News‎ > ‎

Global Game Jam 2018

posted Feb 4, 2018, 4:03 AM by Sub-Zero Sound   [ updated Feb 26, 2019, 2:54 AM by Matt Schenkel ]
Last weekend, I (Matt) participated in Melbourne's 2018 Global Game Jam.

If you're unfamiliar with Global Game Jam, developers from all over the world get together in hundreds of locations, and spend their weekend creating something that didn't exist before.

This was my first game jam. I'm so glad I got to experience it in Melbourne of all places. It completely reaffirmed for me what I love about the indie game-dev community in this city.
Melbourne GGJ art by Georgie Zuzek
Melbourne GGJ art by Georgie Zuzek

As most teams that formed (there were 90+ this year in Melb!) don't have a dedicated sound person, many of the audio folk band together in one space where developers can approach us and let us know what they need. 
Joining the audio crew in this way, I got the opportunity to contribute to several great games.

I love working in a physical space with game developers. It truly knocks working remotely out of the park in terms of the experience and how easy communication is. Although I was in a crowded room and therefore in headphone-city all weekend, being able to chat to the teams in person and see what they're up to is invaluable to me, and I find it incredibly motivating.

All the games that were created this weekend have their own unique personality and charm!
I'll link the games I was in some way involved with here, and reflect on my processes for them a little.

Coffee Road
Coffee Road by Toybox Games Studios

"Coffee Road is a game about a Game Jam Cup. With a quest to transmit energy to your jammer through coffee, while making sure that yours and other jammers don’t find out you’re a sentient coffee cup."

Coffee Road was the first game I begun working on, as this team was one of the first to swing by the audio room, only an hour or so after beginning the jam on Friday night.

I took on the responsibility of SFX, and Corey Taylor & David Weaver the music.
Because they came in so soon, I was able to record some Foley for the SFX. A luxury I wouldn't have for every game that came through, as time became more of a pressing factor on the second and third day of the jam.

The SFX list I received made sense. Noises for the mug moving around, coffee machine sounds, and some human reactions for when you're spotted.
In order to get an authentic GGJ mug sound, I went straight to the source, and recorded my mug. This included a bunch of different handling noises and dropping it (gently!) in a few different ways.

Due to the nature of the jam, it was difficult to record audio without background noise until quite late when most jammers were asleep. All of the recording for this was done late Friday night/early Saturday morning. One sound that I'm glad I got was from the coffee machine downstairs. There's an absolutely filthy sound from the steam wand that you can hear in the game. 

I recall there being some quiet moments at the Degani cafe downstairs on the Saturday morning. Next time I'm in an empty and quiet cafe, I'm definitely going to make the most of it and record my coffee being made. That's one for the sample library.

Indie dev, coffee, and Crossy Road references. This one screams "Made in Melbourne".
Also, there's a neat little nod to Cowterpault in the form of a toy cow. References to other GGJ games, I think that's pretty cool!


Created by Gabriel Morgan, Eleanor McMurty, & James Smith. You can download it from here.

"Competitive disease spreading, just like Medieval times! Aim for the houses; whoever accumulates the most hits wins!"

The SFX were again, quite small in number for this one. 
The medieval and comically light mood set by Caitlin Hopwood's score worked perfectly with the gross splat of cow-on-wall impacts.

There's some fun little musical stingers for when the game changes whose turn it is. These were fun to create, and was a nice change of pace for the weekend as I didn't do any other music production.

The highlight of production on this game was definitely going around AIE's 2nd floor with a boom mic and capturing moos from different people. Most of the cow's moos were performed by the dev team, but there's a few from other jammers in there and a few from myself.

Cowterpault spent a lot of time streaming on the AIE projectors, Everyone was pretty much getting live updates on it's progress all weekend. I actually finished up my work on this at an ungodly time of the morning, and could see on the stream that someone was still working on it, so swung by and delivered the sounds then.

Pitch Perfect Pickles
Pitch Perfect Pickles

Created by Scott Beca & Leonie Yue of Mighty GamesYou can see more info and download it from the GGJ page here.

"The yodeling pickle rhythm game. Are you worthy of your yodeling pickle family?"

Well I can't say I've done this before.

