There are a ton of game jams happening online at any point during the year. Many of these jams follow a theme and a timeframe, giving developers the challenge of creating a game within a specific jam’s restrictions. I am able to record loads of these games for each and almost every game jam. As I record them all, I pick out games that stand out to me and games I love from each individual jam. This article contains the games I love from the ProcJam 2017.
The ProcJam, or Procedural Generation Jam, is a yearly jam which contains more than just games. This jam is about making things that make things; this could be games, graphics, generative backgrounds, tools or really, whatever you want. The idea behind ProcJam is to make generation less scary — they provide loads of tools, tutorials, assets and more as a part of the jam. I’ve played through each of the submitted games in my compilation video series, and below are a few of my favorites, in a random order.
Random Access Character by Glkt
Random Access Character is a character generator that makes creatures out of various objects! You can generate individual characters out of various colorful objects — using things like gift boxes, pillows and bolts to make them up. Your characters also have various walking cycles — some timid, others quick or even tiptoeing. There is a lot of variety to be generated in Random Access Character, from the look of the creature to the way they move.
If you run into a character you like, you can save its walking cycle as a GIF to your computer, then share it or use it in some way. Personally, I spent way to much time making character after character and watching them move. It’s mesmerizing seeing what ends up being created.
Dis Pontibus by Marcos Donnantuoni
Dis Pontibus takes you on an adventure, exploring strange, disconnected islands as a robot. As you explore each simple island, you have to solve a small puzzle to make it to the next. The islands you have been on are highlighted on your map, while the islands that have yet to be walked on will remain red. The challenge is figuring out these various puzzles — which work by moving different platforms to create a bridge connecting the two islands. These platforms must always link to touch the base they branch from. If you disconnect a platform from its base (either through other platforms or directly) you and the platform will fall into the water.
There are various types of platforms: some rectangles stay ridget, moving forwards or backwards; others are corner-shaped or square-shaped rigid pieces; and some are rectangles with a ‘forward’ area where you can move them around other pieces from that place. Most of the islands have more than one path to take, so if you really struggle with one path, you can just take another. Dis Pontibus is very simple in concept, but quite challenging to figure out as you move around the islands.
Note: This game is available on itch.io for $4.99.
Swampland by the Arcadia Community – Joseph Parker, Douglas P. Fields, Jr., Joshua Suskalo, Ramsey Nasser, & Tims Gardner
Swampland is a first-person shooter where you change into whatever enemy you just destroyed. You start off as a normal-looking businessperson with a few guns. The world around you is plain in color, full of weird abysses and curvy lines. You have a simple laser gun and a small amount of health. When moving around the world, you will start seeing monsters that then shoot back at you!
These monsters are made of various generative parts — some looking like robots, others with tentacles, each unique in their own way. Their various guns can be either lasers or round bullets, depending on the creature. Once you shoot at them and destroy them, you become them. You take on their body and their type of gun — as well as gaining some more health. In Swampland, every shot travels quickly and most guns spray out tons of bullets, so even as you transform, you need to watch out for rogue bullets from your fallen enemy. There are also giant balls that seem to be randomly placed around the level, which you can push into enemies and hide behind.
Swampland is a really fun shooter where you can change guns and bodies every few moments if you find enough enemies!
Story of a Dungeon by Delacannon
This is a tabletop dungeon crawler, generated for each person who downloads the set of cards! Your cards will contain puzzles, monsters, dungeons, loot and more for you to play around with. Story of a Dungeon can be played with one to four players, as well as in a 1v1 mode. The first type of card you get is your dungeon rooms.
These rooms are numbered to show you which rooms go where and each of these rooms is generated for your set of cards specifically. One of my room cards said ‘A chill crawls up your spine and out over your skin as you look upon this room. Stalactites drip down from the ceiling in sharp points while flowstone makes strange shapes on the floor.’ Each one of these are beautifully well written, though some much more simple.
As you explore the dungeon you can take on monsters and get some loot to help you along the way. Having a game that is generated specifically for you is a seriously awesome idea and the quality of this game is very nice — especially for a jam.
EDELWEISS by Lukke
EDELWEISS is a wonderful little garden where you can control a small noodle-looking creature inside a spaceship that plants seeds. That’s right, you can control a noodle who jumps on their spaceship to drop seeds down onto the world below. This black-and-white game is very curious to play around in — you can plant all of these seeds and see what weird things spring up from the ground.
If you love your garden, you can then take a screenshot of it, or if it is feeling too crowded you can reset the entire thing. If you’d rather just watch a garden start to grow, you can let the ship play on autopilot. In this mode, the game acts like a screensaver, moving around and planting plants as it goes. Watching your garden grow and your noodle bounce is just so much fun.
Herbarium by Yanko Oliveira
Herbarium has you trying to figure out the effects of various different flowers through scientific experiments. You are given various flowers to figure out — each one can be created to make some different potions: poison, steroids, health, etc. First, you must experiment with the flower to figure out what it can do. You must extract some of the flower, figure out how acidic it is, find its boiling point and then find the effects it can cause on a mouse.
Each of these categories needs to be answered as you figure out more about the flower. Some are quite simple tests — like acidity is just found by putting cabbage into the sample and finding the color the cabbage changes to. Others take far more precision — like finding the exact boiling point of the extract.
Experimenting on mice can also be a tricky subject, as you need to figure out how much you’d like to inject. Once you think you know what the flower does, you can try your luck at labeling them. There are plenty of flowers to play around with in Herbarium — figuring out what potions you can make with each will be tricky!