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  • How to Make a Game in One Week: Epic MegaJam Learnings

    [12.15.15]
    - Kenneth Ng
  • [Original]

    Building a playable and presentable game in one week is no joke. We attended Epic Game's biggest game jam to date, the Epic MegaJam, and would like to share our experience. Here's how we accomplished it through scheduling, prioritizing features, coming up with the minimum viable product, and incremental playtesting. To see where it took us, here's a video of our game submission, Mind the Traps. 

    In the end you'll find the download links for the winners of the MegaJam. I highly recommend playing their games for your learning.

    Given that half of us had school or a day job, scheduling was key to get us started and to ensure we would finish the game on time. We listed out the phases of development, assigned what needs to be accomplished in each phase, and allocated the number of hours to be spent in each phase.

    1. Choose an Awards Category (30 minutes)

    Choosing an award to aim for helped create the framework for our game's design. We wanted to make a game that we would enjoy making and potentially sell, so given our quirky personalities and love for multiplayer party games it made the most sense that we target the Addiction (most fun) award.

    2. Brainstorm Ideas (3 hours)

    Games in the Addiction category generally focus on gameplay, as opposed to visuals, music or interpretation of theme. We came up with at least 10 different ideas and went with a voting system to filter the number of ideas from 10 to 3 to 1. The selected concept was:

    "A dungeon crawler, multiplayer party game. Players have no weapons and bump into each other into the darkness to figure out the path ahead."

    Tips:

    • One week isn't enough time to learn new technical skills, so brainstorm ideas that are feasible.
      The more ideas you come up with, the more creative you get, the better the game you can make.
      Think simple. Throwing around complex ideas has the tendency to impede discussion with your teammates. Let's say the game jam's theme is impossible puzzles, so you bring up an idea for a "first person shooter in an M.C. Escher-esque world fighting rainbow-barfing unicorns." It's natural for the listener to think that's ridiculous and reject it right off the bat because it's so loaded. What if instead you said: "a first person game in an M.C. Escher-esque world?" This concept is interesting but vague enough to give your teammates something to work with. That's how you stimulate discussion and get the creative juices flowing.

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