48-hour Global Game Jam tests Regina developers’ skills and their stamina

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WATCH ABOVE: Game designers, hobbyists, and computer science students in Regina scrambled to create a video game in just 48 hours, for this year's Global Game Jam – Jan 28, 2018

Red eyes, and Red Bull.

That was the scene at the University of Regina, as 35 caffeine-starved creators scrambled to make a video game in just 48 hours.

“It was crazy, yesterday we were working more than 12 hours consecutively. At some points you have a lack of creativity, and you don’t know what to do, and it’s hard to get back into it,” Alain Maubert said.

It’s all part of the Global Game Jam: a project spanning over 700 locations in 90 countries, that gives game designers, artists, and developers just 48 hours to create a game around a central theme.

This year’s theme was transmissions.

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Maubert, a PhD candidate, was part of a team of computer scientists, designing a two-dimensional platforming game called Megabyte Meltdown, similar to the Super Mario video games. Their game centered on the transmission of computer viruses. The player was a malicious bug trying to make it past the antivirus.

Maubert designed the artificial intelligence (AI) that sent malware bots scurrying after the protagonist, much like the Goombas battles in Super Mario.

While he raced to create a usable AI, his teammates were dealing with their own issues.

“Jumping was our biggest problem,” laughed Connor Zerr, the game’s artist. “We could get a little avatar that we didn’t make to jump, but as soon as we put our avatar in, it would not jump. That was a big problem for a while.”

Zerr was taking part in his first game jam, and was already hooked.

“It’s amazing the little things that get in the way. We went from having nothing, nothing, nothing … then suddenly a character jumping and moving around,” he marvelled.

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It’s all part of what makes these jams so fun. Usually games take anywhere from months to years to make depending on their complexity. When that’s cut down to just hours, the finished product can be quite the adventure.

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“I’m sure there will be lots of bugs, and lots of not-so-good-art, but it’s mostly just about learning and exploring new game ideas.” Johannes Moersch, the Regina Game Jam organizer explained.

This year’s jam was the third time they’ve hosted the event, but the first time they participated in the Global Games Jam. It was also the most successful so far, and Moersch says he is planning to continue the tradition next year.

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