Dark Side Jam Recap

Some people enjoy travel, camping, or hiking. But me, I like hackathons and game jams. Which probably explains why I spent an entire weekend at the dark side jam. It may sound crazy to work all weekend with only a few hours of sleep on a hard floor (or couch if you’re lucky), but to me that’s fun.


We created a game and called it Nostos. You can get it free (and without adds!) in the android app store or on the dark side jam website with all the other games. Check it out.

Dark Side Jam: Begginings

After the pizza, speeches, and group formation, it’s time to settle in at a table and decide what you’re going to make. It can be tricky to plan something out that you can complete on time. Our team had one developer, one sound designer, two game designers/writers, and me (le artist).

After tossing around some ideas we started refining it down into what we hoped could be accomplished before the weekend was over. One consideration in our planning was time, but another was people power. I’ll be honest, as the only designer I was super grateful for any help the other people on my team were willing to contribute when they had spare time. And having a UI savvy developer was wonderful. Speaking of developers. Some teams had oodles of them. They were able to dabble in more difficult things, like physics and 3D. … yeah, we didn’t do that. We kept it simple, but that worked for us.

Ash and Jorge scavenged a big piece of paper and a marker to make our lovely story board. These are handy to have because it keeps everyone on task, and you know what needs to be done. We also used a task management board, but this is more pretty to look at.


My list of work included…

  • Intro screen and spaceship
  • Planet (and progression over 10 years)
  • 3 icons for resources categories
  • Face shot of Missions Specialist, Terrence Walters
  • 10 events images
  • game logo

When they told me there were going to be 10 different event images I almost had a panic attack. Keep in mind we only had from 9pm Friday to 5pm Sunday to complete everything. But in the end everything was completed.

NASA deserves a huge shout out. Part of the dark side jam requirements was to use at least one of their assets. I used tons. Edited, merged, painted over, cropped, you name it. I manipulated the heck out of those pictures. Almost every image used a NASA asset as a base, which was a huge time saver. (plus they had some very pretty pictures I was able to use).

Jorge also saved me a lot of time by combing through and looking for suitable images for the events. I can waste a ton of time doing that, so thank you Jorge. Without your help this may have never been completed on time.

Here I’ll show you some of the images.

Intro screen

Creating a spaceship was fun. I’d never tried to draw one before. I learned a lot. The space background here is a combination of 5 NASA images and some added fineness.


Missions Specialist Terrence Walters (or Terry, as I like to call him). We talked so much about his character and back story before I started drawing that I felt like we were buds. I drew him around midpoint in the dark side jam and was beginning to feel the time crunch. The backgrounds, planets  and intro screen were done. But the icons needed to be finished, as well as the logo, and 10 event images. (yikes!)

 The Final Stretch of the Dark Side Jam

I remember starting Sunday morning, still sleep deprived, (but grateful for my blissful  5 hours of sleep). I still had the 10 event images yet to do (gulp). One by one I cranked out something that would work for each one. I wanted to be more picky about some of them, but when you have 4 hours to create 10 images you’re just glad to complete them all. Below I’ve posted my 6 personal favorites. Solar storm was the first one I did. I combined 3 NASA assets and then put in the flames and glow myself. In other words I wasted a ton of time making it really pretty.

You might be wondering why there is a blood soaked penguin for Animal attacks. Well, when you’re that tired a feral penguin sounds hilarious. As soon as it was suggested I had to do it.



That about wraps up my weekend. In the end I’m proud of what we made, and that’s a win.  If you play the game please comment here and let me know what you think. Or review it on the app store (please, reviews are amazing).

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