TOJam #3

By: Derek Yu

On: July 22nd, 2008

a game about bouncing

Jim McGinley, author of the amazing Mario Inna Space, informs us that the 3rd Annual Toronto Game Jam ended last month and was a resounding success. The theme this year was “cheese,” and entrants were asked to develop a game in 3 days that incorporated cheese, a goat on a pole, and the sound of the TTC subway door closing. 34 games came out of the jam, and it’s pretty impressive (and unique) stuff.

Here are the ones that Jim recommends to TIGSource readers:

a game about bouncing (First Place, depicted above) – an atmospheric abstract game where you have to “grab” bumpers and dodge missiles. Faint smells of Everyday Shooter and fl0w reminisce… and no, that sentence doesn’t mean anything, but it sounds like it does!

Debugger (Second Place) – a game where you smash bugs by hitting keys on your keyboard. Each key corresponds to an area on the screen.

Cheese is War (Third Place) – a multiplayer-on-one-keyboard game where the goal is to topple a tower of cheese onto your opponent.

flowers of error – a drag n’ drop “anti-shooter” by Jonathan Mak and Pekko Koskinen.

Super Cheese Repulser – a one or two player game where the gold is to get a piece of cheese to a mousetrap using a “repulser.”

Office Smash – smash up your office using physics!

Goats Amoré – in Jim’s contribution to the competition, you play a cheese that has to earn the respect of other cheese in order to find a goat. Um.

Some of the games require XNA Framework, and Office Smash requires Unity. But if you wish to live vicariously, there are videos of each game accompanying the downloads. Thanks, Jim!

TIGdb: TOJam Games (still being added)

  • Jim McGinley

    Thanks a million Derek. Having TOJam highlighted on the TIGSource home page is an honour!

  • Eclipse

    where are cheese and impaled goats in “A game about bouncing”?

  • Josh
  • Toom

    Again I find myself cursing my Macbound nature; the only one of these I can play is Office Smash, which I managed to break almost immediately by somehow maneuvering my dude outside of the cubicle, where he got stuck.

  • Gutter

    So the winning game has no cheese? And all the runner up have some.

    Damn those Canadians and their easy to break rules!

  • Jim McGinley

    When dealing with cheese and goats, controversy is to be expected.

    The cheese theme is meant to inspire, but not everyone needed inspiration. We gave Shawn the okay to avoid the requirements, since he felt strongly they would detract from his game. The man has passion and vision – who are we to interfere! It’s worth noting that a few other games fail the cheese-goat test. Next year, we will probably make the theme optional.

    I completely forgot to mention Titanic Pinball!

    Playable Online! MAC Friendly! Violent! Hilarious!

  • FISH

    i almost joined in the fun this year, but the arbitrary rules and “limitation” reaaaaally turned me off.
    i dont think they bring anything to the table at all. why cheese? why not meat? or…milk?

    the winning game dosent even follow those rules, i dont see why they need to exist.

    cool games none the less.
    i just think the organizers should try and come up with rules and themes that actually have a real impact on what the devs are doing. something actually challenging. or get rid of them altogether.

  • Jim McGinley

    **FISH >**

    My fellow Canadian! Are we not brothers?
    Joined by geography, united by language, bonded by a precarious health care system. Your words are like lemon drops in my soul.

    **Scientific Fact: Everybody likes cheese!**
    The smell. The texture. The taste.
    When I die, they’ll bury me in a cheese coffin.
    How could cheese turn you off!?
    “Why not meat? or… milk?”
    Let me grab my pencil, I’m reading 2 future themes.

    Sorry to hear the theme stopped you from coming, that was certainly not the intention (or was it? duh duh duuuuh). The goal of the theme was to help keep the creative juices flowing. For the most part, I think it worked. ~20 of the 34 games embraced the theme, and you’ll find subtle use of the cheese and goat throughout all of the games. It’s not our fault that Shawn McGrath’s cheesless entry is amazing (the bastard). Note to self: Juices.

