Hosting a Game Jam

The game jam we held was a stretch goal of our project, thus had we not held one the product wouldn't be much different. However, what it got us was a memorable experience and the confidence we had truly developed a game engine, it was no longer based on us saying so, there was proof. From the beginning of the semester one of the assumptions we decided on was that our engine wouldn't be foolproof, meaning the developers on the team would be able to use the engine effectively but we couldn't avoid the game developer who would shoot themself in the foot. However, this didn't mean that we wouldn't try to develop a usable engine; we used the project as an exercise/hypothetical situation of "if we had actual game developers...". But we had no illusion of others using the Isetta engine to develop games.

As the engine progressed, the decisions deviated from what was correct to what might be easier to use or harder to abuse. This was used in conjunction with the target game for decisions. Near the end of engine development, we thought it would be cool to show off the actual engine, something we had struggled to do since the engine was the focus not the games it made. What made sense to us was to hold a game jam, this would force people to look at the engine, if only to use what they needed. It is almost like playtesting the engine.

Holding a game jam was a success for two reasons: 1) it confirmed that our engine was actually usable by others not on the team 2) it was exciting for the team. Through the game jam, participants found bugs that we hadn't found because we hadn't used a feature in that specific way, nor did we expect our engine to be bug free. However, the participants were able to work around the bugs, much like you would with a commercial engine that you don't have source code access to. We had been saying for a while that our engine was a twin-stick shooter engine, but that was selling the engine short. The game jammers created an array of games in different genres (racing, artistic, simulation, local multiplayer, puzzle, and shooter), none of which were twin-stick. Saying your game engine is a certain genre doesn't mean the developers will make games for that, they will only be restricted by the feature set.