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Mind Candy's Game Jam

By Ian Dransfield

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Date Added: 16th July 2014

"A game jam is a good example of a place where people come in and want to use a technology actively rather than just trying it out on their own time – so it's a good forum for Maya LT because people can download it, work with it and see the sort of results they can get with it, and come out with a good looking game or prototype or whatever it might be at the end of the day."

Obviously these setups are of benefit to the companies involved in them – in the case of Mind Candy's Great British Summer Game Jam there were a number of development and artist-related companies offering up prizes and support.

Drinks and snacks? Obviously the most popular area of Mind Candy's offices, once they were brought out. Note also: Pimm's on hand.
Photography by Ian Dransfield

One such development resource was Playcanvas, a development tool that allows teams to work together wherever they are in the world, so long as they have access to a browser. As CTO and co-founder of Playcanvas, Dave Evans, put it: "One of the things we like to think of Playcanvas as is a mash-up between Unity, Github and Google Docs. We have the toolset of Unity, the social profile and the social collaboration of Github and the real-time collaborative features of Google Docs."

But while Playcanvas is a tool designed for game developers, Evans sees it having uses elsewhere – especially with its integration of WebGL 3D rendering: "I think that's going to be massive for the way that 3D stuff is shared on the web," he said.

"It's something people haven't experienced before - you see a link in Twitter, you click it, it opens up your browser and you've got an interactive 3D something"

– Dave Evans, Playcanvas

"It's been possible on desktop up until now, but once it hits the browser I think it's going to be huge. It's something people haven't experienced before – you see a link in Twitter, you click it, it opens up your browser and you've got an interactive 3D something, be it a model viewer, a game, an architectural rendering or anything from all that spectrum of stuff."

Two days of work, a lot of stress and even more tinkering – it all came down to one showing in front of industry judges
Photography by Ian Dransfield

But this is a game jam, and that's what Playcanvas is being used for on the day – at least by one team. The manner in which it allows people to work together via browser is certainly impressive – it's the democratisation of games development, after all – and it's not hard to see the uses the tool can have for those wanting to get into making games – and then there's a strong community element backing it all up, offering help and support where necessary.

"We're focused on forming a community around game developers," Evans explained, "You're a programmer, you're a game designer, you're an artist, you're anywhere in the world, you can get together with like-minded people who want to build the same things as you and it doesn't have to be in the same town as you."

One game didn't even bother with the whole 'video' aspect of things, instead being a (rather good fun) physical card game.
Photography by Ian Dransfield

One of the biggest obstacles facing independent developers these days is simply being seen. It's a crowded marketplace out there, with only very few games ever making it to the top of the pile on the App Store and Google Play.

This is something those making the tools are all too aware of, and software like Marmalade includes features that might just help out the upcoming indie. The tool can package up finished products for most major formats in order to get a game out to the widest market possible.

Mind Candy's own people were involved in the action, creating a game where you had to throw things at the band Nickelback. Obviously.
Photography by Ian Dransfield

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