PTBO Game Jam – The Inaugural Event

The PTBO Game Jam had its first event this past weekend in beautiful Peterborough Ontario.


Matthew Davey of dotBunny asked me to speak during the pre-jam session, I presented some food for thought for the “jammers” to consider while designing their games. I also went over a “non-traditional” approach to game design, the same approach I personally use at game jams.

The PTBO Game Jam event was roughly 34 hours of caffeine induced flow (or lack thereof). Liftlock Studios (my studio), represented with myself and Arin Blue (an up and coming indie dev (@YorBoyBlue on the twitters)). Together, we did the design and development for a voxel game modelled after the classic arcade game “Zaxxon”, aptly named “VoXXoN”.

The theme for the inaugural PTBO Game Jam was “cats on leashes” (poking fun at the city of Peterborough’s recent by-law changes where outdoor cats are now actually required to be on leashes – because, you know, that’s a thing).

About 28 “jammers” were in attendance. Although only a small handful of us stayed the whole night with no sleep. Many worked late and then returned early Sunday morning. Getting to a complete game in such a short timeframe is a near impossibility, but we did managed to get a great idea flushed out and posted (some serious issues not withstanding).

I could call out the insane people that, like myself, opted to forgo sleeping all together. But I won’t. I will however, tell you that we all knew better and are industry people.

A funny thing about lack of sleep over extended periods of time, you make really, really dumb mistakes. Right before the time ran out, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what happened to my bullet spawner. I could see the bullets being instanced in the scene graph but my brain couldn’t figure out why the player wasn’t firing.

The next day when I opened the game back up (we had 5 days post jam to polish). I instantly saw that I had managed to move the spawner across the scene. So it was firing, just not visibly, or in the right direction. Theres some “proof” that no matter how long you work as a developer, you’re bound to make stupid mistakes that you can’t brain through and sleep is important.

If you’ve got some programming ability and want to make video games, I encourage you to come out to the next event. You can keep an eye on the official PTBO Game Jam website for the details of the event. Better still, signup for advanced notification of events before they happen. Remember kids, it’s better to try and fail terribly than not try at all.

This was just the beginning… The PTBO Game Jam will be back (ideally twice a year).  I know that I’m looking forward to helping Matthew organize and run the future events. As well as participating in them.

The next one we’re hoping for will be sometime in February 2017. Venue to be announced.

I’ll write out another post once the gameplay of VoXXoN has been fixed and updated. Right now there is no way to win or loose so it’s better to keep it to myself.

For the highlights of episode 0, see the video below. 🙂

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