SympJam15 Post-mortem

In this post I will talk about how a few friends of mine and I spontaneously organised a 24-hour gamejam and my experience during the jam. I will also showcase almost all four games completely.


First, lets talk about the gamejam itself. It all started when we noticed a free day on our study's schedule. Every year our study association organises a symposium. The study coordinators give the students a whole day off to participate in the symposium. However, you are not obliged to go there. We went last year and it was a lot of fun and very informative, but this year the subject didn't really interest us. Then at some point someone suggested (I don't precisely recall who it was, either Rey or Walnoot. Correct me if I'm wrong) that we should do a jam that way. We laughed, agreed, but didn't quite nail down the idea. It took a few days for the idea to settle in our heads. The date of the symposium approached steadily, and the idea grew more and more concrete.

A few hours before the day of the symposium we finally got serious. We all agreed on participating and started jamming some time after midnight. The jam was to be a 24 hour gamejam, in which we all choose a theme ourselves. Every participant can then cherrypick whatever he likes from the themeset for his game. The jam would be mostly similar to Ludum Dare (own assets, codebase allowed, etc.) only not really enforced.

For me personally the jam was a very interesting experience. I had a very loose schedule for the jam: first "brainstorm" for about an hour, then implement the very core mechanic of the game, and lastly getting rid of the loose edges, implement a score system and a welcome/ending screen. I honestly don't have much to say about the generic parts of the jam. The brainstorming went ok, I had enough time for each phase and I finished on time.

The main point of this gamejam (at least for me) was the framework I used: Cocos2d-x.I had been toying with it for a while but never seriously sat down to learn how it works. This jam turned out to be an excellent opportunity to do just that. Now that the jam is finished I know Cocos2d-x a lot better. I learned to work around some of it's intricacies, while I've also had the opportunity to appreciate some of it's features. The jam has given me enough material to decide whether or not I should use Cocos2d-x for a longer period than just 2 weeks: I certainly will!

Unpleasant experiences with Cocos2d-x:

  • Rotation direction is not according to the unity circle (heck, it's not even in radians!)
  • Removing a child from a layer also deletes/frees the memory related to that child immediately, causing a segfault if you want to move a child from layer to layer without proper thinking.
  • Apparently, a release build always rebuilds. Which sucks if you accidentally press the build button in release mode.

Pleasant experiences with Cocos2d-x:

  • Adding a scene is really easy
  • If you're careful the parent/child hierarchy can be really powerful
  • Labels are pleasant to work with
  • If you use only Cocos2d-x's types instead of your own custom ones coding becomes really consistent and pleasant


Below the four entries to the #SympJam15 are listed in no particular order. Below each entry is in short my opinion. Click on the images for full resolution versions of the screenshots.

A fun game with interesting mechanics. Personally I like the colors he picked the most, and the fact that he built the game using his own entity-component system.
I always think anonymous makes cool graphics for his games, but he/she never believes me when I say that. Besides the graphics the gameplay was very promising, so keep up the good work anonymous!
"Pandas in space!" by Vrebz ( Soon in the Windows App Store!
Vrebz had by far the best graphics, which compensates for the slight lack of a winning condition. He's planning to work on it some more and even release it. I have high expectations of the actual release!
I think I'm pretty proud of the (maybe a bit too) simple gameplay and the somewhat polished and (again maybe too) simple looks. I have to add that I got the color palette off, as credited in the readme.


All in all I had a very pleasant experience. The jam was fun, a whole 24 hours was very effectively utilized, I learnt a lot about Cocos2d-x and the games we made were suprislingly fun. I hope in the future I'll be able to participate in more of these ad-hoc informal and, above all, on site gamejams!


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