Over the long weekend, half of Stegabyte (Alex/me), did the Global Game Jam, and made Thunderpants.
The theme of the game jam was:
We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are
My game is a 3 way free-for-all where each character you touch turns into a clone of you. Oh, and everyone has different farting powers.
This was the first time I’ve ever done a jam; most people form teams but I chose to go solo. A weekend to just make an idea into something doesn’t come along very often, and in a crazy way it was a way for me to relax. While going solo means you might not be able to do as much or get as much input, it’s a lot easier to organise yourself, pick a direction and stick with it.
The Melbourne jam group got a few pre-recorded video addresses, and a live talk from Steve Fawkner and Rami Ismail via Google Hangouts. There was a lot of good advice all round, but I particularly noted Rami’s line ,
…Do the 4/44. Spend the first 4 hours making a prototype that is fun, and then spend the next 44 polishing…
I’m glad I followed this, or I would never have got everything done!
The 4 (actually 8)
For the first hour or so I had a think through diffent games around the theme; I didn’t really have any preconceptions of what kind of game I wanted to make. I came up with about 5 or so decent, doable ideas, but settled on a game where every player your character touchers turns into a copy of you, until your are nearly getting lost int the crown, “seeing things as we are”. I spent the next 7 hours or so getting a prototype done for the core mechanics:
- chase camera controller for multiple players
- character controller
- enemies follow closest player
- enemies change into you on collision
- xbox controller input
As I went to bed, I new that the next day I had to put in something other than circles and boxes. I wanted to give each character extra abilities, but I wanted it to all feel coherent. As I lay in my sleeping bag in a room full of jammers, tired after a meal of pizza, too much coke and not enough fruit, I smelt the answer: flatulence! To be honest, I find farts really funny, and to put them into the game was at a certain level backing up the theme. Farts are gross and people always try to hide them, but having them fun and funny in the game is to help players “see them as I am”.
The next morning, I figured I was going to get basic game and menu flow in first (7am – 11am), the do art and initial sounds (11am – 4pm), then get the characters gameplay abilities done (4pm+). Most stuff went to plan; I hit a few snags. I hadn’t originally planned on multiple character types, so there were a few issues mapping input. As I was working solo, I didn’t do much testing with 3 players (I only have 2 hands). This meant there were a few issues/race conditions with the character selection when 3 people are selecting at the same time; I’ve learnt my lesson from that one.
Sunday I spent testing, tweaking, updating menu images, and finally uploading with about 1 hour to go. It was hectic, around 50 teams trying to upload their files over the same internet connection. I heard a guy from the group next to me, “Okay time to stop adding features guys, we need to start bug testing.” Then we were all done and went round to play other teams’ games. It was really awesome; everyone had a bunch of bugs, but people could see past it to the fun that was there, and the intent behind it.
Perhaps oneday something else will become of Thunderpants, or maybe no one will ever play it. But I’ll definately do the jam again; I learnt a few new tricks in Unity, met some great people, drank lots of Coke, had lots of fun, and had a relax.