Monday, February 13, 2017

Global Game Jam 2017 - A look back

The Global Game Jam 2017 has come to a close, we’ve had a good few days of much needed rest and relaxation; as well as time to catch up for some introspection. This is our GGJ 2017 postmortem post in which we will try to give you an idea of what went into planning and executing this year’s jam. We’ll also try to make notes on what went well and what didn’t so that next year we can do it all over again, but better. Over the years Bangalore has had the good fortune of a wealth of participants coming to the jam, from all over India. In the past few years, we’ve seen newer jam sites open up. Initially we wondered if this would dilute the community of jammers who jammed every year, but that wasn’t to be, as we’ve had a record number of registrations and jammer participation than any year.

This year we had a whopping six jam sites across India - - Bangalore, Delhi/NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Madurai and Pune. Thanks to Shruti@NGF we started coordinating with all the jam sites early on. Thanks to her efforts we were able to solve a lot of problems early on before they happened and bring clarity to those sites that were jamming for the first time. The biggest challenges happen before the jam, during the first few hours and the last day. The actual jam usually runs itself without much intervention from the organizers (this partly due to our numbers being manageable). We’ve been lucky to have a consistent and gracious host in Dhruva as they have taken care of us throughout these five years. They have always come through for us when our numbers were sporadic, they have provided food, security, infrastructure to work comfortable, beds and sleeping bags and most importantly, coffee around the clock :) We are forever grateful to have such an awesome host.

With our location, food and space sorted, our primary worry was the amount of people who had signed up. We’ve always had a large amount of sign ups, a considerable amount of drop-outs and also a large number of walk-ins. The biggest worry for us was to manage our resources in the best way possible for those who showed up to jam - what this meant was to have a good estimate of many people would show up at the jam. The GGJ website does give you a list of all registered jammers; but we closed that list at 115 two days before the jam. Our location could hold at the best 70 jammers comfortably. In the past years with walk ins we were well within that range as we’ve had less than 50% dropping out at the last minute. The last two day leading up to the jam were excruciating as we couldn’t really estimate what our final headcount could be, as we were constantly getting pinged and asked about the registrations being closed and if people could come in without registering. Let’s just say that we had butterflies in our stomachs till two hours after the jam started and everyone was settled in.

One of our key takeaways from last year was the way in which we presented our jam games. During our earlier GGJs we’ve always had a one to many kind of a presentation, where people showcased their games to the audience, explained a bit about the game and showed them a playthrough. Last year we decided to go with an expo like arrangement where all the games made at the jam were lined up in a circle, each team given a table space to showcase their games to anyone who wanted to come and play. This was a huge success.

Taking all of that into consideration, here are some of our takeaways this year.

What went right
  • The talks
  • The demo
  • Some great collaborations
  • More polished games at the end of 48 hours
  • Huge learning curve for jammers and great interaction between people involved
  • The Cake

What went wrong
  • Apparently one of our participants revealed the theme the moment we announced the theme (which thankfully didn’t get noticed at all till much after the jam).
  • We need to work on our communication - between organizers, between venue/hosts, between jammers, between speakers etc. 

What could be better
  • We could’ve taken a group photo at some point or even a video
  • Better cross communication, some teams isolated themselves on a different floor.

The future
  • A bigger venue to host more people, more and better games - Our hope is that we don’t close registrations at all, that we can accommodate as many people who would be willing to come to Bangalore and jam!
  • Alternate ticketing options to streamline large number of registrations - mostly due to the fact that we’d have to prune the jam site later when some jammers are a no show and this was painful.
  • Charging a small fee for entry, food, sleeping bags and swag - The fee will be a token amount and is mostly to have an accurate head count of how many people would make it to the jam.
  • Finding sponsors who can help us make the event very cool :)
  • Everyone’s involvement will be important because lessons learnt will be going forward.
  • Demo Day up next on Feb 26th:

All the Jam games that were made at GGJ Bangalore can be played freely on the Global Game Jam website. We implore you to try them out -

The GGJ Bangalore Jam organizers would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Rajesh Rao and Dhruva Interactive for their unflinching and bighearted support for GGJ Bangalore and the game developer community at large. We all know how difficult it is to ship games; and to put up with a bunch of sleepless, random strangers first before the comfort of their employees and smooth operations is such a huge ask to which they never said no to; for this, we are greatly indebted. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We’d like to thank our speakers, Rob Morgan, Meg Jayanth and Anand Ramachandran for taking time out of their busy schedules to come and share their experiences as artists and creators; to have inspired a room full of people to dream about what they could do, to shock us into action and help us be better at what we do. Thank you. We love you <3

Last, but not least :) we would like to thank all our jammers, who stuck to their wits and made a game at GGJ Bangalore. It goes without saying, but this jam would not have been possible without you.

For more photos:

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