Game Jam Advice From Two Game Jam Veterans

Bradley Adams (Senior Software Engineer) and Heather Harvey (Community Designer) are two game jam veterans who entered the Global Game Jam using dot big bang and 2022, and ended up working here!

Based in Vancouver, Canada, they joined dot big bang in June of 2021 under their game dev pseudonyms booradley and punkerella. We caught up with them ahead of this year’s Global Game Jam to ask for some game jam tips.

Hey hey. The Global Game Jam is bearing down fast! How are you both feeling about what’s coming up?
We really enjoy game jams, so we’re super excited to jump in and get started. We have done GGJ every year since 2013 and it’s always great. Shout-out to the Vancouver organizers for doing an amazing job every year!

You’re both game jam veterans. What is it you like about taking part in game jams?
We love it because we get all the fun part of coming up with a new project, without the hard part of polishing it up! Also, it’s just a fun way to challenge ourselves and hang out with like minded people.

You found dot big bang last year via the Global Game Jam. What was it that made you use dbb to make your jam game?
We saw the email from GGJ that mentioned dot big bang. We popped in to check it out and really liked the idea of being able to create and share content so easily. It reminded us of our early game dev days making content with Flash for websites.

Your game last year was called Paint By Plunder. Could you tell us a little about the game?
The premise is pretty simple. You shoot white paint at enemies to “erase” their color and make them stop moving/shooting. Or paint other objects the proper colors to enable their interactions. Our friend Zaz also helped with Paint By Plunder, they did the farm dungeon (including the art), and gave the game its name 🙂

Were there any big hurdles you had to overcome using dbb to make the game, and is there any advice you’d like to pass on?
It is always a challenge to make something on a platform that is new to you, but as usual the main issue is just cutting scope down to something that can be done in two days. I think it is a good idea to think of mechanics you might want to use during the jam, and to poke around your tool (dot big bang or any other engine/programs you are using) to make sure the basics for your idea are there.

You’ve both made tutorial games to help people learn how to use dot big bang at the jam. Could you tell us a little about them? 
The environment example is aimed at designers and artists of varied skill levels, though it will likely help developers that are new to the platform as well. It is intended to explain things like collision, using simple scripts or tags to control the behavior of entities, how templates work and when to use them, as well many other little tips and common issues people might encounter.

We also made a game with several scripted examples. It shows you how to move things around, send events, spawn objects and more. All of the scripts are simple and heavily commented to explain exactly what they are doing.

We have some other more focused examples for interactivity and save data. Plus we just wrote some documentation covering all of the examples we have built as well as general scripting examples.

Do you have any pearls of advice for people using dot big bang for the first time at the jam?
For the artists: Make quick greybox versions of your voxel art so your coder/level designer can get them in right away, even on day one. You can keep adjusting them throughout the weekend and the rest of your team will see the updates when they refresh the browser. Also, the little plus button at the bottom of the voxel editor lets you add animation frames to your object, which can help make things juicier pretty easily 🙂

For programmers: Just get things working without worrying about how messy your code is. The sooner you can iterate on the game the better. Try to have a playable game with a full day left to tweak it. Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the dot big bang Discord! We’ll be there to help you out.

And any advice for game jamming generally?
Try not to worry about every bit of a full game. Focus on a mechanic and feeling for your players, and then take that as far as you can. Two days is very little time, and most of what you and your team talk about is probably going to end up on the cutting room floor.

Also, please sleep. Brains function very poorly without it, and teams don’t get any more done by staying up all night. Lack of sleep will just lead to mistakes and short tempers.

Any parting words for the people?
We are super excited to jam with you all! Can’t wait to see what everyone makes this year and don’t be shy if you need help!

If you’re entering the Global Game Jam this year, you can hop into our Discord and use the Global Game Jam channel to hang out, pick up tips, or find a team to join. We’ll also be streaming throughout prep week and the jam, so come say hi on Twitch. Also check out our GGJ Hub to hang out and find useful info. Happy jamming!

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