Gamerly Musings

Where failed pitches go to shine.

Bioshock Infinite: With Vim And Vigor, But Why?

***First of all, spoiler warnings and all that fun stuff. I’m going to write about Bioshock Infinite assuming you’ve played it and completed it. I won’t be extensively examining the ending or some of the major plot twists, but there’s a good chance I’ll make casual reference to them and just assume you know what I mean because you played it.***

It’s interesting having just recently written about thematic consistency in games and then playing Bioshock Infinite. The first Bioshock is one of those games that I would hold up as an excellent example of thematic consistency, where the environment, characters, combat, exploration, plasmids, and pretty much everything except the hacking minigame all reinforce the same general themes about freedom, choice, and having fun at Ayn Rand’s expense.

Bioshock 2, well, to be honest I stopped playing halfway through because those parts where you have to protect the little sister as she collects adam from corpses are just plain annoying. So let’s not talk about Bioshock 2‘s themes right now.

Anyway, back to Bioshock Infinite. Simply as a game, I love it. I literally played the entire thing in one sitting. One 14-hour long sitting from around 10pm to a little past noon the next day. The pacing is kinetic to the point where I just didn’t see any reasonable stopping points. Almost every goal that I thought would be a good stopping point turned out to just be another unresolved launching point for the next objective, and I loved that. Bioshock did the segmented story, with levels that embody particular characters, very well, and I was happy to see that Irrational wanted to experiment with something new for the structure this time. Well, the experiment payed off, for me at least, with the jumbled timelines/dimensions offering plenty of what-the-hell-is-going-on-ness to keep me curious mixed with a sense of continuity to keep me grounded enough not to feel completely lost.

But while I loved the act of playing Bioshock Infinite, there were also a lot of thematic and world-building loose ends by the time the credits rolled.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Post-GDC Indie Divide

GDC 2013 illuminated an interesting trend in the games industry, specifically among indie developers. A divide in the indie community has become more prevalent, perhaps in part because of us (I include myself at fault here) thinking of “indie community” as some unified thing when that term is woefully inadequate for the sheer variety of what is happening in games.

In any case, Cliff Bleszinski astutely pointed out the divide in a blog post, which essentially characterizes the two most vocal sides as optimism and anger. I actually agree with that assessment in those terms, and I also agree with how the optimism angle is described.

“There’s this wonderful, organic, beautiful movement going on in the indie game space. The buzz is intense and all of those developers who have struggled for years to make personal projects, projects that push the envelope in unique ways, projects that are outside the norm.”

However, the other half of the equation has a more problematic description, attributed to having an “utter loathing and disdain for all things mainstream and triple A.” To his credit, Mr. Bleszinski admits that he doesn’t understand the anger. Targeting triple-A games is part of it, certainly, and I can see how someone could confuse it solely as that, but that is also a misunderstanding of where the loathing and disdain are actually directed.

To understand where the ire is aimed we need to first understand who this second group of indie developers are. These are the disenfranchised developers. Queer developers, women developers, people of color developers. This is the Twine movement and a desire to see video games live up to their potential to tell more diverse stories and be used more often as an autobiographical form by a wide range of creators and life experiences.

When Andy Schatz talks about the rise of indie developers during the IGF awards and that “the system we’re fighting kind of likes us now,” he is quite right in one sense. In an industry sense, being indie is “in.” Self-publishing is getting easier on Sony and Nintendo consoles by the day, and Steam’s top-selling list consistently includes indies right along with the triple-A. It’s also not uncommon at GDC to watch as developers at established studios gush praise for indies. It was difficult to talk to some developers without an almost envious adoration for FTL, Kentucky Route Zero, Cart Life, Gone Home, or 140 getting mentioned at some point. If the “system we’re fighting” refers to the general marketplace and publisher culture, yes, indies have made tremendous strides and will only continue to expand in the coming years.

