The Assembly Line Game Jam 2021

The first (and maybe only) Assembly Line Game Jam has come and gone. Thank you all for your support, and expect an email as things get closer to finishing up. As stated, there will not be any further sales, but everyone can look forward to an episode covering the Jam in the coming month or so. Thanks again for joining us on this wild ride!

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Support the game jam of the decade, get a cartridge of the results!

An audio description of the project can be found here. It is likely more entertaining.

Please note! For those who listened to our recorded description of this project, plans have slightly changed. I will now be making a trip down to Kevin’s instead of him flying north.

UPDATE: The Game Jam has come and gone, and in the process a few important changes have occurred that differ from the original pitch below. Jon of Peek-a-brews fame (NEScape!, 8-Bit XMAS 2020, others) ended up joining us for the event, with the result being that he ended up doing all of the graphics for the game. We also asked Thomas, AKA humanthomas (Hanunted Halloween, Full Quiet, Scramble, Swords and Runes III, and many, many more), to compose the music for the game and he was kind enough to knock out some rockin’ tunes. The final result is still very much in the spirit of the Game Jam, but in all ways it is a more finished product. We are also happy to now offer a box option as well. If you have already ordered the game, simply add a box to the order. If you ordered multiple copies and want a box for each, please contact me directly for a better shipping rate. Thanks!

Sales will end Sunday night, April 25th, 2021. Last call!

What if The Assembly Line made a game and not just a podcast? What if you could be involved and get a copy of the result? What if we all went blindly into this process?

Sounds fun, right?

Welcome to the first ever Assembly Line Game Jam! Perhaps you have wondered what might happen if Kevin and Beau made a game together instead of just talking about them? Then again, maybe you haven’t. Regardless, join us on our quest to create a new NES homebrew!

The plan is for me to make a trip down to Kevin’s place, staying for roughly 7-10 days in early March. We are both coming up with lists of possible projects, but no discussion will take place until we see each other, catch up some, maybe fire up a game, and eat some dinner. Then the fun begins!

In order to involve all of you, our first brainstorming session will be recorded. We will edit it down so that you don’t have to hear hours of us building castles in the air, but you will be able to see the process of an NES game coming to life in action. The next day we will get to work, and each evening we will record a brief recap of the day’s accomplishments, breakthroughs, and travails. These will make up a future episode of The Assembly Line podcast, interspersed with some of our favorite musical numbers from the community (contributions welcome!). Each night we will also flash the current ROM to a board, though we do not know what we will do with these yet…

Respectively, we have each completed many a project on our own, from initial planning and design, all of the way up to shipping carts out the door. We know the timeframe that we will have to work on the game, and we are bringing lists of projects to the table that can feasibly be accomplished during that time. With that in mind, the project will not be the next Kirby’s Adventure, SMB3, Lizard, or Final Fantasy, but you can rest assured that it also will not be just another simple Pong or arcade clone. It will also not be a direct port, or use licensed materials. Beyond that we cannot say what it will be.

As far as the division of labor goes, don’t forget that Kevin played a huge role in teaching me how to program. Our style of writing code looks similar, and we use the same compiler and syntax; we will both be programming different sections of the game. To help with the game creation process, we may end up using some pre-existing code from our pasts, but the end result will be unique. Kevin will be writing music for the game, and I will be doing most of the art.

The goal is to have the game fully completed during the visit. If it is not, we will finish the present iteration over the following weeks. The whole endeavor is meant to be quick, spontaneous, and limited by constraints. If we feel like we have hit onto something bigger than that and want to expand it, hire other musicians or artists to revise things, or whatever we dream up, we will save that for later, and instead scale things back in order to deliver a completed vision of the game jam to you.

In order to make all of this happen we are going to take a slightly different approach. We have both done the Kickstarter thing, and as great as it is for funding projects, this does not seem to fit that platform (it may not even be allowed, who knows). Instead, we are offering you a chance to support the Game Jam. This includes making the trip happen, the recording and editing of the episode, and most importantly a cart-only copy of the results! As stated, this last piece may take some time post-Jam to 100% wrap up (see above).

