FF2012: An Hour With the Gamemaking Frenzy

Fantastic Arcade incites a 48-hour creative explosion

This is how four players play two characters on one laptop.
This is how four players play two characters on one laptop.

In the armpit between the HighBall and the Drafthouse lies an unassuming yoga studio. For 48 hours it is the local HQ for the Fantastic Arcade’s Gamemaking Frenzy that invites game developers around the world to complete a game in two days and let the public play the end results.

The theme the participants were given was Adventure Time, and the game-reference-laden cult cartoon from Pendleton Ward’s seemed a perfect match for the crew setting up shop in the Eternal Way Yoga Center.

The only sign that anything is going on inside are pieces of paper taped to the door with the phrase “we’re here” in parentheses. Sitting in the bare room are roughly 10 development teams and twice as many screens varying from small laptops to desktops with mammoth screens. The fruit plate remains largely untouched, but a few beer and soda cans litter the tables. The scene is strangely serene with the muted plunks of keystrokes interrupted now and again by short, quiet conversations between teammates. This was this past Sunday at about 3pm, five hours before the Frenzy was set to end with the games posted to the Adventure Time Gamemaking Frenzy site.

Here are a few statistics about the jam:

Things there were one of at the Austin HQ:
Stand-up shower (seemingly unused)
Roach carcass
Large cooler of beer
Roll of toilet paper (about half a roll in each bathroom)
Game submitted to the website while I was there
Sleeping bag used the night before
Gameboy used for audio samples

Things there were two or more of:
Empty rooms
Ethereal sky murals (one in a bathroom)
Fake commercials made for Adventure Minute, a game being polished at the Austin HQ
Cases of beer in the back room

A few game elements showcased at Austin HQ:
Desecrating graves to find a guitar
A living gazebo as a bad guy
A racing game with two playable characters built for four players (it's complicated)
A battle against crabs to overcome a fear of the ocean
Snails, snails, snails (every game was supposed to incorporate one)

The Frenzy finished with 100 or so submission to the website. You should play them here.

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ff2012, Adventure Time, Gamemaking Frenzy, Fantastic Arcade, Fantastic Fest 2012

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