’re going to share code and art etc. Practice with these tools if you have time.
One week before the jam
- Install/update/run all your tools.
Two days before the jam
- Install/update/run all your tools. Yeah, that’s right. AGAIN.
Before you travel to the jam
- Write down everything you’re taking before you pack it up. Or take a picture or something.
- Make sure you’ve read all emails from us.
How to not succeed at the ICT Game Jam
Finally, the best way to fail is to ruin it for other people by breaking our Code of Conduct. We would rather all get along and get to hang out with you.
Yeah, the internet is a steaming pile of opinions and they’re all right and all wrong at the same time. But these are tools commonly recommended by our community because we’ve used them or otherwise know others in our community have. AND we’re willing to help others get started with these tools. We can’t write your games for you, but if you start hitting walls, we want to help knock those down.
- Unity3D - Can do 2D and 3D games. Probably the most commonly used in our group.
- Unreal Engine - Emphasis on high-quality 3D games.
- Godot - Free, open source game engine and editor. Can do 2D and 3D. Editor runs natively on Windows, Mac and Linux. Code in Python-like GDScript or C#.
- GameMaker - Laser-focused on 2D games, and does it well.
- Pico-8 - Make games that run in a program that emulates old-school game consoles. Intentionally simple.
- Tic-80 - Similar to Pico-8, make lo-fi games, many tools included in editor.
- Twine - Open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. Publish to HTML and play in a web browser.
- PuzzleScript - Very simple, low res puzzle game engine
- RPG Maker - RPG game engine
- Inform 7 - Interactive fiction game engine, english-like programming syntax
- GIMP - all purpose image creation/editing (fairly good for pixel art or digital painting)
- Krita - digital painting and animation tool
- Inkscape - vector graphics editor
- Aesprite - pixel art and pixel art animation (can be purchased but building from source for free is also an option)
- Tiled - 2d tilemap editor, can do isometric and hexagonal tilemaps, can add objects and polygonal regions with custom data
- FontStruct - simple online font creation tool, good for pixel fonts
- Bfxr - browser or standalone chiptone sound effect creator
- Beepbox.co - browser-based chiptune creator
- Audacity - record your own sounds!
- Bosca Ceoil - beginner-friendly music program. Free, open source, and cross-platform.
Whatever you choose to do, choose the one that lets you start building quickly. It’s a game jam, not a source control jam.
- Git - we have a LOT of people using Git, and not just for games
- Perforce - very popular with Unity3D teams, especially with non-developers
- Dropbox/Google Drive/OneDrive - dead simple file-sharing, zip up snapshots of work for safety.
- USB drives, email, anything
- Have your developers figure out what they like best, and work out an art delivery pipeline that works :)
Even more info
Believe it or not, this didn’t all come from our brains. Here are other resources that have helped us grow our own event and blaze our own gamedev trails…
- St. Louis indie game studio Butterscotch Shenanigans hosted a ShenaniJam, in which they’ve linked a “living how-to-jam doc” … alongside other sage advice.
- Reddit.com/r/Gamedev’s Getting Started page [link]
- Brackeys is a great YouTube channel for Unity3D tutorials, he also hosted a game jam with helpful tips
- Coffee with Butterscotch - The studio that made Crashlands talks about making video games, continuous self improvement, 5lb gummy bears… also, look out because they use SWEAR WORDS. All-around lovely and generous people, though :D
- Gamkedo - a podcast that started as “Game Developers Like You” by Chris Deleon. These days they record interviews at a weekly meetup attended by indie gamedevs accross the globe.