But for the group of developers who are often portrayed as simply being angry and bitter, the “system we’re fighting” is a bit different. It’s a fight against established social systems and attitudes that they are more interested in, and games become the perfect weapon in that fight through their ability to build empathy through interaction. It is an area where the industry, and culture as a whole, have not made huge strides, and so the “indies are on the top of the world!” celebration seems premature in that context.

Other indies are not immune from criticism in this context, so it is definitely not a matter of being anti-triple-A; though triple-A games are the most frequent offenders in that area. Indies that are seen as “projects that push the envelope in unique ways, projects that are outside the norm,” will usually still be based on prevailing gameplay conventions. For example, 140 is an innovative rhythm platformer that is amazing for how it incorporates the beat of the music into jump timing and platform movements, but the actual platforming and level layouts are still fairly standard for the genre. That doesn’t make it bad, I totally think it deserved the audio award for how it all comes together, but to a certain perspective that firm adherence to convention at its core could make it less interesting, and that is totally fair.

(Just to be clear, I haven’t actually seen anyone say anything negative about 140, I’m just using it as a hypothetical because I’ve got that game on the brain after GDC and am blanking on remembering any specific arguments people have made.)

As for where my own opinion on this phenomenon sits, I love all of it. I love that the industry is expanding and shifting toward a more independent model. Triple-A won’t be going away, which is also great, but the greater accessibility to tools and distribution for indies is healthy and necessary for games to grow as an industry and avoid another crash.

At the same time, I love that there are developers addressing more serious social issues through games, because there is a ton of work still to do in that area. They have entirely legitimate concerns with how the industry still operates, especially in terms of diversity, and to simply write them off as angry at triple-A games does every game creator a disservice. I also have an optimistic streak in me, so I want to believe that the expanding of indie games will lead to more games like Lim and Dys4ia. And watch Twine, because that scene is on the cusp of exploding into more mainstream consciousness and becoming the new 2D pixel-art platformer of the industry.

I believe that there is room in the industry for all of this, and that each perspective of developer can learn from the others. But first we need to understand what those perspectives are, which is why I wrote this in response to someone who didn’t seem to understand that. It is also entirely possible that I’ve misinterpreted some perspectives, and I welcome a response from anyone correcting me. This is just how I saw the trend at GDC, and it makes me think video games are heading in an interesting direction. I am very excited to be a part of it as it all unfolds.

A quick word on thematic consistency (more of it, please)

This will just be a short post, but I wanted to say a word or few about my one of my favorite topics: thematic consistency in games.

Since it’s a term I like to throw around a lot, I figure I should probably hash out what I mean when I say it. To me, thematic consistency is when all elements of a game are in agreement. So the gameplay, game structure, story, visuals, sound, UI, you name it, it’s all operating on the same theme or themes. Or at least several of those systems are theme-ing together and there isn’t another element that conflicts with it.

Yes, theme is a verb there. Roll with it.

When I think of thematic consistency, Bastion is the first game to come to mind. There’s just such a strong theme of regret, and almost nostalgia, running through that game. It’s all about trying to go back in time to stop “the calamity” from wrecking the world. What really hit me was when I noticed you couldn’t go back to levels you’ve already completed. That’s such a small thing, and from a pure gameplay perspective it’s not a very good idea. There are weapons you get very late in the game, and only have 1 or 2 levels to try them instead of being able to go back and replay older levels with new abilities. But that one seemingly counter-intuitive design decision speaks volumes to the game’s ultimate conclusion: you can’t go back. Well, you can, that’s one of the endings, but it just leads to the same results. The only way forward is to keep on pushing forward, remembering the past but not getting bogged down by it. At least, that’s how I interpreted Bastion’s second ending, and it fits rather well as a theme running through many of Bastion’s systems.

