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  • Writer's pictureBretton Hamilton

Game Jams - Twenty Games!

One of my proudest accomplishments as an indie developer is how often I participate in game jams! While the games made at a jam are rarely exceptional, game jams are an excellent opportunity to experiment with new skills and exciting game ideas! Here are a list all of the game's I've made at Game Jams!


2012 & 2013 Jams:


Extinguish the Pheonix

Genre: Glorified Tower Defense

Role: Artist & Designer Tools: Proprietary Game Engine & Photoshop Recap: Extinguish the Pheonix was the product of my firstgame jam I attended. The player could drag and drop monsters and traps to impede and kill an infinitely respawning hero (Sir Pheonix!). Each time the hero died, he would learn from his lessons and return stronger than before! This was inspired by the mechanic of restarting at the beginning of a dungeon in an RPG. Just imagine how the evil overlord felt!

I had never attempted animation before, so over the course of the jam I taught myself digital painting and frame per frame animation. It was pretty low quality work, but it sparked by love for 2D art and animation! This would become a skill I could employ during future jams that did not require intensive design work!

From Orbit

Genre: Top-Down Arcade Shooter

Role: Designer Tools: Proprietary Game Engine Recap: From Orbit was a quick game developed by a small team and I over a short jam session college. A Microsoft representative came into the school and wanted to gauge our skill.

Colossus - Anti-Monster Division Genre: Artillary, Strategy Game Role: Artist & UI Designer Tools: Illustrator Recap: This 2D action filled game will pit you and your allies against legions of twisted monsters that threaten major cities around the world. We won the Hackagong 2013 Best Game Award due to having a functioning multiplayer server and cooperative play. Colossus was the first game I created in Australia! I met up with some local developers and dove into development.

Afterwards showcased an updated build of the game at a tech start-up convention in Wollongong. The game was well received, but the team decided to discontinue the project.


Genre: Top-Down Shooter Role: Artist Tools: Photoshop

Recap: A clockwork automotan with newfound sentience must escape a mysterious tower. A variety of slimes, rats, and other monsters stand between you and freedom! This was a short, sweet, and simple Binding of Isaac clone made in XNA.

Opera House Historia

Genre: Triva Game Role: Writer & UI Design Tools: XNA

Recap: The Sydney Opera House hosted a Hackathon to explore the concept of using digital media and interactive media to improve the Opera House experience! A small team and I attended and created an educational app that would sync and support local teachers attempting to educate their students about the history of the Opera House.

We came 2nd Place out of 50 teams for our project!


Genre: Top-Down Survival Game Role: Artist & Designer Tools: Photoshop

Recap: You must navigate a crumbling city to reach a safe-house. Intermittent blizzards threaten to freeze the player unless they are able to stay in their car or huddle around a fire. The player must gather fuel to keep the car running as a quick means of getting around. Eventually however, the car will likely need to be abandon as it is unable to traverse rubble and road blockades. I focused on UI and environment art.


2014 Jams:


We of the Forest Genre: Top-Down Survival Game Role: Animator & Designer Tools: Illustrator Recap: The original We of the Forest can be downloaded on the Global Game Jam page! The game was originally intended to be a top-down survival game with an emphasis on altering your survival strategy depending on which animal you were playing as in any given moment. We won Best Art for the Sydney submitted games and decided to continue the project. We even got noticed by Unity when they posted about the GGJ! For the Jam I focused on Animation, and afterwards I focused on System Design.

Blue Bloods Genre: Competitive Story Telling Game Role: Programmer Tools: Visual Studio 2014 Recap: The Academy of Interactive Entertainment hosted a student only game jam. I joined onto a team to try my hand at programming for the project. It was my first time programming in a team environment. We chose to create a sprawling text based adventure, however due to my inexperience programming, we were unable to create a playable game.


Genre: Side-Scrolling Platformer Role: UI Designer & Programmer Tools: Photoshop & Unity

Recap: A 2d Platformer in which I focused on User Interface development and implementation. Unlike the previous Blue Bloods project, I was able to contribute much more meaningfully on the programming front. We came second place at the game jam!

Dunwich Nights

Genre: Cooperative Story Telling Game

Role: Writing, UI, Systems Design

Tools: Photoshop & Unity

Recap: Dunwich Nights was a cooperative story telling game heavily inspired by The Yawgh and text based adventures. The premise was that four characters had to spend their nights traversing a Lovecraftian mansion. One of them was secretly a terrible monster. Everyone had to collect clues to figure out which player was corrupted before the full moon. We came 2nd place at the game jam and continued to polish the project for a few weeks.

