Double Fine ensures their team’s ideas get a chance to float
Game jams have been around for years. We have jamming to thank for some incredible games. Minecraft, Goat Simulator, Superhot, Celeste, and Baba Is You were all forged in the fires of Ludum Dare, Nordic Game Jam, and others. But it's rare to find a major studio willing to halt production for ten days to go chasing waterfalls. So why do it? Because the experience leaves everyone inspired, refreshed, and ready to get back to their regularly scheduled program. "A lot of times you've been working on something for a few years and that may feel stale. It's great to break away from that," says Double Fine Art Director Lisette Titre-Montgomery.
The team at Double Fine and founder Tim Schafer have an innovative approach to nourishing creativity within their ranks: their sort-of-annual game jam, Amnesia Fortnight. Titre-Montgomery describes it as "this wacky experiment that Double Fine does every few years … it's a way for people to have a creative outlet."
When Amnesia Fortnight strikes, the entire company is invited to contribute their ideas. Accountants pitch roguelikes. Engineers champion visual novels. Project managers hard-sell their Demonic birthday party planning simulator. The best ideas float to the top and the company breaks into teams. Then they go and make it happen.
"We really care about creativity and coming up with stuff that hasn't been seen before." - Tim Schafer, founder, Double Fine Productions
Amnesia Fortnight is a learn-by-doing experience in collaborative creativity and rapid prototyping. There's no time to noodle on an idea. You're already in the air—and now you have to build the plane. The teams work to a pencils-down deadline. When the dust finally settles on final builds, everyone gets to play.
Why sink two weeks of dev time into side projects?
Walk into any game studio and lob an anthropomorphized tentacle in any direction—it's bound to bonk someone with a head full of good ideas. The industry is chock full of creative people. Game jams like Amnesia Fortnight are a way to get their ideas out in the open.
Studio employees are eager to break out of their roles and try new disciplines. During Amnesia Fortnight, programmers try their hand at level design. Writers trade syntax for syntax errors. Geoff Soulis, Lead Artist, calls it "scary but fun … and it helps you understand other people at the studio at a deeper level than you would normally."
Want to run your own game jam?
Making a game in two weeks is as inspiring as it is reckless. It takes flexibility, dedication, and trust in the process—and in your teammates. It also takes the right tools for creative collaboration to help you streamline your workflow. Visual Studio Live Share makes it easy to co-edit and co-debug code with your peers while Github code repositories and pull requests help you execute your vision faster. While they won't do the work, they can certainly help simplify the absurd task of building a game in less time than it takes a banana to rot. Jam on!
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