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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Also In The February 2018 Issue

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Links from the bottom of all the February 2018 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for February 2018.