DEVELOPMENT DARWINISM

H O W T O W I N B I G AT G A M E
J A M S A N D H A C K AT H O N S
GAME DEVELOPER

B E N J A M I N TAY L O R

BACKGROUND:
• W I T H R E D O C TA N E S I N C E 2 0 0 0
• S T U D I E D G A M ...
Lots of games from dozens of events
FOCUSING ON LESSONS & OBJECTIVES
FROM 11 GAME POST MORTEMS
GAME POST MORTEM #1

H Y P E R B AT T L E
• Ultimately a failure.
• Took too long to develop.
IGN’S THE NEXT GAME BOSS

Footage of our team from Season 1, Episode 1
GAME POST MORTEM #2

S TA R I S E R
• Playable in 2hrs.
• Set the tone and pace for

the rest of the season.
LESSON #1

BEGIN ACTUAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE
1ST HOUR
HIRED BY CARNEGIE MELLON’S
E N T E R TA I N M E N T T E C H N O L O G Y C E N T E R

KGDI visit to LucasArts 2006
GAME POST MORTEM #3

PITCH
• Created for the first annual

SIGGRAPH Sandbox
Symposium in Boston 2006
• Created with Drew

...
PLAYERS MATCHED RANDOM WORDS

WITH A CARD FROM EACH
C O N C E N T R AT I O N T O C R E AT E A P I T C H
LESSON #2

EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW AND RESPECT EACH
O T H E R ’ S R O L E S T O W O R K T O G E T H E R S U C C E S S F U L L...
HOW TO BE A
PRACTITIONER?
S TA R T S M A L L .
Art:
• Can you make art suitable for a

game? (Sprites, 3D Assets, etc.)

•...
HOW TO BE A
PRACTITIONER?
S TA R T S M A L L .
Art (continued):
• Can you script your own asset

interactions or effects u...
GAME POST MORTEM #4

S A I LW I N G A G E N T
• VR Hang gliding Game created

in the 2nd round of CMU ETC’s
BVW Program in...
S A I L W I N G A G E N T B E I N G P L AY E D
S A I L W I N G A G E N T A S T H E P L AY E R
LESSON #3

PUT YOUR EGO ASIDE BECAUSE TIME
IS SHORT TO DELIVER.
IF IT HELPS RELIEVE PRESSURE

DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO
A N O N Y M O U S LY
W H AT I S T H E R E
TO “WIN”?
• Find and / or Try Out a

Lasting Teammate
• Demonstrable Experience /

Portfolio Piece
• ...
GAME POST MORTEM #5

FRUITIX
• Created during the Pittsburgh XO

Game Jam in 48 hours.

• All new teammates.
• Created usi...
STRIVE FOR MAXIMIZING LUCIDITY BY

S L E E P I N G A F T E R A S A F E H A N D - O F F.
D U R I N G Y O U R P R E S E N TA T I O N

V I S I B LY H A V E F U N P L AY I N G A N D / O R
TA L K I N G A B O U T Y O...
LESSON #4

S L E E P S T R AT E G I C A L LY : B E F O R E E V E N T, O N LY
A F T E R A H A N D - O F F, A N D B E F O R ...
WIN!

G R E AT E X P E R I E N C E S G A I N Y O U
ALLIES.

•

Other prizes:
MAME Arcade Sticks for
cabinet gaming.
W H AT I S T H E R E
TO “WIN”?
• Find and / or Try Out a

Lasting Teammate

• Demonstrable Experience /

Portfolio Piece

...
GAME POST MORTEM #6

END DEFENDERS
• Created during Ludum Dare

#22.

• Made in Unity with iOS target.
• Objective was to ...
LESSON #5

D O N ’ T R E L A X B Y C O M PA R I N G Y O U R S E L F T O
Y O U R P E E R S ; A L W AY S M A X O U T E F F O...
W H AT I S T H E R E
TO “WIN”?
• Find and / or Try Out a

Lasting Teammate
• Demonstrable Experience /

Portfolio Piece
• ...
GAME POST MORTEM #7

ARTICHOKE♥BEET
• Created during MIT’s GGJ 13
• Came in with mobile web

scaffolding already made.

• ...
GAME POST MORTEM #8

HANGRIES
• Created during the Hasbro

Hackathon in 36 hours.
• Objective was to use the

event to gen...
S TA Y F O C U S E D O N C O R E O B J E C T I V E S T O

R E A C H T H E M O S T I M P O R TA N T
R E S U LT S F I R S T
LESSON #6

BE REALISTIC ABOUT OBJECTIVES BY
K N O W I N G W H AT Y O U C A N ’ T D O .
DOUBLE WIN!

