The Global Game Jam is a three-day event that takes place once a year, where small teams of game developers get together in over 450 locations worldwide to make the best games they can based on a central theme in that tiny window of time. It’s a serious challenge to go from creative vision to execution to finished game with such a short interval to work in, but the results have been pleasing in previous years; GJJ some games have even gone on to become full, commercial games.

Super Time Force, a “time -travelling side-scrolling shooter” is one such game, having been birthed at a game jam held in Toronto in May 2011. It will hit Xbox Live Arcade sometime in 2014, according to its Wikipedia page.

The theme of this year’s Game Jam which took place this past weekend was “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are”, and developers were tasked with creating games that incorporate that idea in some way. South Africa was represented by teams that assembled in Jo’burg, Cape Town and Vanderbijlpark, and their finished prototypes were posted on the GGJ website. 

Head on over there if you’d like to see the list in full, or stick around here to see which game ideas we think did a great job of adhering to the theme, and that that we’d love to see made into full-fledged games some day.

Entwined

By David Weatherhead, Retief Fourie, with special thanks to Tim Harbour for sound
Entwined

The concept is jam-packed with brain-bending potential: a set of twins has been cursed with the inability to touch one another, lest they both die. They embark on a quest to lift the curse that involves navigating a series of mazes to their respective exits, but the catch is once the first twin has made it to his exit, he enters a time loop where he runs his route over and over again. The second twin’s task is to reach his own exit, while avoiding contact with his temporally-looped brother. It’s a clever concept, and one that we feel would make for a fun full game. If you’d like to download and run the game to see it in action for yourself, you can grab the executable from Entwined’s GGJ page.

Spider Vs. Dragon

By Herman Tulleken, Jonathan Bailey with additional programming by Julian Pritchard and additional sound by Tim Harbour

SpiderVsDragon

This game embraces the Game Jam’s theme very well, by having the player’s perspective shift according to which character they’re playing as. The Dragon destroys the ever-moving “web” of space with fire, while the Spider repairs it; any holes created suck the player out into space, and they die. Green globes kill the player and transform them into the Spider, while red globes change them into the Dragon. A timer counts down, telling players how long they have before they turn back into a Human; the Human’s goal is simply to survive for as long as possible. It’s a simple yet elegant idea.

Bias

By Rolf Weimar, Craig Leach and Mikhail Edson

Bias

Bias is a top-down strategy game that has the game world change depending on which faction you’re playing as. Nature-lovers see wood as a cherished resource, while civilizations with a more industrial bent see it as merely fuel for their expansion. The point is to make the perceptions of the same things shift according to your chosen civilisation’s priorities.

The next challenge these creative developers face is in getting their Game Jam games into full commercial production, something Nathan Vella from Capybara Games has a few thoughts on, which he posted over on Gamasutra.com.

Well done to everyone who participated, and we wish you luck in fleshing out these cool ideas and hopefully some day getting your Game Jam games published!

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.