    Ironically, it was the arbitrary rules and “limitation” of your own Gamma event, and the great games that resulted from it, that convinced us a theme would be beneficial. The important thing is to have a constraint to breed creativity (stole that from Heather Kelley). Arguing the merits of Gamma256 “Big Pixels” versus TOJam #3 “Cheese” would make us both look foolish, which means you have more to lose if we continue this.

    Needless to say, we will definitely be working on this aspect for TOJam #4. I don’t like the idea of forcing game makers to use a theme, since that ruins games. I also don’t like the idea of having no theme whatsoever, since that ruins games. Ultimate Solution: Knife Fight.

    p.s. I think we will always require the GoatOnAPole – it’s become a TOJam tradition. Hopefully that won’t keep you away.

    p.p.s. We are willing to accept just a pole, or possibly a sheep.

  • FISH

    i think you missed my point.

  • smallfry

    I’m lactose intolerant. Jerks.

  • Gutter

    For me, themes are a way to prevent people from coming up with game concepts before the event, or at least to sit down and come with an original twist to an idea they had.

    Was McGrath’s idea a brand new one for TOJam, or he just went to code there instead of doing it from his basement that week? Would it have made a difference if he didn’t do this within the context of TOJam? Apparently not, he is a known coder, he didn’t need the boost from the event, it might even be the other way around.

    Seeing as participants didn’t have to respect the theme, he would’ve won TOJam in any form or shape, so why bother with a theme to start with? How could his entry lose with such lax rules?

    I’m not disputing the quality of his work, but he flat out chrushed teams of 5-6 people, and by TOJam’s own account, he was done coding in the wee hours of the event, but still didn’t find time to make it cheesy.

    He could’ve made a background with holes, replace whatever game element with cheese, or just call the whole thing a cheese smell simulator (that grab onto things :) ). Granted, those are lame ideas, but I am not a guy who can code a professionally looking game in 2 days either.

  • Josh

    The “gold” is to get the pieces, or the “goal?” (; That’s still an interesting typo I think.

  • Jim McGinley

    The theme controversy is certainly unexpected.

    First, some clarifications. TOJam is **NOT** a competition. It can’t be. We allow any technology, any skill level, pre-made libraries of code (home grown or professional) and teams of any size. As result, comparing games becomes a tricky business, which is why the game pages tell you everything that went into making the game. The only competition at TOJam is the looming deadline. This creates a spirit of co-operation, and some teams even help each other.

    **The People’s Choice Conundrum**

    We introduced People’s Choice at TOJam #2 to let the developers determine who should be showcased on the site. People visiting aren’t going to look at every game, so we want to put our best foot forward (alphabetical leaves too much to chance). Beyond being featured on the website, there are no special People’s choice prizes. Everyone that completes a game is eligible for the mega raffle. Hence, there’s little incentive to cheat. Needless to say, the implementation of People’s Choice needs to be rethought.

    **What is TOJam?**
    **TOJam is about creating great games. Period.** That’s our focus. We don’t want games that are great since they were made in 3 days – we want games that are great period. Do game makers need our event? No! Do game makers like it? Yes! TOJam is **FUN**! The atmosphere + the people + the insane deadline = a real productive 3 days. TOJam’s unofficial slogan: “We provide the motivation, you provide the magic.”

    **Regarding Shawn**

    While the foundation of “a game about bouncing” was ready Saturday morning, the man worked like an animal the ENTIRE event refining that foundation. In his own words, he thought it “sucked” until Sunday afternoon. He even polished the game after the event (which is something I wish more game makers would do). His success has nothing to do with our lax rules or theme, and everything to do with his ability and determination.

    “Seeing as participants didn’t have to respect the theme, he would’ve won TOJam in any form or shape, so why bother with a theme to start with? How could his entry lose with such lax rules?”
    You’re saying we should enforce a theme to ensure games suck (kidding :). For the record, Shawn’s entry was nearly beaten by Debugger, Seas of Cheese, The Scourge, and Cheese is War (great games all). Not everybody likes abstract shooters :)

    Note: It wasn’t technical reasons that prevented Shawn from adding goats & cheese, it was purely design. He simply felt they would detract from his abstract shooter idea. I’m unsure what benefit could be derived in forcing Shawn (and other developers) to compromise their vision.

