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Top 5 Game Jam Success Strategies

I'm a developer who loves to write,I love to hack my way through the world of words and code.

I really like game jams a lot. I did my first game jam back in August of 2020, and in the almost two years since I've participated in at least 20 game jams, I've won. So I guess you could say I'm a fan, considering the number of game jams going on at any given time.

I don't think I'm alone. I frequently get asked how to do well in game jams, so I sat down and put together a list of the things that I've noticed over the years of doing game jams. Don't take these as rules that need to be followed. These are just my observations that I think could be helpful to keep in mind when working on a game jam game.

1) Make it easy,.

And when I say easy, I mean easy for you. We forget how good we are at our own games simply because we know everything about them. We know the quote, UN quote, and correct way to play, and because of that, we tend to design levels that feel fun to us. Forgetting the level of mastery that we inevitably have compared to a first-time player, My usual advice is: if you think a level is hard, make it easier. If you think a level is easy, make it easier.

I jokingly say when you think a level is boring, that's just about right. I say this because, in a game jam, you're not just getting players to try your game because they like the genre. For example, you may have players trying your platformer that don't normally play games like that. Maybe they mostly play puzzle games but haven't really ever played a platformer before. They're going to be lacking in the fundamental knowledge and muscle memory that you've developed over many years of playing those types of games.

This can lead to frustration in those players, which can affect your feedback rating. It does take a little more time, but I've found success with including levels that I thought were fun.

2) Make it look nice

Whether you agree with it or not, Visuals matter. You don't have to have amazing art, but the quick developer art of just kind of drawing an image on something with the mouse generally makes the game look worse. Don't get me wrong, we all do it. This is what every camera looks like in my games, but the difference is it's never seen in-game unless I forget to turn off the debug key.

This tip is mainly for the pure developers out there that claim they don't have any art skills, and if you don't want to team up with an artist, I would suggest you go more abstract. If you're just starting out, stick to a color palette with fewer colors.

Use simple shapes along with things like particles and scaling to show action in place of animation. This will give the game a look of intentionality as opposed to unfinished. Also, not using the engine's default font will really help sell Polish. There are plenty of free font sites out there, and it makes a pretty big difference in my opinion.

3) Make it short.

Typically, at the end of a game jam, players will play through the game. Submitted In my experience, no one plans to just play one game in a sitting. Usually, the plan is to play through several games so you can rate and give feedback. However, if your game takes 30 minutes or more to play,


There's a good chance that they won't finish your game, or in the worst case, they could subconsciously be annoyed that it took so long to get through your game that it could actually hurt the feedback and ratings you leave.

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I found 10 to 20 minutes to be the real sweet spot. 20 can still be a bit long, so I would keep it closer to 15. Ideally, it leaves the player feeling that they had a good experience but didn't spend the majority of their limited free time sitting on just one gameplay session. This can be hard to estimate, especially since we are always better at our own games. I have a general rule of thumb that I've found to be fairly accurate. I take the time it takes to play.

4) Make it look nice

Whether you agree with it or not, Visuals matter. You don't have to have amazing art, but the quick developer art of just kind of drawing an image on something with the mouse generally makes the game look worse.

Don't get me wrong, we all do it. This is what every camera looks like in my games, but the difference is it's never seen in-game unless I forget to turn off the debug key. This tip is mainly for the pure developers out there that claim they don't have any art skills, and if you don't want to team up with an artist, I would suggest you go more abstract. If you're just starting out, stick to a color palette with fewer colors.


Dollars use simple shapes along with things like particles and scaling to show action in place of animation. This will give the game a look of intentionality as opposed to unfinished. Also, not using the engine's default font will really help sell Polish. There are plenty of free font sites out there, and it makes a pretty big difference in my opinion.

5) Allow it to rest.

Remember to take breaks, eat, and sleep, especially if it's your first game jam. You will feel the need to work nonstop to get everything done. Resist that urge. We work better when we're rested and in a good headspace, grinding for hours.


And can lead to more problems and time lost due to fatigue-related mistakes more so than the time you would have lost had you taken that break 2 hours ago. This change is based on the length of the jam.

Of course, I wouldn't take time to go sleep if you're in the middle of a 12-hour jam, but remember to listen to your body and take notice when frustrated because that's when complications that will appear in the final hours are written.

In The End:

All these things are much easier said than done. Of course, I think in all the jams I've taken part in, I've only followed all of these tips at the same time. once, In the end, it comes down to this.

Think of the player and what will make a good experience for them. But also, don't forget about yourself. I hope these tips have been helpful or at least made you think in a different way.

If you have any more tips that you think would be helpful to others, please share them in the comments below, and good luck on your next game.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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