Bio Defense

Genre: Arcade

Role: Artist & Designer

Tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash & Unity

Recap: I was brought on board to help polish this game jam game AFTER the game jam. A lot of development time was spent in game jam style. Short 24-48hr bursts on weekends over several weeks. The game got to a fun, playable state.


2015 Jams:


Dungeon Dashers

Genre: Side-Scrolling Hack & Slash

Role: Scripting & Level Design

Tools: Tiled & XML

Recap: Dungeon Dashers sends two characters into a dungeon in search of gold and glory! Monsters and traps arise in increasingly numbers as players delve deeper. At any point the players can decide to flee to make off with all of their hard-earned gold, however, they BOTH need to agree to leave. If one of the players loses, they lose their riches. If gold can be safely returned to town, new weapons and potions can be purchased to improve their odds next time through!


Genre: Side-Scrolling Platformer

Role: Mentor

Tools: Photoshop & Unity

Recap: I worked as a game development tutor for two years between 2014 and 2016. Our course was solid, but it focused too heavily on theoretical projects. With the work of other tutors, we ran a game jam with the students to help empower them to create a game. Over the course of the jam I ran tutorials and workshops to teach students about how to use Photoshop, tricks in creating tilesets, how to collaborate on teams, and level design best practices. The students were really happy with the product!


Genre: Multiplayer Obstacle Course

Role: Level Design & Scripting

Tools: Unity

Recap: RoboDash was a fun, multiplayer, first-person platformer. A Runner and a Trap Controller would compete to complete the obstacle course in record time. The Runner would use mouse and keyboard to traverse a series of traps and obstacles. The Trap Controller would use an Xbox Controller to trigger various traps in the environment. Careful timing and baiting was necessary in order to maximize the effectiveness of traps.

Dust to Dust

Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Role: System Design

Tools: Tiled & XML

Recap: Dust to Dust was a well received strategy game with a focus on unit mechanics and complexity. To save time and maximize quality we used Oryx's 16-Bit Fantasy Sprite Set. This was a fun challenge to design mechanics and effects that best utilized the available art. We came Second Place at the Hectic Game Jam #6. The weakest aspect of the game is the lack of unit specific information provided to the player.


Genre: Multiplayer Arcade Platformer

Role: Artist, Level Designer & Mentor

Tools: Photoshop & Unity

Recap: Our team composed of four developers and three students. Throughout the jam process, I was tasked with working on the level design, and teaching the students to create convincing color palettes. I taught them how to make and implement UI and some core animation principles. The students had a lot of fun and learned a lot. With the extra help we got a ton of art assets and we made a pretty fun game in the vein of Towerfall, Samurai Gunn, or the Duck Game.


Genre: Top-Down Shooter

Role: Mentor

Tools: 3ds Max

Recap: With the success of Evocca01, our students were begging us for another game jam. We conducted another one where we got the students to work in 3d this time. With the help of several other tutors, we ran workshops refining the student's modelling skills. We ended up making a pretty fun Galaga clone!


Genre: Psychedelic Puzzle Platformer

Role: Level Designer

Tools: Unity

Recap: House was a trippy exploration of physics and materials in Unity. The player must walk on walls and bring a giant key through a twisted and warped building. Just before the end there is a puzzle room wherein the player must show mastery of their understanding of our core mechanic (Switching gravitational direction by traversing sloped surfaces.) The whole experience makes for a pretty wild ride. Half way through the jam, a few members on our team were offered jobs through their work on the project!


2016 Jams:


Hail Piñata

Genre: Multiplayer Boss Battler

Role: Designer

Tools: Photoshop & Unity

Recap: When a summoning ritual goes wrong, four courageous jelly-kids must raise the challenge to defeat a furious piñata! The piñata will poop out bombs and gum monsters in an attempt to kill and maim the players. Players must run around the map to collect power-ups to enhance their sticks. Players will use their empowered sticks to whack the piñata monster. Only the player with the final whack gets the candy! To ensure players have more control over who gets the last hit, they can hit bombs towards eachother or the boss for burst damage!

Space Crunch

Genre: Top-Down Arcade Game

Role: Programmer & Designer

Tools: Unreal 4

Recap: I've come a long way since my earlier jams! For Space Crunch I stepped into Unreal 4 for the first time and learned to navigate and utilize Unreal Blueprints over the course of a jam. The game was good fun to make and silly to play. The artist on my team had never made a game before either, so it was a fun learning experience for all!

I wrote a short article about the jam! Check it out here!


Final Thoughts

It is a shame that many of these games have been abandon, but with each project I was able to learn a lot about my craft. Game Jams are a phenomenal way to network and practice new skills during fast-paced development! I hope to continue jamming for as long as I can!

Next goal - 50 Jams! Almost half way there!


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