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Team Junkfish Blog

Junkfish Game Jam 2023

Back in February of 2023, Junkfish held its own company wide game jam. We hoped to empower creativity among our team, collaborate with each other in ways we don’t usually get the opportunity to, and to potentially find ourselves some fresh projects to develop into full games!

A level design including a house with a car parked outside it
Level design created during the Junkfish game jam.

What is a game jam?

For anyone who doesn’t know, a game jam is an event where participants collaborate to create a game completely from scratch over a short period of time (usually 24-72 consecutive hours). The difference for us is that our game jam was a work event, and we definitely didn’t want to enforce an unhealthy work/life balance during this time.

We wanted everyone to still have time to rest, eat and sleep: a luxury you don’t often allow yourself during a regular game jam due to the strict time limit. To make this happen, it was decided that we were only able to work on our respective projects during work hours, Monday to Friday, for one week. That gave us just 40 hours of development time. Games can take years to make, so this was definitely going to be a challenge!

Before the jam

Usually when you start a game jam, your group will have no solid plans for what you’ll be making. Coming up with the genres, themes, story etc are normally the first step of the process. This is another way in which the Junkfish Game Jam differed from the norm; we already had a basic idea of what we were making.

A few months prior to the event taking place, everyone in the company was given the opportunity to pitch their game ideas. There were so many fantastic game proposals brought forward, and it was extremely difficult to narrow down the few that we’d put into production for this event. We eventually decided to go forward with 4 of the pitches.

Once these games were chosen, they were then pitched to the entire team and we all got to vote on the project that resonated with us the most. This vote system is how we chose the teams for the projects, doing our best to allow each person to work on the project they would enjoy the most while also filling all the necessary roles needed for a development team.

This is where it gets really interesting, though. This system meant that not only were you working with people you usually don’t get the opportunity to, but you were also allowed to take on a role that differs from your regular position. We had a member from the Audio team as a Producer, a Community Manager as an Animator, and anyone who’s pitch was chosen acting as the Creative Lead for their entire team.

Stephanie Bazeley, Senior Programmer here at Junkfish, was one of the lucky few to have her project chosen:

“I pitched an idea that so many of the team got excited about, I couldn't believe it! The next thing I knew I was now in charge of an amazing, dedicated and super badass team! We had a week to make a prototype of my vision and what a week it was! The joy in making it shone through as the team kept the fun going with memes and funny videos related to the project. These helped inspire us to tackle the tough challenges that came up, and by the end of the week, what we had made was amazing. It was the exact vision I had in my head and to see and play something I had dreamed about was such an amazing feeling! I love making games with the team here at Junkfish!” - Stephanie Bazeley

A computer programme which allows blueprints to be created showing variables that help a character move.
Blueprint created during the jam that tracks variables such as stamina and stance, then gets the player character to start sprinting.

Jam Week

We split off into 4 teams with one week to create and deliver as close to a full game as possible. Most teams opted for the ‘vertical slice’ method, which entails creating one part of your game that plays as accurately as possible to how your finished game would. This can be achieved, for example, by creating one complete, polished level of your game instead of all 20 messy, unfinished ones.

The creation of an interior design of a house with guide markings.
Interior house design created during the Junkfish game jam.

At the end of the week, the team was brimming with creative energy and inspiration. All teams were able to create amazing games, from Party Games, to Strategy, and even Survival, the games were so diverse and refreshing. Activities like these can really stoke your passion for your craft, and the team came away from this game jam smiling, accomplished and driven.

Until next time

All of the teams did amazing work on the Junkfish game jam. So much so, you may just be seeing one or two of these games fully developed in the future…

Anything you’d like to ask us? Come hang out with us in our Discord!

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