  • sinoth

    I’m almost scared to respond, for fear of a Novel Attack, but I’m gonna have to “me too” about the enforcement of the theme. Either enforce it, or don’t have one. This “well, we like to provide motivation but don’t want to make games suck” mentality is weak as hell. The whole point of a theme is to unify the entries. Not to hate on Shawn, but it seems like poor sportsmanship to even enter a contest with no intention of following the rules, even if they are only loose guidelines.

  • Shawn

    “Not to hate on Shawn, but it seems like poor sportsmanship to even enter a contest with no intention of following the rules, even if they are only loose guidelines.”

    What are you talking about? It’s not a competition. I just wanted to take a break from my job… of making games, to make something in a short amount of time. TOJam was just motivation. Sorry that people voted my blasphemous game as their favourite.

  • splotki

    i think the themes in tojam are more like “har har har” themes. Like “Include the sound of a fart in your game, yay!” type stuff. They’re not really “Explore human mortality” or “make this game fit in under 12k”-type themes.

    That being said, I agree with Fish. Either straight up make the themes a joke which nobody needs to follow,but can choose to follow for the in-jokeness of it all, or give the event some proper themes that lead folks to do some genuine artistic, technical or intellectual exploration… or just drop ’em!

    PS: Tojam is a great event no matter what.
    PSS: Shawn SUCKSSS!!! I HATE HIM!!!
    PSSS: Shawn is a-okay in my books.

  • splotki

    also, since Shawn’s game is abstract… and the theme of the event is “cheese”, shouldn’t we actually be looking at the game as the artists interpretation/expression of some sort of “cheesness”?

    I mean, you really can’t say that his game is NOT about cheese, not without opening up a huge can of art theory worms.

  • abstract poster

    Uhh, sorry for not posting this anywhere more relevant, but am I the only one who thinks “a game about bouncing” is kind of mechanically broken? Within about a minute I realized that the grabbing was ultimately an inferior method of movement than the dash, especially once you start having to dodge missiles.

    I can’t at the moment verbalize what exactly the problem I see is. The game just feels weak to me.

  • abstract poster

    Okay, after playing some of the other games, I retract everything I just said.

  • Shawn

    The grabbing mechanic may seem useless at early levels, but it’s integral at later levels.

  • trav

    Shawns game turned me off the whole list (sorry Shawn)
    I just don’t like abstract shooters and don’t think there’s enough room to innovate in that genre.

    That’s incredibly close minded of me and makes me a bad indie but that’s how it is, I’ve got limited time and don’t force myself to look at things when I don’t have the motivation.

    Who cares about enforcing theme rules though? anyone winging about a lack of cheese and goat poles is a stupid head.

  • Eclipse

    ehm, not to be polemical but the gamma “rules” were totally different by that “theme”, i mean: something like a contest where you have to do a game that uses a strange resolution aspect ratio is totally different from a game that needs to feature cheese and goats…
    a technical limitation is more interesting than a sort of optional theme, next time try with something like “do a game using only 4 colors”

    also, the fact that the winner game even doesn’t follow the rules isn’t so cool for the other partecipants that had to think about cheese and such… I would really pissed off after making a stupid cheese game just to say the winned did not

  • Eclipse

    @trav: you totally missed the point

  • Eclipse

    where there’s a winner there’s a compo… also prizeless compos are competitions, mine was just a tip to build an even better TOjam next year :)I also think we need more stuff like TOjam around, seems fun.

    PS a game about bouncing is cool.

  • Shawn

    It’s not exactly an abstract shooter since you can’t really shoot anything, but whatever.

    Also you should only play it with a dual analog controller like a 360 controller. It sucks with mouse, and mouse was just added as an afterthought to let more people try it I guess – probably a mistake.