How I developed a video game in 2 days: lessons on scoping, design, and Unreal Engine from TOJam 2020

Preview of the video game gamplay mechanics

In the game development community, game jams (i.e. game dev hackathons) are often events where people get together to experiment and have fun. I’ve attended (and judged) several hackathons themed around data science, but had only attended one game jam before. But because of my involvement in the game dev community, TOJam, a Toronto based game jam, always sent my game dev Twitter feed into a frenzy. Year after year, seeing all the fun and amazing creations made over just one weekend, I decided it was time for me to take part in it.

I initially learned about TOJam because Tabby, one of the organizers, is also a game developer and we had “boothed” together on multiple occassions, including Bit Bazaar and Damage Camp. Boothing often refers to showcasing at a live event or show floor, where event attendees can come to each game’s booth and try out the games and meet the developers. This made me even more excited to join TOJam, because of the familiarity.

Since TOJam starts on a Friday, I actually had to take a day off in advance from my day job as a data scientist to participate. I had an idea for a game already, but beyond some text messages to friends bouncing the idea, I had yet to create anything - no writing, no art assets, no code. Armed with only this idea, I knew that I would have to put all I learned from developing my previous game into practice, in order to make it into a working prototype in the span of a weekend.

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