Train2Game's Myra Smallman on making mobile masters with game jams

Train2Game's Myra Smallman on making mobile masters with game jams
Choosing Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8 wasn't the only notable aspect of Train2Game's recent game jam at the University of Bedfordshire.

The event was also a world record breaker.

The 48 hour hack saw a total of 299 students come together to create a series of games fit for the platform's Metro UI, with an adjudicator from Guinness giving the event his seal of approval when the coding was over.

But, according to Train2Game course director Myra Smallman, Train2Game's hacks aren't all about setting records – they're also about helping newcomers gain exposure, and uniting them with the platform most suited to the kind of games jams deliver: mobile.

We caught up with Smallman for her take on Train2Game's record breaking bash in Bedford.

Pocket Gamer: What makes Windows 8 a good platform for today's students to familiarise themselves with?

Myra Smallman: On our courses we aim to give students training with a wide range of different development tools.

We see Windows 8 as a vital development tool for them to be able to use as we think it will be one of the main platforms for games design in the future. It also supports the native languages they are familiar and comfortable with.

The students have the chance to choose what is right for them – C++/DX, HTML5/JS, XAML, C#

Can you tell us some more about the event's 'best in show' winner, Royal Rush? Will it be released on Windows Store?

Royal Rush was chosen as the winner because the judges could see so many positives about the game.

The team jelled well together, the game used an innovative gaming mechanic and was perfect as a mobile title, with drop in game play and it's instantly addictive.

We hope to see it in the Windows Store for Windows 8 on 26 October.

The game jam produced some 20 games, which have apparently been submitted for review to the Windows Store. How many of these will make it to market, and what slice of the profits would students see if so?

The plan is for all the games to be free to download, so there's no revenue to share, but this is a great promotional opportunity for the students and their games.

Some would say there's more value in them showcasing their work at this point in their careers, rather than making a quick buck.

Microsoft's Andrew Webber, Guinness World Records' Gaz Deaves and Myra Smallman

One thing we try to communicate to the students is the that gaming is a business, publishing and marketing are going to be vital to their future in the games industry. This experience is part of our whole ethos of getting students ready for work.

We hope to see the vast majority of the games in the Windows Store as long as they meet the required quality measures for successful submission.

Is a 48 hour game jam actually a good way of developing games intended for release??

Primarily, game jams are fun, but we also like to think that they teach our students how to work as a team and how to work under pressure.

We are very proud that our students have a level of dedication and talent that has allowed them to produce playable games within 48 hours.

In terms of quality of a release, it's unlikely that all the titles completed in this way will be up to the standard of a game built over months or even years, but what it can produce is innovation.

Many mobile titles are based around a simple and addictive gaming mechanic, and the game jam environment is ideal to produce this simplistic game play that demonstrates a clever idea. Should one of the games prove particularly popular it could be further developed in the future by the students that created it.

?Do you imagine you will work together with Microsoft on a similar sort of event in the future?

Hopefully. At the moment we are all exhausted, but we very much enjoyed working with Microsoft.

Those at Microsoft involved provided tremendous support to our students and given the opportunity we would very much like to work with them again.
Thanks to Myra for her time.

Staff Writer's news editor 2012-2013


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