This Saturday kicks off the 2014 Horror Jam, a pair of 48-hour sessions spread across two weekends in October where students are invited to design and code their own original horror games. The events will be held on campus and are sponsored by the Guild of Independent Game Developers, a Full Sail club run by Shawn Paris, producer/lab specialist for the Structure of Game Production class.
Shawn has overseen a number of similar gatherings, including the “Stealth Jam,” another genre exercise focusing on stealth game mechanics. Following the creativity he’s seen result from such constraints, Shawn and his team are excited about the story and gameplay possibilities that students will be free to explore under the horror umbrella.
“Horror is a great vehicle for video games because of the interactivity – they put you in the driver seat as to whether you’re a survivor in the genre or not,” he says. “A lot of great indie games are horror, you look at something like Slender Man for example. That’s a huge title that came out of left field and was really creative. I’m really looking forward to what ideas students come up with.”
This is also the first time the Guild has sponsored a two-weekend jam session, something dictated by the genre itself. As Shawn explained, classic horror games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill 2, and Dead Space built their terror with atmosphere and slowly-building tension – elements that take a more mannered approach to execute effectively.
“You really do need more time to develop the set pieces of a horror experience,” he says. “These games need to create a much more complete mood for players, and with this being two weekends I’m hoping for something more in depth and polished. Typically we’ll get one playable level from these jams, but the hope is that they come out of this one with something amazing we can share on indie development sites.”
The Horror Jam’s opening ceremony will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 10 in the FS 3-B auditorium, with the first session running until 9 p.m. on October 12. Students can continue working on their projects the following week, before reconvening again October 17 at 7:00 p.m through the closing ceremony at 9:00 p.m. on October 19.