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48 Hours Later, Some Thoughts on Molyjam

As hundreds of games begin rolling in, reflection on a wild, tiring weekend.

Braid artist David Hellman wasn't on a team, but he did contribute this fantastic piece, based on a tweet.
An incredible celebratory drawing by Secret Dad artist Kari Clark. Can you spot the chat memes?

I don’t know where to begin.

I made it home around one on Sunday night, after an hour of throwing cans of Red Bull and throwback Mountain Dew into bags, and wondering whether the building was going to be angry for the cake that had fallen onto the carpet, squished inside the fibers by over a hundred game developers that had gathered for Molyjam.

(So far, I haven’t gotten that angry email.)

Upon reaching my couch, I sent two emails. One email thanked the building staff for being so great to us all weekend, despite the persistent smell of dude everywhere. The other was to Giant Bomb, letting 'em know I planned to sleep in. I barely slept. I couldn’t get the event out of my head, convinced there was another 24 hours.

We expected a couple dozen people to show up for this thing--total. That was three weeks ago, when it seemed like What Would Molydeux? would be a Bay Area party. Instead, we had well over 1,000 game developers, ranging from the amateur to the professional, making interesting, touching, crazy, hilarious video games under the ever present 48-hour deadline that we’d arbitrarily came up with weeks before.

I have never organized anything in my life more ambitious than asking people to show up to my apartment for a party, and since my fiancee entered my life, I don’t even do that anymore. There’s a reason I work mostly solo on Giant Bomb, and why my other jobs had me operating independently. So when I neglected to remain conscious of the fact that Twitter is a public venue and joked with Double Fine gameplay programmer Anna Kipnis about a game jam based on the tweets of Peter Molydeux, I found myself in the middle of something brushing against my worst habits.

Oops.

But it worked out fine, and I'm better for it. Better. Not just in proving I'm capable of organizing an event without freaking out, but a better, more informed reporter, too. I couldn’t be more thankful. Molyjam is one of my proudest accomplishments, professionally and personally. One of the developers queued up to present their game scored a job while waiting in line. More than one told me it was the happiest weekend of their life. It changed mine, too.

I was just a cog in the machine, though. The event couldn't have been success it was out here without Kipnis, Idle Thumbs' Chris Remo, Gamasutra's Brandon Sheffield, and the dozens that worked together worldwide.

There are more than 300 games archived on www.whatwouldmolydeux.com --for now. That number will grow, as some creations were iOS games, and those developers are actually hoping to publish them on the App Store.

There is a common complaint in the press that we are denied proper access required to do accurate, honest reporting. There’s certainly merit to that, and developers have reason to be guarded: most of us have no idea how game development works. Not nearly enough, anyway. Having spent two days with a room full of developers, I can tell you there is a very easy way to better understand how video games are made: go to a game jam. This doesn’t just apply to the press, either; as a player, if you’re wondering how the hell a game is put together, if you want to witness, first-hand, the brutal process of realizing your once-amazing design just isn’t going to work, go to a jam.

I watched this unfold for a team in front of me, a few feet from where Kipnis and I sat at our help desk of sorts. On Friday, there were laughs, smiles, beers and a tangible throwing of caution into the wind regarding their own design hubris. The amount of features they were hoping to have in the game was astounding. On Saturday, the real work began, and...there was too much. They scoped too big. They quickly took a hatchet to the game. Ideas were thrown out, frustration boiled, and tension was paramount. But at the end, they had a game. It received a huge response.

If you scroll towards 2:26:00 in the video above, you can watch what they created.

That’s just one story, too. There are so many stories to be told from just the San Francisco arm of the Molyjam, and I’m hoping to tell a few of them in the weeks ahead.

As developers finished their games, Kipnis and I surprised them with some Molydeux cakes.

I have a newfound respect for game developers, and a more informed understanding of the creative process. Of course, none of that will not stop me from telling you when a video game is bad, but it's worth knowing. If I hadn’t been so stressed about organizing Molyjam, I would have made a game myself. Make no mistake, I have zero interest in leaving writing to make games, but going through the exercise of creating a game seems very worthwhile.

Since this year’s GDC, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my role in the industry. Besides an obligation to both entertain and inform, I have a big, loud platform, a responsibility I take very seriously. Hopefully, Molyjam is the first step towards...I don’t know? A new way to bridge the player and the developer, an avenue to instill new insight into game development? The idea is a work-in-progress.

