As I mentioned in my last post, I was able to hook up with a local team from The Greater Gaming Society of San Antonio and participate in this year’s Global Game Jam. Global Game Jam® (GGJ) is the world’s largest game creation event taking place around the globe. This year’s theme was “lost and found” and the team decided that a private investigation / noir type game would be fun. So my teammate Ansley spun up some art and Wes composed some music and we got to work. We ended up naming the game “Chase Ventura: Kid Detective” – a mystery game where you have to find clues as the neighborhood kid sleuth to “solve cases”.

Animated title screen for "Chase Ventura: Kid Detective" - our team's submission for the Global Game Jam of 2021
The game’s title screen

Overall it was a super cool experience. I was lucky to have a great team; they produced super quality assets to work with and were great at communicating and providing feedback. I wish there had been more time to implement all of the ideas, there was just too much to do in such a short amount of time. I guess that’s the nature of game jams though. I also wrote the game’s systems from scratch and that detracted a lot of time as well. Unfortunately with four hours to go and tons to do, I had to strip virtually every idea out of the game to get something shipped, so you basically get a cut-scene, and then walk around the neighborhood and talk to the various characters Ansley created. Fortunately I feel like our team was on the same page and the game, the art, and the music fit well together. Here are some stills from the game:

I put up a little time-lapse of the last four hours of the Jam condensed to 10 minutes (the deadline was at 5pm CST and I think I submitted at 4:56pm):

I’m super thankful to my wife for being supportive as I basically spent 48 hours binging over code. Also a big thanks to John and his team over at the Greater Gaming Society of San Antonio for putting on the event and helping me get on a team to participate.

If you haven’t ever done a game jam I think it’s a great exercise from a development perspective for a few reasons:

  • Even though I broke every programming best practice, from DRY to bad spaghetti code, the time constraints force you to move forward with the mistakes and take the least path of resistance at every turn, forcing you to write a lot more code and figure out problems quickly on the fly.
  • Letting your team dictate the idea and direction of the game takes you out of your comfort zone for games or projects you would normally make.
  • Reviewing your own code after the fact gives you an opportunity to review what you could have done to make the code better / more extensible if you had ideal conditions.

While it was stressful, It’s also great fun in general. We also ended up taking second place out of our portion of the GGJ, and I am pretty happy about that 😀.

Here’s the link to the Jam Page:

And here’s a link to play the game online (recommended browser: Chrome)