Another example comes from The Unfinished Swan, which tells a literal story about a a king who keeps creating things then losing interest and moving on to the next creation before finishing. On a slightly less literal level, I took it that the king was Monroe’s father who, in the fashion of the king story, left Monroe and his mother before he was fully grown, or “finished.” It’s right in the title, but leaving things unfinished is a central theme. Likewise, the game throws several new gameplay styles at you, first with using paint to see, then with growing vines, then manipulating light, and finally creating boxes. Each element is introduced rather abruptly, and it feels like there are still puzzle possibilities left unexplored in each one before the game moves on. The prototype game, which can be unlocked by finding all of the balloons, already shows more possibilities for the paint than the final game, with uncovering text on walls and switching from black paint on a white background to white paint on black. I can see an entire game growing through just the paint mechanic, as with the others throughout The Unfinished Swan, but instead we are given snapshots of them, all crammed into the same game about a father who walks out on responsibilities before he’s done.

These are the sorts of things I love to see in games, but it happens so rarely. Perhaps a part of that has to do with the violence issue, where the primary interaction in most games is killing. It’s hard to create a cohesive theme that can accomodate shooting or stabbing hundreds of people. Bastion’s theme of regret and longing for the past is an example that can work with all of the combat, but it is the exception rather than the rule.

This isn’t to say “stop making games about violence” or anything like that, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I’d love to see that violence worked into a cohesive theme more often. And if a developer can’t make violence work with their theme, then perhaps a careful look at which they are more keen to pursue is in order, and adjusting one to better fit the other.

Fire Emblem: Awakening isn’t Shining Force 2, and that’s ok

It’s strange that in all of these years I haven’t actually written about my favorite game. That one game that will always be my favorite, and quite literally changed my life after playing it. That may seem like hyperbole, but it’s true. I do not believe I would have gotten quite so interested in games, nor would I be writing about them today, if not for Shining Force 2.

Perhaps it was because Shining Force 2 was my first RPG of any kind, that it made such an impact on me. In retrospect I can think of dozens of reasons why I love Shining Force 2, but when I first played it I didn’t have that experience or base of knowledge with which to compare it. I didn’t even know what an RPG was, much less that there were different types.

Actually, I suppose it was that lack of knowledge that is the real reason I latched onto Shining Force 2 so fiercely. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was good, and I wanted more of it. I began seeking out and reading any videogame magazine I could find, in hopes of a hint of something like Shining Force 2. When talking about it I described it as “a game with lots of characters and they gain experience and level up and get promoted and they move around and talk to people in towns and fight with big close-up battles.” (Or at least, in my head that is how I remember 8-year-old me describing it).

Through talking with friends on the playground and clerks at Toys R Us and Funcoland, I discovered that this type of game was called an RPG. So I set out to find other RPGs. My quest for something like Shining Force 2 was stunted by my selection of systems (Genesis, Game Boy, N64, then Dreamcast) but still led me through Revelations: The Demon Slayer, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Harvest Moon 64, Beyond Oasis, Shining in the Darkness, Quest 64, Ogre Battle 64, Pokemon, Ocarina of Time, Diablo 2, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, Silver, Grandia 2, Skies of Arcadia, and many others based on reading magazines and recommendations.

And something strange happened, I began to like these other games. No, they were not like Shining Force 2, but they clearly weren’t trying to be. They were all their own type of RPG (well, arguable about Zelda and Harvest Moon), and I began to appreciate them for their own charms. It was that realization that got me interested in studying game design, and eventually to write about it professionally. Without that urge to find something, anything like Shining Force 2, I don’t know that I would have experimented with so many different types of games and gotten as interested in their design as I am today. So yes, Shining Force 2 literally changed my life.

Now, this entire time I also saw Final Fantasy Tactics taunting me on video store rental shelves. It looked different, with its isometric view and cube-covered landscapes, but I could tell from the back of the game case that it was the Shining Force 2-type of game I had been looking for.

I didn’t own a PlayStation, so it was always just out of reach. But in high school I began working at the local GameStop. Suddenly, I had a source of income, and an employee discount to boot. A PSOne with Final Fantasy Tactics (also FF7 and FF9) was one of my first purchases once I could afford it, and I eagerly set it up and turned on the system.

