Every year, communities gather in cities around the world to participate in a full weekend of video game creation. This was my first year participating in Global Game Jam. It was also my first time on a team that completed and published a video game within 48 hours. The experience felt like a positive form of anarchy where people self-organized into groups and collaborated on a creative and imaginative project.
I am very grateful to the hosts and volunteers at Pigsquad (Sandra, Will, Corey, Brendan, Ryan, Dylan, Marlow, WildParadox, et all) who help put on the event this year. Their leadership style was simple; people form into groups of their own volition and are more or less responsible for self-governance. Everybody stays fed (and caffeinated) and has plenty of space to work. The event was really chill, yet everyone stayed focused and productive. I loved it.
The Global Game Jam theme for this year was "Transmission". I started in a group of seven people that eventually split into two groups. I provided audio for both teams, but only wrote a theme song for one.
Our game idea started with a conversation about the meaning of transmission. We decided to build around a core mechanic of secret messages and symbolic languages.
We free associated for a while to come up with ideas. For example, carrier pigeons came up as creatures that transmit both messages and diseases. This led us to visualizing the exchange of messages in outdoor environments. From the obvious pun, trains - mission, we dreamed into an Old West environment with a moving train platform and a desert canyon backdrop.
The 'secret message' idea led us to discussing a murder mystery plot. NPC's speak in symbols that indicate the villain's position (left or right) and other bits of symbolic information. Your goal is to figure out which NPC is lying to you and press space bar to incriminate them. If you are correct, you win, otherwise you lose and start over.
Thanks again to eveyrone on the team -- Kavan, Ryan, Oliver and Wes, and Lia for the beautiful artwork and avatar immortalization. Ryan produced an HTML5 animation (with audio) and published it as a landing page for the game. I think it came out really well. You can view it at www.trainsmission.com.
This was my setup for the jam this year. I brought a Microkorg USB midi controller and worked in Logic Pro X, with a couple of VSTs that I use for orchestral instruments and chiptunes. At home I also used a USB mic to record maracas for the outdoor 'engine' sound effect.
The music is available both in game and on the website at www.trainsmission.com