TOJam will always be a special time of year for me, right up there with Christmas. It’s an amazing experience to sit down in a building filled to the brim with people who share your passion and are driving towards a common goal.This year my team was Invisible Ninja Squid, and in reality we were really two teams under the same banner. Myself and Alex Bethke developed a Flash pinball/shooter called Flip The Beach, and Gillian Laidlaw developed a Nintendo DS game called Steamponk. We shared an art team consisting of 3 artist; Miguel Sternberg, Parrish Ziganian and Andrew Brykczynski. It was a tremedous undertaking, but both games were looking great by Sunday.

It seems like the success rate gets higher every year. TOJam teaches you how to limit the scope of your ideas, and how to efficiently manage time and prioritize tasks. With so little room for misunderstandings, it also really helps iron out communication skills. I think this event is an excellent resource for any game developer, aspiring or career. It takes many of the major challenges of game development, and wrings you through them in a short time. It’s much easier to glean useful lessons from this process than it is to try to look back over 6 months or more of game development and figure out what went wrong.

I’d say a major factor in our success this year was targetting a playable game by end of Saturday instead of at the end of the whole event. Gearing ourselves towards that goal made sleeping schedules less of a debate, because after completing the meat of the game Saturday, heading home was an easy choice. Making sure the game was actually fun was a lot easier, given that we had a playable game and the time to tweak and even implement a few small features on top of. Even so, there was still a mad dash in the last 5 minutes to integrate updated content and sound effects. I’m hoping to schedule the audio, especially, a bit better for TOJam 5.

The games are not posted yet. I’ll make posts as my favourites become available. Three words: Wii. Drinking. Game.

Miguel made a video covering the event from start to finish and uploaded it to YouTube. It’s great. Watch it.