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Cheese Talks: AdventureJam 2015 Retrospective

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Hi people!

Yesterday, in anticipation of AdventureJam 2016, I published a nice, long article looking at AdventureJam, its origins, its games and its outcomes. For you lovely GOL readers, I've prepared a summary of the bits that are relevant to Linux users - anybody is welcome to dig through the full 8,300 word article though, which includes interviews with judges Jordi de Paco (Gods Will Be Watching) and Jake Elliott (Kentucky Route Zero) as well as organisers Stacy Davidson (Jack Houston and the Necronauts) and Cassie Benter (AdventureJam organiser and future developer)!


Adventure Games and AdventureJam
With its roots in the 70s, the broader adventure game genre has been present thoughout computer gaming's history, embracing and exploring new technologies right up to the present. From text and hypertext adventures through to point and click adventures, story centric puzzle games and visual novels through to interactive movies and action adventures, the forms which adventure games have evolved into and legacy they have bestowed upon the industry are rich and powerful.

For AdventureJam, organisers Cassie Benter and Stacy Davidson settled on "a game that embodies the spirit of adventure" as a brief for the jam, avoiding restricting participants' creative freedom and celebrating the diversity which can be found within the adventure game genre and the genres it has influenced.

Less able to lean on asset re-use or repetitive gameplay, a typical adventure game represents a significant amount of work to perform within a fortnight. Some participants cleverly reduced this through brevity, minimalism or generated content, while others took the challenge head on and pushed to create works of impressive scale.


Cross-Platform Games
AdventureJam attracted somewhere in excess of one hundred developers, who together submitted a total of 86 projects. Of these, 15 were disqualified from voting due to not having playable builds, leaving a total of 71 eligible games. At the time of writing, three more games have gained playable builds, bringing AdventureJam 2015's total playable games up to 74.

With 50% of submitted titles being playable on Linux, AdventureJam had one of the strongest levels of Linux support I've seen in a game jam. Even though web based tech (which doesn't indicate whether the developer cares specifically about Linux) makes up a significant portion, this is still really positive.

image

Unity was (unsurprisingly) responsible for the largest number of cross-platform games, but there as still a good amount of diversity in engines/tech used. Of the tools represented in the chart below, only Construct 2, Flash (yes, yes, I know), GameMaker: Studio and Visionaire will not run on (but can still deploy to) Linux.

image

It's also great to make note that the majority of tools (that's Twine, gist-txt, GWT, emscripten, libGDX, Phaser, SLUDGE, Quest and Java) are all Free/Open Source Software - Linux is totally a viable game development platform right now!


At the time of writing, 40 of the AdventureJam 2015 submissions are currently playable on all three major desktop operating systems. The full article contains a complete list along with notes on their current status, the technologies used and some brief notes on each from the time I've spent playing them.

In the meantime though, here's a short list of titles that stood out to me as being particularly polished or interesting:

  • Aurion and the Aurochs (a nicely constructed hypertext adventure with an air of abstract mythos )
  • Being Her Darkest Friend (a dark traditional style point and click adventure)
  • Bellular Hexatosis (an experimental and abstract feeling first person adventure)
  • Grimstorm (a fantasy medtroidvania action adventure)
  • LAST CASE – THE DISAPPEARANCE OF AMANDA KANE (a minimalist point and click adventure with voxel graphics and noir style storytelling)
  • Once Upon A Timeline (a time travel based point and click from two Team17 developers)
  • Pain in Hell's Creek (a horror point and click adventure where you play the villain)
  • The Tower (a point and click adventure based on the Tower of Babel mythology where the puzzles revolve around overcoming language boundaries)
  • Theropods (a traditional style point and click adventure with great animation)
  • Turing Adventure (an experimental text adventure that revolves around interaction with chatbots)
  • Walkman (a minimal point and click adventure with great animation and interesting puzzles)



Continued Development
Though game jams are often viewed as a consequence-free space to experiment and explore concepts without having them spill over into 'real life', it's not uncommon for the ideas forged within these crucibles to grow into larger scale projects. Of AdventureJam's 86 submissons, 17 show post-jam indications of intent for further development.

The full article contains a complete list.

Whether these projects will achieve their goals is unknown, as is how many other titles may show signs of activity in the future. Regardless, the presence of enthusiasm for continued development speaks to the empowerment that developers have received from participating.


Closing Thoughts
The true legacy of AdventureJam is in the developers of these games proving to themselves that they can create something interesting and drive themselves to pursue game development opportunities. Whether those people are experienced developers or newcomers, the motivation and inspiration that can be gained from completing small-scope projects breathes fresh air and new life into our personal lives and the industry as a whole - something that studios like Bethesda, Ubisoft Montréal, Double Fine, Media Molecule, Harmonix and many others who run internal game jams have come to recognise.

Game jams have also helped incubate new developers and teams like Vlambeer (LUFTRAUSERS, Nuclear Throne), the SUPERHOT team (SUPERHOT), Space Budgie (Glitchspace), Manekoware (Catlateral Damage) or South East Games (Probably Archery, Paint The Town Red), providing some amount of structure, direction and exposure where those might otherwise have been more scarce.

Will the first AdventureJam's participants go on to create great and culturally recognised works? I don't know, but I would be immensely surprised if any one of them could truthfully say that they did not find any sense of enrichment from taking part.

For myself, I'm very glad to have participated, to have had an opportunity to shape and grow my own skills (beyond Above The Waves, my participation also spawned a second game and an article on the SLUDGE engine). I have found it rewarding and insightful to play through and experience so many interpretations and expressions of what an adventure game can be. I am very much looking forward to discovering what myself and the other future participants create for AdventureJam 2016.

Also, if anybody is considering participating in AdventureJam this year, shoot me a message - I'd love to hear about it!
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The comments on this article are closed.
Hendrin 3 April 2016 at 5:59 am UTC
Good information. Definitely want to participate if I can.
Cheeseness 3 April 2016 at 6:57 am UTC
HendrinGood information. Definitely want to participate if I can.

Fantastic!

If it's helpful at all, I've put together a few notes on getting the best experience out of a jam, which includes stuff like "puzzle dependency charts" as well as more general advice on planning and priorities.
c0degunner 3 April 2016 at 10:27 am UTC
I always enjoy seeing how these Jams turn out, there are always a few gems in them!

Nice post, interesting to see the pie charts and just how much Unity is responsible for introducing new games to Linux
dubigrasu 12 April 2016 at 6:06 am UTC
Thank you for this, you always have these well written/documented professional looking articles that for some reason don't get the deserved attention.
I just want you to know that some of us really appreciate your work, cheesetalks/podcast and all.


Last edited by dubigrasu at 12 April 2016 at 6:06 am UTC
Cheeseness 12 April 2016 at 11:16 am UTC
dubigrasuThank you for this, you always have these well written/documented professional looking articles that for some reason don't get the deserved attention.
I just want you to know that some of us really appreciate your work, cheesetalks/podcast and all.

Thanks for your kind words. It makes me happy to know that people get something out of the work I do
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