TAGJam14 aftermath

So, this thing called The Arbitrary Gamejam 14 happened a couple of days ago and, thanks to a weird drive and rescue game, I happened to be a host of it. That sounds like good enough reason to blow dust off my attention-deprived blog and play some keyboard chords resonating to this event. Even more so, I need to announce a host for 15th TAG, so he or she could be as nervous as I was.

First of all, the TAG idea is just great. Simple, but great. A host rolls a couple of random themes, adds one of his own, makes up some additional rule(s) if so desires and, finally, chooses a winner, which takes a TAG torch and hosts jam next month. It’s a prize of glory, fame with a flavor of fear that your jam won’t be as popular as previous was. No pressure, you, who is announced at the bottom of this post, read the following sections and you’ll be just fine!

What could have been better?

Seeing only a few of submissions as GameJolt timer counted down the last couple of hours was not a pleasant experience and although final turnout of 7 games is quite decent, to be honest, I did expect more. But I do expect a lot of things! So far the rate of then turning out as expected is close to zero. Auch. Anyway, let’s see what went wrong and learn something from it!

  • The time of first weekend of September wasn’t optimal. Jam and gamejam (haha, never stops being funny!) lovers, who went back to school or university probably took that time to get together with friends or to grieve for Summer vacation.
  • The time after Ludum Dare wasn’t optimal. Human body needs at least a month to recover from all caffeinated drinks consumed during LD48. And I also participated! That’s related to the next point…
  • Ludum Dare and Peace, Love and Jam took a big part of my time, which I could-or-should have spent on preparing and promoting TAG14. It’s a sacrifice I made to have Bee Nice & Hop Hop Planet  in my mini-game portfolio.
  • I was really late with setting up GameJolt jam page, which was much easier than I thought.  Except adding image instead of heading text. That took some invisible-image-hacks to achieve.
  • For too long I ignored jam promotion opportunities like adding TAG14 to compohub.net, posting in /r/gamejams, TigSource gamejam board and probably much more places I didn’t even find out about. No excuses here.
  • Having a separate landing page and not updating it frequently enough might have been confusing.
  • Failing to read game descriptions properly and choosing a non-competitive entry as a winner wasn’t very smart of me.

What was good enough?

  • I think my landing page was quite nice & clean source of important initial information.
  • Having a “Subscribe to themes” feature was quite clever. This is the part where I pat myself on the back. ~15 people subbed, although I’m not sure how many of them actually cared about me notifying them, since I got only a couple of ACK signals.
  • Cuteness of Crisp Bacon works well in any logo.
  • Not telling anyone beforehand that I might not be able to participate personally & might even be away for a couple of days had no negative impact on motivation of anyone. Sorry for the sentence before this one, I had slept only ~1 hour tonight.
  • Making a eye-catching theme announcement banner with all important information in it was another good idea.


The Games

Hey, it’s that fun part you all been waiting for! Mini game “reviews” and, of course, the winning game! I played all of them and even beat some of them! This might not sound impressive… But for me it is!

And here they are…

Zero: Brain Game by @TisVictoria34126_1

The first, most mathematical & hypnotizing (that background) entry! Non-competitive.


Neutralize numbers by adding them to a zero and get high-score. I’d say dress those numbers with cute outfits, add sounds, particles and conquer mobile markets!

broodBROOD STOP by @ThumbsBlue

The one, which made me rage. A lot. The most unfair one. Seriously, there’s no way to avoid those small broodlings coming at you from the sides! Anyway, I did beat it… And only mental scars remain…

Hold & release SPACE to control a shooty space ship and destroy things before they spawn smaller things. Rage, quit, rinse and repeat.


Fox Omelette by @SnoutUp

My lazy and rushed out entry. The one with the fox and egg catching action. Has GameJolt high scores implemented and a pretty effective surprise.


clean Clean by @KORPS9 & @TickTakashi

The most confusing cleaning game! Took some time to get a grip on without any detailed instructions. I’m still not sure I’m playing it the right way.
Control a moon-like thing and keep black rectangles and a black rectangle-spawning thing away from white rectangles. I assume. I sometimes get lucky and get a ton of points!

spread City Spread by @helloWorldPR

The one with great potential! Got quite hooked on this one, despite over-sized resolution (got fixed) and tricky controls, which could been simplified to a single mouse touches in specific parts of the street!

