Unreal Diaries: Why we jam

Unreal Engine developers tap into the tools and a supportive community during Epic’s regular game jams
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Unreal Engine developers tap into the tools and a supportive community during Epic’s regular game jams

In addition to contributing to staples such as Ludum Dare and the Global Game Jam, UE4 developers bring their creative sensibilities to monthly game jams hosted by Epic.

On the second Thursday of each month during Epic’s weekly Twitch broadcast at 19:00 GMT, community manager Chance Ivey announces a theme, which signals the start of a new jam to run from that moment until the following Sunday night.

It’s common to see developers connecting with one another, calling out to familiar handles and welcoming new community members in the Twitch chat. It’s a mix of disciplines and skill sets, with Epic’s programmers, artists and technology partners sprinkled throughout for good measure. 

Maximilian Mellhage, who tackled November’s ‘Two Birds, One Stone’ theme with two other artists and a programmer, recalls first connecting with his teammates on the livestream. “We met a day before making our game,” he says.

As the theme was announced, the four decided to band together and build Rock Paper Bird!, a beautiful competitive collection game with a finely crafted low-poly art style. It took home top honours.

Kyle and Michelle Rocha had been working together on a game for several months when they entered the ‘Bump in the Night’ UE4 jam.

The two found so much value in their new creation, Lumote, they decided it was worth it to scrap their ongoing project and turn their focus to Lumote instead going forward.

In Rocha’s postmortem on the Unreal Engine blog, he says: “We were able to create something we were very happy with and wanted to expand on further. That we were then one of the three winning teams was the icing on the sweet, sweet validation cake.

“We had so much fun with this jam, both making and playing our own game, that we think we can take this on as a full project.”

As artist and UE4 jam regular, James ‘Xenome’ Kaufeldt aptly sums it up: “You can get a lot of stuff done when getting stuck in analysis paralysis is out of the question.”