In the spirit of things, the chance to support this happening will close prior to any public announcement of what the project is. This will be the only release of the project in its current form. If we decide to expand things down the line that will be treated as something separate, but in order to stick with the feel of a game jam, the current release is a oneshot. Just as we are rolling the dice on what might come out of this, so too are we inviting you to do the same. There is no limit to the number a person can order, so stock up and help us fund this wild ride of an experiment!

Support Making the the Assembly Line Game Jam Happen!

What your purchase supports (and/or what you will receive!):

-An Assembly Line episode covering the Game Jam
-A cart-only copy of the results of the Jam, shipping included (shipping after the Jam, obviously)
-Boxes or boxed copies include a box, foam block, and sleeve; there is no manual for the game
*Please note, funds are collected immediately upon purchase, as we need to pay for gas, pizza, cartridge shells, PCBs, labels, etc.

*Sales have closed. Thank you all for your support!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Can you tell me what you guys are going to make?
-No, we do not know ourselves. Please read the above.

Will I get a game if I send money?
-Yes. Please read the above.

Do you really get questions like the above two?
-All the time.

Can I wait and see what you guys come up with before supporting?
-Nope, that’s the whole fun of this. The chance to support will be capped either when I arrive at Kevin’s, when I leave Kevin’s, or at some point prior to a public unveil. An accidental public unveil will immediately close sales (not sure how that could even happen, but there you go).

Why should I throw down my hard earned coin on the unknown?
-If you’re asking that, this project probably is not for you. Save everyone involved the trouble, and please do not purchase (seriously).

If you’re already thinking that the project might be expanded, why should I buy the current version?
-A possible, future version of things is entirely speculation, an “out” in case we want to keep working on things in a bigger way than the present deadline allows. There would have to be a significant jump in all areas of the game as well (gameplay, content, graphics, music). We’re not talking about going from 5 to 8 levels, but 5 to 50, or something crazy like that. We always try to honor and respect those who get in on a project from the first, and we can foresee doing the same in this case, if the event arises. But hey, we’re getting ahead of ourselves; we’re here to make one game, not dream up possible revisions, sequels, and spinoffs!

Will the release be CIB?
-That will depend on the number of supporters, and also manufacturing turnaround time. There is a good chance we may actually be flashing boards during my visit, and we do not want packaging to stand in the way of supporters getting the game. That’s the spirit of the game jam, right? However, we do understand that complete in box copies are preferred by most folks (if KS sales data is anything to go by). All of that to say: we cannot say. If there is a CIB upgrade down the line we will send supporters a link to purchase that option (likely an additional $10-15, depending on quantities ordered).

Will this work on my RetroCrap 9000 clone console?
-As with all, or at least most, SGP or KHAN Games games, the answer is a definitive no. We won’t even bother to test the game on them; we make games for the NES, not the lowest forms of 8-bit expression. It is safe to say, though, that even without testing it will work on the excellent retroUSB AVS.

Will there be a digital release?
-Nope, this is a oneshot, a moment in time, a shooting star. Endless digital accessibility wouldn’t really fit with that, eh?

This seems like a sketchy stunt…
-Not a question, but we’ll bite. Kevin and I are going to get together to make a game, you can be a part of it or not. Like the podcast itself, this is just about two friends getting together and doing what they love: homebrewing (or talking about homebrews, whatever). In many ways this is a return to our homebrew roots, making spontaneous games just for the fun of it, but also an excuse to do something together. Not that most of our projects don’t fall into those categories, but they have often gotten too big, or set upon lofty pedestals.

What inspired this?
-Beau was out on a long walk and got to thinking about the hit game NEScape!, that homebrew of yore that Kevin and Kyndall got an idea for and designed all in one night. It hit him: what if we could plan out a game and make it with that type of spontaneity? The rest is, or will be, history.

Come on. Just a little hint of what the project might be?