On September 27th, dozens of indie developers will come together virtually to develop video games using open source software. This date marks the third annual Open Jam, a three-day, 80-hour online game jam dedicated to indie developers building playful games and advancing the world of open source game development.
In preparation for Open Jam 2019, we wanted to share the story of Open Jams past and preview the exciting new things coming this year!
Participants divide into teams (or work independently) to build an open source game from scratch in 80 hours, play and judge other games, and compete for a chance to have their game featured at the highly anticipated All Things Open event in October.
What to expect from Open Jam 2019
Open Jam is jam-packed with opportunities to write great code, connect with other developers, and win amazing new prizes.
Developers participating in Open Jam have a great deal of flexibility. Here are the highlights from the guidelines:
- You can use any tools to create your game, and it can run on any platform, but open source tools and platforms are encouraged.
- Games' source should be available and licensed as open source.
- You can create your own assets or use existing, openly licensed assets (e.g., Creative Commons).
- You can work solo or on a team.
- "Open Source Karma" points will be allocated based on how open source friendly your games are (i.e., how many open tools you use, if your game runs on an open platform, and how easy it is to follow a GitHub or GitLab repository).
- Judging will run Sept. 30 to Oct. 8th and will be peer-based.
- Games require a minimum of 10 ratings to place in the top three.
To keep things exciting, we create a theme for all games at the event. The theme will be announced at 1pm (US Eastern) on September 27. For all rules, guidelines, and recommendations, see the official Open Jam site.
Open Jam 2019 begins on September 27 and ends on September 30 at midnight. During the following week, all the game creators play and rate each others' games.
How to join
To join Open Jam 2019, just head over to the game jam page and click the Join Jam button!
We have a hugely exciting opportunity for the winners of Open Jam 2019! Like previous years, the top three rated games will be featured at the All Things Open conference. Unlike in previous years, where the games were shown on run-of-the-mill laptops, we have something very special to offer.
In collaboration with the Command Line Heroes podcast, the winning games will be playable on full-sized classic arcade cabinets!
The story of Open Jam
We founded Open Jam because we wanted to bring game developers and open source together in a new way. In the game jams we'd participated in before, we noticed few game developers were using open source tools. As open source users and advocates, we decided to start our own game jam with the aim of:
- Encouraging game developers to check out open source tools
- Encouraging open source developers to check out game development
The idea of Open Jam was born, but it was far from existing. It took a number of other people coming together to support us in order to make it happen.
Thank you to everyone who has submitted a game to Open Jam, especially that first year. You helped show that there is an amazing group of developers who want to show their creativity using open source technology. While it's hard to know exactly how many people have participated (we welcome everyone!), the number of games you've created at Open Jam is 88 in total! You rock.
Very early in planning the first Open Jam, we got connected with the team behind Opensource.com. They were hugely helpful when it came to getting the word out about the jam and with getting space for us at All Things Open. Thank you, Jason Hibbets, Rikki Endsley, Alex, and Jason Baker!
All Things Open
For most game jam participants, creating a game is its own reward. Still, we felt we should do a little something extra for Open Jam winners, over and above what they'd get from most online game jams. But what?
Enter All Things Open. What better place to show off Open Jam games than the largest open technology event on the East Coast? The organizers were kind enough to give us a booth (they love community projects like ours), and we set up laptops to show off the top three winners.
Thanks to All Things Open for being so welcoming and for supporting open source gaming.
Command Line Heroes
Need a new podcast? Check out Command Line Heroes, a podcast about "the people who transform technology from the command line up." Not only is the podcast great, so is the team behind it. The Command Line Heroes team is the most recent group to support Open Jam. It's a great fit: they share our passion for free and open collaboration, and the show even began its second season with Press Start, an episode about game development's open origins. Our own Jared Sprague was featured in that episode.
We have Command Line Heroes to thank for providing the arcade cabinets! They have also provided a lot of organizational and logistical help.
Join us at Open Jam
If you're a game creator of any skill level—or you just want to spend three days developing open source games with us—join us at Open Jam! We're really excited to welcome you into our community no matter where you are in the world.