R E U S A B L E C O D E ( C R E AT E J S A N I M AT I O N L O A D E R C L A S S )
AND ART (SET OF ANIMAL CHAR...
W H AT I S T H E R E
TO “WIN”?
• Find and / or Try Out a

Lasting Teammate
• Demonstrable Experience /

Portfolio Piece
• ...
GAME POST MORTEM #9

UPISA
• Created during the

Eventbrite HTML5
Hackathon in 36 hours.

• Sponsored by Sibblingz

Spacep...
LESSON #7

WORK FOR YOUR HOST, WHO IS
WORKING.
WIN!

$3K FOR 36HRS BY USING THE
SPONSOR’S TECHNOLOGY WELL.
W H AT I S T H E R E
TO “WIN”?
• Find and / or Try Out a

Lasting Teammate
• Demonstrable Experience /

Portfolio Piece
• ...
GAME POST MORTEM #10

SIMCITY
• Features created in 48 hours

during an internal hackathon
on company time. (That’s right,...
USE JAMS AND HACKATHONS TO

EXPRESS AND IMPRESS WHERE YOU COULDN’T
O R D I N A R I LY I N Y O U R C U R R E N T W O R K E ...
W H AT I S T H E R E
TO “WIN”?
• Find and / or Try Out a

Lasting Teammate
• Demonstrable Experience /

Portfolio Piece
• ...
GAME POST MORTEM #11

RANGE
• Created during the Rosetta Stone

Game Jam 2011

• Challenge was to incorporate the

concept...
USE JAMS AND HACKATHONS TO

FOCUS ON YOUR OBJECTIVES, EVEN IF THEY
DIFFER FROM THOSE ADVERTISED BY THE EVENT
WIN!

G O T F E E D B A C K A N D A P P R O VA L F R O M
R O S E T TA S T O N E ’ S L E A D E R S H I P.
LESSONS FOR WINNING
1. B E G I N A C T U A L D E V E L O P M E N T I N T H E 1 S T H O U R .
2. E V E R Y O N E S H O U L ...
“Jams are short because they’re designed to
represent the maximum amount of suffering you
can endure over a sustained amou...
THANK YOU!
@Benjamin_Taylor
!

Good luck at your game jam
or hackathon, work hard and
don’t leave empty-handed.
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Development Darwinism

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Development Darwinism: How to Win Big at Game Jams and Hackathons

Benjamin Taylor gives 11 game post mortems from a decade of rapid prototyping experience. Presented initially at IGDA's Boston Post Mortem in Cambridge, MA on Wed, Jan 15th, 2014. - “Don’t be afraid to fail”, “find new friends”, “learn something new”, you’ve heard all the reasons why participating in a jam is the right thing to do, but let’s face it, you came in wanting to succeed at making a game. This is your chance to learn from a pro how to do things right and make your jam experience a crowning success, regardless of role and experience. Ben Taylor (EA/Nexon) illustrates how to succeed at making a prototype in 36 hours and demonstrate your utility in the game development process.

Ben Taylor has participated in dozens of game jams and hackathons including all of the Global Game Jams, Ludem Dare, and IGN’s game development reality show “The Next Game Boss”. Ben has worked with the game industry for more than a decade starting with Red Octane and most recently as a game engineer at Nexon Mobile in San Francisco. His most recently released game is the new adaptation of “SimCity” (2013) by EA Maxis.

