The DIA Game Club runs a monthly game jam where members get together and have fun making games in a supportive environment.
In this series we're giving non-Game Club folks a chance to see what it's like participating in a game jam and sharing what we learned along the way. We hope you learn something new after reading!
It’s plane to see!
What’s plane to see? The DIA Game Jam retrospective, that is! For the month of June we explored interactive fiction (IF) again by trying our hands at an old-school game format. Read on to find out more!
Following the fifth jam, we wanted to keep the following outcomes for our sixth jam:
- Effective. Would it help us be more creative and intentional?
- Sustainable. Could we consistently do this?
- Enjoyable. Is it fun to do?
- Replicable. Can this format hold up with different themes, tools, etc.?
- Accessible. Will newcomers feel comfortable with this format?
- Challenging. How soon can newer members start using more complex tools?
For July we wanted to see if the tool itself could foster creativity:
- Empowering. Will the tools empower our creativity?
Our tool for this month is Inform 7, “... a programming language for creating interactive fiction, using natural language syntax.”
Since NarraScope 2023 was happening this month, we decided to go with an IF tool we hadn’t used yet.
Inform 7 is meant for making parser IF games, where you enter instructions into a command line to do something within the game world.
While we already determined from the fifth and fourth jams that it’s possible for our members to use more difficult tools, the parser format itself worried us. These kinds of game’s aren’t always the most accessible and are infamous for feeling too restrictive. Would jam participants be able to come up with exciting ideas and concepts within this particular framework of gaming?
June’s randomly generated theme word is “plane”. Plane could refer to an airplane that flies or a simple flat surface.
It’s a theme that’s not too restrictive but very broad in its different meanings. What kinds of games could arise from this?
Participants and their entries
Elizabeth is a DIA Apprentice and works as a UX Developer.
What went well: Was able to make a story.
What didn’t go well: Was very confused.
If I had more time: Since it's her first week using it, she'd spend more time learning it.
Learnings: Even though she didn't understand the game mechanics, she could still focus on the fiction part of interactive fiction.
Alex is an aspiring Games User Researcher also interested in Data Analytics. He likes learning about the player experience and how to use that to make better games.
What went well: The map was complicated to make, so he's glad it went well.
What didn’t go well: Trying to figure out how to use if/else statements.
If I had more time: Figuring out if/else statements and putting more stuff into the world.
Learnings: Really fun to physically create a world. Next time he wants to make a flowchart on paper before developing anything. Appreciates that this is a more creative outlet for him. Makes him excited to worldbuild.
Hello, Justin here! I’m the founder and head of the Game Club, UX & Product Designer, and Game Maker. I enjoy exploring fun ideas that pop into my head and sharing them with the world.
Parser IF games are some of the coolest things to me so I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to try my hand at making them!
My entry for Jam#6 is The Plane of Rest, a game about exploring a calm and serene environment.
What went well: I was able to make a functioning world.
What didn’t go well: I encountered a lot of issues with naming bc some of my rooms and things had the same names in them. I'd make more interactive objects for the world and flesh out the environments more.
If I had more time: I'd make more interactive objects for the world and flesh out the environments more.
Learnings: Inform 7 is harder than I thought. The documentation made it seem straightforward at first but in practice it was a little more confusing. It just confirms my hypothesis that Inform 7 needs better onboarding. But overall I like how I could easily create an interactive world based on my ideas.
We found this fifth jam to be:
- Empowering. Inform 7 has a bit of a learning curve but we were able to use it to prototype interesting ideas.
We’re thankful that the Club continues to be a place where beginners and comfortable learn game making.