I would have loved an open night for Molyjam, and allow anyone to come by and play the games. The space here at CBS is fantastic, and my mind’s already spinning about what’s possible.

I also want to thank the Giant Bomb community, especially the couple hundred folks who hung out in the chat. You did a great job keeping us company over the 48-hour haul. I wish you could have been involved even more, and I’m keeping that in mind for whatever’s next. For now, accept a heartfelt thank you for sticking with us all weekend.

Oh, right, I forgot: the games. I have only played a handful, unfortunately, but that will change over the next few days, and on my flight to PAX East. We’ll be doing a Quick Look with the highlights, but if you’re looking for my recommendations from the presentations last night that are already available on the site, here’s what stuck out:

P.S. Bill Music.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by patrickklepek
Braid artist David Hellman wasn't on a team, but he did contribute this fantastic piece, based on a tweet.
An incredible celebratory drawing by Secret Dad artist Kari Clark. Can you spot the chat memes?

I don’t know where to begin.

I made it home around one on Sunday night, after an hour of throwing cans of Red Bull and throwback Mountain Dew into bags, and wondering whether the building was going to be angry for the cake that had fallen onto the carpet, squished inside the fibers by over a hundred game developers that had gathered for Molyjam.

(So far, I haven’t gotten that angry email.)

Upon reaching my couch, I sent two emails. One email thanked the building staff for being so great to us all weekend, despite the persistent smell of dude everywhere. The other was to Giant Bomb, letting 'em know I planned to sleep in. I barely slept. I couldn’t get the event out of my head, convinced there was another 24 hours.

We expected a couple dozen people to show up for this thing--total. That was three weeks ago, when it seemed like What Would Molydeux? would be a Bay Area party. Instead, we had well over 1,000 game developers, ranging from the amateur to the professional, making interesting, touching, crazy, hilarious video games under the ever present 48-hour deadline that we’d arbitrarily came up with weeks before.

I have never organized anything in my life more ambitious than asking people to show up to my apartment for a party, and since my fiancee entered my life, I don’t even do that anymore. There’s a reason I work mostly solo on Giant Bomb, and why my other jobs had me operating independently. So when I neglected to remain conscious of the fact that Twitter is a public venue and joked with Double Fine gameplay programmer Anna Kipnis about a game jam based on the tweets of Peter Molydeux, I found myself in the middle of something brushing against my worst habits.

Oops.

But it worked out fine, and I'm better for it. Better. Not just in proving I'm capable of organizing an event without freaking out, but a better, more informed reporter, too. I couldn’t be more thankful. Molyjam is one of my proudest accomplishments, professionally and personally. One of the developers queued up to present their game scored a job while waiting in line. More than one told me it was the happiest weekend of their life. It changed mine, too.

I was just a cog in the machine, though. The event couldn't have been success it was out here without Kipnis, Idle Thumbs' Chris Remo, Gamasutra's Brandon Sheffield, and the dozens that worked together worldwide.

There are more than 300 games archived on www.whatwouldmolydeux.com --for now. That number will grow, as some creations were iOS games, and those developers are actually hoping to publish them on the App Store.

There is a common complaint in the press that we are denied proper access required to do accurate, honest reporting. There’s certainly merit to that, and developers have reason to be guarded: most of us have no idea how game development works. Not nearly enough, anyway. Having spent two days with a room full of developers, I can tell you there is a very easy way to better understand how video games are made: go to a game jam. This doesn’t just apply to the press, either; as a player, if you’re wondering how the hell a game is put together, if you want to witness, first-hand, the brutal process of realizing your once-amazing design just isn’t going to work, go to a jam.

I watched this unfold for a team in front of me, a few feet from where Kipnis and I sat at our help desk of sorts. On Friday, there were laughs, smiles, beers and a tangible throwing of caution into the wind regarding their own design hubris. The amount of features they were hoping to have in the game was astounding. On Saturday, the real work began, and...there was too much. They scoped too big. They quickly took a hatchet to the game. Ideas were thrown out, frustration boiled, and tension was paramount. But at the end, they had a game. It received a huge response.

If you scroll towards 2:26:00 in the video above, you can watch what they created.

That’s just one story, too. There are so many stories to be told from just the San Francisco arm of the Molyjam, and I’m hoping to tell a few of them in the weeks ahead.

As developers finished their games, Kipnis and I surprised them with some Molydeux cakes.

