CCCU Isojam: Creativity in lockdown

Times are rough at the moment. 

But that hasn’t stopped the creativity of some students at Canterbury Christ Chruch University. CCCU Isojam saw students, lecturers and friends alike, come together for a 10-day game jam. Any engine could be used, and followed the appropriate theme of “keep your distance”.

Thanks to lockdowns, social distancing, and COVID-19 it has been a difficult few weeks as we adjust to a new way of living. With a majority of stores, universities, and schools closed for the foreseeable future and nowhere to go and relax, many people have been stuck at home with very little to do. That’s where the CCCU Isojam comes in. 

The CCCU Isojam really helped people bring people together in a time where we feel forced apart. Here, in no particular order, are each of the entries and my thoughts on each one.

Space Marmalade by Ben Chittenden, Amberlea Hoare-Foote, Phoebe Ryall, and Joshua Paul

CCCU IsojamSpace Marmalade sees players control two crew members in this FTL inspired management game, who must maintain their ships life, but the catch is they cannot both be in the same room. Using both the WASD and the arrows keys, players can move both crew members simultaneously to move over the markers and fix the ships many, MANY issues.

It’s simple but fun, and could easily be improved and build upon into something truly great.

Stay Away Simulator by Jake Hatcher

One of the more visually abstract entries in the jam, Stay Away Simulator has players destroy glowing orbs before they expand too much and trigger a game over. The bare-boned visuals made this one a particularly strange one to play, but it should be noted that this entry was developed in five days compared to the full ten and was certainly one of the most interesting uses of the theme.

Keep Your Distance by Mihails Mozajevs and Madalin Andrei Atanasoaei

CCCU IsojamKeep Your Distance offers a mixture of asteroid destruction and frantic bullet hell gameplay. Players control a small spaceship that they must manoeuvre through flying asteroid fields and enemy ships while scoring the most points possible, all while saving the money you gain for some small upgrades as you play.

I spent more time then id like to admit trying to beat my scores in this one, but thanks to its smooth controls it felt fun and tense as I poorly dodged waves of bullets and rocks in this fun arcade-style throwback.

Shopper bug by Chris Shepherd and Lannah Marshall

Shopper bug, taking clear influence from the current shopping situation, sees players control a shopper who must buy all the products on their shopping list from a random selection of items, all while abiding by social distancing rules as you avoid other shoppers. By using the marked areas to wash their hands and keep themself clean, players are more likely to make it through uninfected during their shopping trip. It’s a nice touch that it includes information on how to stay safe and links to charities you can donate to, making this game equal parts fun, educational, and informative.

Bloodpool by Will Henniker

CCCU IsojamBloodpool has players control two little knights, who must work together to defeat the ChiKing and his little chicken minions. What makes this entry unique is the awesome use of the theme as a mechanic as both knights are connected to each other by their shared health bar, which increases as they move further apart from one another. 

Even as a prototype the concepts on display here look very promising, and was certainly a standout in terms of mechanics for me; One id love to see build upon in the future.

StarCross by Joe Baxter-Webb

StarCross is a Frogger inspired game in which you control a mail delivery spaceship, flying back and forth between two planets whilst avoiding space traffic and asteroid belts to deliver gifts to separated loved ones. Difficulty progressively ramps up with each journey, with the density of obstacles and their speed gradually increasing.

Of all the entries, this one stood out particularly thanks to the inclusion of a narrative element that gave the overall objective a nice sense of meaning, adding to what was already a very enjoyable game that epitomizes old school arcade chic.

Interested in reading about more game jam highlights? Why not check out our archive?

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