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Development Darwinism

  1. 1. DEVELOPMENT DARWINISM H O W T O W I N B I G AT G A M E J A M S A N D H A C K AT H O N S
  2. 2. GAME DEVELOPER B E N J A M I N TAY L O R BACKGROUND: • W I T H R E D O C TA N E S I N C E 2 0 0 0 • S T U D I E D G A M E D E V E L O P M E N T AT C A R N E G I E M E L L O N ’ S ETC UNDER JESSE SCHELL (THE ART OF GAME DESIGN) • ART DIRECTOR, WILL WRIGHT’S STUPID FUN CLUB • G A M E E N G I N E E R , S I M C I T Y, E A M A X I S • GAME ENGINEER, UNANNOUNCED, NEXON/GLOOPS
  3. 3. Lots of games from dozens of events FOCUSING ON LESSONS & OBJECTIVES FROM 11 GAME POST MORTEMS
  4. 4. GAME POST MORTEM #1 H Y P E R B AT T L E • Ultimately a failure. • Took too long to develop.
  5. 5. IGN’S THE NEXT GAME BOSS Footage of our team from Season 1, Episode 1
  6. 6. GAME POST MORTEM #2 S TA R I S E R • Playable in 2hrs. • Set the tone and pace for the rest of the season.
  7. 7. LESSON #1 BEGIN ACTUAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE 1ST HOUR
  8. 8. HIRED BY CARNEGIE MELLON’S E N T E R TA I N M E N T T E C H N O L O G Y C E N T E R KGDI visit to LucasArts 2006
  9. 9. GAME POST MORTEM #3 PITCH • Created for the first annual SIGGRAPH Sandbox Symposium in Boston 2006 • Created with Drew Davidson, Pitch is a game about game development.
  10. 10. PLAYERS MATCHED RANDOM WORDS WITH A CARD FROM EACH C O N C E N T R AT I O N T O C R E AT E A P I T C H
  11. 11. LESSON #2 EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW AND RESPECT EACH O T H E R ’ S R O L E S T O W O R K T O G E T H E R S U C C E S S F U L LY 1st Global Game Jam 2009
  12. 12. HOW TO BE A PRACTITIONER? S TA R T S M A L L . Art: • Can you make art suitable for a game? (Sprites, 3D Assets, etc.) • Can you contribute to a portion of the artistic pipeline? (EX: “I can texture and model 3D assets, but not rig them”) • Can you be the creator of all of the artistic pipeline? • Can you package your own assets correctly? • Can you incorporate your own assets?
  13. 13. HOW TO BE A PRACTITIONER? S TA R T S M A L L . Art (continued): • Can you script your own asset interactions or effects using tools? • Can you write your own tools? • Can you code the game yourself? • Are you satisfied polishing your abilities as an artist?
  14. 14. GAME POST MORTEM #4 S A I LW I N G A G E N T • VR Hang gliding Game created in the 2nd round of CMU ETC’s BVW Program in 2007. • Created for a “Naive User”, in that the user could only be given instruction by the game and be able to play with no prior knowledge.
  15. 15. S A I L W I N G A G E N T B E I N G P L AY E D
  16. 16. S A I L W I N G A G E N T A S T H E P L AY E R
  17. 17. LESSON #3 PUT YOUR EGO ASIDE BECAUSE TIME IS SHORT TO DELIVER.
  18. 18. IF IT HELPS RELIEVE PRESSURE DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO A N O N Y M O U S LY
  19. 19. W H AT I S T H E R E TO “WIN”? • Find and / or Try Out a Lasting Teammate • Demonstrable Experience / Portfolio Piece • Reusable Code / Content • Money (and Swag) • Job Opportunities • Access to the Pros Pittsburgh XO Gamejam 2007
  20. 20. GAME POST MORTEM #5 FRUITIX • Created during the Pittsburgh XO Game Jam in 48 hours. • All new teammates. • Created using PyGame to be playable on SugarOS on any OLPC, language agnostic. • Win criteria: Preteen players’ vote
  21. 21. STRIVE FOR MAXIMIZING LUCIDITY BY S L E E P I N G A F T E R A S A F E H A N D - O F F.
  22. 22. D U R I N G Y O U R P R E S E N TA T I O N V I S I B LY H A V E F U N P L AY I N G A N D / O R TA L K I N G A B O U T Y O U R C R E AT I O N .
  23. 23. LESSON #4 S L E E P S T R AT E G I C A L LY : B E F O R E E V E N T, O N LY A F T E R A H A N D - O F F, A N D B E F O R E P R E S E N T I N G
  24. 24. WIN! G R E AT E X P E R I E N C E S G A I N Y O U ALLIES. • Other prizes: MAME Arcade Sticks for cabinet gaming.
  25. 25. W H AT I S T H E R E TO “WIN”? • Find and / or Try Out a Lasting Teammate • Demonstrable Experience / Portfolio Piece • Reusable Code / Content • Money (and Swag) • Job Opportunities • Access to the Pros Ludum Dare #22
  26. 26. GAME POST MORTEM #6 END DEFENDERS • Created during Ludum Dare #22. • Made in Unity with iOS target. • Objective was to demonstrate ability to make social mobile titles with viral mechanics.
