What is Train Jam?
Train Jam is a collection of developers traveling via train to the Game Developers Conference and creating games during the ~52 hours it takes to arrive in San Francisco from Chicago.
When is Train Jam?
Train Jam will commence on Thursday March 13, 2014 and finish on Saturday March 15, 2014. This will allow people a bit of wiggle room to setup their booths and/or explore San Francisco before GDC which runs from March 17 - 21, 2014.
Who is organizing Train Jam?
My name is Adriel and I am an independent game developer most recently based out of Boston. In 2013 I traveled from Boston to Seattle via Amtrak's Empire Builder to attend PAX Prime and decided that it would be super fun to jam on a train across country with my fellow game developers.
How does this work?
As in a non-train game jam, there will be a theme announced at the beginning and participants will have 52 hours to form teams, conceptualize an idea, and create a game.
As far as the train ride goes, I will arrange all of the train-related logistics. You simply have to meet the group in Chicago's Union Station where we will all get on a train and start jamming!
How much will this cost me?
Individual coach class tickets are $165.00USD. These tickets do not include meals or beds - simply a seat on the train.
Superliner Roomettes are also available and run at $285.00USD PER PERSON. These rooms fit 2 ADULTS (so yes, you will have a roommate!) and include meals, as well as access to showers and other such pleasurable amenities. There are not many of these available, so please sign up for them quickly if you are intersted in a real bed!
Please note that these tickets are NON-REFUNDABLE.
When do I have to commit by?
As soon as possible! . . .and definitely before January 20th (this is when I have to provide Amtrak with a passenger list). There are limited tickets available and once they are sold out, a waiting list will open up.
What about food?
The California Zephyr includes a sit-down dining car that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (food in the dining car is included in the superlner roomette ticket prices). In addition to that, there is a snack cart that serves various snacks throughout most of the day.
I will try to organize some snacks, but you should plan to bring your own. Keep in mind that we won't have access to a kitchen, so any hot food you would like to consume for the 52 hours will have to be purchased in the dining car or snack car.
Uhhh... what about hygiene?
There are no showers included with the coach class tickets. There are plenty of bathrooms where you can take a pseudo-shower (i.e. wash your face, brush your teeth, and possibly rub some wet wipes all over your body).
But... if you order a coach class ticket, be prepared to be a teeeeeny tiny bit smelly upon your arrival in San Francisco. Don't worry though, we'll all be in the same boat (errr. . . .train?).
How in the world do I sleep on a train?
It may not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but it can be done. With a coach class ticket, you will have access to a single reclining chair to sleep in. These chairs are fairly spacious, recline quite far, have a decent amount of leg room, and have foot rests as well.
Personally, I was able to curl up on a chair and sleep decently the two nights that I was on the train last year (though I am speaking as a relatively small person).
Can I get on the train before Chicago?
Yes! I will (most likely) be riding the train from Boston's South Station to Chicago's Union Station. This trip takes about 24 hours and stops at multiple destinations along the way. If you live in the Northeastern United States, you can find a location along the Lake Shore Limited line to join up with us! If you're arriving from anywhere else outside of that area, just make sure you're at Chicago's Union station at least 2 hours before the train is scheduled to depart.
What about the return trip?
You will be responsible for figuring out your own way home. Train Jam is only for the trip out there.
What about Wi-Fi?
There is no Wi-Fi offered on the California Zephyr. I am looking into a few different options on how to deal with this. The most likely solution would be that we will have a limited number of Karma Wi-Fi devices available. This means that though there will be internet available, there will be limited access to it. Keep this in mind when preparing for Train Jam (e.g. save as much documentation as you can to use offline, download your tools before hand, etc).