Disc Room developers launch sawblade-based game jam to demystify game development

Ahead of the October 22nd release of sawcore blade runner title Disc Room, the developers are currently hosting a very special game jam.

From October 17th to the 31st, over 100 developers will compete in the jam with one simple premise – to design any kind of game about discs and/or rooms. At the end of the jam, the 10 winning teams, selected by the developers, will win a pile of Devolver games – and the ultimate winner will be awarded with a saw-shaped Disc Room vinyl. We only hope they’re careful as they open it…

All the games will be submitted via Itch, with the participants under strict instructions to have fun with it and avoid crunch.

It’s definitely one of the more fun marketing campaigns – encouraging creativity while simultaneously raising awareness for your game. To find out more, we reached out to the developers – Jan Willem Nijman (JW) and Kitty Calis.

Disc Room is a sci-fi narrative dodge-em up from Terri Vellmann, Doseone, Jan Willem Nijman and Kitty Calis

What was the original inspiration for the jam?

Kitty: Disc Room’s core is rooms and deadly discs, who knew such a simple concept could become a whole game? Looking back it makes for a perfect jam! In a simple sweet step-by-step tutorial we teach you the ropes and hopefully demystify gamedev a bit too. I mean, games are made by people and while it’s hard to share all aspects of the development, people can still be part of the fun this way.

This seems a unique way to promote your game – was that the idea or just a side effect?

JW: We’re really excited to see where all the prototypes and ideas will lead! Rooms with sawblades are super fun and a great source of inspiration! We don’t want to pretend we own that idea or anything, so sharing it widely and actually helping people to make their own seemed like the right call.

Are you providing participants with anything from the game (source code, design tools, assets…) or are they working from scratch?

Kitty: Yeah absolutely! People often ask “What tools do you use?”

So we’ve created a 40 minute tutorial video with tools and tricks to make your very own Disc Room, of which the source code is also released. On top of that doseone has created an audiopack with sound effects that participants are free to use.

Outside of raising awareness for Disc Room, is there anything else you want to achieve with the jam?

JW: Just because a game is simple doesn’t mean it has to be boring. We realized very quickly we could add many deeper and interesting layers to the core concept, and we hope that participants have a good time exploring it for themselves.

One of the games submitted to the jam, DISCLAW by CheeseBaron2

Is there an option for particularly interesting ideas that come out of the jam being used for future content in the game?

JW: We don’t want to steal anyone’s spotlight, we’ll highlight our favorite games at the end of the jam – I’d feel bad about just straight up lifting ideas off others. In the end that’s what we like about making games: coming up with new things ourselves and putting them into action. Half of that fun would be gone when it’s someone else’s idea.

You made a point to ensure that participants shouldn’t crunch – is this a philosophy that applies to your team as well?

Kitty: 100%. Both Minit and Disc Room have been made without crunch. I mean it’s wonderful to work hard and accomplish your goals, but if you are too exhausted to do anything else besides work, what’s the point?

You must be veterans of jam! Any great game jam stories you can tell us?

JW: Kitty & I once participated in an Adventure Time game jam in Austin, back in 2012. We started making a game we called Adventure Minute, where you go on really short 1-minute “episodes” of adventure. It actually won that jam, resulting in us winning a crossbow from Ultima creator/astronaut Richard Garriott! Since the crossbow was officially a weapon, we weren’t allowed to bring it back home with us to the Netherlands, and it ended up at the office of someone at Devolver Digital. Years later we signed with them to publish Minit, our reimagining of that jam game as the 1-bit adventure where you find a cursed sword that causes you to die every minute

What’s Disc Room about?

Kitty: Disc Room is a sci-fi narrative dodge-em up, made by Terri Vellmann, Doseone, Jan Willem Nijman and myself. Players step into the shoes of a brave scientist and explore a sprawling intergalactic slaughterhouse. If you think about it for a second, it’s kind of a ridiculous premise posing one big question: why? No spoilers, but there’s a deeper layer and larger mystery to figure out.

Disc Room is something of a collaborative effort, how did you come together to make the game?

Kitty: For the longest time we wanted to put a spin on classic and cheesy sci-fi movies.  From Logan’s Run and 2001: A Space Odyssey to Cube and Solaris, inspiration really is everywhere. You know that feeling of exploring an alien space, where everything is dangerous, strange and you don’t know what to expect? It’s just too good!

How long has it been in development?

JW: It took us about 18 months, but not necessarily all full time, it wasn’t until right before PAX this year (the last games event in history) that we all met up in the real world, figured out the last few things, nailed down the story, style and interface. After that it was just smooth sailing, ending up with the game we have now!

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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