Build road blocks and healing tents to stop the infection from spreading. Get confused, lose, but still refresh page & load game again (no restart feature).

thatcirclething Neutralizer by @DanielJMoran

Despite not named “Clean” – the cleanest one! Very well made and quite addictive. With tweaked controls and balance I can see this as a competitor to Super Hexagon games. Hate the fact, that I can’t get a decent high score.
Turn the circle around and color it with red/blue rays. Then turn it more and try to neutralize colors with rays of other color. It’s that simple, until you get a really unfortunate wave of rays…

Best non-competitive entry

lovebandit Love Bandit by @andyman404

Unfortunately, Love Bandit was a non-competitive entry (which I failed to realize at first). It has cuteness, love, smiles, interesting mechanics, bandit, impressive overall polish, intro and even a tutorial.  No boob clouds this time, tho…

And the winner is…

So, after I accidentally selected Love Bandit as a winning game, without realizing it was non-competitive entry, comes time to fix my mistake. Apologies to all, who got confused by my shameful slip at the finish line. The punishment for me was quite natural: choosing another winner got quite hard, since I liked a couple of entries with a similar power of liking. Even had to put criteria like theme usage, following bonus rule and Twitter activity on the scales. And…the… winner… is…

broodBROOD STOP from @ThumbsBlue! Even with high and, at times, unfair difficulty I had a lot of angry fun trying to beat it. I expect to have a refined version in my mobile phone any time soon!


– – –

That’s all, folks! Let me know if I made any mistakes either in this post or during the jam organization. Or let me know if you had fun. At least a bit of it. Maybe I’ll get obsessed with SnoutJam idea one day :)

Oh, and thank you very much for participating! Or at least wanting to!

Snout out!


4 thoughts on “TAGJam14 aftermath”

  1. Hi SnoutUP!

    I’m honored that you would have declared Love Bandit as winner, but I submitted it as a non-competitive entry, as clearly indicated on the first line of the Gamejolt page’s description, so I was ineligible to win it, or host the next one. I was already the host of TAGJam10 after accidentally winning TAGJam9, and had submitted non-competitive entries for TAGJams 11 (under a pseudonym), 12, 13 and 14 since then. I’d love to host again, but someone else deserves the chance, and more importantly, my very lovely wife would utterly kill me if I hosted again, after what I put her through when hosting Tagjam10 so insanely.

    (Both “Love Bandit” and “Zero: Brain Game” were non-competitive submissions.)

    ==> So sorry, but would you kindly pick an actual competitive entry to win it?

    Thanks for hosting. I think you did a great job (except for choosing me as winner hehehe). I loved the way each participant took the themes and had such a different interpretation of them, making some really fun games. I had so much fun participating in TAGJam14 and sure ramped up my gamedev skills making Love Bandit.

    I think the participant turnout unfortunately matches this chart:

    1. It might be a seasonal trend, like you mentioned – Tagjam2 (Sept of the previous year) had a 44% drop after a relatively higher turnout for Tagjam1.

    2. It might be a trend thing. After each larger Tagjam, there is a large drop. (44% for #2, 45% for #4, 30% for #8, 38% for #11, 61% for #14). No idea why.

    3. I think adding the game to compohub.net earlier might have made a difference. See the analytics from Tagjam10. and hosting lessons learned. Compohub was one of the first places posted to, and netted 29% of the visits to the Tagjam10 page. Reddit posts and Twitter (multiple posts with images, daily to #gamedev, #indiedev, #gamejam, #gamejams, & #pixelart) accounted for about a quarter of the visits.

    If conditions stick to trends, then the real next host (Oct 2014) may have some very favorable conditions if they do it right.

  2. Pingback: Lessons Learned from Love Bandit and #TAGJam14 « Andrew C. Wang // Delicious Apps & Games

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