Southampton Global Game Jam 2018

I said a while ago that I was planning to take part in the Global Game Jam in Southampton this year, and I invited anybody interested to join me and possibly form a team before getting to the event. My approach last year was pretty much just to turn up and improvise, so I was really glad this time around to be able to tackle a project with people I already knew.

Me, Alex Carter, Jay Connell and Claire Rose: all the people behind Resonance!

This was a first for me for two reasons. One was that I had a fairly solid idea what kind of skills people on the team would have going in, and the other was that I ended up not really writing very much at all in the end. All four of us are writers, so when it came to producing a story – even an interactive one – we were all set. My job was more or less just to come up with the Twine gubbins to keep track of everything that’s happening in that story.

The theme for 2018’s Jam was transmission, and we pretty quickly came up with an idea that ticked that box several times over. That idea turned into Resonance: a narrative resource management game for one or two players. You can see its page on the Global Game Jam website by clicking that link, or jump straight into the game by clicking this one.

“One OR two?” I hear you cry, despite being all the way over here on the other side of the internet and you not having said anything just now. Yes: one or two. Although there’s nothing in the game itself to suggest this (an oversight due to having to get the thing up and running in just 48 hours), the game can be played in turns.

Resistance follows two very separate groups of people: a team of astronauts researching a mysterious alien pathogen aboard a space station, and a band of survivors struggling to get by in the midst of an apocalyptic outbreak on Earth. One player makes decisions for the astronauts, handing over to the second player (and stepping away) when the word “TRANSMIT” flashes on screen. The second player makes decisions for the survivors until “TRANSMIT” appears once again. This cycle continues until either the astronauts manage to develop a cure and the game is won, or until the survivors are decimated and the game is lost.

There’s more I could say about the game, but I’ll leave it for now as I think a large part of the fun comes from working out how various decisions interact (and also it’s been an exceptionally long weekend!). Resonance will likely be slightly more difficult if playing with a friend, but even when commanding both sides the early game will involve a lot of trial and error. I saw one player complete it at the Jam, and I also saw another destroyed within one in-game week. Your experience may involve one or the other or anything in between.

Resonance may not be the most polished game in the world, but having only had 48 hours to work with I think we did really well just to get something that can be played beginning to end and so far seems to have captured players’ attention. I learned a lot while making it, and I hope everyone else did too.

Those links again: here’s the place to play Resonance, and here’s the place to see its page on the Global Game Jam website.

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