And I hated it. Yes, I really didn’t like Final Fantasy Tactics when I first played it. The class system was too diverse, so that no character had a clear role. And most of the characters, while they had names, had no real value to the story. I had been able to accept other RPGs because they clearly weren’t trying to be like Shining Force 2, but here I was confronted by a strikingly similar game…and it just didn’t grab me.

Tactics Ogre: Knights of Lodis on Game Boy Advance fared a little better, but ultimately I grew tired of it for the same reasons as Final Fantasy Tactics. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance made matters worse by structuring around missions, and Disgaea’s insistence on recruiting highly-customizable but worthless to the story minions ruined that game as well.

I even tried Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, but the map system between battles just felt too disconnected compared to Shining Force 2’s more traditional JRPG traversal, and eventually I gave up on those too.

If you asked me, I would probably say that tactical RPGs are my favorite genre because of Shining Force 2, but the truth is that I haven’t enjoyed very many of them since that game.

Fire Emblem: Awakening may be the game to change that. I love Fire Emblem: Awakening, I even gave it 5/5 stars in my review, making it the third game I’ve given a “perfect” score in my career. It hits the right balance of having characters with distinct roles in battle, every character fitting into the plot, and strategic battles with a brilliant pairing system. Yes, I still hate the node-based map, and that was a huge hurdle to overcome for me, but the rest of the game was so strong that I hate it slightly less now by association. The character classes are also more flexible than I normally prefer, but I’ve even been able to get used to that and have flipped some character roles around using second seals.

For what may be the first time, I am able to appreciate a tactical RPG for what it actually is instead of being frustrated with what it does differently from my favorite game. Maybe it’s just my tastes changing/maturing over time, and I’m excited to now go back and see if I can get more out of Final Fantasy Tactics and some others. But whatever the reason, I can finally accept that Fire Emblem: Awakening is not Shining Force 2, and that’s perfectly fine.

Kill Herbie

In elementary school, while all the other boys went off to summer camps for various athletics, I was a more creative soul and found myself drawn to an art camp. My favorite activity at art camp was a cartooning class, taught by a local newspaper comic Lincoln Peirce of Big Nate fame. It was in his class that I learned one of the greatest games I have ever played: Kill Herbie.

Our teacher would cover an enormous table with butcher paper and split us into pairs to play. One player starts by simply drawing Herbie, a generic stick figure, and some ground for him to stand on. The second player has one goal, to kill Herbie. To accomplish that goal the player can use literally anything, real or imagined, only limited by the player’s drawing ability. The Herbie player, on the other hand, has to keep Herbie alive by any means necessary, and can similarly draw anything they desire to defend the hapless stick figure. The two take turns drawing, one an attack and the other a defensive measure to counter.

The only rule is that both players can only use one of everything.

The Minotaur was taken out with Minotaur repellent spray? Well, now Minotaurs and repellent spray are both out of the game. The dynamic encouraged boundless creativity, but most of all the game was designed to always end in a draw. The only way to really kill Herbie and end the game would be to use an attack that absolutely required an item that had already been used. But since both players can only use one of any given thing, in a match between two equally imaginative players that scenario would never actually happen.

So we would draw for the duration of the class period, and at the end all of the Herbies would still be alive. But what stories would be told on that butcher paper. Some players had Herbie digging an elaborate network of underground tunnels, while others found themselves climbing trees, flying jets, piloting submarines, riding hippos, all with arrows to show movement and sequence of events so an observer could follow how Herbie eluded death at every turn.

I was reminded of Kill Herbie recently because I reviewed Scribblenauts Unlimited on Wii U. Scribblenauts is perhaps the closest a video game has come to Kill Herbie, where the limits are your vocabulary rather than drawing ability. I found myself wishing for a multiplayer Kill Herbie mode, where two players could take turns summoning objects to try and thwart the other’s plans.