I have a newfound respect for game developers, and a more informed understanding of the creative process. Of course, none of that will not stop me from telling you when a video game is bad, but it's worth knowing. If I hadn’t been so stressed about organizing Molyjam, I would have made a game myself. Make no mistake, I have zero interest in leaving writing to make games, but going through the exercise of creating a game seems very worthwhile.

Since this year’s GDC, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my role in the industry. Besides an obligation to both entertain and inform, I have a big, loud platform, a responsibility I take very seriously. Hopefully, Molyjam is the first step towards...I don’t know? A new way to bridge the player and the developer, an avenue to instill new insight into game development? The idea is a work-in-progress.

I would have loved an open night for Molyjam, and allow anyone to come by and play the games. The space here at CBS is fantastic, and my mind’s already spinning about what’s possible.

I also want to thank the Giant Bomb community, especially the couple hundred folks who hung out in the chat. You did a great job keeping us company over the 48-hour haul. I wish you could have been involved even more, and I’m keeping that in mind for whatever’s next. For now, accept a heartfelt thank you for sticking with us all weekend.

Oh, right, I forgot: the games. I have only played a handful, unfortunately, but that will change over the next few days, and on my flight to PAX East. We’ll be doing a Quick Look with the highlights, but if you’re looking for my recommendations from the presentations last night that are already available on the site, here’s what stuck out:

P.S. Bill Music.

Staff
Edited by Vivek

Great Article.

Seeing that this originated from a joke, to become something productive, creative and inspiring gives me hope that the games industry will never be stale. So many of us from the community want to be part of the games industry, this is a great way to dip your toes in the water or completely dive in.

Congratulations to Patrick (and everyone else) for putting this together.

Edited by VoshiNova

Go Patrick!

Seriously, congratulations on the event! Breaktris is an awesome example of creative interpretation from those tweets, and I look forward to reading about more!

Posted by chochacho

bah

Posted by nohthink

Great job, Patrick!!

Posted by sub_o

Amazing for organizing this. You deserve some internet applause thru DSL line.

Posted by boylie

I spent some time over lunch playing a few of the more popular ones. I gotta say, for 48 hours, I was pretty goddamned impressed at the results that some of those duders managed to pull off. Kudos to you Patrick, and the rest of the organizers. Maybe I'll give this a shot next year, if this should become a thing.

Posted by selbie

Next up: Molyhangover

Posted by ConstantineL

Watching was a lot of fun! Having Tricky and Pan-O-Anna in the chat made the show. Then the games! I think I'm going to have to take my meager skills and join in next year :D

Posted by deskp

I read the article... jsut so you know. the cube/pixel cakes looks awesome

Posted by eccentrix

Again, thanks for everything you did for everyone there and making the event so special.

Posted by Veektarius

Would have appreciated more discussion of the games and less introspection.

Posted by vikingdeath1

Really glad it went well!

Posted by Tan

Oh how the puns ran wild...

Awesome weekend, thanks for everything everyone.

Posted by Morningstar

Sounds like a crazy weekend =D

Posted by Tamaster92

Thanks for helping organise this Patrick, I wasn't quite happy with how my game turned out but it sure was fun being part of te experience!

Posted by boylie

@Veektarius said:

Would have appreciated more discussion of the games and less introspection.

He said they were doing a quick look. I imagine this was just a pretty raw dump of thoughts from a guy that is frazzled by an insane weekend. I was happy to get the insight

Posted by Oginam

Glad to hear it was fun for you, Patrick.

Hopefully the next time you get a game jam going I'll have more enough experience to actually contribute. ;)

The Spandex Parable is also pretty amazing.

Posted by Church069

It still seems insane that all of this was born from a joke twitter account. I guess inspiration can easily come from the oddest places.

Looking forward to trying some of these games out.

Edited by Winsord

Thanks for hosting all of this, and especially the live stream! It was a ton of fun hanging out in the stream chat for a good portion of my weekend, chatting with people actually working on games and other spectators.

Notable points:

  • Skater Dude
  • Pseudo Notch
  • Blue-cheese pillars
  • iPad stacking insanity
  • Bill Music
  • Bad puns
Posted by dropabombonit

Great read, Patrick. Glad it went well, watched a lot of the streams

Posted by forkboy

@Veektarius: We're getting a quick look of some notable games. Patience is a virtue.

Posted by Pullarius_Capax

I cannot wait till the quick look to get more thoughts on the games from the editors.

