TRAIN jAM 2017

Train Jam is a 52-hour game jam on a train from Chicago to San Francisco.

300+ game developers and artists get on the train and are split up into small teams. Teams have 52 hours to make a game around the given theme before they get to SF. The week after you arrive in SF is the Game Developers Conference where the game that we made is played by attendees of the conference. I served as a game designer and main artist on my team.


Brainstorming on our first day.

Game theme

The game theme was Unexpected Anticipation. We had a potential delay due to snow in the Rockies at the beginning of our trip, and that topic of the unknown made it into every teams' game. 

Going through the Sierra Nevadas.

The scenery

There's no internet on the train. So when faced with a problem, you can’t just Google it! You’re forced to reach out to the people around you. An added plus is without the distraction of WiFi, you only have the breathtaking views to distract you from making your game. 

52 hours later and we still look happy!

Our team

Looking very sleep deprived after a job well done! From left to right: Brian Keschinger, myself, Vítor Fernandes and Dustin Peerce. 

Our Game:

Main menu title screen for the game, featuring art and the logo I designed.

Tough Spudder is an endless runner platformer where you choose your next level in a risk/reward fashion. If your potato is damaged, the potato skin is removed. One more hit after being skinned, and it's Game Over! You may get a new layer of skin by replaying the level that skinned you. The goal is to get the highest score!

Main character animation.


Level and game design

Once we decided on the genre for our game, the next step was deciding on the challenge. We decided that it would be interesting to combine a classic runner game with a decision making element. The user would have to decide between a level they could 'see' and a mystery level. 

Another element of the game design was designing the 'enemy' elements. I worked with the team to decide on what elements our potato friend would have to face. Then we worked together to weight the elements and make sure each level design was both challenging and beatable. 

Sprite and world design

As main artist, I developed the look and feel of our game. I went with a pixel art style to achieve the classic adventure game feel. A huge portion of my work in the project time frame was developing the world art, character design and animation, and element design and animation, shown below.