Entries in Game Jams (4)
During the last weekend of January, the 6th annual Global Game Jam was held at hundreds of sites in 63 countries. It is the single largest annual game design event in the world, and it is challenge I eagerly await each year. I won't go into the history of the Global Game Jam, but the basic function of this event is to work either alone or in teams to create a game within 48 hours based around a universal theme. The games can come in any form, and all finished products are uploaded to the Global Game Jam website on the final day of the event to share with the world for free. Once the 48 hour deadline has been reached every group at a given site can present their work to the rest of the site participants, showcasing their work and discussing their technical and artistic intentions. The theme of the Global Game Jam changes each year, it can take various forms such as images, sounds, or phrases, and every developer must strive to build their game around this theme. Developers are free to interpret the theme in a literal or abstract way, and it is fascinating to see how game developers around the world interpret a single theme in radically different ways. This year, the theme was the following phrase: "We see things not as they are, but as we are."
First off, my sincere apologies for a long absence from the blog. I know it's been difficult for you, but I promise you that my laurels were not overly rested upon during my silence. I had hoped to get some kind of retrospective post out before the end of 2012 but with the holidays that got pushed way to the bottom of my list. Soon I will be branching out into reviews of games and/or soundtracks I've really enjoyed over the past months. But first, I want to kick off the new year at WhileTrueFork with a look ahead to the upcoming Global Game Jam 2013.
Leading up to the Global Game Jam I will be releasing at least two short articles on composing music in the context of a game jam. The topics and suggestions can apply to any short term game dev project and I hope to appeal to experts and novices alike. While I may include some other general points about game audio, I want to keep the focus specifically on music. Composing music for games presents a dual challenge in that it requires not only technical knowledge of sound editing in various programs, but also at least a basic understanding of music theory and principles. In today's post, I will begin with some general tips for structuring your track. If you attended the Cleveland Game Developer's Meetup on Saturday the 12th, these posts will connect to many of the points in my presentation.
This week's post will discuss the creative process for the second game soundtrack I created as a participant in the 2012 Global Game Jam through the Cleveland Game Developers organization. This project was a complete departure from my work on "A Short Tail" and was, in many ways, the most challenging of the four works I completed for the Jam. In this post-mortem I will describe the basic concept of the game, my experience as a collaborator with the development team, and the technical and artistic challenges of creating this soundtrack.
The Global Game Jam theme for 2012 was this image of the ouroborus:
Since I was helping to coordinate the Cleveland site for the Jam, I didn't want to saddle another group with a member who was potentially unavailable while they were doing administrative tasks during the weekend. As a result I ran with a team of one.
The theme image immediately conjured in my mind the idea of autophagy- a sort of ceremonial consuming of the self. During the Cleveland site's cross-group brainstorming we also saw a lot of motifs related to bleakness, futile repetition, Sisyphean tasks, and so on. I had also tinkered with some procedurally generated looping track structures in 2011 and wanted to revisit and formalize them.