This past weekend was PTBO Game Jam 03. A fun-filled weekend of game development, sleep deprivation, pizza and Tim Horton’s. That’s my excuse why I’ve been hit and miss on the personal streaming front this last week. With summer attendance at 60 jammers, I was happy to see the growth from the last summertime jam (01). On top of that, the jammers made 21 awesome games! The PTBO Game Jam is starting to grow on Peterborough, who would have thought? Game Development is AWESOME!
We saw 3.5x growth over the last summertime event, which I’ve been told is pretty impressive. Especially given the fact we ran the event on a long weekend in the summer. I just couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to come to a game jam. Lesson learned, not something to worry about. The limited numbers allowed us to figure out the new space, and learn how to use it effectively. You grow with experience!
Humble Beginnings Downtown Peterborough
Back when I bolted together PTBO Game Jam 01 (over the course of a couple of weeks), I unknowingly stumbled on the perfect setup. When approaching the Holiday Inn Peterborough-Waterfront about 01, their staff were super nice and attentive to my crazy idea. It had never been done or even heard of in Peterborough. Yet, they were willing to allow us to “stay the whole night”. Which to their credit, is not something you normally see in a venue agreement. That single space was magical; it was because of that experience that the event kept running. That, or the awesome staff of the Holiday Inn Peterborough that donated coffee to the jammers, which we will never forget, ever.
This time around, the conference space at Fleming College was finally available for use. With its recent unveiling, it really had been only used for some “breakfasts” and “slideshows”. Nothing as substantial as what was coming at it with PTBO Game Jam 03. With one giant room to rule them all, this new space felt amazing.
Future Peterborough Game Developers
The youth educational block was lead by Briar Jamieson (one of my Educational Advisors). It was great, she engaged with a group of youth and had them making a game in Scratch in no time. I had a chance to talk with some of the parents and the feedback was unanimously the same: super happy. To have something like this, and for it to be FREE, they were beside themselves.
On that high note, I went back over to the other education block, but this one being led by Robert French (my other Educational Advisor). Robert was demonstrating how to make Arkanoid with Unity. As he went about doing his “teach”, I would demonstrate the comparison of how things could be done with the Unreal Engine. This was an interesting experience for me, mainly because while I’m certified in Unity, talking about Unreal is a whole other beast, which is much more complex then Unity.
Always Learning, Just like Game Development
One significant change to the formula for this event, was when the educational blocks ran. Previously, they were right before the start of the event. This worked well for participants as they could come, learn, and then jam. This was a bit of a nightmare trying to coordinate with the venue’s schedule for classrooms. I wanted to test moving the educational block to a different day. In this case, the day before the event started.
What I learned from doing this, however, is it presents a logistical nightmare for people coming from out of town who are used to a continuous jam approach, or those that were used to the last 2 events which ran continuously. I still like the idea of separating the two components, but in the future, will need to figure out a more hospitable approach.
Reflections on PTBO Game Jam 03
As the space filled with jammers, the single room approach really started to shine as I could watch jammers helping jammers, and everyone gets to participate in the antics which inevitably happen when you gather a group of game developers and deprive them of sleep.
I was most proud of for 03 was the livestream on Twitch; this was something that I had started thinking about a couple of months before the event. From professional tier software and hardware to custom developed servers, we created a great base level of tech for future events to build on. There were a few hiccups, but given that we were using bleeding edge tech, and doing something this sophisticated that had never been done in our geographic area, I think we can let them go for this event.
The stream also provided a unique value-add to all the sponsors where they could run advertisements, and their branding was broadcast to the world at large. We have already got a few ideas to improve for the next event. That work will have to take a back seat for a little bit with the jammers having till this Friday to submit their games on itch.io for peer review. I need to start thinking about making the 03 wrap video.
A special shout out to the team of volunteers that helped 03 run so smooth. Despite their lack of sleep, they maintained their enthusiasm and professionalism throughout the event. I really am happy with how well this event ran, from setup to tear down, it was a much nicer experience from my point of view. Additions to the team also meant more workload distribution, freeing up some of my time prior to this event. Good people, make good things happen.
So what’s next for the PTBO Game Jam?
A vacation and back to work on Dethol … more game development!
I’ll be taking much of the hardware that was used for the event, and transitioning my own personal stream to benefit from it, as well as further optimize and learn about this whole streaming thing. I started playing with different video compression methods today to optimize playback overhead for example. There is always something to learn. Of course, I’ve already started a 04 folder, and have started formulating some early plans, but that is for another post.
Back to the game development life!