Game Jammin’: An Actual Blog

Get that Sunday in ya, it’s blog time! And it’s a real blog this time. Not a build diary, not a review of some one trick pony app (just kidding, I love you MIDI Guitar 2 I didn’t mean it), just a good old fashioned blog. I’ve been a busy boy this week, and this weekend I’ve decided to push myself into the unknown.

I decided to Game Jam.


Breadboarded Circuit
I swear I still do stuff like this, don't worry.

I’ve always wanted to produce sounds for video games, because I’m a massive nerd. Shocking, I know. I mentioned this to a fellow rack-head recently (shout out Second October); this combined with a friend of mine buoying my confidence, I decided to join a Game Jam.  And now that I’ve been jammin’ for about 12 hours, it’s really a good time, and it’s been a great experience.

But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, what’s a Game Jam? And how do you sound design at said game jam?

Video Game Question Mark
This is maybe the funniest picture I've ever seen. I'm terrified and slightly aroused.

Based on my limited time game jammin’, I think it’s fair to call me an expert. So take these words as law.

Teams compete to create a video game in a set amount of time, usually over a weekend. Some, like the one I jumped into, are week-long events. I think your team can be as big as you want? For… some of them maybe? And like there’s prizes. There’s definitely prizes. Usually at least. The one I’m doing doesn’t actually award prizes. But it’s still great!

OK MAYBE I DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THEM. I went and found one on this website, and joined one that went down this weekend. But I do know this. It’s been a great exercise in sound design and sound engineering. Hell, I’ve been doing a little foley even. 

Caught doing foley
This guy looks more like he got caught doing foley. Don't look so guilty young sound designer!

My role has been creating the Audio FX for the game, and essentially the team shouts out what they need for sounds, and I provide the sounds! It forces you to be creative on the spot, rather than sitting in front of a synth for hours tweaking a patch to infinity. It’s strange, but being creative in a “restrained” or “limited” way really gets the creative juices flowing. You don’t get bogged down in the small details.

It’s like when you were a young naive musician pirating audio plugins to “test” them (we’ve all been there, except for me, I’d never) and because you got the entire Waves plugin collection, you just have no idea what to use.

Or another illegal example, when you download every single SNES game in a ROM pack, when all you really wanted was Donkey Kong Country Returns: Diddy Kong’s… Diddy Kong’s…..

Diddy Kong's Quest
QUEST. That's it. What a game. What a Kong.

Anyways, long and short of it, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone this weekend and I really think I have to do things like this more often. I can feel growth in the ability to get the sounds in my head out into reality, and honestly, it’s just fun. I’ll definitely be doing more sound design with game jam’s in the future.

But, for now, will the cassette boys (the game revolves around cassette tapes) actually produce a working game? Maybe, but I don’t think that really matters to be honest. 

Unless there’s a chance we’ll win a prize. Then it’s fucking on. 

Sorry for the cuss word. Have a beauty week!

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