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One Man's Quest to Become Every Team's Artist

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I wouldn’t call Kenney Vleugels a household name. He doesn’t have the name recognition of John Romero or Shigeru Miyamoto, but you’ve probably seen his work. To make things a little more intriguing you’ve probably never played a game made by Kenney. Kenney spends his days making visual assets for people to use in their projects. Recently Kenney organized his first game jam, we caught up with him to learn a little more about the man behind the assets.

Why don’t you start by telling us who you are.

My name is Kenney Vleugels and I have been creating games for a little over 10 years now. A couple of years ago I decided to shift focus to creating game development tools and assets. That's working out great and I really enjoy working on those every single day. I've recently started a community where game developers can meet-up called Pixeland.io, we've got two physical locations around the world already!

Why do you make so many assets?

At first these game assets were just a by-product of the many cancelled projects, rather than keeping them to myself I decided to upload them using a Creative Commons license. After a while people started requesting custom graphics and once people got around to donating I could spend more time on new game assets made for sharing. That's been working for two years now and even after creating over 40,000 assets there's really no end in sight.

What was the Kenney Jam?

The Kenney Jam is a weekend game jam where participants are restricted to using pre-made game assets we've made in the past, using any custom content was prohibited. While it is a fun challenge on it's own this restriction did allow some programmers to come up with a game without having to worry about finding an artist or doing art themselves. Many participants created and published their first game! This was the very first time it was organized but the results (88 submissions!) and the feedback people have received were all amazing and I'm sure there will be some sort of sequel.

Why did you throw your own Jam?

People have been requesting a jam like this for ages and I finally got around to organizing it. From my personal experience there always seems to be a lack of artists during game jams and this jam pretty much allowed any programmer to join without the need to team up with an artist. All the submissions are on the same level visually and that's something you rarely see during jams.

What do you hope people learn from the Jam?

I hope participants will learn how to deal with time constraints, scope and to thoughtfully look at decent game design (the theme was "It's a feature, not a bug!" which got many scratching their heads) rather than having just flashy visuals and effects.

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I also had a great time completing my first game jam.  Kenney and all the participants were very positive and encouraging.  It was a great experience, and I look forward to the next one!

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The Kenney Jam was a lot of fun, and for numerous reasons the first one I've finished. (Kenny's ready-made art not only helped production, but also the game concept in the first place!)

I've been a fan since I first noticed Quill18Creates using Kenney's art numerous times, and have not looked back since.