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Lessons Learned Running an HTML5 Game Competition for Students

72 games were submitted to the Clay.io game development competition. Here are the 5 things we learned.

Austin Hallock, Blogger

April 20, 2013

3 Min Read

This past week at Clay.io we wrapped up our HTML5 Game Competition for Students called "Got Game?". It was a global event where students had one month to develop and submit an HTML5 game.

I was extremely impressed by the quality and quantity of games submitted. In all, 72 student-developed games were submitted - you can play them here.

Here's a bit of insight I gathered based on the competition.

Global Talent

The competition was not limited to just the United States, and in fact we had many participants from all across the globe.

This is Not Sparta (3rd place) and Space Hamster were made by developers in Argentina. No-one Has to Die (1st place) and DeadBase (2nd place) are out of Australia, Radiation from France, Fat Bat from Spain, Vertigo from India, DARF from Brazil and quite a few more. Those are very diverse sources of submissions.

The Indie Game scene definitely is not limited to the United States and great games are being developed worldwide. The fact that they are students bodes well for the game development scenes in those countries for years to come. South America specifically has a lot going on for it.

This is Not Sparta

This is Not Sparta (3rd place) - From Argentina

Game Creators vs Engines

I classify Game Creators as tools one can use to create a game without having to write code - tools like GameMaker and Construct 2. Game Engines would then be tools one can use to create a game with writing code (JavaScript).

The majority of games submitted were developed using Game Creator rather than a Game Engine - most of which were with Construct 2. Granted these tools make it easier to develop games, so with the short timeline for creating a game, it would make sense these were used liberally.

DeadBase (2nd place) - Built with GameMaker

Story Matters
The most popular game by far, and overall winner, was No-one Has to Die, a game by Stuart Madafiglio. The game was featured on PCGamer.com, IndieGames.com, "Rock, Paper, Shotgun", and a variety of other gaming news sites.

The game itself is pretty basic - just a simple puzzle game, but what really propelled it to the over 50,000 plays it has had, is the fantastic story. I definitely recommend giving it a play-through (takes 20-30 minutes)

No-one Has to Die (1st place)

Variety in Game Genres
As with most web game related content, there were quite a few platformer games, but I was surprised by the variety of games submitted. There was a good mix of side-scrollers, puzzle, retro, sport, story-driven, even multiplayer games. The most popular categories were "Action" with 30 games, "Arcade" with 26, and "Puzzle" with 17.

Still Not Using Full Potential of HTML5 

Of the 72 games submitted, only a handful work well on mobile devices - that's obviously an issue, since cross-platform support is the main reason to build with HTML5. Part of what needs to be fixed is the mindset before creating a game... like choosing the types of input that will be compatible with both touch, and the keyboard.

I do want to highlight Radiation - this is a game that plays fantastically on mobile devices.

If we run one of these again, we'll be sure to have either a separate prize for games that take full advantage of HTML5, or have it be more of a factor in the judging.

The future is bright for indie games, and games in general - led by many of the talented student developers who participated in this competition!

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