Think Outside Of The Game – Post Mortem

Digital Art Jam 2018

About the Jam

I have joined the Digital Art Jam for the weekend of the 3rd March 2018, organized by G. Levieux, a professional in the in video game industry, professor at my school the CNAM-ENJMIN and researcher attached to the CNAM.  

The jam has been hosted by the Geoges Pompidou Art Museum, which granted us a privileged guided visit of the contemporary art floor. The purpose of this jam was to elaborate a digital and interactive work; hopefully in relation with our visit.

We have been working for two days non stop in the « Salle Triangle », generously helped by the museum staff bringing us tasteful meals, infinite coffee and stuff to sleep in better place than our own chair. If you read me, thanks again for everything, that was the best jam I did regarding the hosting conditions !

About the Jammers

The jammers were mostly students, from high school to university; the others were often professionals from the video game industry such as former students, workers and teachers. We were about fifty people gathered together to make some art. 

Let’s go the classical way for this post mortem; and see the best and worst points of the jam; regarding the game, the jam itself, the jammers and the site.

Actual in-game screenshot. The purpose is to force the player to go to the right folder and teach him to interact with the virtual game data folder.

What went right...

About the Jam

  • The food was excellent, as a vegan I could totally feed myself for two days which is not always possible and I appreciated they asked for our food habits;
  • The jam site was really good; a large open-space with big tables, lots of sockets to power our computers, a large window to enjoy the sun-and-moon-light and enough heat to be confortable at any time of the day and the night;
  • The site was pretty well organized, with the kitchen (and its evil microwave machine making terrible noises) and the bathroom separated in a neighbor room; no food perfume, no human-related noise, nothing to really bother someone;
  • There were showers ! Only a small group of us took the time to enjoy it but we had showers !

About the game

  • Darenn had a great gameplay idea; the scope was small enough to allow us to iterate over the whole jam and be sure to finish in time;
  • Even if he was the pitcher and project owner in a way, he was really attentive to our ideas and arguments; those discussions definitely helped the team but also the game;
  • This separation in roles, pitcher – programmer – artist was really efficient regarding the team and the project; it was easier for me to refer to Darenn about the game design and key features rather than trying to get my own ideas in it and lose some time (and probably quality haha) working on my own. If something deserved to be discussed, talking about it with the team and its implications was possible and this is a huge proof of the quality of our teamwork. In case of disagreement; I decided Darenn’s point of view had more value than mine; not a big deal said like this, is it ?
  • In a personal way, working with Godot Engine really motivated me. For months now I am forced to work with proprietary engines and I was feeling like losing the free software mind; losing my past skills and was not really proud of me. Using my favorite engine again helped me in various way, from motivation as I said earlier to self-esteem as I was really efficient. I was happy to use my previous jam to bring a base of code to make our life easier, glad to show the Godot workflow I really appreciate to an esteemed co-worker, exited to develop these weird features we designed and to learn again so much about game programming and project management in jam session.

...What went wrong.

About the Jam

  • The given place to sleep was not that good; I didn’t even enter in it as it was cold and wide opened on the outside with this huge window. I don’t really mind as I can sleep anywhere at any time but many of us have been disturbed by it and it did affect our work;
  • Most of the jammers were not able to do programming; meaning the few of us (around 5 people I guess) were morally supposed to split in the teams, but none of us really wanted to miss such a good occasion to work together on a project they liked or pitched; us two the first. Fortunately a lot of hidden talents showed up and many successfully managed to do their game with no knowledge at all gathering third party assets or getting advice here and there. I must admit I am still surprised of some projects progress;
  • Some of the jammers eventually worked alone for the two days. Even if they did manage to finished or almost their game; I am not really a fan of jams that allow their participants to feel alone like this; I was really embarrassed for them, and to being not capable to help them as much as I wanted it;
  • I don’t know how many times this jam has already occurred; maybe it was a first; but we clearly lack of information about its proceeding. I don’t mind to know where the game is being to be hosted in the end or if there is a prize or anything; but this was much more embarrassing to find out we were going to present our game in the museum with actual visitors; or when we should start brainstorming the pitches or when to team up. Anyway, the fact that we were not a huge crowd made it possible without clear information but this is something easily improvable;
  • Last but not least: we were supposed to have free access to the museum during the jam; I was hoping during the pitching phase to re-visit it or at least see another part of it to inspire myself but we finally get the possibility to do it way too late. Again, as it wasn’t clear when we could be allowed to visit, we couldn’t manage our time to free some time to do it when it was eventually possible leading to a whole week-end with a random periodical right to visit unexploited in our case; and I am very sad I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I though I would be able to.

About the game

As much as I want to put something here… Well… I consider nothing has been really bad.

One thing can be said: Godot Engine, as it is conceived, doesn’t allow all the features we needed to do our game. I wasn’t aware of it at all, and it did affect the game and make us lose hours and hours; but I can’t say it is a wrong thing. How could I possibly know it wasn’t capable of doing the weird thing we wanted it to do ? And even if it didn’t, it may have make us gain lots of time in various other ways. I can’t tell, let’s call it a good discovery with bad impacts.

To put it in a nutshell...

This was a first for me, joining a digital art jam and what is sure is that it won’t be a last ! The idea of producing an interactive piece of art inspired by a museum (here a very prestigious one) is really pleasant and I do want to join others like this. 

The final products were all very good, some were unfinished but with a good concept; others were just weird enough to match the contemporary world; and other again were impressive by their technical constraints, their huge amount of work done or their polish.

Regarding my own experience, I had the chance to work for two days with people a really consider as competent; this was a pleasure to laugh, to focus, to try things together and I can say I would be glad to work again with them.

I also discovered the hidden talents of my friend William; a producer capable of great pixel art and sound design with unexpected tools. 

Our game is something I am really proud of too; it is so different than usual games that I want to show it to everyone and see their reaction to the weird thing we are forcing them to do (nothing illegal haha). The visual, the sound, the programming, the fun; everything makes me feel really proud and it is definitely a game I want to appear on my portfolio.

DAJ18 - In Game screenshot
In-game screenshot

Eventually, if you want to try Think Outside Of The Game, our submission for the Digital Art Jam 2018 at the George Pompidou Art Museum, feel free to click this link or to read the dedicated article on this website.

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