Arts & EntertainmentSpotlight

Players Become Makers in Indie Speed Run

Have you ever tried making a video game? How about finishing it in 48 hours? Game development jams have been around for a while.

Recently, the Indie Speed Run was launched. It was a contest which required participants to create a game in 48 hours based on a given theme and representing a given element. The Indie Speed Run is especially notable because of the legendary figures from the indie community who are judging entries.

The judges include Markus “Notch” Persson, creator of Minecraft; Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, known for his Zero Punctuation reviews and also creator of multiple indie games of his own; Dino Patti, CEO for Playdead, the company that created “LIMBO”; Kellee Santiago, president of thatgamecompany, makers of “Journey”; Trent Oster, co-founder of BioWare and director for “Neverwinter Nights” and “Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition”; Ron Gilbert, who worked on the first two “Monkey Island” games;  and Vander Caballero, responsible for the game “PAPO & YO.”

I formed my own team for the contest, as did many other aspiring indie developers seeking fame and fortune. I was most interested in having my work judged by such prestigious judges, but of course a chance at the $2,500 prize wasn’t a bad incentive either.

We were given the theme, zealotry, and the elements we had to incorporate into our game were skeletons. We decided to make a Zelda-esque dungeon explorer with Game Boy Color-style graphics. The player would explore ruins left behind by an ancient civilization, wiped out by their own zealotry.

The development of said game went rather smoothly in the early stages, but unfortunately as the last person with eyes on the project, I goofed up and left the game with a few critical errors and bugs. We probably won’t be winning any prize for it, but it was an enjoyable experience and I’m proud to say that I have participated in the contest.

Playing the games from the contest is very satisfying especially after making my own entry. It’s interesting to see the ways in which participants kept their development times short by utilizing different genres and graphical styles which were manageable in the short timeframe.

There are games like “Hippo Trip” by Joe Chang and Tim Shepherd, and “Asylum Night” by Geoff Blair and Joshua Morse, which fit more into a casual arcade genre, allowing developers more time to focus on creating graphics and gameplay elements and focusing less on things like story writing and producing a large quantity of other content.

There are also games like “Beneath” by Alcapa Games, easily one of my favorite entries, along with the also fantastic “Dissonance” by Pixel Cows, which utilize retro styled low-resolution graphics to reduce the amount of time spent on designing sprites. My team’s own “Ruin Asplorer” features a retro theme as well. Creating simpler lower resolution sprites is less time consuming and still looks great, so it just makes sense for a competition like this.

I highly recommend trying a few of the games out just to see the different ways in which developers met their deadlines while trying to follow their given theme.

Anyone who is interested in seeing the games created for the Indie Speed Run can check the official website for the contest at The games will be available to play through January 31 and a winner will be announced on February 5.



Featured image is taken from Hippo Trip by Joe Chang and Tim Shephard.