Tired of the constant flood of Cthulhu and zombie games?
Part of the reason they're everywhere is that they're both well known and free to use, and a lot of people who make games aren't aware of just how many good stories they're carrying around with them.
There are SO MANY other stories and characters out there that are also free to use:
Robin Hood, Zorro, Dracula, John Carter, Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Alice in Wonderland, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Hercules, Paul Bunyan...
The list goes on forever, and these are all stories that are free to be remixed and remade by anyone.
Whatever the reason,
a lot of these stories aren't out there in games yet.
so let's MAKE SOME!
Why not make a Robin Hood archery game, a Sherlock Holmes point-and-click adventure, or go crazy and make a Les Miserables bullet-hell shmup?
1) Find a PUBLIC DOMAIN story or character
2) Make a game between May 17 and May 24
3) Submit it to the jam page
Games will be rated on:
Graphics / Sound / Fun / Polish
Staying true to the source material
Most innovative use of the source material
and a special bonus theme to be announced at the start of the jam!
During the submission period, all jammers will have the option of submitting their game with a download of all code and assets released under a Creative Commons CC0 waiver. These games will appear on an additional leaderboard after the jam.
A Message From Gritfish
I announced the Public Domain Jam a month ago as a reaction to the over-use of some themes in the indie game scene, but since then, I've been flooded with nothing but enthusiasm from people over their love of works in the public domain.
One developer has planned to make a game based on Kalevipoeg, an Estonian folk tale with some similarities to America's Paul Bunyan. Another has planned a game based on the story of Lysistrata, where the women of Greece withhold sex from their husbands and lovers to force them to negotiate peace and it all goes hilariously wrong. I can't wait to see what other stories will turn up.
I'm happy to announce that the Public Domain Jam will now be boasting a $1000 prize for the highest rated CC Zero game!
This will be the first game jam on itch.io to support the releasing of games, their source code and assets under the Creative Commons Zero (CC Zero) waiver. This means anyone is free to download, remix and reshare those games.
Nicky Case, creator of indie game "Nothing To Hide" and organiser of the Open Game Art Bundle, has donated the prize to support the creation of games like these, and their release under the Creative Commons Zero waiver.
The Engine Co. have also joined us in supporting open development, and are offering free Loom Turbo subscription (the premium edition of their cross-platform game engine, valued at $500) to the winning entry of every rating category (best art, best sound, best use of theme, etc.), and are giving a free month of Loom Turbo to anyone who wants to use it in the jam.
If you're interested in using Loom SDK for the jam, sign up for a free account HERE, and send an email to ben[DOT]garney[AT]gmail[DOT]com.
Finally, the top 100 games overall will receive a copy of the Kenney donation pack, a bundle of free to use art and sound assets.
A message from Nicky:
"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
By quoting Isaac Newton, I'm borrowing his shoulders to make a point:
The future is a remix of the past.
Many creations build upon the old & familiar to make them new & unique. Games especially. That's why we need to have a stronger public domain, a stronger creative commons, for the artists of tomorrow to learn from the artists of yesterday.
I love open art. I organized The Open Game Art Bundle, and am open-sourcing my upcoming indie game, Nothing To Hide. That's why I'm also hosting a $1000 grand prize for the best CC Zero game to come out of this game jam! I want to support artists who not only borrow from the public domain, but also give back to it.
Recent copyright laws make it harder for us to build upon the past. Creativity is shrugged off, given a cold shoulder. The Public Domain Jam won't jumpstart Renaissance 2.0. But it's a step forward. Taking a stand, standing upon the shoulders of giants.
Now let's make some games.
Click here for FAQs About the PDJ
How can I tell if something's OK to use?
It can be pretty tricky to tell if something is actually in the public domain. Public Domain is different in almost every country.
If you're in the US, Project Gutenberg is an incredible resource for you to get started. Goodreads has a massive list of books that are in the public domain. LibriVox is also a great resource for audio versions those books.
Works that are in the public domain in the U.S. may not be public domain in your country! If you're not in the US, Project Gutenberg has sister-projects in many other countries, that are a good indication of which books are Public Domain for you.
Can I start making my game now?
YES! The jam has started! GO!
Using works with modern remakes
If you're going to use a public domain work that's had a recent, memorable remake like "Sherlock", or "Romeo and Juliet", please be careful to avoid using the distinguishing aspects of that remake. It's fine to take Shakespeare and put it in a modern setting, but the character/set designs from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet AREN'T public domain, and aren't okay to use.
Do I have to release MY game as public domain?
No, but there will be a special award category for games that release their code and assets under a Creative Commons CC0 waiver.
Can I use public domain art/sound assets in my game?
No. You should make your own art/sound
This was a really hard one. While the point of the jam is to promote the use of public domain work, it's also a game jam where people are scored against each other, and a game that's used a lot of pre-built assets is likely to have an advantage against a game where all those assets are made from scratch. That's kind of against the spirit of game jams, so we're possibly going to deal with public domain art/sound assets in a separate jam later on!
Do I have to work solo, or can I work in a team?
You can do either. Working in teams is totally fine.
Do I follow the public domain status of a work in my own country, or in America?
Your own country. That's where the retelling is occuring, so that's which status should be applied.
Got a question that isn't here?
Keeping Public Domain Alive:
There are some seriously cool sites out there that make reading, listening to and sharing work in the public domain easy. There's no cost to enter the jam, but if you like the idea of the classics being kept free by volunteers, consider donating to one of these sites:
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.
The creative commons licenses are the easiest way to let people know what is and isn't okay to do with your creative work, including the cc0 waiver - the equivalent of public domain for new works.
Project Gutenberg offers over 45,000 ebooks that are in the public domain, ensuring everyone has access to those great and important books, even without a local library.
LibriVox provides over 7,000 audiobooks for free for anyone to listen to. They started in 2005, which means they record an average of two books a day - all read by volunteers!