Global Game Jam is the most traditional game jam event today. In Brazil it becomes popular in 2012/2013 and probably everybody in the brazilian scene participates. It's a nice place to meet old and new friends, make contacts and try new experiences in game development.
Last year was my first try, generally i participate of non local jams, but GGJ is a special case. In my first GGJ, my group was huge so as the problems. The game was finished, but the result was way bellow my expectations.
I listed all the problems that I remembered and moved on. During the year, I participated in other jams (Ludum Dare, Monster Mash and add Game Jolt jams), all non-local and felt that part of what I learned in GGJ help me to enhance my performance. However, the human and location factors had yet to be tested, then come back to GGJ would be the most logical step.
In my preparation for the edition 2015 decided to participate in a smaller group, where virtually all members have also had participated in other jams game. Also organized times for eating and sleeping (maybe my great personal failure in the previous edition).
Still, problems arose on all sides, different problems of the previous year.
This year, my team took 8 hours to set the mechanics. The delay triggered a sequence of organizational problems that gradually seemed to be fixed, but not, it worsened at the end. Again, I was not satisfied with the result and again feel obliged to list all the errors to try not to feel frustrated again. So here's the list of what I learned I should not do:
1 - Minimize the team the most posible, short prototypes are produced faster with the smaller number of people. The lower the number of people in a group, the lower the possibility of a conflict as the activities to be performed.
2 - If using any development tool (Unity3D, GameMaker, Construct etc.), avoid using add ons or frameworks. Can be great in the daily development, but if someone from the development team did not know, the project will not progress.
3 - If you are responsible for the design, is incisive as to what's planned. If someone disagrees, prove that this design is really the best choice. If still the problem persists cut the people in the group or leave the group as soon as possible. It seems extreme, but it is best to keep everyone on the team happy with what they do than working in an uninteresting design.
4 - Game design should occupy 10% of the total jam time. Remember that time still passes as you eat, sleep and meet other people.
5 - Games made in game jams are prototypes. Focus only what is really important. Animations, camera effects, lights and shadows, do not affect gameplay, do not invest.
6 - Avoid that someone in the group runs out of tasks. Running out tasks drops the morale of any participant.
7 - Create integration cycles. Avoid integrating all just at the end, integrate everything that is done in cycles of 1 or 2 hours, every two or three cycles, gather the team and make a debate on what has been done and will be done. The lack of continuous integration was the biggest problem of my team in this issue.
8 - Try to create pause cycles for the group. Stay awake and well fed is always important, but even more important that everyone is the same way during periods of development.
9 - End the project a few hours before final delivery, do let other people play and try to find errors.
10 - If everything went wrong, do not worry, failing will not kill you. As time passes, the frustration becomes a thing of the past. Lift, organize thoughts and come back to fight.