Buffalo Game Space is a non-profit organization trying to attract more people to technology through the prism of game development. Last weekend, he hosted his 13th local game jam. It’s an event where game developers have 48 hours to design and bring a game to life.
Nestled on the fourth floor of the Tri Main Center for the past four years, Buffalo Game Space aims to teach people about programming, digital art, modeling, animation, music, sound design and writing – all the things that enter into the creation of video games.
“Games are a unique medium in the sense that they require several different disciplines to create as opposed to being a painter in traditional media, where a painter can paint a picture or a musician can write a song on their own,” said declared Buffalo Game Space Board. of directors President John Futscher. “Traditionally, games are a way of collaboration that takes a lot of different talents to create, so we kind of teach all of those things.”
Futscher said game jams, like the one this weekend, are amazing opportunities to learn a lot in a very short time.
“In two days, all of these people here will walk away with a game they made themselves and they can put it on a college app, their portfolio, or just share it with their friends,” he said.
Games can be created by a team or an individual. A secret theme is announced at the start of the event. This weekend was “wonderful”. The participants then reflected as a collective.
“How about a Buffalo Wonder game. How long will winter last? said one participant.
A few other thoughts included navigating a world with no visuals and just sound, wandering through endless gates and inevitably several joke ideas followed. These included an idea for a Guitar Hero game with Oasis’ “Wonderwall” being the only song.
But with limited time, you couldn’t take too long playing music games and “Wonderwall”. The band got back on track in due course and continued to work out their concepts.
“It’s a one-player game where one player is Santa Claus, one player is a child, and the child is trying to catch Santa Claus, and Santa is trying to break into the house,” mused one developer.
“You mean delivering presents?” someone else asked.
“Nah. He breaks in,” he replied, as the room erupted in laughter.
“Hooking skills!” shouted a man in the back, which caused even more laughter.
Everyone in the room did not know each other. This type of interaction allowed participants to talk and share new concepts.
“Once people have thought about it a bit, they start to coalesce around different ideas. That’s when you see the teams start to form,” Futscher said.
David Rood has been having fun with coding and creating games since the early 1980s, but recently took online tutorials to improve his skills. Game jams helped him test new ideas.
“The first one, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had fun and learned some new techniques,” Rood said. “The last Game Jam I came to and I had a new programming tool. Rather than coding it, it was all visual coding. I learned it from scratch and did it in the game jam and my daughter and I made a game together. It came out pretty cool.
There were a few fathers with their daughters playing games at the event. For Rood, it has become an annual tradition.
“She thinks I’m crazy because I’m sitting in front of my computer and staring at the screen playing games and not really going anywhere. So now she’s taking a liking to it,” Rood said. time we came here, she made her own game from scratch. I had it on screen, I was quite proud of it. Last jam we had a match together and this time she and her boyfriend are going to have a match together.
Buffalo Game Space board vice chairman Chris Langford said often after more turnout the first night people start to give up, but most stayed until the end of that year.
“It sort of fades. It kind of depends on the people who are really into it,” Langford said.
Sunday evening, more than half a dozen games were presented. Langford said the marathon process is exhausting but satisfying. Most participants still had to work the next day.
“You got up late Friday night. You’re up Saturday night. You ran 110% the whole time just to try and get this thing to work and make it work. If you manage to do that, you’re going to be exhausted, but it’s a very rewarding feeling because you’ve actually realized what you thought was just an idea on Friday, it came to fruition by the end of the weekend. It’s something that you can not only see and play with, but you can actually share and show other people and have them play too,” Langford said.
Whether for fun or for a career, Langford said practice leads to growth.
“The skill set they have has increased tenfold just by attending and participating in these events,” he said. “The art is getting better. The technicality and know-how in terms of programming shine through and the mechanics (are) more and more complex, the game more and more involved. The quality of the music improves. Audio quality improves. The writing is improving. All those skills that are needed to make a game. You see people doing it over and over again, they’re getting better. It’s very exciting to see.
As Buffalo Game Space has grown over the past half-decade, game jams continue to connect people interested in creating games. Futscher hopes to continue seeing new faces.
“The only thing stopping us from growing further is that people don’t know we’re here. So we’re trying to get the word out to as many people as possible,” he said. “We are constantly finding new people interested in making games. There really are endless ways to get involved in creating games if you are interested in any of the related disciplines.
A global game jam will be held later in January next year. Buffalo Game Space is the representative for Western New York.
More information is available on the Buffalo Game Space website.