beanz Magazine

PyWeek Game Jam Report

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Seven days to design, code, and debug a program with PyGame. What could go wrong?

So in August, as I was looking into game development engines that would be good for teaching programming, I remembered the existence of PyGame: Python’s oldest and most mature library for writing games.

After looking into PyGame for the first time in years, I discovered that not only was it still well-maintained and active but that a game making competition, a game jam, was coming up soon: the 24th PyWeek.

I thought to myself, “Hey, this is perfect! This’ll make me learn PyGame and actually finish a game for the first time in seven years. ”

A very long time ago I actually wanted to be an indie game developer. I became a researcher and teacher instead, but there’s always been a part of me that missed working on games. Maybe, just maybe, this would get me back into the swing of things. And, you see, back-in-the-day, I cut my teeth on a library called Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL), which is what PyGame is based on!
One thing to know is that PyGame isn’t like Unity or Godot or GameMaker – there’s no integrated development environment, tools for animation, or built in physics. That definitely makes some things a lot more complicated!

On the other hand, if you’re like me and are someone who likes knowing how everything ticks then I think something like SDL or PyGame is actually a really satisfying experience that means you learn a lot about game engines.

October 14th arrived and the PyWeek theme is announced: “They’re Behind Everything!”. I had until evening on October 21st to write a game based on that concept and turn it in. I decided to sleep on it and start designing on Sunday morning.

Sunday rolled around, so I did what I always do: start writing.

I planned out a design for a small game that’s really stripped down to very basic mechanics. A weird little story about endlessly reborn universes, created by beings searching for immortality. Little did I realize that even the few pages of design document I wrote would still be too ambitious for the time available. A week seems like a long time, but when you have school or a job the time slips away pretty fast.


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