Global Game Jam, ISU Game Development Club 2019


Jonathan Segal / February 18, 2019

8 min read

Global Game Jam, ISU Game Development Club 2019

I received an email from the Game Development Club here at Iowa State about there upcoming Game Jam. I decided I would get a few friends together and see what we could come up with.

There were also a lot of these posters all around campus

I have been to 2 hackathons already so I kinda knew what to expect. One of the hackathons we even made a game. This event was still pretty different than what I was used to. Because this was not through MLH and just with one of the clubs here at school there was obviously less funding but it was still a great time we were in a great room on campus with big comfy bean bags, whiteboard’s, and TV screens all while being on campus.

Left to right Ben, Josh, Jonathan (me), Jacob

Before the event started I met with my team at dinner to discuss what we wanted to make. I really like meeting with my team beforehand to figure out how to approach the event and come up with strategies and things to think about before we actually get started, this makes things much smoother. During our talk, we decided to make a simple mobile game with some sort of nostalgic quality, such as one of the older phone games. We wouldn't know the theme until the night of the event so we weren't able to plan too much. We did decide to code everything in Javascript and found as an html5 game engine. We were planning on making the game for the web and then porting it over to mobile if we had time.

I didn’t take that many pictures so… Photo by [rawpixel]( on [Unsplash](

The event started at 6 and my last className Friday was at 5 so just enough time to grab something to eat before getting started. When we got there we were introduced to the event with the video for the year which presented the theme “Home”

This is the cringiest video probably sense youtube rewind 2018! If you want to watch it go ahead it’s defiantly something. After the theme was announced we reworked our initial idea and tried to come up with something that could apply to the theme. We ended up deciding on making a verticle platformer where the main game mechanic would be that in order to jump you would have to step on a spring. As soon as we figured out the idea we got to work. The first step was to get the game engine set up in a new project to be able to start coding the game logic and test it. We started using a framework called to build our game for mobile but it ended up being way too complicated to work with so we decided to simplify and use Express as a way to host the game and localtunnel as a way to test the game on our phones. As Jacob (one of my teammates) and I were working on getting everything set up codewise, Josh and Ben were working on drawing up some level designs and working through the different objects that would be present in our game.

A few drawings for different level layouts

After we got the levels drawn up and we had an idea of all of the objects we wanted to implement we all got to work on making the main game. I got to work on creating the sprites and graphical elements of the game, Josh started working on the menu system, Jacob was working on the server and backend, and Ben was working directly on implementing the actual game elements.

Sprite for the main character

For the main project, we were using an example provided by Examples to work from and added our own assets and code to the project. We were making a lot of progress but decided that we were all pretty hungry and because there was no food provided we decided to order pizza! It was some pretty great pizza, I kinda felt bad for the other teams just sit there and watch us eat, but hey no one was stopping them from ordering their own pizza

Code and pizza go together very well, Photo by [Evelyn]( on [Unsplash](

There was something very strange that happened that first day, there was this guy that was going around to all of the teams working and pitching his idea of an “addictive game for good” he came over to us and started talking and he had no substantial idea or anything that resembles anything more than half of an idea. He told us that he didn’t want us to give him any ideas so that we wouldn't sue him later for stealing it. He wanted us to email him if we were interested and while making cool projects that help the world are always cool he seemed like he had no idea what he was doing. We were also approached by a guy that wanted to make a soundtrack for our game. The music was pretty sweet, If I can find his SoundCloud I’ll link it here.

Photo by [Christopher Robin Ebbinghaus]( on [Unsplash](

After we finished eating and getting back into coding we started getting something that was looking like a game. We decided to call it a night and get some sleep that first night so we would be rested for the next day of coding. We made a list of everything that we wanted to get accomplished the second day. At the rate we were heading we were going to be able to finish in just two days instead of three. We needed to finish up the game mechanics, make a few levels, make it so that the game would scroll with the player and that it was able to be played with a touchscreen. After we finished all of this we would pretty much be done.

It was nice to have whiteboards we could use

The second day we all got back to the room at around 11 ish so we all got quite a bit of sleep which was super nice. We got back and started working on finishing up the game. I got the touch screen controls working eventually, Ben got the gameplay finished up, and Josh and Jacob were finishing the tasks they were doing too. We started working on getting the game deployed and online so that it would be playable to everyone. We decided that Heroku would be the easiest and cheapest way to deploy our game. We linked a new project with our GitHub repository and started the server. We found out that there were quite a few errors with how we had things set up and we started going through trying to find where the bugs were and fixing them. We had some files that were not capitalized correctly and working on localhost but not on the server and a few other things that we got fixed. We then started work on the levels. We each made a level and Ben made two. The levels were designed by copying and pasting the code of the element and adjusting the coordinates so it was pretty tedious but we were able to make some pretty cool levels (Level 2 the one I made is the best!). Also to tie in the theme we made the goal a house because the character is going home.

The sprite for the goal

After we got it working to a point that we were happy with it we all started playing it and getting the others in the room to play our game too to see how they liked it.

Playing level 1

We named out project Spring Home because of our main mechanic and the theme. Check out the website below to play the game. It works on mobile too!

Here is our game listing:

Spring Home

It’s slightly below average but we like it! It’s all our first time participating in a hackathon. We used a new platform Phaser to make a responsive 2D html5 game.

Overall making this game was a great time, I learned a lot especially how node.js, express, and phaser work. The team was great and we all had a lot of fun. Our project turned out really cool. Every project I do the more I learn and the better I get at coding projects and turning ideas into reality. For the Game Jam, there were no prizes but it was definitely worth the time and effort put into this little project. If you have made it this far reading about our game check it out and write a response if you like it!

Check out the Listing on Global Game Jam

Check out the Repository on GitHub

Discuss on TwitterEdit on GitHub