Employees at the Canadian game development studio Big Blue Bubble (creators of Thumpies) certainly know how to have fun while going about the business of making games. Recently they held an internal team building exercise in which they had teams of six employees compete head-to-head against each other to see who could make the best (marketable) game in a 72 hour period. It certainly sounds like a fun way to get your employees’ creative juices flowing and possibly even drum up some revenue for the company.

In the press release we were sent for Big Blue Bubble’s latest title, Snow Ballistic, it mentioned that it was ” one of 7 games in Big Blue Bubble’s Rapid Game Development Competition, an internal competition that provides teams with complete creative control to make a game in 72 hours or less.” Intrigued, I sent Amanda Thorpe, an Administrative Assistant at Big Blue Bubble some questions to find out more about the competition. Below are her responses.

Q: How did the competition come about?

Well the competition idea was one that came about just as sort of a team building exercise. We wanted to really help everyone sharpen their skills on a tight deadline but still have some fun and really get creative.

Q: How big were the development teams?

There were 6 teams of about 6 people each. Each team had artists and programmers, and then the Producers, QA, and me, the Admin. Asst. divided amongst them.

Q: Did you lay down certain ground rules ahead of time?

Teams were announced the Friday before the contest, so that we could prepare our ideas (as we knew deciding on a concept would take some time for most teams) We were given all of Friday to work on our game, and Sat./Sunday if we chose to come in. We had to have a working game ready on the device and all of our marketing materials by 8 am Monday morning. The CEO, Damir met with each team that morning to hear our pitches. He chose which games he felt could be launched on iTunes with minimal polishing.

Q: What are the other titles in the competition?

Out of 6 teams, there were 7 apps entered into the contest (The Snow Ballistic team, had another app that they were working on as well). Only 4 were chosen to move on. The first two were released into the App Store immediately, Aaah! Chompsters! and Invaders from Uranus. Snow Ballistic was submitted a day later and was tied up in the App Store due to the Thanksgiving weekend and is now released. The last game (my game), Coq Punch (titled RosterPunch in the US) is still sitting in the review pile of iTunes. We are hoping that there are no issues and it will be released shortly.

Q: Was everyone developing head to head during the same 72 hour period?

All day Friday, the whole studio was shut down to work on this competition. If people wanted to come in over Saturday and Sunday, they were free to.

Q: Were ‘Invaders from Uranus’ and ‘Aaah! Chompsters!’ the first 2?

Yes. Followed by Snow Ballistic and (hopefully Coq Punch).

Q: Did you guys vote on which were the best, were there prizes for the winners?

While we weren’t given a formal vote, we all have our favorites. In terms of prizes, let me tell you the rules. The winner will be the app that made the most $ in the first 30 days of its release. The teams will share the apps profits on a sliding scale of what order they came in.

All in all, I think it has been a great experience. We get daily sales updates to see how our app’s are doing and it’s always exciting to see a review of an app you worked on. Although, our friends (facebook or otherwise) are getting sick of our Game spam!

I’ve had an opportunity to play Snow Ballistic myself and its a fun little endurance target shooting style game where you must throw snow balls at various enemies (who are throwing snowballs back at you) including huge YETIs (if that is the correct plural of YETI?)! Though it’s missing a high score leaderboard, it’s quite impressive what the team was able to accomplish in just 72 hours. Below are some screenshots and links to the YouTube channels for each of the four titles that were submitted to Apple.

Coq Puch YouTube Channel
Snow Ballistic YouTube Channel
Aaah! Chompsters! YouTube Channel
Invaders From Uranus YouTube Channel