COME ON AND SLAM, AND WELCOME TO GLOBAL GAME JAM!
So I travelled to Grimsby with Ed Brown for the 2015 Global Game Jam. This was the first time the event had been held there, and incidentally mine and Ed’s first time going there. It was held that the Grimsby Institute, which was actually quite a nice venue. It reminded me of “The Tech” in Omagh. Anyway, the theme this year was “What Do We Do Now?“.
Presentation before we began. Showing the theme.
After getting with a group of first years from the institute, we went about designing some ideas for what we wanted.
The whiteboard we stuck all our ideas to.
The “Yes” pile of ideas.
Originally, we sort of planned for a “What-if” scenario where the Y2K bug became real, and most computing equipment went completely haywire. The player played as an IT technician during the point when all the computing equipment was going nuts, and you had to navigate the environment. Later on, stealth mechanics, items, NPCs, and other environmental hazards would pop-up.
Writing some ideas.
The first level would have taken place in an office, and demonstrated some of the navigational mechanics the player has, as well as partly setting up the game world. The second level would act more as a set piece, showing the world around being thrown into a state of havoc. The third level that was planned was a underground level, showing more of the use of items and environment navigation.
First level design.
It was a very ambitious design, heavily relying on art. Thankfully we had 3 artists. The being said, the morning after, we abandoned the design in favour of something else.
The room we were stuck in for 48 hours.
Ed being Ed.
The new game was a more simplistic platformer that heavily relied on it’s art to standout. The reasoning for this decision was because we had 3 good artist, 1 sound guy, 1 good programmer (Ed), 2 not so good programmers (Including me), and 1 other person. The idea we originally came up with was quite taxing from both an art and programming standpoint, so changing it to something less crazy was probably for the best.
Anyway, GitHub is not as great as people say it is. With Unity anyway.
Myself and Ed hadn’t really used it much, so we had no idea what to expect. But basically it broke down to this; Ed would do a thing, someone else would do something as well, Ed would commit it, other guy would get a fuckload of conflicts and try to merge, other guy loses hours of work.
Because of that, programming turned into a “one PC at a time” kind of deal. So Ed was really the only person working on it from a programming perspective. Actually, his laptop’s Internet would crap itself, so it he eventually started using other people’s PCs. In case you were wondering what I ended up working on, I programmed the Checkpoints within the level (Which I then rewrote with Ed sitting next to me), made the particle effects for the butterfly, and rigged the level.
Oh yeah, I guess I haven’t explained fully what the game is. The game was a platformer where the character would try to chase a butterfly through a continuous level, filled with enemies and devious platforming. The butterfly was meant to represent the characters dreams. I won’t spoil what happens, you can play it for yourself later.
Anyway, in the downtime; I re-familiarized myself with Unity by watching tutorials. Especially the new ones that covered 2D games. After a while, I became more confident in my ability to work and started to help out a bit, suggesting solutions to problems and such.
The people we were working with were alright. Other than the occasional loud noises and Nerf gun fights, things were mostly pleasant. People coming into the room and distracting us was a problem during the second night though.
Our team. Ed and myself on the far right.
Somehow I managed to get some sleep, although it was the most uncomfortable thing in the world having to sleep on the floor underneath a desk. Not to mention the sporadic heating problems, whether it was either too hot or too cold.
Anyway, back to the game.
The art was great, my checkpoints mostly worked, and it played fine.
There were a handful of issues, like most games made in 48 hours.
- The collision detection on level objects was not correct, meaning the player would be left running or sliding on surfaces meant to be straight.
- Checkpointing would break and the player was left floating between some objects if they died in a specific spot.
- Enemies would get stuck on terrain.
- Touch controls did not work that well.
- There are missing aspects from the game, such as enemies, more platforming pieces, and events.
All things considered though, I’m relatively happy with what we made, and I had fun at the event. Eating food, bantering, designing things. Was fun.
And guess what, we won a thing:
Woo! We won a thing!
And then Ed (After being awake for about 30 something hours) drove me home. Which was fun because we were both tired and the GPS would occasionally point us in the wrong direction.
This is the second time I have stayed for the entirety of a jam, and the first time I stayed for the whole of a GGJ.
Our team’s page can be found here: http://globalgamejam.org/2015/games/painted-wings
Additionally, here’s Ed’s Blog and here’s an article about the jam.
For those wondering whether you should go to one of these things, I’d recommend it. But I’d also recommend bringing a sleeping bag.