It was standing room only in a packed room full of eager attendees as Troy Morrissey of DARC Productions premiered the teaser trailer for Game Jam: The Documentary, kicking off a series of presentations for IGDA Toronto’s first gathering of 2012.
Morrissey and his partner Ryan Cox are well into production on a documentary that explores the experience and pressures of game jams. The pair also announced the launch of an Indiegogo campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/Game-Jam-The-Documentary) to help fund the project.
The screening was a fitting introduction for the Global Game Jam Party held at George Brown College’s School of Design. Global Game Jam, an initiative of the IGDA, is the world’s largest game jam event that takes place annually in January and sees thousands of game enthusiasts around the world dedicating a single weekend to make games.
Toronto was one of the participating cities and the jam was organized locally by Morrissey and George Brown College student Randy Orenstein.
Among the locally made games was Context Insensitive, which indie developer Damian Sommer presented to the packed house. Sommer, recently nominated for a Canadian Videogame Award for A Friendship in Four Colours, cited inspiration by Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box and a fascination for power-ups usage.
Context Insensitive asks players to assign specific moves to keyboard keys before letting them play a level. It begins simply enough (right button to move right, Z to jump, for example) but gradually forces players to remember and use all the moves they’ve learned and essentially banks on players forgetting them. The moves include slow fall, block jump, explode and double jump — the latter being a different key for regular jump “because I’m a dick,” said a matter-of-fact Sommer with a hint of mischievous malice.
A group of first-year George Brown College students (Kristan Serrattan, Ambro P 2wqark, Ben Torfe, Daniel Kim, Noel Lee, Nathan Dell-Vandenburg) followed Sommer with The Cycles of Space. The Katamari-esque game puts players in control of a black hole attempting to consume the universe — you start off by swallowing smaller planets and gradually increasing size along with the ability to absorb larger planets with the ultimate goal of consuming the colossal star constantly visible in the background. The game’s music also becomes less complex as the number of planets diminish and space becomes even, well, emptier.
Big Bang Builder is the first game for scientist and game hobbyist Tyler Budolowski and his jam partner/sound guy Dan Rodrigues. Boasting a minimalist look, the game has the simple objective of building atoms. Though “not scientifically accurate” and “you can’t really win,” said Budolowski who taught himself XNA, Big Bang Builder can technically be played forever.
The final two games presented are both powered by Unity. This Bitch is on Fire by Crossfire Games puts players in control of a water cannon in a burning warehouse. If you can’t control the flames and die in a fiery blaze, the game doesn’t hesitate to announce “Bitch, you on fire!”
Closing off the presentation portion of the evening, jam veteran Paul Forest showed his real-time strategy game Neon in which you produce troops and control resource production. Forest also showed off his sense of humour by prominently placing a “snake on a plane” in the middle of his screen, with an explanation followed by collective laughter and groans.
Attendees once again filled the rooms and hallways to check out the games, while DJ Chiclet set the party mood. One room contained games from the Toronto jam while the other boasted a selection of thousands of games from other Global Game Jam cities.
Thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting your local game jammers! Special thanks to our event photographer James Everett and Toronto Global Game Jam organizers Troy and Randy.