A year has passed since I attended my first Nordic Game Jam back in 2012, and suddenly, this year’s edition of the Nordic Game Jam has also come and gone. This year, the Nordic Game Jam was the biggest game jam in the world with over 470 participants. It also moved location to the Aalborg University’s Copenhagen campus. I took part as a volunteer as well as participating in the actual making of games.
Friday 18th started off with several different talks, which were separated into tech talks and indie talks. I decided not to jump between auditoriums, since I was more interested in the indie talks. I got to listen to Sybo Games speak about their journey from indie to iOS hit with their game Subway Surfers, Nifflas‘ very personal talk about his world view and how it related to Knytt Underground’s design, and BetaDwarf’s story from a small indie company to possibly one of Denmark’s heavyweights game companies. Lau Korsgaard also spoke about folk games that inspired him when making Spin the Bottle for WiiU. After that, several people that were present took the opportunity to present some games that they were working on. Personal favourites included Mimics by Thomas Ryder, Rymdkapsel by Martin Jonasson, UFHO2 by Tiny Colossus, Environmental Station Alpha by Arvi Teikari and a point and click adventure called Shadow of Kharon amongst others. I also attended a talk about designing board games by Martin Neergaard Andersen which I found interesting.
After Vlambeer (Super Crate Box) and Dennaton (Hotline Miami) gave their keynote speech (where they told people to follow the 4:44 rule, 4 hours for making a game, and 44 hours for tweaking/polishing/playtesting/iterating/having beers/annoying people), we received the theme for this year’s game jam, which was grotesque. People then started going around and trying to form teams; either by looking for specific skill sets or by convincing people that their idea was awesome. Meanwhile, I headed to the board game room, since I wanted to make a board game again with my old team Sugarush.
By the end of Friday, we had come up with a couple of interesting ideas that we wanted to further develop. By Saturday morning, more concepts were presented and we settled on one game idea that we wanted to work on, which eventually turned into our final game Beast Builder. Anchel interviewed us in one of the Nordic Game Jam’s video blogs below!
Beast Builder is a family friend game where players play as Dr. Frankenstein’s would-be assistants in order to help the doctor build his latest creations. Torso parts are placed in the center of the table and form the basis of the creatures to be created, and players must find body parts that allow them to maximize their chances of claiming a point from the finished creature. Of course, some cards allow players to interfere with opponents!
The judges this year were Ole Steiness and Martin Neergaard Andersen, with additional input from Thomas Vigild and Kim Dorff. Beast Builder managed to score Best Sellable Board Game, and we even managed to play our game with a couple of young kids who liked our game! Other games that won awards were Made in China, which won Most Fun Game and Burlesque Grotesque which won Most Polished Game. There were some awesome board games being made this year, and I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to play all of them.
The winning board games were also nominated as finalists in the final round of judging. The top 11 games, in order of the amount of votes acquired, were:
- Spaceship with a Mace
- Press [X] To Give Up
- Dragon Pussy
- 3:15 AM
- Shrouded Light
- Made in China
- Beast Builder
- Burlesque Grotesque
Out of the finalist games, here are my personal favourites:
Spaceship with a Mace, by Nifflas, won the Audience Award with his ambient multiplayer game. Players use Xbox controllers to maneuver their spaceship around in space, which also has a mace attached to it. Players must swing the mace at other spaceships in order to destroy them, but must avoid getting hit by other spaceships!
Stikbold, by Lars Bindslev, Jacob Herold, Martin Petersen, Anders Østergaard and Simon Vestergaard, won Most Fun game with their multiplayer mayhem game which takes a surprising twist as the game progresses!
My personal favourite was Press [X] to Give Up, a game by Anders Børup, Bram Michielsen, Henrike Lode, Jonas Maaløe, Jonatan Van Hove and Mads Johansen. It’s experimental game where players play the role of a bullfighter that must stick spears into a bull. Each successful hit makes the bull grow larger and more menacing, while each hit that the bull lands on the player starts glitching the screen wildly, making impossible to see. Both the lose screen and the win screen contain haunting messages that hint at a larger message that underlies the game.
Overall, I’ve experienced another great game jam with friends, and had the pleasure of meeting new people and trying out other people’s games in a crazy and fun environment. If you want to try out some of the other games that appeared during NGJ13, feel free to check out the massive list over at Unicorn7. I look forward to attending Nordic Game Jam 2014 🙂