MolyJam started out deeply rooted in a joke twitter account, but bloomed this April Fool’s Day with thousands of developers, creators, and video game fanatics from around the globe working for 48 to create games from one man’s wild imagination – Molydeux.
Not to be confused with the flesh and blood esteemed game developer, Peter Molyneux, this fake twitter account took on a life of its own as it mimicked Molyneux's often dream-like descriptions of what video games could be capable of. What if the Kinect could detect the tears coming donw your face and you had to cry to get through a door? What if you only had a short amount of time before the end of the world and you could only hug your loved ones? What if you could inspire thousands of people by asking what games could do instead of saying what they should do?
When I entered NextSpace in downtown Culver City, dozens of teams quickly finished up graphics, pieces of music, and bits of code for their game. Developers spent their weekend with strangers, working on games that started out only as twitter one-liners. To them, Molyjam meant something more than just a joke. It was a chance to make a change in the industry that they loved.
The conception started out in San Francisco with Anna Kipnis from Double Fine and Patrick Klepek from Giant Bomb wanting to organize a game jam using only the ideas from the Molydeux twitter feed. The idea spread like wildfire, enlightening the imaginations and passions from developers in Sydney to Toronto and finally my own backyard in Los Angeles.
“I wasn’t even sure that people were going to show up.” Holden Link, the organizer of the LA Molyjam. He looked tired, but happy when I meet him in the bustling open room of the NextSpace building.
In eleven days, he managed to secure a location, buy refreshments, get Magic Pixel Games to sponsor the event, and finally, get people to show up.
“I think we almost broke Facebook with all the messages we received for the Molyjam.”
Even with less than an hour to go, these amazing developers still pushed forwarded to squeeze out every second they had left on the clock to make their game.
But they were not alone. Companies like Unity and Gamemaker let the game jam use their middleware for free in order to create some rather impressive titles with very little time. A camera set up in the middle of the room streamed every second of development out to the world.
“People would get really excited when we would move the camera around to each of the teams,” Holden said with a grin.
As it turned out, even the audience was an asset, helping to come up with ideas, test prototypes, or create sound effects. One group needed zombie screams for their title. Those watching from around the world were all too happy to make screaming and blood curdling moans for the game. Groups even communicated with game jams in other regions around the world to share ideas. Time and thousands of miles might have separated many of these people, but it was their passions that brought them together.
“It gives us a chance to work on something that would never be commercially viable, “ replied Mark Tsai, President and Senior Producer of Magic Pixel Games, when I asked him about why people would join this game jam.
Sometimes you want to try out something different, or even just work out an idea you have stuck in your head. Watching the opening speech from Molydeux with the famed Molyneux in it, the answer was clear, the industry needs to look past what worked in the past and start asking itself “what if.”
As each group went, we watched from their live feeds the amazing work that poured out of these passionate teams. Maybe some of them needed music. Others could use animation. But behind the flaws and bugs, there’s a brilliance and beauty to their work. Be sure to check out all the final projects on the website, What Would Molyduex?
Here are some of the LA projects just to get you started.
Tweet idea: You can only see you enemy in a reflective surface and all the mirrors are dirty.
Imagine yourself as a modern day Perseus, who just happens to be a window washer on a skyscraper. Medusa wants a little vengeance, but the only way to see her is through the reflection of the windows. Clean quickly and keep your sword near you. You never know when that sneaky snake lady will be after your head.
Tweet idea: You are a hole that moves around.
The Pits puts in charge of a hole in order to move things around, like chickens. Suck them into your darkness and spit them out again so they can find their way home. Later levels require you to consume multiple items to become bigger. Think of it as the Katamari of nothingness.
Tweet idea: Imagine that your baby is made of radiation and you have to sing to your child to keep away the monsters
Two players work against each other in order to kill or save the baby. One carries the glowing green kid around while the other places down monster eyeballs and ears. Eyeballs see the radiation, but singing to the child makes it stop glowing. Of course, this allows the monster ears to find you as you try to collect the different objects in the room.
Twitter idea: What if your cover was something you cared about
You are an apple, a very rolly on at that. You must get past laser eyes and lava to get out of the castle and into the forest. Every time something happens to you, the apple leaves behind cover for the next one. With every death, you come closer to success.
Twitter idea: You are cupid and the arrows you use leave behind lasers no one can touch
Grocery stores are great places to find love. In this little game, you get to play the master matchmaker with arrows as you try to pair up the couples in the store. When you hit two, they come together with a laser tether. Pick a good match and it’s instant happiness. Lock your sights on the wrong couple and they’ll dance around. If someone else hits the laser, they become apart of the love triangle. Bad, Cupid.
Games ranged from romantic parkour to Rambo hugging everyone he killed in his movies. Go try out these games and feel inspired by those who made them. After seeing so many great ideas and so much passion in one room, maybe it’s time the whole industry started asking themselves, "What would Molydeux?"