Seventy-two hours. Eight teammates. One game.
Cody Harrison and Oliver Loescher were just two of the Video Game students who took part in Toronto Film School’s recent Game Jam, which took place over three days at Steeles Campus from Aug. 8 to 10.
“Game Jam is an event where students have two to three days – so, 48 to 72 hours – to essentially create a video game from scratch…I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a hackathon,” laughed Harrison, 32, a Video Game Design & Animation student and chair of TFS’s Steeles Campus Student Council.
“You’re not really worried about building the most beautiful, most immaculate, AAA game – you’re out to make a concept, take a simple mechanic based on that theme, and make it work.”
As members of Team John Chick, the concept Harrison and Loescher spent their Game Jam experience working on was a barnyard version of the Keanu Reeves’ action thriller John Wick.
“(Our game is) basically John Wick, but as a chicken. It’s set in the future and he lives on a farm – and in the future, chickens actually became man’s best friend, so John Chick becomes very upset when all the other farm animals gang up and kill his friend, Farmer Jimmy Joe,” Loescher, a fourth term Video Game Design & Development student, said of John Chick’s backstory.
“So, this is a revenge story about John Chick killing all the other farm animals and saving the other chickens – and he uses his time gun to defeat them.”
Harrison, who acted as his team’s lead character artist, said the inspiration behind John Chick’s use of a time gun in the game emerged from the Game Jam’s “fast and slow” theme.
“It’s a pretty interesting theme. We’re going with a slowing and increasing time concept… through the use of a time gun,” he explained, noting that players of the John Chick game won’t actually shoot their enemies, but attempt to get them to kill each other by “manipulating them through time.”
“Essentially, you want to be able to speed them up or slow them down as they’re shooting at you – kind of force them to shoot each other by essentially dodging their bullets.”
As the project’s main developer, Loescher, 18, said Team John Chick was hard-pressed to get everything done, given Game Jam’s such strict time limits.
“Most AAA games usually take over two years, I believe…this is only 72 hours, so it’s a lot more rushed and lot of just what do we need to get done, just get it done – and rush, rush, rush,” he said.
“It’s really addictive, though. I barely got any sleep last night, because I couldn’t get my mind off thinking what I need to be doing…but it’s fun because I’m making new friends and making more connections doing this, which is one of the nicest thing of doing Game Jams – making friends.”