Games design students develop prototype at global eventTogether with an international team, UCLan games design students Leigh Hadfield, Jarkko Kouva and Vytautas Januskevicius used the Unity Engine to create a very successful and engaging platformer game ‘Kevin’ for the PC. The trip was funded by the International Travel Student Bursary and organised by Rhoda Daly, Lecturer, Games Design, University of Central Lancashire.
Global Games Jam is a worldwide annual event supported by the games industry and educational institutions.
Within a 48 hour session university students and industry professionals work together to develop prototype video games. Students from UCLan were invited to participate in this year’s event at the University Of Applied Sciences Hogeschool Van Amsterdam.
Leigh combined his role as level designer with team captaincy, where he was responsible for ensuring all work flows were consistent and efficient.
He said: “Competing in the Global Game Jam was a fantastic experience, I feel what I have learnt will become invaluable to me as my career progresses. The highlight was being put in charge of a fantastic team who managed to produce the game that we envisaged.
We started from a whole host of concepts and from this we were able to narrow this down to a singular idea and this lead to the game development stage. I myself was responsible for keeping the team’s communication fluent, no easy task with six of the team members hailing for different countries. We used my initial concept for the game although this was changed and adapted as certain situations arose that were not within our control. As team captain it was down to me to ensure that all work flows would be consistent and efficient whilst also working on my creative role as level designer. I was able to apply a technique to level design that is not commonly seen which involved creating a visual paper level that was played with a character on a spoon. This gave me a feel for the flow and also how the mechanics were going to fit into the system we were creating. It also gave the freedom to make rapid changes on the fly as and when required. My project management skills were put to full effect and I was able to balance my time between creative input and project lead to great effect, something I feel cannot be taught in a classroom, only through unique experiences such as this. I would highly recommend this process of learning to anybody, to create a game in 48 hours and experience the benefits and limitations of game design can only enhance both reputation and skill set.
Reflecting on the event, Jarkko said:
“To have people in the same team from different backgrounds, all working together to make a game in 48 hours was an eye opening experience.
“We had many ups and downs in our development process. This project taught me how important it is to have a solid plan before making a game.
Global Game Jam was a fantastic experience and an eye opener. To have people in the same team from different backgrounds. All working together towards a single goal: to make a game in 48 hours. In a environment like that you can not be self-centered. Brainstorming and starting out was definitely the hardest part, when people had a lot of opinions and not that much experience working as a team before. We had 3 artists with different skillsets and style, including myself.
Through art exploration we managed to come up with an simple style that was fast to make, and easy to follow.
This project taught me how important is it to have a solid plan before making a game. We had many ups and downs in our development process. How good is it to have a broad skillset, so you can help others and fill in all the missing parts when working in a small team. What is it like to work in a team, learn new workflow and share your knowledge for greater purpose.
For second year student Vytautas, the event provided him with his first experience of working on an actual game.
He commented: “Working in a team can be very hard without good leadership and organization therefore I am very thankful for my fellow teammates Leigh and Jarkko who led the whole team to finish line.
Thanks to Global Game Jam and everyone involved!"