This past weekend I had a chance to participate at PTBO Game Jam 03. If you’re not in the know, a game jam is a gathering of developers who attempt to make a video game in a short span of time. It usually involves long stretches of no sleep, takeout coffee and pizza and lots of collaboration. This one was no different.

For 32 hours our team, consisting of two programmers an artist and myself (complete newbie) hunkered down to make a “Retro” themed video game. Having attended the two previous events I had a general sense of what I was getting myself into. With zero coding knowledge and patient supportive team members, I was able to contribute to building a pretty fun game.

Being a writer, it was simple for me to wrap a story around what we were trying to build. We had a hero, an evil villain and enemies. After the first few hours of research and creating the story while the coders and artist started on some of the essentials, I shifted my attention to supporting the team and observing their work and the other jammers. People were working, listening to music, sharing ideas, searching ‘how to…’ in Google and helping other jammers. It was magical how supportive and encouraging everybody was.

As our team got closer to realizing there was a crap-tonne of work to do, I jumped in and started working in Unity. Creating the paths that the enemies would follow, play testing (lots of play testing) and making the transition screens that link one level to the next. All of these were fun to do and gave me a good chance to explore Unity. Once I got the lay of the land, things started to gel for me.

I’m a geek at heart but never would consider myself a programmer or even a game developer for that matter. After spending 32 hours in a room full of ultra smart people I can say that I learned a pile and the camaraderie is energizing. There are highs and lows for sure, but in the end; it’s all fun and games.

UPDATE – Our game is now available for free download. Have some fun and let us know what you think of the game!