In the original Kill Herbie that I played, the killer player didn’t have an actual character most of the time but perhaps it could work better that way with both players in control of their own Herbie to simultaneously kill their opponent and defend themselves one object at a time. Or perhaps both physical and disembodied killers could be separate modes. It makes me wonder how open the Steam version of Scribblenauts Unlimited is to mods, and whether such a mode could be possible. I would love to play Kill Herbie again, but my artistic ability has atrophied since I was 8 year old (or perhaps I’ve just grown more aware of how terrible my drawing is).

What a wonderful game, where even though the goal is to defeat the other player, the design practically forces a draw. In Kill Herbie the real victory comes from the story told by the actions, not the end result. It’s the kind of game that only really seems possible when you’re young, when rules and conventions are still loosely defined or still being formed. More just seems possible. I miss that.

A Bizarre Review Request

I was recently fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review Okami HD, which is releasing today on PSN. However, the press release/cover letter/review guide that accompanied my review code from Capcom is one of the most bizarre I’ve ever encountered. As such, I wanted to share it with all of you.

Disclaimer: I am sometimes naive about these things, so hopefully this doesn’t get the PR person who sent this in trouble if I tease it a bit. I find it an amusing oddity, not something worthy of condemnation, so if there’s a chance this will get the person in trouble with their job, I will remove it. In the mean time, under the assumption that this is all in good fun, let’s begin!

Dearest Amaterasu fan,

Please find enclosed along with this covering letter and fact sheet your review code for Okami HD.

[All good so far!]

Okami HD is beautiful, so beautiful. Sadly, *weep*, this game will probably review well but not sell in reflection. This time though, on PSN, it’s only £15.99 SO THIS COULD BE ITS CHANCE. Please.

[Wait, what? You’re telling me that you expect your game to get good review scores? Sure, this is Okami, but in my experience that is pretty unorthodox to actually outright say that to a reviewer. Even more unorthodox is telling me that they don’t expect it to sell well. Again, for Okami this makes sense with its history of poor sales, but still, super weird. Not to mention that “not sell in reflection” is a pretty awkward phrase. Also weird is the “please” at the end as its own sentence. This is literally begging.]

Released 31st October [Note: this was from Capcom UK, so that’s the UK date], you retread the steps of Okami in HD, and hopefully in the process stir up some wonderful nostalgia. Okami HD is a decent reason for you to use your PlayStation Move, it makes painting all that much more joyful. Here are some things you should also know to re-jig your memory;

[Okami HD is a “decent” reason to use PlayStation Move? Whoa there, calm down. You don’t want to oversell it. Considering how well the Move support works, really well in fact, I’m surprised they aren’t pushing this harder. Other than that word choice, fairly standard PR stuff. Also, that semicolon is really bothering me.]

  • This game is MEGA long. Like, you think you’ve nearly finished it but actually it has only just begun. [Quite true! Though I actually talk about this as the game’s major failing in my review.]
  • It’s beautiful. 1080p HD graphics beautiful.
  • It’s compatible with Move. Use the Move controller to brush away enemies with your celestial brush.
  • A full suite of trophies will be available for players to challenge themselves in new ways; including a platinum trophy.
  • If you don’t find this game warm and caring, you’re dead inside. [Important feature to be listed on the back of the box]
  • Please keep your footage to reasonable sections.
  • It’s only £15.99. [Again, UK-ness]
  • It’ll make your sad face turn upside down.

I have assets if you want ‘em and can sort out some Q&As on request. Give me a shout if you need anything else.

GO AMATERASU, GO, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE LITTLE ONE. [Go go gadget caps lock.]

Best,

[Redacted PR person’s name, contact info, etc. Update: not to generalize, but based on the person’s name I wouldn’t guess that they are a native Japanese speaker.]

Ok, maybe as a whole this isn’t as weird as I thought on my first impression, but that second paragraph…wow. It’s not quite out there enough to have the Aubrey Norris charm, though I respect the effort. A review info letter just seems like a strange context to try and flex those particular PR muscles.

