Post-GGJ 2019

It’s been a week since HOFT Institute was host to the second Global Game Jam in Austin, which included much of Central Texas. The closest other jam location was San Antonio, which if you know Texas, is more than two hours away on a clear highway.

When I made the tweet about my state of mind on the Monday after GGJ, I didn’t expect the official Global Game Jam account to respond in kind. I also didn’t know it would take the rest of the week to get into a mental state to report on it.

This was the largest Global Game Jam in Texas, for the second year running. Last year there were 121 jammers who signed up on site, with 17 projects completed and judged on site. This year there were fewer signups, 105 on site, and 18 projects that were finished and judged. Of course, if you look at the official showcase page, you’ll count 135 registered jammers and 22 finished projects. That’s because more than 30 jammers worked from offsite, including an entire team that came from St. Edward’s University to be judged at HOFT offices on Sunday.

So, fewer people were on site, and one more finished project came out of our jam location. There were also markedly more large teams, of 6 to 8 jammers, than there had been last year. However, last year many of the very small teams of 3 or fewer, ended the weekend without having turned in a jam on time.

There were things done different than last year. In no small part, we cooperated directly with our neighbor to the east, the University of Texas at Austin. More than half of the jammers present were UT students, and many of that number members of EGaDS!, UT-Austin’s game-dev student club, though I don’t have enough knowledge to compare that to last year’s jam. We also had our opening and closing ceremonies at the Flawn Academic Center’s basement lecture hall, FAC 21.

Our sponsors, mostly local game developers and one publisher, were also solicited differently. Instead of having one big benefactor, we asked for the same $100 amount from everyone. We also didn’t charge jammers any fees this time — last year, there was a voluntary “VIP” package that included first crack at meals. This time, we had three meals on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday, with snacks and drinks throughout, given gratis to all jammers.

There was also less space available at HOFT offices than there were last year. Two of the efficiency apartments above the parking lot that had been set up as classrooms last year were occupied, as all such apartments have since been furnished as temporary living spaces. We’d also made an effort to improve wireless Internet access throughout the building with the use of mounted extenders, but many jammers understandably had trouble using it consistently — more than 100 people were trying to use it at once!

Thanks sincerely to everyone who made this happen, in particular our on-site jam masters Tyler Coleman and MJ Johns, working in cooperation with on-site HOFT staff Justen Andrews, Amrin Malik and myself.

The following photos galleries feature shots Justen took on Day One and Day Two+Three.

The following are the award winning jams, as decided by on-site judges. As was said at closing ceremonies, every team that finished a project on time is a winner. Some of the early awards were made for special recognition and won’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t played the game. The HOFT Institute Rookie award was only granted to teams that had a minimal number of jammers with professional experience, or had taken part in jams before.

This year’s special theme was, “What Home Means To Me”.

John Henderson