Posted by barrbarr

did anyone else think that this is like project runway, but for game design?

Posted by BonOrbitz

I wish there was a Molyjam here in Milwaukee or Chicago.

Posted by 5eNintendan

This was so fun, I watched every chance I got and was happy I did. The last day showing all the games with the amazingly good (bad) puns was just great. Some of the game to be made in under 48 hours were jaw dropping. CrowBot and Nebulous Hero are big stand outs for me. I know Nebulous was a little glitchy but after see how much was done in the game I was shocked. I have yet to play all of them, but I can't wait to work my way down the list.

#RememberFilbert

Posted by evanbower

The Spandex Parable stands out as the best of the bunch to me so far. When you think of a "game jam" you don't immediately think "amazing writing," but they pulled this one off out of nowhere.

Posted by Sword5

Great event, but I really starting to worry about how close the games press is getting to developers.

Posted by geekbot

Game Jams are great! I'm glad you had the opportunity to run this thing and I'm glad to hear it was a success! :)

Posted by D_W

Oh man quicklooks of some of the games would be amazing!
 
I'd like to thank you, Patrick. I had a great time at the jam in NYC, met a lot of really cool people, and help make an incredibly ridiculous game about the Sun being your son. It was a wonderful experience and I can't wait to go another game jam in the future.

Posted by xite

Whoever's idea it was to get square green pixel cakes is a genius.

Online
Posted by MattyFTM

I can't even begin to imagine how crazy it must have been to organize something on that scale. Bravo, .

Moderator
Posted by WalkerD

Watched a good bit of the stream. Was really interesting. Though whoever screamed "winning" during the third game shown threw some fuel onto my misogyny fire.

Posted by Residentrevil2

I loved watching it over the weekend. You must do one of those every year from now on!

Posted by Xeirus

@boylie said:

@Veektarius said:

Would have appreciated more discussion of the games and less introspection.

He said they were doing a quick look. I imagine this was just a pretty raw dump of thoughts from a guy that is frazzled by an insane weekend. I was happy to get the insight

No one is ever happy

Posted by quimstyle

What an incredible event to spring so quickly from a quirky idea.

Posted by JRock3x8

Great article, Patrick

Posted by Bollard

Hahahah I can't believe people actually went through with these ideas and made games!

Posted by probablytuna

Great job putting all this together. I hope to play most if not all of those games.

Posted by TruthTellah

Thanks so much for your time and hardwork, Patrick.

It was an utter delight to chat with the developers all weekend and even create an illustration of my own in honor of the event. I am very happy to have gotten a chance to be a part of this, and I look forward to being a bigger part of it next year.

Posted by Noisician

It was awesome just watching this crazy thing, can't imagine how great it was to be a part of it. Great success!

Posted by Mesklinite

@boylie I say, you me and Jake, maybe Jessie if he's up for it.

Posted by Phobos

No end to the thanks. This was a ton of fun to participate in.

Posted by katelyngadd

Patrick deserves a lot of credit since he had to be in the building the entire time the Jammers were there for security to let us stay in the building. The guy looked exhausted by the end of it, but he wasn't complaining! It's a good thing he had Anna, Chris and the others to help run stuff.

I was blown away by how many cool, working games came out of just the SF location. I've been to a lot of game jams but this was by far the best I've seen, not just because of the games that got made, but because of the atmosphere and how many people from different walks of life showed up and decided to build games with strangers and have some fun.

Plus, the pixel cake was delicious.

Posted by RagingLion

Can't get Unbearable to run. Clicking run.bat just opens a command prompt window which immediately closes it seems. Can anyone help?

Edited by Beatus

I was fortunate enough to witness some of what happened at MolyjamSF through the twitch.tv stream. It was really fascinating to see a few tweets evolve into something of a movement in less than a few weeks. Well done to Anna, Patrick, Chris and to all the participants!

While watching some of the presentations on Sunday, I realized the speech Peter Molyneux gave at the London event was quite prudent. Who the hell was OMGPOP a few weeks ago? Look at what was accomplished in forty-eight hours during this game jam. It's a very interesting time for the industry.

Posted by Livergel
Posted by ThePantheon

Patrick, your trolling of Brad sometimes is frustrating but this is an awesome article, and a great thing you helped to do. Rock on.

Posted by Animasta

all hail bill music

Posted by DazzHardy

Well Done Patrick. I only caught a few hours of the SF Jam stream, but it was kinda awesome seeing it all happen.

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