What do you think? Am I over-reacting to its weirdness? Under-reacting? I’d especially love to hear from some PR people with their thoughts on it.

UPDATE: My Okami HD review is live now, so why not go ahead see what I thought of it?

Meet the Chicago Game Press

I joined fellow writers Andrew Groen and Erik Hanson recently for an IGDA Chicago “Meet the Press” event. They have some great advice to offer for indie devs about talking to the press, and I chime in from time to time with advice that probably isn’t as good as theirs. I feel like I got overly pessimistic at times, which I’m never happy about when that happens, but it’s a good an informative video despite my bumbling.

E3 2012 Journal

Microsoft Showcase:

  • Dust: An Elysian Tail*
  • Deadlight
  • Mark of the Ninja*
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Wreckateer

Day 1 show floor:

  • Nintendo Land (all 5 mini-games)
  • Pikmin 3*
  • Zombi U (multiplayer)
  • Project P-100*
  • Tank! Tank! Tank!
  • Game & Wario
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate
  • Orgrhythm
  • Rayman Legends*
  • Epic Mickey 2 (PS3 controller)
  • Dishonored*
  • Doom 3: BFG Edition
  • The Cave (hands off)*
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed

Day 2 show floor:

  • The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
  • Of Orcs and Men
  • Darksiders 2*
  • Metro: Last Light (hands off)*
  • Trine 2 Wii U
  • Luigi’s Mansion*
  • Star Wars 1313 (hands off)*
  • Rabbids Land*
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
  • Jet Set Radio (Vita)
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U)*

Day 3 show floor:

  • Aliens: Colonial Marines*
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown (hands off)
  • Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition
  • Just Dance 4
  • Sound Shapes*
  • New Little King’s Story
  • Papo y Yo*
  • Tomb Raider (hands off)
  • Rekoil*
  • PlayStation All-Stars
  • Quantum Conundrum
  • Ascend: New Gods
  • ZombiU (single-player)*

*My favorite games of the show

Game Journo Game Jam – FAQ

What is the Game Journo Game Jam?

Game Journo Game Jam, or GJx2, is a game jam for people who want to attempt making a quick and crazy game, but wouldn’t be able to participate in a normal game jam for any number of reasons. Scheduling conflicts and lack of development experience typically being chief among those reasons, but there are plenty others out there. The idea is to make a game, either on your own or with a team of your own choosing, during the month of May. Think of it as a “My First Game Jam” sort of event, preparing its participants so that some day they could join one of the more hardcore game jams.

A whole month? Aren’t game jams normally just over a weekend?

Yes, typically game jams occur over a ridiculously short period of time to offer a challenge to developers. GJx2 isn’t for developers. The people who will get the most out of GJx2 probably haven’t ever made a game before, or have very limited experience. It will likely take a week or two just to figure out the right tools to use and how to use them properly, skills that an experienced developer would already bring with them into a game jam. Also there is the matter of scheduling conflicts. In my freelance experience there’s no such thing as a weekend off, or a 48 hour period of time I can set aside from work to do a game jam non-stop. So the Game Journo Game Jam was created with that kind of crazy schedule in mind. Rather than pump out a game over a weekend, it’ll most likely cater to more of a stop and go development cycle.

I’ve already got a great idea for a game but no skills to make it! Can I use that idea for GJx2 even though I came up with it before May?

Yes! The way game jams typically work is for developers to only come up with their game concept once the jam has started. This is because the developers already have the skills and knowledge of how to make a game, so the real challenge is in coming up with and executing an idea on a short time frame. GJx2 is the exact opposite. There’s a good chance you already have an idea for a game you want to execute, but it’s during the course of GJx2 that you’ll acquire the skills to actually do so. So by all means, use the time before GJx2 to come up with your game idea. Just keep in mind that the idea may change once you start learning about the tools you’ll be using.

