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Instant Jam Gamescom 2010 Hands-On Preview

We had the Instant Jam premise explained and then shown to us by Instant Action CEO Louis Castle, a hugely successful game developer who first came to fame when he co-founded Westwood. Louis told us he left Electronic Arts (who purchased Westwood) last year to join Instant Action after he was impressed with what the digital distributor looked to offer. So what is Instant Action and indeed Instant Jam all about?

Instant Jam

Instant Action is a company that is developing technology which allows someone to download a game from the internet and then run it through a web browser. Only a small amount of the game is downloaded to make it playable, with the remainder downloaded whilst you play. It is promised that, theoretically at least, this concept could be applied to any game, such as Gears of War or Crysis, without any performance impact. This distribution system, like any other, will require uptake from publishers to raise awareness and let the concept grow from code to reality. To start the ball rolling Instant Action has developed their own game to showcase the system: Instant Jam.

Instant Jam 

Louis explained that they chose a rhythm music game like Instant Jam because it is perfect for the system. Currently it is only used in a Facebook beta, but eventually the game could be embedded anywhere on the internet using a simple copy-and-paste embed URL. When Instant Jam loads, the game will check your hard drive for any of the 2200 songs that have note charts. These note charts have been created by hand and so should be unique and entertaining for each individual music track. The music tracks the game finds will be free, since it assumes the copies you have are legit. Tracks that you do not have can be purchased from Amazon or iTunes should you wish to buy and then play them.

Instant Jam 

The actual gameplay is very similar to Guitar Hero in that different notes need to be matched at the correct time during a song to build up a score multiplier and ultimately earn points. A computer keyboard can be used but so can any USB guitar peripherals you might already own. Friends can be challenged to beat scores with more multiplayer options planned for the future. The game is initially free to play but to carry on playing without charge you will need to earn in-game coins, which are received for playing songs well. Optional micro-transactions are on hand in-case you wish to purchase special items such as new guitars and frets which add gameplay bonuses and let you earn coins more quickly.

Instant Jam

I must admit to having never played Guitar Hero before but nevertheless Louis and I took turns on my choice of the epic 8 minute-long Master of Puppets track by Metallica. The gameplay was fluid and fun and we both got into the track so much we didn't realise the appointment had over-run by 10 minutes. While I am sure there is little new here for Guitar Hero fans, the drop-in, drop-out factor and accessibility potential is worth noting, with the technology platform looking impressive.

Instant Jam 

The Instant Action premise looks promising for gamers and publishers alike whilst Instant Jam is looking very polished and could steal the time of many gamers on Facebook and beyond. Whether or not all this time invested by Instant Action pays off will be an interesting wait for the gaming world but in the mean time you can currently try the game early in the Facebook beta. See http://www.instantjam.com/ for more details.

POBmaestro | 29th August, 2010

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