Game Jam Reflection

As I mention in my previous devlog, I participated in a 12 hour game jam this last weekend! If you want to try out Halloween Ballerina head to my Itch.

The jam uses a format where you are given 1 adjective and 1 noun at the start, then after a few hours, every hour later, you get “scope creep” where you must include either an adjective or a noun in the game. Our final list was dancing, darkness, ghoul, hair, broom, curse, witchcraft, prophet, messy, slimy. We were unable to fully implement all of these words, missing out on only slimy and broom. As such, we did take negative points, so we did not win the jam.

All in all, I feel my submission this month was weaker than my submission in the previous month, which did take 1st place! Considering last month was my first game jam ever, I’m pretty proud to have taken the gold (and the $25 prize money)! If you would like to play my previous month’s submission, head over here.

The team I had this month consisted of 4 programmers (including me), 1 artist, and 1 writer. I also had to wear multiple hats and do a lot of the art myself. I also did the world map, which could have been better, but between learning Unity’s tilemap editor and being on a tight 12 hour clock, I wasn’t able to produce something that was up to my quality standards. Though it was a good learning experience on how Unity’s 2D system works, as I primarily develop in 3D.

The mechanic we chose to go with was similar to an escort quest. The dancing girl had a lamp that drained fuel as the game progressed. If her lamp ran out of fuel, you instantly lost. The light surrounding her would dim and shrink as she lost fuel. You could refuel the lamp by collecting flasks of fuel placed around the map. Ghouls (red boxes because 12 hours), which would kill you on contact, would avoid the light, so it was safest to stay within her light radius, but you did have to venture out into the darkness to collect the fuel. Curses (middle fingers) would increase the rate at which ghouls would spawn when touched, so it was beneficial to avoid these if possible.

For future game jams, a few things I would do different would be to find a team prior to arrival. I was paired up with random people, of which, 2 of the programmers were beginners, and the artist didn’t seem to be too interested in assisting the team. He spent the first 2 hours drawing a pumpkin, which was not part of our game, the same artist was on my team last month as well, luckily we had 3 artists in total, because he decided to watch anime during the jam instead of working, I’m not quite sure why he bothers showing up. The only asset in the game created by our artist was the dancing ballerina and the main character. Of which, I had to do the animations for as well. Having a stronger team overall, even if smaller, would have really improved our chances at taking 1st for a second jam in a row, as well as increased my enjoyment of the jam. I’d also like to try to simplify the game mechanics further. I feel my scope was too large, even though it was a fairly simple mechanic, and I was able to complete the mechanic in time, I was not able to debug it, nor debug my teams code, which did cause a lot of issues, as I did have to take on a large portion of the responsibility.

At the end of the day, I did still have fun, even given my critiques of my teammates. The guys running the jam, over at Tilted Events are all really cool people, and I love spending time with them!

I do plan on participating in next months jam as well! Stay tuned for more information on when that jam will be, and a reflection afterwards. In the meantime, I will be at Indie Speak on November 16th at the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, California, where I will have a booth, and potentially be speaking about my experiences as an indie dev! Come check it out!

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