This team were creating a yodeling game, where you have to match what your opponent on the other hilltop yodels. For that they needed some authentic yodeling. Who better to give a performance than Matt Brown, a composer/vocalist from the audio room!

We recorded Matt's yodel performance, and then I cut up the takes and edited them. For one of the games I spent the least amount of time on at the jam, it's certainly unique!

In line with Mighty Games' work, Pitch Perfect Pickles is easy to pick up and visually charming. 


Created by David Thompson, Ethan Moffatt, Daniel Armstrong, & Paul Bowers, who are currently creating the C&C3 Mod "Tiberian Sun Rising". 

"A game where you transmit yourself to new hosts to survive. Press V to exit Creatures and enter new ones."

This team was located on the other side of my desk, so communicating with them and seeing where the game and art was up to was incredibly easy.

The music was done by David Weaver before I got around to starting on this, so getting an idea of the mood was pretty simple. I just had to listen to what the music was doing and use that as a starting point. The music, as the game's background hints at, is industrious in tone. Abby Phillips helped out with some SFX towards the end as well, which was fantastic!

Being a platformer, creature movement and obstacle sounds were important for me to get right. There's 3 types of playable critters, and all of them move in a different way. One slides, one jumps, and one rolls around and up walls with suction cup feet.
Like the cow splat in Cowterpault, I wanted these creatures to sound disgusting and wet. Like they really come from another, moister planet. Using some recordings I had that involved tipping out a can of diced tomatoes, I found some pretty gross samples that fit perfectly with what I imagined the creatures sounding like in this game.

Working on this game made me realize that I need more destructible recordings in my library that fit between small and huge. It may be time to spend another day in the shed breaking stuff (sorry dad).

bird qwop

Created by Cameron Starkey & James Albert. You can download it from the GGJ page here.


This was a strange one. 
For some unknown reason at this jam, there were several games coming out featuring birds. (Transmit = Bird Flu?) I know some of the other audio crew were working on some bird-related SFX at some point, so when this team approached us for some "large bird calls", I immediately asked if anyone else had anything. Large birds are a whole different kettle of fish than small birds however, so we were at a bit of a loss here.

Their requirements were pretty small, as they were one of the teams who approached us towards the end of the jam. They needed some large bird calls and wing flapping. Ed Hund had already handled the music, so the sounds needed were pretty quick and easy, as I had some pre-recorded stuff I thought I could use.

It turned out that I too didn't have much in the way of large birds. I did however, have a few recordings of small to medium sized birds making noise. This was an ambience recording so there was a lot of background noise and birds all calling at the same time, but I managed to find a few calls that could be isolated, manipulated and turned into SFX.

Wing flaps were in truth, jacket flaps. Sound is deceptive.

Phone Home
phone home

Created by Peter Armstrong. You can download it from the GGJ page here.

"From your space station on the edge of the solar system, launch symbols back to earth to send a complete message in the least time. Short 1 to 4 players arcade style game."

If anyone knows Peter from the IGDA Meetups or from around Melbourne game-dev, you'll know how nice he is, and for someone who's doing game dev as more of a hobby, he's really good. Peter's got some great ideas, and if you catch him at one of the IGDA meets, I highly recommend you chat to him and check out his game. He's usually got a build on his phone (that he would have updated on the train in!)

Peter was working solo on this game, and needed some SFX. I was super keen to be involved with this one. Peter actually approached me quite early on in the weekend, but I only got a chance to really think about it sometime on Sunday morning.

The sounds required were fairly simple. Some space-y UI sort of sounds for when each player shoots their transmission, and some "success" or "fail" sounds, depending on if they reach Earth or hit another planet along the way.

Space-y SFX are always fun. I love media set in space. It was fun spending some time creating some bleeps and bloops and then just drowning them in reverb, and then pulling back a bit because no one wants UI sounds that last close to 10 seconds.

One of the effects Peter was after for when a transmission failed to reach Earth was a person replying "huh?" over a radio.
Corey Taylor, who I worked on Coffee Road with, supplied some nasally-sounding dialogue which I used for this. It worked perfectly with a bit of a radio-filter applied.

This is one of the games I'll be keen to see at the Play Party this Feb.

