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My negative experience with game jams


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So you really wanted me to open another topic for my "off topic" replies in the thread "Torque3D Game Jam" that is not a problem for me.

I noticed I forgot to tell my main reason I think game jams are "not very productive", this is based on my personal experience in taking part in game jams, which I did several times. I did also take part in several Torque3D related game jams or game jam like happenings, one was when I was in the steering committee and we set up a plan and organize who does what and my compartment was doing art, so we set up different tasks and waited for people to apply, of course nobody applied, one partly applied, but ran away later. So I had a bad conscience and I wanted to help out and do something, not something too work intensive like making a new player character, but something relatively easy, so I picked making new default terrain textures and terrains. Ironically immediately people jumped up and claimed they want to do terrains also and complained to me how I dare to just do terrains, but of course nobody did anything, so I continued making them. After a few days of work and experimenting I was done with my first prototype, one set of terrain textures according to the latest standards with base layer, macro layer, detail layer, normal map and parallax map layer in the correct file format and extremely small in disk space usage, since that was a requirement, to not overload the github repository with more useless binary file garbage, so I managed to put that all into like 4 MB file zipped, which I was proud of, because the efficiency. So I had a set of terrain textures and two terrains done and submitted them, then we agreed to not release art assets into the repo, but to release it on Opengameart, which I then did under CC-BY license. Of course it was ignored, later some told me that they were not sure, if they could use it and had problems with the license and how to use it, so I made everything CC0, but still nobody cared.

And this was just one incident, which was already pretty demotivating.

One other incident was one with Daniel Buckmaster where I started making some prototypes, because he wanted to take part in a game jam, but later bailed out, so I was again left on the shelf with my work that is now left unused.

Then there were two or more incidents with J0linar in this forum, where he claimed to do several projects for which I did some work as well, but later he also bailed out and I was again left with my work wasted, he at least produced something as well or at least tried, I saw it, but in the end it was all for nothing.

Those were just the Torque related one, there were more before in my life and maybe some slightly Torque related.

However what 100% of those game jam like incidents had in common, that the other people bailed out, I was left with my work unused and nothing has been accomplished.

I can go in detail more about the other incidents, but I think a few examples should be enough to show you why I come to the conclusions I have come.

Another big problem with game jams is obviously you don't have much time, so it is almost impossible to make a game in a few days or whatever the time limit is, so ideally you have to team up with people, but as almost all people are unreliable and have poor discipline it is almost certain that they or at least someone will bail out and potentially destroy the whole project, since the time limit is strict and one person jumping out is often enough to throw over the whole time schedule and destroy the project.

Apart from my own experience I also observed others and they also almost 100% failed in their untertakings and I did analyse why that is. I even found out why those people failed and I tried to inform them, but they mostly called me "negative" ran away or even pretended they were the true game developers, even though they never produced anything and I was not a real game developer, becuase of the things that I produced for real were somehow not good enough in their opinion, even though they had no portfolio for the most part to prove that they had any talent or skill in anything.

And now people want to tell me I'm somehow not constructive when telling people that their undertakings are doomed to fail, even though I know how to make it potentially succeed. I watched countless people fail at that and I even failed myself and I know that people will keep to fail, if they refuse to see the reality of things, or at least admit that they failed instead of bailing out, running away and never be seen again.

If that is not enough data to be statistically relevant, I had countless people contacting me telling me their "great" plans and how they want to help out and do this or that, guess what the result was in almost 100% of the cases? Of couse they all bailed out and never produced anything and the few where that was not the case were like, they produced something, threw it on me, then I said something "negative" and then they bailed out, leaving me with almost as much work to do I would have had, if I had done everything by myself to begin with. I really should have counted those incidents, because it is already a statistically relevant number, but not that related to game jams, are game jams are certainly one side of the problem.

The game james itself are probably not the biggest problem, it is more the people who do them or pretend to do them and/or like them or pretend to like them. Most of those people only produce primitive hipster ripoff games and they think that this is somehow creative, if they make things intentionally bad and primitive.

However the biggest problem are probably those people bailing out all the time, I mean if those people would at least stick to their sometimes less intelligent untertakings, they would at least get something done, learn from their failures and be better next time. The best thing of course is to succeed, but it is also okay to fail, but then you should take credit for it, because it is not okay to just bail out, run away and pretend nothing ever happened, since this is one of the least productive things you can do.

To bring it back more onto Torque3D, of course our "community" faces the same problem, almost nothing ever gets done, of those few people getting something done, most are those who just do it themselves and don't interact much with the "community".

Game jams are kind of a hype train people pretend to do to be cool, to socially fit in like "look I'm a developer also" it is not very productive in itself. Some people claim "gameplay and innovation are so much more important than graphics and technological progress", but I disagree with that "gameplay" and "innovation" are mostly subjective, but graphics and technological progress is mostly objectiv and measureable. In most games you can just run around, jump, duck, shoot, interact and thats it for the most part, there is not much innovation going on and if someone invents one new mechanic in addition, they claimed they somehow invented something great, even though they do worse in all other aspects.

The mentality of game james need to be changed, I mean it is okay to have them as a social event, but having game jams is not very practival, especially not with Torque3D, especially not, since it is broken since development began on Torque3D version 4, so we would need a working engine first to even think about game jams. Yes for an insider who has many years of experience with Torque3D having a broken engine and template is not going to be that much of an issue, but it will almost certainly doom any newcomer to failure.

Finally you have to consider if you have enough qualified people taking part and then consider if you have a large enough audience to view the projects and eventually rate them, qualified people we have a handful, but audience we have almost none, so that would need to be figured out first. Game jams are also kind of a promotional tools of big game engine companies, they make competitions for their user base and the best will get a prize, will get free promotion, which then eventually leads to a job and/or money. The problem we have is, we only have a handfull of developers, no significant audience, no company behind it that could offer your projects additional visibility and for certain no moneytary benefits or a potential career offer. Sure there are small communities who just do game jams for "fun" and to praise each other, but that does not lead them anywhere and is kind of pointless.

I hope I made enough arguments why I think game jams are not that good or at least need to be changed or at least other conditions need to be improved first, I have more, but I'm kind of tired now.

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  • 3 weeks later...

while i'm not a fan of game jams for some of the same reasons, but i am one of those people who wished i could do game jamsI 
I am also one of those people who believes that failure teaches more than success, and the act of doing something is not entirely time wasted, especially combined with the above point and world view, it may feel like it at the time but if we all got depressed about our mini failures...

Game jams, in some respects is very much like game development, its not for everyone.

I am very much disappointed in the modern worlds view that if everyone cannot do it then nobody can do it, it validates my reluctant misanthropic outlook that humanity is irredeemable  

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  • 4 months later...

Why don't you tap yourself on the shoulder and say thank you and be happy that you actually participated and created something? Many develeopers only talk about doing it one day, and here you are, with something you are not 100% happy with, but you know what? I guess no one is with his or hers product. There is always room for improvement, for more this and that. Take that as one a great learning experience and lessons learned for you next participation where you will rock it even better my friend ! Keep going! PS: Many games from LD look super polished while a) they are team products, speaking coders and artists who can split the workload, b) individuals like notch(the minecraft dude) who are die hard game jam veterans and doing this since child hood, c) cheaters who one hour after official start upload a wokring product -> meaning it was done way before.

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