Participated in my first games jam a couple weeks ago, the LTU Forge Global Games Jam. Super fun, a little stressful at times, but it was so exciting to be able to do it in such a welcoming environment. Coming out of it, I feel inspired and more experienced for having done it. I really want to do another; a feeling similarly expressed by my friends.
Carl Escape is a narritive/dialog based game, so naturally that was the first system we worked on.
Multiple dialog bubbles with focus on the currently talking character was the implementation we went with after a few iterations. Blukat worked on the data structure that backed this one.
While the final game had only two characters, it allowed for dynamic names, backgrounds, and choices in the dialog tree
As the art and storyline came in from JD, JabberJaws, and BearAxe, Blukat and I plugged in the assets into the API, everyone coming together when things needed final tweaks. Half way through, the dialog front end was mostly complete so I switched over to working on the minigames.
The core minigame was a simple skill check to test the player during certain decisions of the game.
Quick text effect at the beginning and you get dropped in the game. Hit the green to win. It's faster and the win area smaller for more difficult versions of this game.
What was fun about these minigames being independent from the rest of the game is that they can be imported into the core game and placed anywhere. Being
PIXI.Containers, they lived right in the scene graph with everything else.
The other minigame started out as a bottle flipping game (I got a little side tracked) but turned into the final game for escaping Carl.
Thanks to some awesome last minute artwork from JD. You put the key in the hole to get back into your hours and escape the antagonist.
I'm happy that in the end, the game worked when it was presented to everyone though it did have a bug or two. It works on both mobile portrait and desktop though should be barely playable at any resolution. Really wish I would've thought to use a
transform: scale() on the game instead of writing a massive resize method though. I did this for a game at work recently and it was so much less work to set up that the one in Carl Escape.
During/after the jam I wrote down a few points to keep in mind for future projects/game jams:
- Games jams are an exercise, not a test. This was something I told myself multiple times to lessen the anxiety.
- Dead simple mechanics are easy to get down and then build on.
- Narritive stories have tons of boilerplate.
- Don't get caught up in making "the best game"
- Trying to act as a leader for the team doesn't really work, it's everyone collective motivation and effort that will push the game over the finish line and really communicate what it's about. It's less anxiety that way too.
- Parameters like group size, development experience, planning amount, game type, and engine choice/group engine use make quite a difference in how the game will come out.
- Familiarity tools is essential in allowing people in their roles to be the most efficient with their time.
The other teams put together some really interesting ideas. It's impossible to compare between other's work due to the differences in team structure and team decisions, but I think ours held up well and got some good laughs at the final presentation. So glad to have participated in this!