Echo Command
echo command

Echo Command was created by a team of 5, consisting of Jeremy Little, Aaron Smit, Emilee Ashe, Jarrod Sevior, & Gene Collis.
You can check it out and download it from the GGJ page here.

"Plan out your moves to get to the terminal by passing instructions from robot to robot."

This was one that I jumped on really late. Again, this was part of the Sunday morning rush where I was spending time at my laptop pumping out sounds and then running around AIE delivering them via USB. When I popped by the team to figure out what they needed in terms of sound, there was already music in the game by Jordan Dines.

Jeremy had already told me what sounds they needed. There wasn't many at all. A sort of "cartoony" electricity loop, and some Win/Lose sounds.

The electricity loop I already had and just required a little processing. For the Win/Lose sounds, I played around with some synths while listening to the music in the game. This helped me get the tone right and make sure what I was making wasn't out of key and creating a dissonant sort of sound when the player was meant to be feeling rewarded.

I didn't do much stuff with soft-synths at all this weekend. I hardly got to use my Midi keyboard. That's why for the short amount of time I spend on Echo Command, I had quite a bit of fun.

I love the arpeggiator on my little Akai keyboard. It's so simple to use. 
My process for these 2 level-ending sounds was to load up a synth patch, turn on the arpeggiator on the keyboard and then mess around with the variables until I found a sound I really liked.

I've rekindled my love for UI sounds, after not touching them for so long. I really want to play with making some UI samples for a range of different games. That's on the list for expanding my sample library.

Kindness Game
kindness game

Kindness was created by Edward Whitehead, Emily Branagan, & Raphael Peel-Fowler. You can check it out and download it from the GGJ page here.

"A game about spreading kindness and love through a digital world."

Ed taught my Introduction to C# Programming class back in uni, so I was really excited to contribute to his game at GGJ.

Kindness is a story-driven game, where you talk to people through their social media accounts, learn about their troubles and try to help them. As you help people and make them happier, your player gets sadder. 
Corey Taylor did the music for this one. He created a few different versions of the track, ranging from happy to depressing. This is a very basic example of dynamic audio, and it was cool to see it implemented in one of the GGJ games.

That's one of my goals for the next Jam I participate in. I really want to create some dynamic audio systems that change according to factors in the game.

Like the last few games I've talked about, the sounds they required were minimal, and I was able to get to them on Sunday morning sometime. They required some UI sort of pops for the social media buttons.
My process for these was similar as my approach to Echo Command's SFX. Using soft-synths and a very tight envelope on them, I messed around with different sorts of instruments until I found some tones I really liked.

As I mentioned in the Echo Command part, UI is something I haven't touched in ages, and I'm excited to play around with more of it in the near future.

The Golden Tulip
The Golden Tulip

The Golden Tulip was (is being) created by Nicholas McDonnell & Dan Draper of Samurai PunkYou can check it out and download it from the GGJ page here.

"A Cold War Immersive Sim. Welcome to Beirut, Lebanon. Intelligence has indicated a mission critical target at ‘The Golden Tulip’ hotel. You have been stationed in an opposing building. Find and eliminate the threat, failure could mean all out nuclear war."

I didn't actually create any new sounds for The Golden Tulip.

The game takes place in a hotel room, where your objective is to spy on the opposite building and discover who your target is.

Nick came around on Sunday morning looking for music to add to the radio in the game, that the player can tune in to and hear snippets. As the game is set during the Cold War, some older style tunes fit perfectly. It happened that I had some old phonograph recordings floating around, which seemed like they would fit really well.

I really like the look of this game. I'm stoked to see that Nick and Dan have been continuing work on it.


If you read all that, I'm stunned.

I really wanted to kind of debrief and reflect on last weekend's jam, and talking about the games I was involved with seemed like the perfect way to do so.

As I mentioned before, there were some amazing games to come out the jam this year. The experience has been incredibly motivating for me, and connected me to more people in this community that I love.

To the left you can see me looking very tired sometime on Saturday or Sunday. Thanks for the photo David Ma! (@frostickle)

If there's anything I can elaborate on or you'd like to know anything else, feel free to get in touch!

Matt, SZS