One of the interesting ideas in trying out a new game concept is known as a game jam. These have a fixed period of time, from a day to a month, to make a game. These games are usually pretty primitive, but try out some new concept. I recently entered a competition known as Ludum Dare, which is the largest and most well known game jam there is. I entered with my game, Jewel Defender, which I won’t talk much about here, but you can see my thoughts and process to making the game at my main blog.
I have been studying Ludum Dare for a few years, seeing one of the more well known developers, Quill18, make a game, but haven’t actually entered myself, for a number of reasons. But I decided that this time I was going to try it out. Most game jams present a theme, and this one was “One Room”. I decided I was either going to do a prototype of a game I have had on my backburner list for a long time, or else prototype something that could be used for my Sea Trading game that I’ve mentioned frequently. I ultimately decided to do a prototype of a trap building tower defense game. So far I’ve gotten some great feedback, and encouragement, which is great for me because I really only spent a few hours making the game, and I felt very frustrated at the lack of progress in some areas.
The other part of a game jam is usually rating the games that come out, to gather feedback for the author, and otherwise give them a rating. In playing many of the games, I’ve seen some interesting things, people who were able to do an amazing amount in a short period of time, to those who put something forward, but the game was rather limited, just moving around a 3-d world. In so doing, I’ve gained exposure to a number of types of games that I don’t really play very often, like action/adventure, escape rooms, etc, and learned a lot of cool stuff as a result.
Keep an eye out for game jams, both online and in person. I really recommend trying them out, and seeing what you can do. It’s a great way to test an idea out to see if it has potential before you invest a lot of time in to making it perfect!