24 Mar 2014

On Bacon Jam and Grilling Virtual Meat

NOTE: This article is OLD! Information in it may be out of date or outright useless, and I have no plans to update it. Beware!

Weekend game jams aren’t usually my thing. Generally speaking, I like having the weekend to recharge, and spending all of one getting little sleep and feverishly working to finish a (usually) throwaway project is not usually tempting. However, last weekend Reddit hosted the Bacon Jam, and I decided to partake since it had been awhile since I had actually finished a game and I felt like getting some momentum back.

The theme of the jam was “Hungry,” and I decided to make a game about grilling meat, because winter has been way too long and cold here in Ontario, and barbeque weather can’t get here fast enough. Although the jam technically ended on Sunday night, I knew that I had other things I needed to get done, and as such would be finishing on Saturday. I also knew I liked sleep, and had no intention of pulling a crazy caffeine fuelled coding binge (like I’ve done at most game jams). The end result was a very small game, that I finished leisurely well before the end of Saturday, and I ended up having a ton of fun doing things this way.

My entry for Bacon Jam 7

Everyone says set your scope small when you’re at a jam, but I think the real secret to enjoying a game jam (and not just finishing it) is to set your project’s scope small enough to be completed within the first half of the jam. If you’re still feeling in the groove, you now have a ton of time to polish your project, and if you aren’t, you can pack up, or socialize, or do whatever the hell you want, and you still walk out of the jam with a finished product.

Aside from discovering a new, much more enjoyable, way to jam, what I found interesting about this weekend was that my project would have been pretty much impossible for me to complete a year ago, given that the core mechanic relies on a shader to pan between three textures (raw, cooked, burnt) on each fragment of meat, and a year ago I was still about 2 months out from really getting anywhere with shader dev. What a difference a year makes!

So, if you’ve been missing the feeling of cooking meat over an open flame lately, check out my game: Zen Burnt (a play on the name Zen Bound), just keep your hopes down :P it’s a very very tiny jam game.

Also, I’ll get back to posting every other week or so now. Things got a bit derailed this month because I started a new job (hurray shader dev!), but I already have a much more typical tutorial post in the works for later this week. If ray/triangle intersection sounds interesting to you, check back this weekend!

Finally, as always, send me a message on twitter if you feel like it!