For another year, Global Games Jam has ended, and what a time was had at Stafford Campus during the event. After 48 hours of work we were able to pull off most of what we had hoped and it’s time for me to give you my report. I will explain what happened, what problems were faced and what we produced.
First of all, click here so you can download it and check it out.
Also click here to see the games everyone at the Stafford GGJ made!
So first off, the amount of people attending was huge. Last year we could barely fit everyone into the Lecture Theatre for the introduction and keynote, but this time half of us had to have the introduction and keynote in the University’s TV studio, which turned out to be a waste of time because of technical difficulties. Despite that, being at the largest games jam site in Europe, and fourth largest in the world was pretty hard to believe.
So after a brief introduction to handle time, we were given the theme:
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
So this theme was pretty deep and open ended, although seeing how common this aspect of the GGJ’s theme is, it wasn’t too surprising, however I find it kind of amusing how GGJ has the most open ended and “artistically inspiring” theme ideas out of all the jams I’ve seen and participated in. As per GGJ tradition, all the teams came up with ideas in a brain storm, followed by a pitch. Since our team went with the “certain point of view” concept for the theme, we eventually scrapped our original idea of the game (which was mostly meant to be one huge joke, but we couldn’t really fit it into a theme) and went with an idea of fighting a revolutionary war between two sides, the government and the revolutionaries, with different views on the world around them.
Then it was onto the developing, although it went off to a rocky start due to finding rooms to work with and getting equipment all set up, it actually went pretty well. Despite being one of the four programmers with some experience with Unity with GridLocked, all four of us were able to get a hang of Unity pretty quick, and by the end of the first day we had a menu and a working tilemap system, and by the second day we had a fully rendered map to work with, thanks to our awesome designers, while I was focusing on the GUI, menus and cutscenes. We also had a GitHub repository, so unlike last year where all assets and code were transferred by a single USB flash drive (aka Source Control: Hardcore Mode), we didn’t have to worry about transferring or losing code.
As well as coding, eating food and being happy about how much non-sleeping I was doing, I occasionally had a look around to see all the other games that were being created, as well as the several ways people were kept entertained through the two days. We also got interviewed by one of the guys from StaffsTV. I’ll try and find footage of our team and post it as soon as possible!
As we were nearing the end, we were getting very worn out and as such, whatever problems we found were getting bigger. Programming cutscenes, fade transitions and GUIs aren’t as stress inducing thanks to Unity’s GUI pipeline for producing all your needs. However, we were struggling with the gameplay itself.
One reason was that early on, we were over complicating it: We initially thought of doing a Real Time Strategy game, which thankfully we didn’t since it wasn’t practical for two days, but even with the turn based strategy we had ideas that couldn’t really fit into two days. These included fullscreen colour and distortion effects (so we could show the two sides with different colours) and procedurally generated maps. What should have been done is to work on the more basic gameplay features to get a gameplay going, and take advantage of any plugins or assets that could’ve made our task easier.
Another was the experience: Since it’s been a while since I used Unity, and the other programmers had practically little to none, therefore I had the task of showing them the ropes to most of the development environment as well as offering them help whenever they got stuck. Since we were tasked with an ambitious project, we had difficulties as a team to work on the some of the mechanics we should have left later.
Therefore lessons learnt:
- Get to know the games engine a week or two before the jam starts
- Make sure you have an easy idea.
- Get the gameplay done first! Worry about the cool stuff later.
- Get a plan down!!
But in the end, it was a really fun time and I was glad to be a part of it. Hope to do even better in GGJ15!!