Square Jam 2020: Behind-the-Scenes of a Virtual Game Jam

Every studio has its traditions. One of ours is the end-of-year game jam. Would working from home mean that we would break with tradition? Absolutely not! 

On December 21-22 during work hours, 54 participants broken up in 10 teams focused solely on building a game from scratch. This year’s theme: Contact (particularly appropriate in a year where we’ve had to rethink, reimagine, and reinvent how we build and develop relationships.) 

The game jam provides our team the opportunity to flex their creative muscles, use their skills in new ways, and work in small teams with colleagues from other departments. 

"Game Jam is often synonymous with stress, or even competition. With Square Jam, we want above all to invite everyone to take a break, to meet new colleagues and to try new things! Given the year we've just been through, it was even more important to stay focused on our values ​​and end the year having fun!

Every year, I am amazed by what the teams are able to do together. It's the culmination of so much enthusiasm, talent and effort. ”- Francis, senior gameplay programmer and Square Jam organizer.

Here are the hot takes and outtakes of the 2020 Square Jam.  

 

team Paruline

by Laetitia, Data Analyst

We developed a number of concepts around the theme of Contact:

  • The lack of contact in our current situation 
  • Eye contact 
  • Full-contact sport 
  • Contact lenses 
  • Keeping a 2-foot distance from each other 
  • Etc.

 

 

The Game

From there, we started developing game concepts:

  • A game in the grocery where you need to avoid people and keep 2-feet away from others  
  • A game where you go to a walk with your friend trying to keep 2-feet of distance, if you are too close you lose points but if you are too far away and you cannot listen to your friend, you lose too  
  • We also thought of a game where you wear contact lenses and put your finger in the eye.  

We settled on a concept where you create an avatar with funny features and then export your creation as a 1st picture contact. 

the biggest challenges

Our biggest challenge was learning to work cooperatively while not in the same room. 

the greatest achievements

We are the proudest of developing so many art assets in 2 days, creating new music, and building a simple game that works 

Participating in Square Jam is a great way to remind ourselves why we wanted to be in this industry in the first place. Also, we could never create weird games like these otherwise! 

 

team Bernache

by Andrew, Senior Game Designer

With this being my first Square Jam, I didn't really know what to expect, but after working with the team it was super enjoyable. I want to thank all of them for what they brought to the table. Everyone was a master of their craft and did their own thing 

the game

There were a few pitches along the way to come up with the final project, everything from a collection of Micro Games emphasizing Contact, which then turned into a game where you slingshot people through a chain of other people.  

We settled on a pinball-style game about a UFO contacting mankind through Crop Circles.  

the biggest challenges

Honestly, no challenges to speak of! Everyone worked really well together, and the team was real receptive to feedback. 

the greatest achievements

Personally, I am really proud of the design for the game and coming up with 54 pieces of lore. 

can't wait for the next game jam! 

team Épervier

by Pauline, Level Designer

the game 

In the context of 2020, we wanted to create a game filled with joy. Each member of the team worked to deliver that dose of joy through the content they produced. 

the biggest challenges

Not all of the team members were familiar with the game creation tools. Obviously, as always, working remotely makes communication a bit more difficult. 

the greatest achievements

I am particularly proud to have created in 2 days a funny game that out smiles on faces and of the capacity to improvise that the team showed until the end. 

The Square Jam is a very beautiful tradition that reflects our values ​​of collaboration and innovation. A  game jam is a great exercise in introspection and creation. 

 

Team Chouette

by Alexandre, Development Director

Each team member was able to tackle things that they wouldn't normally do during their day-to-day, which was a great challenge for most of us.

For instance, we had programmers creating artwork, managers doing programming, and testers doing modelling & texturing while others were creating and mixing sounds.

The Game

Our brainstorming lasted around 1 or 2 h. At first, we had so many different ideas that it quickly became a challenge to reach a consensus. Each team member had different ideas.

One member pitched the concept of a puzzle game using a phone. Another pitched a top-down game where your character needs to avoid any contact with others. We even pitched a satellite game where the player needs to aim at other satellites to ensure the communication isn't cut off.

Overall, the ideas were flowing and we wanted to ensure each idea was taken into consideration in the most respectful way. We finally came up with a mix of a puzzle game with some 3D shooting capabilities.

The idea is simple: you are a pigeon courier service. You need to decipher to whom the letters are meant for and aim your pigeon to the right destination. It requires the player to understand its mission, take actions and deliver as many letters as possible in 60 seconds.

The Biggest Challenges

There were a few challenges:

  • Agreeing on a game concept in a short amount of time.
  • Making a full game in 16 hours! That is a challenge by itself!
  • Of course, working from home!

The Greatest Achievements

  • We made a full game in 16 hours!
  • Creating pigeon sounds from scratch.

We proved that where there is a will, there is a way!

The teamwork and synergy make it a great overall experience. It's impressive how quickly a snowball can evolve into a snowman. And, seeing the result of each team is something fun as we are always curious of how other teams understood the game jam theme. 😉