Global Game Jam 2010: I am an Artist


This past weekend I participated in the Global Game Jam, hosted by Creative Calgary. The event was extremely well-run and an absolute blast.

Major kudos (whatever that is) to the event organizers, along with the judges from Bioware who I thought showed a lot of class and gave quality feedback and had an honest appreciation for all the games created.

Eaty Guys and the Operator Screenshot

Our (stacked) team was Matt Thorson, Jonathan Meret, Chevy Ray Johnston, Greg Whistance-Smith, and Derek Boe, and myself.

We created a little three person hotseat game called Eaty Guys and the Operator:

The Generation Gap

Most of the members on my team were about 10 years younger than me (with the exception of Jonathan, who was about 17 years old.)

When these guys were 15 years old or so most of them started to create games using Game Maker, and they have evolved from there.

When I was about 15 years old, creating even a simple platformer required heaps and heaps of heavy-duty programming; I think at that time Allegro may have been available in a very primitive state, but this still meant lots of complex C or C++. I have definitely coded my share of assembly language sprite rendering code.

What's interesting to see is how great game designers these guys are. Thought they all have varied levels of programming ability, they think like designers, not programmers. Whatever features or programming they implement just serves the design, not vice versa. I don't get the feeling that any of them are interested in 3D for 3D's sake, for instance.

All Great Game Designers are Artists (not Programmers)

What it really drives home for me is that game design is not a technical pursuit. We should know this by now, but I have a lot of friends who are primarily technical people that are designing games. Most of these games end up being really bad, and terribly incomplete.

I am guilty of this too: thinking too much like a programmer and trying to create something technically impressive, forgetting that what I'm creating is an experience, not a tech demo. It's not a complete failure as a game, but Venture the Void was an exercise in complexity that I won't return to, ever.

It was really refreshing to meet people that have been able to develop as artists from the very first, and that isn't to say that their programming abilities are anything less than top-notch.

I'm an Artist

So that's it. Starting today (actually two days ago) I'm a game designer and artist.

Let's get back at it, then.

2010-02-03


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