Most of the games I’ve created have been for game jams, in very short (for IF development) timeframes. A list of some considerations I’d keep in mind before joining one would be:
Does it feel like a reasonable time frame, and in that allotted span, is this the event that is the most interesting to me? I tend to operate best under either very short timeframes where I can take advantage of an intense creative session, like the 4 hour category for Ectocomp, or else somewhere along the duration of a month or so to allow for working in a time buffer and not stressing myself out too badly. Jams on the span of weeks tend to feel a bit thin, but are a fun challenge for shorter pieces.
I tend to expect from myself about a week overall of actual development time, but it’s cut up something along the lines of: coding (UI mostly) 2 days, graphic design (cover art, page info/layout) 1 day, writing (and importing into Twine) anywhere from 1-7 days. This varies with responsibilities, but given the type of games that I make- (low on choice variation, often low on word count in the sense that poetry tends to run more concise) it’s fairly consistent. For larger projects, (Sweetpea was about 12,000 words), then a month or more is reasonable.
2. Jam information.
I mostly join unranked, fairly free form jams- often with a suggested theme, or mechanic, but is more ‘this is meant to inspire riffing off of’ versus ‘it has to hit marks A, B, and C, or else it’s not acceptable.’ I like having the room to play, and for ideas to evolve- though it is a lot of fun to incorporate optional bonus elements. It’s really fun to feel like you’re part of the club when everyone is taking a stab in the dark of their own interpretation of a theme.
I’d also consider whether the audience of the jam is a good fit. For example, if it’s a jam meant for primary walking sims or visual novels, clearly my stuff isn’t a good fit. I don’t normally seek out ranking based jams, and instead prefer the ribbons approach that SpringThing has. More exhibition, less competition. I’m here to show off and enjoy everyone else’s awesome works, not pit ourselves against each other like ravenous wolves.
Special consideration of elements like SpringThing’s commitment to diversity are also pertinent to me- I like joining jams and submitting things to them as a show of support, (for example, charity jams, where I hammered out three smaller works for the Neo Twiny jam to support the donation to Equality Florida from Manon and matching donors.) Jams with a strong supporting community are also lovely, like the Bitsy ones, and I like to chip in with comments on other people’s works (or at least ratings) as well, to play into the communal spirit.
3. Personal Interest.
Is this a gamejam that I’ve read a lot of reviews for games stemming from it, and therefore my interest is piqued? Perhaps it deals with a theme that just sets off a bunch of buzzing inspiration, or it handles a favourite genre of mine, and I’ve love to both write and read more works in it, and possibly connect with others also interested in the same subject manner.
Is it ran by someone that I like, and would like to help encourage- because having more submissions is always super fun to see come together for something you organized? Do I want to see this competition run again in the future, like SeedComp, and therefore a show of public interest would help tip the scales in favour of it continuing?
I think that covers most of my bases? I just like to be silly and have fun, plus it’s a good prompt to make things on a continual basis. I have a much higher success rate for frequent, smaller projects, than behemoth singular releases.