October MegaGame Jam: Dev Up!

Posted by on Oct 30, 2015 in Animation | No Comments

Check out the  trailer created be team member, Lucas Brown!

Download Dev Up! here!Gameplay2Gameplay1

Every month, Epic Games, the developers behind the game engine Unreal Engine 4 hold a “game jam”.

Game Jams encourage small teams to use the engine to develop a game over a short span of time, usually a weekend. This month was special because it was the annual anniversary of the Unreal game jams, so Epic wanted to celebrate and decided to turn the game jam into a week-long contest featuring a myriad of winning prizes from several companies. Epic decided “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants” would be the theme of the jam this time around.
A few upperclassmen animation students decided to participate in this awesome opportunity to make something fun in just a week. Michael Aldrich, Lucas Brown, Alena Roberts, and Jackson Miller were the core part of the team. Another student, Adam Foggie, and professor Zach Gray also donated time, energy and amazing voice acting to the project, respectively.

How did the idea for Dev Up start? The team had a very different idea for what the game should be at the start of the week. Initial ideas revolved around a platform game where a character could use these large, ethereal beasts to help solve puzzles and advance towards a goal. The team wrestled with this idea over the weekend until Sunday, when Zach suggested an idea that mostly an inside joke about successful game developers. The team like the meta implications; making a humble game based on the work of industry giants. Jumping on top of these developers shoulders would help the young aspiring game designer achieve his goal.

Over the course of the next few days, ideas and progress flew fast. Michael had a working prototype up and running which was instantly hilarious and fun to play. Alena painted concept art and worked on some playful incarnations of various well known game developers, such as Todd Howard and Gabe Newell. Lucas worked on rigging characters and props while Jackson animated and modeled the environment. The team worked well because everyone did specialized jobs they enjoyed. The feeling of being a part of that process was great!

Most of the game itself came together between Wednesday and Thursday morning where most of the final touches were put in place. There were multiple late nights, some stretching as far as four in the morning. Hey, when it’s Game Jam week, going all out is not an option. The game was submitted to the contest about 5 minutes before the deadline closed so talk about cutting it close!

Dev Up! is the most ambitious and complete Game Jam project SVAD has created so far. The team awaited anxiously for the following Thursday when the winners would be announced. Allar, a Twitch streamer, began his post-GameJam ritual of consecutively playing all the submitted games. When He played Dev Up! he was initially confused but once he figured out how to not skip the tutorial, he had nothing but good words to say. The chat channel was filled with compliments from other devs who had participated in the GameJam. The compliments definitely felt validating of an all out week’s endeavor.

The winners were announced last Thursday. Out of about 170 submitted games, Dev Up! was an honorable mention among about 4 games that won awards and 2 other honorable mentions. The team was disappointed it didn’t win any specific awards but the judges talked about Dev Up! just as long as any of the winners and also encouraged anyone watching their stream to go and download Dev Up! because it was such an experience. The team was especially happy with how well received the game was among both the judges and the Unreal community.