Recently I found this nice blog post from William Dyce about the Global Game Jam. The lessons he claims to have learned are really useful, and it was nice of him to share them.
I will instead just post a recap and some impressions on the whole event. With photos.

Last week I went back to Verona, Italy (from Spain where I am at the moment) to attend the Global Game Jam 2011. I could have done it here, since there was a venue at the Universidad Complutense, but the occasion in Verona was much too interesting to lose it.

The fact is that Federico Fasce of Urustar is reorganizing the italian chapter of the IGDA, and he scheduled a meeting just before the GGJ, thanks to the University of Verona that granted a conference room.

The meeting was nice although a bit confused (some people didn’t really know what the IGDA chapter was about), and it was followed by some really cool speeches by people such as Federico himself, Paolo Pedercini of Molleindustria (in video form), the guys from Vae Victis, the guys from Darkwave Games, Paolo Tajè of BloodyMonkey, Bernardo Antonioni of Activision, Francesco Banterle, Vincenzo Lettera of Indievault, and many others.
Paolo Pedercini’s video, much discussed, was nonetheless very interesting. Most of all, I felt it was a very sincere contribution from Paolo to the meeting. This is the video (in italian):
Matteo Bittanti, a videogame scholar, translated the video for the ones who are interested (although seeing the video has an entirely different effect).
After the meeting/conference, we had the Global Game Jam (starting friday in the afternoon). After some confusion in group creation, I ended up with the aforementioned Paolo Tajè and the two guys from Santa Ragione (the creators of Fotonica), Pietro Righi Riva and Nicolò Tedeschi. I happened to join them almost by chance, but honestly, it couldn’t have been better.
For one, I didn’t have to program: Paolo and Pietro handled all the coding work with Unity (cool, my first non-Flash game!). They did a good job, the game as it was presented at the end of the jam didn’t have any serious bug.The Game Jam was an extraordinary experience. The atmosphere in the corridors, despite the people being destroyed by the 48h effort, was tangible. Everybody worked really hard, and the quality of the games in the end was generally high. There were cool ideas such as in “Survival Jam”, a game that used flocking algorithms to simulate some predator-prey relationships. Cool.
Worth mentioning were also “The Last Birthday on Earth” by Urustar and Leonardo Amigoni, which used the microphone to blow out candles on a cake, and “Happy End”, which used both webcam and microphone for interaction.

For our game, we came up with a simple idea in terms of gameplay, but we really faced no limits in coming up with the theme of the game. The premise is that some crazy priests are trying to take control of the Earth and perform some birth-increasing actions, like impeding people from using contraceptives, producing holes in condoms and stuff like that. On the other side, the gay people (called “Joy Empire” in our game because of some image that Paolo found) from outer space are trying to convert the cities to their cause.
The game is a one-button two-players game, and the only purpose of the controls is to fire.
Both sides fire with a cannon (the priests from the center of the Earth, the Joy Empire from a satellite orbiting around the planet) to the cities, and they are always aiming to the same point at the same time, so sometimes the projectiles may arrive together to the desired city. When this happens, the game enters a very short button-mashing minigame to resolve the tie.
When the priests conquer a city, the population goes up. Viceversa for the Joy Empire.
You can download the game from the GGJ website here.
Being the theme of the jam “Extinction”, I liked the idea that if the priests won the struggle, humanity would become extinct because of overpopulation. At the same time, if the gay side wins, humanity becomes extinct because no one is left on the planet.
This way, the only way for humans to survive is actually to have the players still play, but this – alas – doesn’t happen for very long.
A very personal side note: I always felt “Clergymen” has no real social critique intent, the introduction of priests and gays was a product of our wicked minds and of the fast brainstorming made at the beginning of the jam, and we took the images in the game to the extreme just for the sake of fun. If anybody is offended by the game, I apologize, but really nothing was meant to be a judgement on clergymen or gay people.
This time, it’s just a game 😀
There is so much more to say about the game jam and the meeting… in the meantime, you can take a look at the photos here.
Enjoy folks, and viva la Global Game Jam!