The Humble Bundle Mojam: Creating games in 60 hours

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Imagine spending an entire weekend building a game from scratch with no design document, thousands of lines of code to write, art assets to create, and music to arrange. It might seem like a near-impossible task.

That was the philosophy behind the Humble Bundle Mojam where Mojang, creator of Minecraft, teamed up with the Humble Bundle website and fellow indie developers Wolfire Games and Oxeye Game Studio to raise money for charity. 

Through a live-streaming feed that covered all three studios, donors and onlookers had a chance to see the teams in action over an entire weekend. It gave some insight into the chaos and mayhem of developing a game, especially under the time constraints with many of the developers barely catching any sleep.

By the end of the countdown, the Humble Bundle Mojam managed to raise more than $450,000 from pay-what-you-want donations — an amount that will be split among the American Red Cross, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, charity: water, and Child's Play.

All of the games were expected to be complete and playable by the end of the weekend. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Oxeye Game Studio's Fists of Resistance has yet to be released. Let's look at the remaining two.


Catacomb Snatch from Mojang

While the menu-selection screen might look crude and nothing is there to tell you what your goal or objective is, Catacomb Snatch is basically a top-down, multi-directional shooter placed within an ancient Egyptian setting. As one of two characters, you can blast your way through the tomb against vicious bats, mummies, and snakes (which, from my experience, seemed to multiply by the second), collecting a variety of coins along the way. 

There is only one real level to speak of here, and you're supposed to be able to buy new weapons like bombs and other guns, but I wasn't able to get it to work no matter how much money I collected. Some users have complained about the game crashing, but I've had no problem on my end playing on a Macbook Pro.

Surprisingly, Catacomb Snatch has cooperative multiplayer built in. I was not able to test this feature myself, but you can either host or join a game, provided you know your hosting partner's IP address.

My favorite part about the title is its simple and charming 2D art style, as well as its catchy original soundtrack (also available for download with the bundle). It's fun for 10 to 20 minutes, but it doesn't have much replay value beyond that.

The Broadside Express from Wolfire Games

I had a somewhat difficult time figuring out what exactly was going on in this game. The Broadside Express has a sort of hybrid aesthetic going for it where the user interface is all 2D pixel art — depicting the various gauges and crew members aboard your ship — while the gameplay offers impressive 3D models of battleships and giant mechanical scorpions (who happen to breathe fire). 

Using the Q and E keys will fire the ship's cannons from the left and right, respectively, and otherwise it just seems like the ship can travel along the desert forever until it runs into something. The Broadside Express is visually impressive, especially given the short amount of time the developers had to make it. But as with Catacomb Snatch, there doesn't seem to be an end goal for it either. 

However limiting or confusing the results seem to be, it's important to remember that these games were just a means to an end — to generate money for worthwhile causes. And for being made in just under 60 hours, they're not that bad at all.

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