Following on from the #CyberpunkJam retrospective we did a little while ago, we caught up with the game jam creator, Grace Lynn, and asked her about setting it up, Grace’s cyberpunk influences, and if/when there will be another #CyberpunkJam.
How did you go about starting the Cyberpunk game jam? Did people show an immediate interest?
When I started game development back in October 2013 I really got into game jams, too. I started to think to myself, “I’ll do my own game jams!” On top of that, as much as everyone likes cyberpunk there just weren’t that many games that used cyberpunk as a theme. Cyberpunk Jam was a way to get people inspired to make those missing Cyberpunk games.
When the game jam kicked off it became clear that it was bigger than I could’ve ever imagined. It was a snowball effect – people got really excited about it. People were retweeting stuff on Twitter about it and it just grew. There were just so many people that got involved. I think it really captured people’s imagination.
Itch.IO seems to have been a great service for the jam, acting as a sort of hub. How easy/difficult was the process in terms of setting up the page, voting, etc?
When I did the Cyberpunk Jam, that’s when Itch.IO were just starting to provide the game jam service. It was really simple to set up. Leaf Corcoran, the guy who runs the site, does a great job. Itch.IO has always been amazing. Everything Leaf does is just so good; his website really is consistently the most incredible platform for putting games online, selling them yourself, doing it for free. It’s such an open platform, I can’t wait to see Itch.IO get more successful and more prosperous as time goes on.
How about the other aspects of the jam? How did you find the whole process?
With Itch.IO handling the home page and submissions, I mainly just set up the theme and the Twitter hashtag. That’s the thing about game jams, they’re easy to set up but you then have to spend a lot of your time answering questions and promoting it, but thanks to things like Itch.IO you can mostly let it do its thing.
I got way too ambitious after Cyberpunk Jam and planned to do a new game jam every month. I had jams set up for the entire year, but it quickly fell apart as I couldn’t keep up with setting up each one. It’s pretty easy stuff, but when you have other things going on as well it’s just too much.
Did you have a personal favourite game created in the jam? If so, why?
There were a lot of games! I was in the middle of my own game development but I remember a few of them.
Jack Squires at Duende Games is a guy I have been following since I first got into game development and I just really liked his artistic aesthetic. He’s grown leaps and bounds as a game developer and he had a simple noir-style game. There wasn’t a lot to it, it was like an adventure game, no branching to the narrative, but aesthetically it was beautiful. It was dark and it really fit what I like about cyberpunk and noir stuff.
There was another really cool game that was very dystopian where you had to wake up and follow the commands of a 1984-like screen with a head on it that was telling you what you had to do each day. It wasn’t fully fleshed out but it’s a game jam so games don’t often get finished.
Those were two games that stood out for me, considering there were over 200 games actually submitted – and even more in development during the jam!
Do you have a specific interest in Cyberpunk as a genre, or is it sci-fi more generally?
I like all genres. I’m a huge fan of creative things, but the closest thing I’m a fan of that fits within the cyberpunk genre is the 80’s aesthetic of corporations, in terms of the way offices look and how businessmen dress and act.
Growing up, I liked the idea of the 80s, coked-up American businessman who would go into Chinatown or who would work with Japanese heads of corporation where there’s a real tension between them. There was something romantic about the corporate espionage.
Are there specific films or other media that you have in mind?
I guess it all came to a head with the original Tron. A lot of people don’t realise that it was that was about corporate espionage. Michael Crichton’s The Rising Sun is a clearer example of this theme.
I just really like the idea of international intrigue involving money and big business. I guess I attach that to stuff like Blade Runner, with all the multiculturism and big business. I feel like that’s the seed that germinates into what we know of Cyberpunk now. It involves power structures, I guess, in a very modern 80s style where things are very sleek and sterile.
Another good movie is Sneakers. It’s kind of like a hackers movie from the early 90s. There’s also D.A.R.Y.L from the 80s, about a kid who’s a robot, and Project X which is about lab testing on chimps. It’s funny because I don’t think people would necessarily consider those things cyberpunk. They’re not the neo-future dystopian stuff, it’s more realsitic. But it has the feeling of the beginnings of a cyberpunk future. There’s all these movies that revolved around this stuff in the 80s.
In terms of books, there’s a series by Rudy Rucker called the Ware Tetralogy. He has this amazingly brilliant series of books; Software, Wetware, Freeware, and Realware. The Ware Tetrology is about the evolution of machines over time and integration of AI and robots and stuff. Philip K. Dick is another guy.
My fascination with Cyberpunk stuff is in the technical and fantasy side; the possible futures, especially dystopian and post-apocalyptic themes. I would love to see a combination of Mad Max and computer-based stuff. That would be really cool.
Do you plan on running another Cyberpunk jam at some point?
Yes. I’m hoping to do it again in 2015. Last time it was in February so it might be the same time again. It would be cool to make it a yearly thing.
Well, there you have it. Keep an eye out for any announcements in the new year for #CyberpunkJam version 2.0.