Wait, part of the GJ in GJx2 stands for “game journo”? I’m not a games journalist/writer/critic, can I still join?

Of course! The original idea for this game jam was for any amateur/aspiring game creator to have a more beginner-friendly outlet. As it turned out, when discussing that idea on Twitter, most of the people interested were game journalists. And since game journalist and game jam both begin with GJ, I thought GJx2 was a catchy name. So yes, feel free to ignore my vain attempt to sound clever and join the game jam even if you don’t write about games. I’d love for some gaming PR or community manager types to get involved, for example.

Is there a theme for GJx2?

Most game jams have a theme to help direct the game ideas. This goes back to the point about game jams typically being a test of executing an idea spur of the moment, so themes ensure that developers don’t come up with their concept before the theme is revealed. I hadn’t planned on there being a theme for the Game Journo Game Jam, since participants are encouraged to come up with their ideas before the jam starts. GJx2 is really more about learning how to make a game, and my theory is that people will be more motivated to keep going if it’s fully their own idea. However, sometimes such an open-ended assignment can be even more daunting, so I will provide a theme once the game jam starts for those who want one. You won’t be required to follow the theme, but it will be there if you’re strapped for ideas and need a starting point.

I’m a game journalist and would like to participate, is it ethical to still cover the game jam?

Yes, depending on how it is done. You should disclose in any writing about GJx2 that you are/were a participant, and you should discuss with your editors how they want it to be handled. One writer has told me he will be doing a weekly column of his game’s progress during the game jam, and this could be an excellent opportunity to do a postmortem article after it’s all done. Using your writing as PR for your game is an obvious no-no.

I’m an experienced developer and would still like to participate in GJx2 because this sounds cool and different/I am hopelessly addicted to game jams. Can I still join or take part in some way?

Sure! I imagine completing a game in a month would still offer its own challenges for an experienced developer, and would allow you to explore ideas a little further than a 2-day game jam would normally allow. Also, if you want to join as an experienced developer, it would be greatly appreciated if you could be active in our Google Group and help other participants work through their development difficulties. That would be awesome, so yes, please join in.

What if I don’t complete my game before the end of May?

Then you get thrown into a volcano. Seriously though, can’t finish? No big deal! Making a game is hard and you’ve got other stuff to do, I’d be surprised if half of the entrants produce something from GJx2, myself included. The point is that you tried, and hopefully had fun and learned something in the process. Having something finished to show for it at the end is just a bonus. That isn’t to say you should go into GJx2 expecting that you won’t finish, but fear of finishing shouldn’t stop you from joining. But if you don’t finish something in time, you may not be eligible for the IGF Press Pirate Kart…

Got more questions? Ask away in the comments and be sure to join the Game Journo Game Jam group to be a part of all GJx2 discussions.

GJx2: Game Journo Game Jam!!!!

As some of my twitter followers may have noticed, I have a tendency to spout out game ideas from time to time Peter Molydeux-style. When Molyjam was happening, I was so excited for it, but a weekend simply isn’t enough time for someone with my complete lack of experience to take part. As such, I would like to propose the Game Journo Game Jam, a game jam built around accommodating people with no experience and bizzarro writer schedules. Interested? Then allow me to elaborate.

During the month of May I am going to attempt to make a game, and I invite all industry folk to join me in this endeavor. Yes, the game jam will comprise the entire month of May. Remember, this for accommodating crazy schedules and people with potentially no prior experience. And despite the name, this isn’t just for game journos, critics, and writers, so I’d love to see PR reps and anyone else involved in this fine industry who doesn’t typically dabble in game development join in.

If you would like to participate in the first (hopefully of many) Game Journo Game Jam, then great! Join me in the GJx2 Google group where we can discuss and share beginner dev experiences, tips, and troubles along the way. And on twitter, be sure to use the #GJx2 hashtag when talking about the Jam. Let’s get this thing started!

Hope to see you all there!