Global Game Jam 2020 Recap Part 1: Friday

This upcoming week is Global Game Jam 2021. In tribute to that, a year later, I’m finally going to post my recap of Global Game Jam 2020. After the jam, I jumped right into a big sound design push for GDC 2020. Then, the world fell apart and I spent a decent amount of time adjusting to game audio in a socially-isolated world. I’ve written this out over the past year.

So the first day, I had to drive directly from my day job to take the train into the city, with the idea that I’d go to the jam, get settled on a team or two, then take the train back to my car and drive home for the night. Then, I’d take the train in on Saturday and stay the night. It was cheaper than three days of parking in the city and much safer and more pleasant than driving in Center City during rush hour.

It meant, though, that I would lose a lot of time to traveling. I did, and traveling was unpleasant and tiring. A quick guess is that I lost around 5 hours of the jam to travel.

Kickoff was pretty normal as far as the GGJ kickoffs have been. It was much calmer than Thorsten Wiedemann’s workout video keynote from GGJ 2018, at least. The icebreakers that PGM had were pleasant too and definitely got my mind working on design ideas.

Multiple interesting projects began to take shape. At some point, I ended up teaming with Dan Halma, splitting up sound design work on what we thought were two or three projects.

All the members of the team that was making Space Trash decided to go out for Chinese food when everything was settled, along with a few other people. That kind of meal is actually one of my favorite things about overnight game jams. It’s a great way to get to know folks that you may already be acquainted with or have just met. It’s also helpful to ceremonially focus the team to start working together. It’s not necessary, of course, but it’s pleasant. I think I’ve had some variant on it for five of the six in-person faster jams I’ve been present at. It’s a nice ritual that helps focus the entire team for the following couple of days. You don’t even need to talk about the game. In my experience, it’s a much better team builder than any actual team-building exercise.

I’m going to miss that this year. I wonder what we can do instead.

After a pleasant meal and some good tea, I broke off from the group. Due to some issues with SEPTA’s new ticket machines, I missed the train I’d planned on catching. Which is all to say, I ended up waiting at the station an extra hour and getting home, exhausted from an hour of driving, by 2:00 AM.

Part 2 will be published tomorrow. Turns out I remember much more than I thought I did. See you then.

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