dbb x GGJ: How dot big bang sponsored the 2022 Global Game Jam

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks here at dot big bang. As dbb’s dev team worked away on their core tasks of making games, helping creators, and developing new tools, it turned out that we’d suddenly and spontaneously sponsored the biggest game jam in the world.

It began when our CEO Robert Anderberg noticed an unfolding discourse on Twitter. The Global Game Jam had announced a new headline sponsor, resulting in abacklash around the company’s implementation of NFTs. Gamers and developers alike are largely against the inclusion of NFTs in gaming, as many companies have recently been discovering.

With three days to go before the jam began, the controversial sponsorship was cancelled, and dot big bang stepped up as the Global Game Jam’s new headline sponsor. It was all hands on deck to get our brand new partnership up and running!

The jam took place Jan 20th-30th. During this period, 48-hour game jams happened at sites all around the world. Thousands of games were submitted, in all imaginable genres.

Rob took part in the launch event, and was interviewed on a live stream. It was fun to see him talking about the vision behind the platform. dot big bang lets developers of any experience level quickly prototype new ideas, with no install required. They can also edit and playtest their games collaboratively, in real time, by sharing a URL. In many ways, it’s the ideal tool for the fast iteration process that game jams entail.

The interviewer’s mind was particularly blown by the fact that dot big bang works on any device with a browser – including the Samsung Smart Fridge.

As the individual jams started all over the world, developers started using dot big bang for the first time to make their jam creations. We saw people make a wide variety of games in just 48 hours – from a miniature voxel town, to a space station simulator, to a game in which the player coloured in a blank world by throwing paint. You can see the games that were made in dotbigbang here.

It seemed like a fun idea for a dot big bang Community Engineer to enter the jam too. Ashley Koett took on the challenge, with help making voxel objects from dbb Community Manager Chris Miles, and a story by myself (John, dot big bang’s Social Media Manager, hi!). The game is a lo-fi puzzle-platformer based on the GGJ theme of ‘duality’, in which the player controls two sides of the same person. We came up with a Celeste-inspired story about building up confidence when you’re feeling low. The game is called ESP, and you can try it here.

There was also a dot big bang diversifier – that is, an optional sub-theme people can use, with the aim of spurring a more diverse range of submissions. The dotbigbang diversifier was “emotional rollercoaster”, and invited jammers to make a game that evoked an emotional response in the player. Over 600 entries used this theme, making it one of the most popular diversifiers.

Over the new couple of weeks we’ll look at the games people made in more detail, and share some of the feedback we got from developers working in dot big bang for the first time. It’s really valuable for the dev team to see people learning the ropes of creating in dbb – finding out which features they liked, how they felt about our UI, tools, and documentation, and to hear suggestions on what could be improved.

Overall, it was a wild ride, and everyone involved made it really fun. So big thanks to the Global Game Jam team, and everyone who used dotbigbang to make their game. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!

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