Zoological Game Jam

The red kites that buzz my garden. The house spider that lives behind my cistern. The slow worm that calls my compost heap home. The River Test whirligigs whose country dances captivated me last week… Surrounded by fascinating creatures denied but deserving of ludological love, I’ve decided to make Tally-Ho Corner’s third game jam beastly. In order to participate you must produce, by the end of 2022, a solo entertainment with one or more non-human animals at its core.

While the jam judges* are pedantic in some areas (see the ‘Small Print’ section below) when it comes to theme we are python flexible. If you’d rather make a game about the sort of crocodile that devours pillboxes and bunkers than the sort that eats fish and zebras, that’s fine with us. If the black widows that get your creative juices flowing slay with 20mm cannons and Browning MGs, not latrotoxin, no problem. Prefer your eagles Napoleonic, lunar, or turtle-molested? We won’t quibble.

* Roman and myself

That said, me and my colleague will be disappointed if everyone chooses mechanical animals over organic ones.

As I’ve argued in the past, the game industry’s obsession with Homo sapiens means many of Earth’s most extraordinary life-and-death struggles, tactical situations, environments, and forms of locomotion have yet to be translated into games.

While bona-fide wars might be relatively rare in the animal kingdom, the elements that make engrossing wargames – planning, teamwork, guile, deception, risk, stealth, terrain significance, asymmetry, consequences… – are abundant.

Your choice of genre and medium won’t prejudice your chance of success. Something arcade, tactical, or text-based for the PC, has as much chance of wowing the judges as an analogue card game or a print-and-play TBS. At this point all I can say with certainty is that the winning entry will be fun, approachable, and original. Its rules will be crystal clear, its decision-making engaging, and its dramas and outcomes plausible.

Early in 2023, I’ll devote a Friday feature to your submissions. Entries that impressed, surprised, or amused Roman and me will be highlighted and the overall winner announced. In addition to securing a unique ceramic trophy emblazoned with their name/handle*, the victorious Cornerite will be invited to participate in an A2Z ‘miniature interview’.

* I’m in the process of designing a one-off ‘Zoological Game Jam Winner’ mug.

— The Small Print —

1. The closing date for entries is midnight, December 31st.
2. Entries or links to download locations should be sent to me via timfstone at gmail dot com (mailing address available on request) before January 1st.
3. Entrants can be amateur or professional, individuals or multi-person teams.
4. The installers for computer game submissions should be no larger than 80 megabytes.
5. Computer games must be single-player, standalone (no scenarios for existing titles), and Windows compatible.
6. Print & play submissions must be suitable for solitaire play and occupy no more than four sides of A4 paper/card (If you’re going to use half your acreage for board and counters, your rules better be succinct!)
7. Print & play wargames can utilise up to 4 six-sided dice, a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, a pencil, and multiple chit receptacles. No other play accoutrements are permitted.
8. Sorry, I’m not equipped to play/judge VR games.
9. While I promise to play and acknowledge receipt of every submission, time pressure means my feedback will be reserved for those designs I like most.
10. Please don’t send in your game until you’re completely happy with it. The judging process will be involved enough without the added complication of patches and errata.

Short of inspiration? This selection of videos might help…


      • Excellent idea. I’ve joined; time will tell whether I end up submitting anything.

        Anyone have tips on building games? I’m used to Python for games but it’d be nicer to have something that will run cleanly in the webpage.

        • Have you looked at Godot? Might be what you want, as it can export to HTML5. It has its own scripting language, but from what I’ve seen it looks very Pythonesque, so it could be an easier transition in that respect as well.

          • Thanks. I should learn Godot at some point – it looks like a good way to develop for mobile, which is something I’d like to try. But right now I’m having a go with Phaser – a chance to brush up my Javascript will do me good.

  1. Here we go lads! I’ve already got a few fun ideas simmering.

    Inspiring theme for sure. The old days of Sim Life and Sim Isle were great games that don’t really have a space in the modern video-gamut.

    I’ve spent years imagining a COIN wargame about counter-poachers and park rangers, but I’m not sure I’ve the talent to really bring it all to life.

    Tim, can you confirm that games playable in the browser are acceptable?

    • Here we go indeed. I’m so in!

      And take it from the surprise (to me, at least) winner of the last game jam: you definitely do have to the talent to bring it to life. It may not be perfect, and it may even be a little rough, but it will be a living thing that you made real after years of just imagining it, and in my experience that process and result is so worthwhile.

      An anti-poaching COIN game is an awesome idea, too. Can’t wait to play it.

      • Thanks for the encouragement!

        I have an idea (though it may prove too ambitious for the amount of free time I’m likely to have in the foreseeable). Just wanted to check: Is a remake (or at the very least a “blatantly inspired by”) eligible?

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