Indie developer Adriel Wallick organized an interesting event for this year's GDC called the Train Jam. In fact, this isn't the first time Wallick has done the Train Jam... it's the third time. It sees hundreds of developers squeezing onto a single train and making a game within the span of 52 hours.
There's a detailed editorial over on Polygon that covers more of the minutiae of the event, where Wallick put together the Train Jam for the third year in the row using the California Zephyr, an American railway that travels from Chicago to California over the course of two days. This particular game jam lasts about 52 hours, giving game developers just a little over two days to come up with a game that could end up being presented during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California.
While majority of the projects were indie titles made by small one and two-person teams, there was also a pretty heavy presence from the AAA publishers as well, including Epic Games providing the Unreal Engine 4 to some of the developers along with having a staff on board who could provide some support. Intel would be providing the computers that some of the Train Jam games would be played on during the GDC presentation. Oculus even let loose a few Rift VR devkits for the developers to use. And Sony actually had an entire train car dedicated to being an observation deck of sorts.
What's more is that Media Molecule, the developers behind the popular LittleBigPlanet series, actually came along for the ride with two debug PS4 units and two televisions; they used an early alpha build of the PS4 exclusive Dreams (pictured above in the main image) to create a game for the Train Jam. They took things a step further by creating a motion-oriented game using the PS4 camera and Move controllers. It kind of goes to show that even big developers were geeked about getting in on the 52 hour game jam. Additionally, it's not a bad way to get a little bit of publicity and marketing in for their title Dreams, which has been surprisingly absent from a lot of the PS4's promotion for their upcoming line-up of games.
Media Molecule won't be limiting the experience to just the Train Jam and GDC... they also have plans on making a full-on blog post about the journey and the development of the mini-project using Dreams with a written document of the whole event over on their official website.
The original Train Jam started back in 2014 and managed to lure in 60 different independent developers who traveled from Chicago to California to make a game within the span of just two days. The event was popular enough to attract 120 developers in 2015 when the event took place once more during the week of GDC. This year Wallick notes that she was able to sell 160 tickets within the span of just 30 seconds. The Polygon article notes that 40 additional developers ended up joining the fray along the way.
Wallick has plans on keeping this tradition alive for as long as possible. She also states that the location and trip won't change, as it'll stay isolated to the California Zephyr between Chicago and California in relation to the Game Developers Conference. However, Wallick is hoping that they can keep growing and filling up the train cars each year around until they pack the entire train.