  27. 27. LESSON #5 D O N ’ T R E L A X B Y C O M PA R I N G Y O U R S E L F T O Y O U R P E E R S ; A L W AY S M A X O U T E F F O R T
  28. 28. W H AT I S T H E R E TO “WIN”? • Find and / or Try Out a Lasting Teammate • Demonstrable Experience / Portfolio Piece • Reusable Code / Content • Money (and Swag) • Job Opportunities • Access to the Pros Global Game Jam 2013 at MIT
  29. 29. GAME POST MORTEM #7 ARTICHOKE♥BEET • Created during MIT’s GGJ 13 • Came in with mobile web scaffolding already made. • Objective was to use and create an animation system for the CreateJS library.
  30. 30. GAME POST MORTEM #8 HANGRIES • Created during the Hasbro Hackathon in 36 hours. • Objective was to use the event to generate animal stickers (and to gain experience with NodeJS)
  31. 31. S TA Y F O C U S E D O N C O R E O B J E C T I V E S T O R E A C H T H E M O S T I M P O R TA N T R E S U LT S F I R S T
  32. 32. LESSON #6 BE REALISTIC ABOUT OBJECTIVES BY K N O W I N G W H AT Y O U C A N ’ T D O .
  33. 33. DOUBLE WIN! R E U S A B L E C O D E ( C R E AT E J S A N I M AT I O N L O A D E R C L A S S ) AND ART (SET OF ANIMAL CHARACTER STICKERS)
  34. 34. W H AT I S T H E R E TO “WIN”? • Find and / or Try Out a Lasting Teammate • Demonstrable Experience / Portfolio Piece • Reusable Code / Content • Money (and Swag) • Job Opportunities • Access to the Pros Eventbrite's HTML5 Hackathon
  35. 35. GAME POST MORTEM #9 UPISA • Created during the Eventbrite HTML5 Hackathon in 36 hours. • Sponsored by Sibblingz Spaceport, Eventbrite, Betable, MongoLab, and Viadeo
  36. 36. LESSON #7 WORK FOR YOUR HOST, WHO IS WORKING.
  37. 37. WIN! $3K FOR 36HRS BY USING THE SPONSOR’S TECHNOLOGY WELL.
  38. 38. W H AT I S T H E R E TO “WIN”? • Find and / or Try Out a Lasting Teammate • Demonstrable Experience / Portfolio Piece • Reusable Code / Content • Money (and Swag) • Job Opportunities • Access to the Pros SimCity Hackathon 2012
  39. 39. GAME POST MORTEM #10 SIMCITY • Features created in 48 hours during an internal hackathon on company time. (That’s right, EA approved and paid for this) • Objective: free reign to work on that feature you always wanted to prove out.
  40. 40. USE JAMS AND HACKATHONS TO EXPRESS AND IMPRESS WHERE YOU COULDN’T O R D I N A R I LY I N Y O U R C U R R E N T W O R K E N V I R O N M E N T Some of the best features in SimCity 2013 came out of this event
  41. 41. W H AT I S T H E R E TO “WIN”? • Find and / or Try Out a Lasting Teammate • Demonstrable Experience / Portfolio Piece • Reusable Code / Content • Money (and Swag) • Job Opportunities • Access to the Pros Rosetta Stone Game Jam 2011
  42. 42. GAME POST MORTEM #11 RANGE • Created during the Rosetta Stone Game Jam 2011 • Challenge was to incorporate the concepts of "ink," "exploration" and "layers" to create a game in 36 hours or less. • Personal Objective: get advice for a language teaching game from the most qualified people in the world.
  43. 43. USE JAMS AND HACKATHONS TO FOCUS ON YOUR OBJECTIVES, EVEN IF THEY DIFFER FROM THOSE ADVERTISED BY THE EVENT
  44. 44. WIN! G O T F E E D B A C K A N D A P P R O VA L F R O M R O S E T TA S T O N E ’ S L E A D E R S H I P.
  45. 45. LESSONS FOR WINNING 1. B E G I N A C T U A L D E V E L O P M E N T I N T H E 1 S T H O U R . 2. E V E R Y O N E S H O U L D K N O W A N D R E S P E C T E A C H O T H E R ’ S R O L E S T O W O R K T O G E T H E R S U C C E S S F U L LY. 3. P U T Y O U R E G O A S I D E B E C A U S E T I M E I S S H O R T T O DELIVER. 4. S L E E P S T R AT E G I C A L LY : B E F O R E E V E N T, O N LY A F T E R A H A N D - O F F, A N D B E F O R E P R E S E N T I N G . 5. D O N ’ T R E L A X B Y C O M PA R I N G Y O U R S E L F T O Y O U R P E E R S ; A L W AY S M A X O U T E F F O R T . 6. B E R E A L I S T I C A B O U T O B J E C T I V E S B Y K N O W I N G W H AT YOU CAN’T DO. 7. W O R K F O R Y O U R H O S T , W H O I S W O R K I N G .
  46. 46. “Jams are short because they’re designed to represent the maximum amount of suffering you can endure over a sustained amount of time” BEWARE OF BURNOUT
  47. 47. THANK YOU! @Benjamin_Taylor ! Good luck at your game jam or hackathon, work hard and don’t leave empty-handed.

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