Game jams are a criminally overlooked aspect of game development. Some of my all time favorite games (e.g. Hollow Knight) started out as game jam projects. I had followed some popular YouTube channels that cover and host game jams, such as GMTK and Brackeys for a while, but I was always just late to the party and only became aware that a game jam was happening after it had ended. This trend shifted in August 2021, when I saw the announcement for Brakey’s game jam. I teamed up with my friends Koen Vogel and Rens van der Werff. Officially, the game jam lasted a whole week, but we were short on time so we challenged ourselves to create an entire game from scratch in just 3 short days.
The theme for this game jam was “Let there be chaos”. We embraced this theme by creating a game in which the player character is controlled not only by the player, but also by objects in the environment. The concept was as follows: You play as the hero in a generic, 2D pixel-art platformer, fighting skeletons and avoiding spike pits. However, when the player character gets hit and the game is over, the previously invisible gamer throws a rage fit and smashes his keyboard and screen. This causes elements of the game to leak out of the screen and into the real world. However, the player character is still bound to the controls of his keyboard, which is scattered all around. Hence, the name of our game: ‘Out Of Control’. We wanted to represent the raging gaming character as a stereotype neckbeard. His room is dirty, full of empty monster cans and other items typically associated with such stereotypes. These, together with the objects leaked from the game into the real world, form the level for the remainder of the game. Although the player still has some controls natively, these are overwritten by the keys on the ground. For example, if the player character walks into the space bar, they’ll automatically jump. We wanted these keys to be both a hazard and an utility, so certain, more complex actions such as shooting fireballs or dashing can only be triggered by the environmental keys.
A recording of a player finishing the entire game.
Given more time, we would have liked to go full meta with this concept. Ideas such as adding volume buttons, alt+tab mid game, or having to reassign button bindings to bypass certain puzzles seemed like a lot of fun, but didn’t get implemented due to the time restrictions. We did end the game by making the player run into the alt + F4 keys however. This was the first game jam experience for all 3 team members and we had a lot of fun and learned a lot. We managed to create a fully functional game with an unique concept in just 3 days. We made all the assets and code ourselves. The game was placed as #220 out of the 1700 entries.