Behind the Scenes of Square Jam 2021

No matter what life throws at us, our annual in-house Game Jam during work hours is a tradition we do not break!

For the second year in a row, we held our Square Jam virtually. Even without being under the same roof, our 10 teams had best time collaborating to create games in 2 days!

On December 14-15, 60 participants unleashed their creativity to build a game from scratch with colleagues from across projects.

This year’s theme: Retrospective (it’s our 10-year anniversary after all!)

Here are the hot takes and outtakes of the 2021 Square Jam. We’d happily try out any of these games! 

Team Fer

  • Kristal Lok - Marketing Coordinator
  • Kenny Ton - QA Coordinator
  • Olivier Caron - BI Programmer
  • Pierre-Luc Poirier - Lead Programmer
  • Thomas Peyre - Junior Data Analyst
  • Simon-Pierre Desjardins - Generalist Programmer

Game Title

Memory Rush

Concept

Our character Alex's house is on fire, and they must decide what 5 childhood items to keep. Each item represents a different emotion (Pride, Joy, Love, etc.) so your final choice of items reflects your current feelings about the past. We also have some fun audio easter eggs to explore!

What inspired you?

Significant pop culture items from the ‘80s and ‘90s that most people remember and are nostalgic about. Our audio and art style were heavily influenced by the 8-bit pixel style.

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

We had a lot of ideas at first, but we managed to create a cohesive game that we're all proud of. The biggest challenge was time!  We had a lot of different items that we wanted to showcase. The most difficult part was writing descriptions for the items and creating the pixel art for each one.

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

Meeting people from different projects and getting 2 days to get to know each other and have fun!

 

Team Cuivre

  • Laetitia De Sousa - Senior Data Analyst
  • Marc-Antoine Despatis - Generalist Programmer
  • Prithvi Kumar - Dev-QA Tester
  • Rodrigo Moutinho - Support Programmer
  • Steve Addison - Senior Gameplay Programmer
  • Thomas Gaetan - Senior Economic Game Designer

Game Title

VestigesGO

Concept

In a world of uncertainty, you need to remember where you come from so you can learn from your mistakes.  You are your own conqueror….VESTIGES. VestigesGo is a game based on Lara Croft's character in a pixelized version.

The concept is based on reliving your own life so you can learn from your errors. To do so, you can use your own death blocks to get higher and reach the other levels.

What inspired you?

The retrospective theme. The fact of reliving life to learn from your errors and reaching higher levels in the game.

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

In a game jam, the biggest challenge is always dreaming up a great idea but creating a concise scope. So, time management is crucial! We need to sync every two hours to ensure we focus on the right thing. Otherwise, we can end up with a non-playable game at the end of the second day.

We manage to make everyone contribute regardless of their skill level to create a game. In the end, we even had a cinematic teaser to present the game!

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

Doing and learning something different, meeting new people. It's incredible how you can learn in a short amount of time. Everyone needs to be really resourceful and open-minded to manage all the challenges.

But the best part is getting to know all the talented people that work at the studio, not just those in your team. It's awesome!

 

Team Étain

  • Arina Ianioglo - Dev-QA
  • David Fournier - QA Manager
  • Charles Dumortier Saint-Laurent - User Research Analyst
  • Quentin Le Polotec - Lead Programmer
  • Jesse Tremblay - Generalist Programmer
  • Francois Hosy - Lead Artist Marketing

Game Title

Alice

Concept

During her adventure, when Alice makes a mistake, she revisits what made her fail and starts over by improving her situation.

What inspired you?

Alice in Wonderland. Minimal pixel art games.

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

Biggest challenge: creating a sandbox environment for non-artists to create art.  The greatest accomplishment: getting non-artists to make art so they can participate in the game jam as much as possible.

 

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

Meeting new people from the company and working on another project where we can have fun. Show that making a small game is possible.

 

Team Nickel

  • Maximilien Bianchi – QA Developer
  • Thibaut Giordano - Senior Generalist Programmer
  • Heindrick Nelson – Dev-QA Tester
  • Jose Pizarro -Tech Artist
  • Vincent Roumier - Gameplay Programmer
  • Riley Wignall - Writer

Game Title

Retroscope

Concept

A game about nostalgia and technology. In Retroscope, the player is a cyborg locked in a mysterious room, who must search for clues to escape. To solve the puzzle, they can search the present AND the past by looking back in time with a retroscope.

What inspired you?

Working with the theme of "retrospective" our ideas went in all directions!

We discussed ideas about time travel and creating a game that changes art styles as you jump through eras. We played with the idea of a game where you check out the origin of objects (ice that was once water, for example). We talked about making a game where you're in therapy, or a game reflecting on your past in a childhood bedroom, and feelings of nostalgia.

Ultimately, that was the direction we ended up heading—a game where you have to use your time travel technology to look for clues to escape your room and or figure yourself out.

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge was narrowing down our big ideas into a pitch that was doable in the 2-day timeframe and played to our strengths, but still let us experiment and learn!

Everyone came to the (Zoom) table with different interpretations of the retrospective theme, game references, and stunning concepts. We wanted to try every single one, so shrinking it down was tough.

We're most proud of just how cool the execution of our concept was when we finally got to see the game in action. The whole team worked hard to make it come together in time, and we pulled it off! We’re also very proud of the way we challenged ourselves.

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

The importance of collaboration in a digital work is crucial!

Square Jam let us all meet and work with new people who we might not have much interaction with otherwise—maybe because they’re in another department, or from another team. It was great to meet each other and collaborate!

Even though we were busy, we made each other laugh. It was exciting to brainstorm and watch the pieces come together.

