It feels like every couple of months I’m either entering a game jam or hosting one. Well, it’s probably true- after all, game jams are going on at every moment nowadays! A couple years ago there were around 20 or so jams happening at any given time. Now, it seems like there’s 50+ happening concurrently.
If you’re newer to game jams and want to see what I’m talking about, you can see a comprehensive list of basically every online game jam happening on itch.io’s calendar here. Finding a game jam to enter has never been easier, but finding a team is still a struggle for some. Today we’re going to talk through the process of finding a team.
Find Your Jam
Before we go any further, we need to pick a game jam. Maybe you already have one in mind, maybe you just like the idea of joining one. Either way, make sure you go through the list above on itch.io and pick one out before continuing further.
It’s okay to enter jams for areas you’re unfamiliar with if you want to try new things and aren’t afraid of learning quickly within the time constraints.
Look Around the Jam
The jam page on itch.io will be your most viable place for information. A lot of jams nowadays are hosted by/with Discord servers, so be sure to join those if they’re available. These Discord servers are going to be your primary place for recruitment. Otherwise, check for social media pages attached for the jam. If the jam doesn’t have either of those and you still really want to join, then the page should have a “Community” tab for you and others to make posts in.
- Join the jam’s Discord server
- Look on the jam’s social media
- Check the “Community” tab on the jam page
- If all else fails, join the itch.io Discord
Look Around the Game Type
Some jams are very specific to what type of game you have to make- for instance, NaNoRenO is a jam specific to visual novels, though the VNs can be about anything you want. Other jams are specific on the aesthetics or content rather than mechanics. Once you know what type of game you’ll create (whether it’s because the jam specifies it or you have something in mind), find spaces for that.
For Otome Jam, we have links both to our own server (Otome Dev) and a general visual novel development server (DevTalk). The jam’s definition of otome is a bit loose and doesn’t specify it has to be a VN (as it could be an RPG, for instance, as long as it follows the rest of the guidelines), but we still link VN-related resources as most otomes are visual novels.
Again, you’re going to want to look around for Discord servers- community spaces where other devs will gather. The more targeted/niche, the better typically. You’ll find it easer to get people on board your dating sim idea in DevTalk than in a giant game dev server, for example.
P.S. If you ever find it hard to find servers for a niche… Google “[niche] Discord”. This goes for regional things as well, such as “Memphis game dev Discord” (heya fellow Memphians ♥️).
How to Make a Recruitment Post
So here’s to assuming you’ve found at least one Discord server. Whether it’s the jam server or a community space, they should have somewhere to ask for recruitment. Some servers have recruitment-specific channels, others should have a general development channel you can talk in.
When you post a recruitment post (whether you’re looking to join a team or want people to join your team), you want a few things to be clear:
- Who you are and what you want to contribute (are you the project lead? the sprite artist?)
- What you’re looking for (specific team members? specific projects you want to join?)
- How much can you contribute (2 full art pieces? 5-6 music scores?)
Advertising Your Skills
When you’re looking to join a team, you want to be clear what you can do and what you can offer.
- Quick blurb on who you are
- State what part(s) you want to do and are comfortable with
- Include links to your relevant prior work
- List how you can be contacted
An example of a post might look like this:
Hi, I’m Arimia! I want to work on a modern fantasy otome for Otome Jam as a sprite artist. Depending on the workload and designs, I can do about 3-5 sprites during the jam. Here’s a link to my previous sprites: [link] You can contact me here on Discord or on my Twitter (@ ArimiaDev).
It’s very hard to judge if someone is a good fit for a team if you don’t include examples of prior work! This is a bit of one of those catch-22’s where you want experience but you need experience. Still, even if it’s not finished, giving some indication of your style- whether it’s drawing, music, writing, etc.- is better than none. A headshot sketch is better than nothing if you want to do CGs.
Advertising Your Team
When you’re building your own team, you want it to be clear what the vision of the project is and what parts you need filled.
- State what the project is about, about how long it will be, and the genres
- List what jobs you need filled and what you’re seeking from each
- Extra: attach any project materials such as concept art
An example of a post for recruiting team members might look like this:
Hi, I’m recruiting for Crystal Game Work’s NaNoRenO team as the project lead! This year we’ll be making a modern fantasy slice of life otome about a witch who returns home to find their grandmother’s café in shambles and has to revive it with the help of one of two love interests.
We’re currently looking for a background artist to do 4 backgrounds and writers for each of the routes. You can find more info on the project and role requirements here: [link]
Please contact me here on Discord if interested!
Note: for NaNoRenO each year we use a Google Form for recruitment, so this is just a mockup. This is what our actual recruitment application looks like. As we receive upwards of 80 applications each year, this helps us work out who to add to the team.
With the current climate of the world, Discord will be the main stay for anime and game dev-related discussion. Use it to network and find teams. When you’re looking for members or a team to join, be clear what you’re looking for and have examples of what you can do. Please don’t bite off more work than you can chew.
And please, have fun!
Game jams are still something I greatly enjoy- they’re great for experimentation and meeting new people. I hope you will find a good workflow for game jams and make something you’re proud of. By the way, you don’t have to join teams for all game jams! A lot can be completed solo if you’re a jack of all trades
or allowed to use CC assets. I still fondly(?) remember entering Ludum Dare every few months for a couple years straight… high school Arimia was something else.
One last note before I sign off! Scope management for game jams is extra important!! Please keep your scope in check and don’t let it run rampant. Read my article here on how to keep it small: