Global Game Jam Hits the Right Notes

The results are in: USV ranked as the top university site in northern California (and behind only USC and UC Irvine for participation statewide) in the 2018 edition of the Global Game Jam. Overall, the top northern California performers were Facebook HQ, Unity Technologies, and University of Silicon Valley.  When the weekend event was over, 98 USV-hosted participants had submitted 18 games. While these numbers are impressive results from a packed 48-hours of ideation and development on campus, at the same time there were 42,800 jammers registered in 803 jam sites located in 108 countries participating in GGJ 2018.

Challenged to develop games that supported the theme of “Transmission”, teams formed and figured out how to harness the talents at their disposal in order to complete their submission within the time allotted.

Two games from the USV collection drew raves when they were presented at the final session: “One Ping Only”, and “Oasis”.

One Ping Only

Elaborating on the famous quote immortalized by Sean Connery in “Hunt for the Red October”, the team of Project Lead Kalyn Farmer, Programmer Scott La Fetra, 3D Modeler Derek Ho and Game Designer Daniel Mckernan took players on an immersive undersea experience. As the team describes it, “This is an adventure game where the player controls a submarine. Sonar pulses light the way through the deep unknown.” The game’s glowing submarine is able to steer through a never-ending labyrinth while issuing sonar pings or risk blowing up. The game’s source code and a playable build are both available for download.


Oasis is described by its two developers as “a playground of sound”. Engineered by Alec Tyre, with sound designed, composed and implemented by Derrick Reyes, Oasis beckons players to “Relax. Take your time. Plant some happy little flowers and hear their song.”

Consider the nuances of this entrancing item, available for download. The Oasis consists of a garden planted by users, with each plant playing its own musical offering. A single blade of grass can be “grown”, accompanied by its own sound. As it is joined by others, the sounds mingle and support an organic, evolving composition invented by the player.

Seeds dance and land, then take root. Flowers grow, as do mushrooms accompanied by percussive moments. The playing of this game can become a performance, much like a DJ does in front of a live audience. The sounds and how they were presented captivated the audience when it was revealed.

The Global Game Jam is billed as “the world’s largest game jam event. Think of it as a hackathon focused on game development. It is the growth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, we could come together, be creative, share experiences and express ourselves in a multitude of ways using video games. The weekend stirs a global creative buzz in games, while at the same time exploring the process of development, be it programming, iterative design, narrative exploration or artistic expression. It is all condensed into a 48-hour development cycle. The GGJ encourages people with all kinds of backgrounds to participate and contribute to this global spread of game development and creativity.”

USV has been a GGJ site since its inception in 2008 and continues to attract professionals and students alike. Congratulations to all who participated in 2018!


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