I took part in the Global Game Jam last week, it was my first game jam and first time using Godot 🔗. Incase you don’t know what a game jam is; you are given a theme and have a set period of time, in this case 48 hours to make a game that fits the theme. There may be other constraints depending on the jam.

The theme this year was “Make me laugh”, and the Edinburgh site where I was taking part has a sub-theme of “Say NO to genAI”. I decided to work solo on the code and art, but managed to steal a few hours of Nicolette’s time to write a soundtrack. I had such a good time, I was amazed what we managed to make in the time and it was so much fun to be able to apply myself to so many different aspects like illustration, code, animation, concept and design.


If you just want to see what we made you can download and play the demo from the itch page 🔗. Or watch a video below.

The idea

The theme was a tricky one at first, it felt quite prescriptive. After exploring a few different ideas I decided to lean into the theme and go with clowns even if it was the obvious choice. I wanted to use the Jam as a chance to try Godot and as I’d never used it before I wanted to keep the mechanics quite simple and stick to a 2D platformer.

I did some reading about the different types of classic clowns and liked the interplay between the White Clown and the Red (Auguste) Clown 🔗. Then I read about the contra-auguste which sits in-between the two, it aspires to be talented and sophisticated like the white clown and tries to mimic it often unsuccessfully. While the auguste can sometimes deliberately fail the contra-auguste is sincere in trying to be like the white clown. I thought this could fit really well with the sub-theme.

I started thinking the White Clown could be an accomplished (though pretentious) painter and the contra-august is jealous of the attention and success and wants to be a painter too, except they miss the point about artwork and can’t be bothered to put in the hours to learn to paint, they just want the applause. I liked this quite blunt but fitting match to the conflict between artists and genAI.

That led to our contra-auguste protagonist Boffo. Boffo bought a learning machine from a shady clown who said they just need to feed it artwork and it could make the paintings for them without any of the hassle of learning to paint themselves. Instant fame, all Boffo needs to do is steal the artwork to feed it.

Initial concept drawing for Boffo levels

The game would be a 2D platformer set inside different galleries around the world, avoid the guards, grab the artwork, get back to the exit. Each level would end with Boffo feeding in the artwork to the machine and getting an AI generated, 19 fingered monstrosity back, which they proudly present to the audience to general mockery and laughter. “It must just need to be trained on more artwork, I’ll show them, if I steal better pictures I’ll be a real artist for sure.”, and repeat.

The characters

Against best practice I actually started by drawing the sprites, animation and some basic scenery before opening Godot.

I briefly considered pixel art but thought that would probably be a lot more time consuming.

Instead I drew the sprites on an iPad with a stylus, very quickly in blocked out areas of colour. Fortunately I think this worked with the circus feel of the game.

Due to time both Boffo and the guards only have a run animation, I’d have liked to draw some jump, idle and walk animations but think I got away with just the one, the running in the air feels like clown behaviour.

I didn’t have the time to animate the learning machine, which is a shame as Nicolette made a fantastic sound for it.

The paintings

For the paintings I decided to just draw them roughly from memory instead of copying from reference, which was good for the time constraint but also with the thinking that they might capture more of the key features and feeling of the paintings rather than just being a reproduction. I think it worked even if some are missing some key features.

With some more time it would have been great to show all the paintings and give some information about them before they get fed into the learning machine.


I’m excited to take part in some more GameJams and I’m really impressed with Godot, on top of being able to build for Mac/Linux/Windows it only took 20 minutes to take the game and make a touch controlled version for Android and iOS that behaves perfectly. Godot was extremely intuitive, and the documentation is superb. The only thing that didn’t behave exactly as I thought it should was the 2D positional audio, which did need a bit of documentation reading.

I always knew sound and music was important but wasn’t prepared for how transformational it would be when it was added in. Not underestimating the power of a good soundtrack is a big take away for me.

The Jam and getting an iPad also reignited my habit of drawing and I have been drawing much more regularly since then, which I’m really grateful for. Based on my experience of the jam I would really recommend taking part in one, even if just as a creative exercise.

It’s not a theme or style that I would have picked if I was choosing to develop a game but I do want to finish Boffo and release it, have lots of ideas that were out of scope for the 48 hours.