 

Team Mercure

  • Laura Bernhardt - Senior Production Coordinator
  • Alvaro Luna - Dev-QA Tester
  • Alekson Fortes - QA Engineer
  • Alex Van de Wiele - Tools Programming Intern
  • Daniel Côté - Animator
  • Guillaume Danel - Senior Gameplay Programmer
  • Sandrine Déry - QA Coordinator

Game Title

Square Enix : Fragmented Memories

Concept

Our game is an escape room where you have to solve a puzzle for each game released by Square Enix Montréal to unlock the door to 2022. When you find the puzzles, find their release date to try to find the right angle to reveal the game trailer and unlock the puzzle!

What inspired you?

The theme being "Retrospective", we were inspired by two different versions of what it meant for us:

  • The retrospective on the work we've done, and with the Studio celebrating its 10-year anniversary, we thought about showing the games we have released.
  • The fact that sometimes you need to take a step back to see something in a different angle to get it right. That's where the idea of the broken puzzles came from. Even if you get the correct date, you still need to find the right angle for the puzzle to release itself.

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenges were finding assets that could help with what we couldn't do/didn't have time to do. For example, we had a really cool 3D scene but all empty of textures and colors so we had to look for textures, materials, etc. that could fit and that we could use to give a better look.

Also, the technical challenge was to match the camera with the puzzle so that when you interact with a puzzle it's always locked at the center and in front. We spent some time testing how we could rotate the puzzle as well for it to be not so easy but solvable !

We were really proud that we made it on time as a team and that delivered a finished (but buggy for sure!) game.

We were also proud of the visual result. Our team worked great together, and we managed to scope what we could do in the time we had quite well. We were able to let go of great ideas that would have taken too much time to implement.

The puzzles being the video trailers instead of screenshots of the games was a last-minute afterthought that really gave the nicest touch!

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

The best part was having fun and having the chance to do something that you wouldn't do in your day-to-day. But also, meeting and having the chance to work with our wonderful colleagues, no matter the project or job title.

 

Team Mythril

  • Alexandra Nemery - Lead UI/UX Designer
  • Alexandre Richer - Development Director
  • Jonathan Marier - Senior UI Artist
  • Justin Moyses - Dev-QA Tester
  • Renaud Bédard - Principal Programmer
  • Stéphane Goulet - Senior Financial Analyst

Game Title 

Dynospective

Concept

Dinospective is a never-seen-before game where you'll time travel back to the prehistoric ages to save the dinosaurs from extinction.

You’ll play a T-Rex, whose goal is to save the dinosaurs from Baby Golem who wants to destroy all dinosaur life on Earth. Will you be able to save them from their destiny?

What inspired you?

Retrospective inspired many concepts, including time traveil, going backwards (such as going backward in life or in a process), or even the movie Benjamin Button (where the main character is born old and get younger as he ages).

Each team member pitched ideas based on these concepts and we eventually unified all of those ideas into one main story and game mechanic.

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge is building a complete game from A to Z in less than 10 hours. Truth be told, it's tough to create a great experience in such a tight timeline and still deliver a nice fun factor, interesting content, and a compelling game mechanic. We are most proud of
having created a small yet full game mechanic that is fun to play and has a passing resemblance to the Mario Bros. type of game of our youth.

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

  • Getting to know new people at the studio and collaborating with them to create something unique.
  • Having two paid workdays dedicated to creating a new game
  • Working on a creative process with people we barely know to create something from scratch, which often results in interesting concepts.
  • Taking on a role in which we do not have expertise (ex: a QA tester doing the gameplay programming, a manager doing visual animations, asset integration and UI, a UX designer creating lore and stories, etc.)

 

Team Cobalt

  • Christophe Carreau-Lacasse - Generalist Programmer
  • David Mediati – Intermediate Programmer
  • Francis Pétrin – Senior Gameplay Programmer
  • Nell Richard - Dev-QA Tester
  • Patrick Naud – Head of Studio

 

Game Title 

Acétate

Concept

You are in a classroom, and you have a presentation to do make on overhead projectors, but you haven’t prepared anything. Don't panic, your friend has some clues and will dictate what you should draw.

You must draw 5 elements on the overhead projector in a short period of time and then assemble them to build the final image that you will be asked to draw. Once the work is finished you will realize that in retrospect you would have drawn differently.

What inspired you?

The retrospective theme took us back to the past with the overhead projectors used in high schools and CEGEPs. The game WarioWare was also an inspiration.

 

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

The time constraint was one of the biggest challenges, but our game is really fun!

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

The opportunity to collaborate with colleagues who usually work in other teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Adamantium

  • Bronwen Alexina Deurbrouck-David - Junior Technical Artist
  • Baptiste Rey -Junior Gameplay Programmer
  • François Cardin - Senior VFX Artist
  • Kim Derome -  Senior Composer, Sound Designer
  • Maxime Larichelière -  Generalist Programmer
  • Philippe Chambon - Principal UX Designer
  • Simon Marchand - Programmeur jouabilité / Gameplay Programmer

Game Title 

Good Boi Story

Concept

Discover the touching story of our Good Boi by reconstructing his life through 3D models. Look at them carefully and guess the chronology of events to discover the secrets of his adventures.

What inspired you?

The narrative and nostalgic concept. We wanted to use the theme "Retrospective" in a touching way and in the form of a story.

What are you most proud of and what were your biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge was to create a game based on narrative in a very short time and achieving coherence, intuition, and emotion all at once.

We are extremely proud to have taken up the challenge of being able to convey emotions through a simple narrative puzzle game developed in about 15 hours. The music and graphic aesthetics added the necessary sensitivity to our gameplay.

What’s the best part of participating in Square Jam?

Meeting new people, sharing ideas, brainstorming, discovering our final product and those of other teams.

Create Games with us!

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