Game Jam Skills

Test Your Skills in Game Jams

One of the best ways to test your creativity and programming skills is to join a game jam. A game jam is a hackathon for video games.

Ludum Dare is the longest running and largest online game jam in the world. It is held on a weekend three times a year (April, August, December). Participants make a game that is based around a certain theme. There are two versions of competitions you can choose to join.

The first is called “Jam”. In Jam, participants must finish their game within 72 hours of development time. They can do it solo or they can be in teams. Resources from the Internet, such as art and sound, can be used as long as they have the rights to use it.

The other is called “Compo”. This one is harder because you only have 48 hours to finish your game and you must do it solo. In addition to that, you cannot use resources from the Internet. That is, you must do everything from scratch. After the competition, participants play and rate other people’s games to later determine the winner.

There are no prizes for the winners, only bragging rights. Some games are so good that it reached the Steam platform when the creators continued the development after the event.

I participated in Jams four times but only two of them made it to submission. If you are planning to join one, here are some tips to be able to finish.

Plan your game.

When the theme is announced, you should list down your ideas. Think about what could be the core gameplay on those ideas and choose which one best suits your skill level. Don’t choose the one that’s very far from your skill level as you’ll likely not finish on time. Scoping your game is a must especially for game jams. Scoping is limiting the features your game will have. It’s easier to complete and polish a game with smaller scope. It also helps to draw the flow of your game including the screens from start to end.

Prototype your game.

Start on prototyping your game. Code the game without the art; just use simple shapes as placeholders for art. Try to play it multiple times to see if it’s fun. If you think it’s not fun then you can tinker with your original game idea. Prototyping helps to see early on if a game mechanic works or not or if it’s fun or not.

Have time to sleep.

You only have 2-3 days to finish your game but it is also important to have some sleep. You don’t really need to get 8 hours of sleep, a few hours of sleep just to recharge yourself will do. Having no sleep obviously hinders your productivity. I’m impressed with participants of Compo who only have less than 48 hours (since they also need to sleep) and still manage to finish everything. Really shows that they know their craft.


Have proper meals. Have some snacks beside you. You don’t wanna deprive yourself of food during the jam. Drink some caffeinated beverages if you want as you’ll be staying longer than usual.

Lastly, have fun!

Have fun making your game while knowing at the end that you’ll have finished something to show to other people. If you don’t finish by the deadline, that’s okay! At least you have done something and you definitely have learned some things throughout the jam. You can try again on the next Ludum Dare and apply the things you have learned. Don’t worry about not finishing because you’re not alone.

Here is my entry for Ludum Dare 38 which was held on April 2017:

The next jam, Ludum Dare 44, will be on April 27-30, 2019. I might participate in this one. Come and join me!

Marvin Bables
Java Developer 1

On A Side Note:

Monstar Lab Philippines recently sponsored CIIT College of Arts and Technology as they joined Global Game Jam 2019 this past January 25-27, 2019. This event saw the participation of thousands of developers, students and even professionals from around the world to deliver the next big game within 48 Hours. Read about it here.

Read Next: Monstar Lab PH Joins Japan’s SODEC Expo

Here at Monstar Lab Philippines, we encourage our engineers, developers, and practically every team member to share technicals skills, hacks, and knowledge to the entire family. We conduct regular Tech Talk Tuesdays (or Thursdays) more popularly known as T3 Sessions. This helps us keep our minds sharp and always up to date with the latest in software development, mobile development and emerging technology.

Monstar Lab Philippines can help you develop your own game or whatever digital solution your business needs. Feel free to send us a message anytime and we’ll help you out.

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