UW-Green Bay Computer Science lecturer Ben Geisler boarded a train in Chicago March 13, bound for the largest-ever game developer conference of its kind in San Francisco 53 hours later.
But in this case, it wasn’t the destination, but the journey that was noteworthy.
“This was no ordinary train,” Geisler said. “It was the site of the first annual Train Jam — an event in which 58 professional and independent game developers came together to create games over the course of a long train trip.”
Each team had specialists, with Geisler’s comprised of two programmers (Geisler and one other), a 3D artist, a 2D UI artist, a visual effects (FX) artist and a level designer.
“Team work was crucial,” said Geisler (third from the left, above). “From station to station we would work on our game. We took over the lounge car with our laptops, mice, and Cheetos: coding until the early hours of the morning each day, often only stopping for food. The entire game was created on the train from inception to design to implementation. It was an exercise in clever project scheduling, quick thinking and intense implementation.”
Given the choice, Geisler said he would definitely do it again.
“It was an exhilarating experience to finish our game and along the way I made bonds with other developers which will remain for years to come.
You can play the games at www.trainjam.com/. Check out the Geisler team creation called WarCry3.
Aside from teaching college courses, Geisler is also one of two instructors teaching UW-Green Bay’s first-ever LOOC — a no-cost Local Open Online Course. The course offers Beginning App & 2D Game Development, and students can receive college credit for completion.
Geisler has worked at four AAA game development houses and on more than six best-selling games, in addition to having past involvement with publisher relations. His past credits include Soldier of Fortune 2, X-Men Legends, Jedi Knight 2, Quake 4, The Incredible Hulk: UD, Prey 2, Prototype, and others. Geisler has also created business applications for Android and iOS devices, and has published book articles on Artificial Intelligence and papers in trade journals. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.