Global Game Jam 2017 – Postmortem

Alright, that’s another Global Game Jam in the bag! I’ll just write briefly about some of the highlights from this year.

I was at the Playcrafting/Microsoft hosted jam site in Manhattan, which had a much larger turn out this year than last year. This year’s theme was “wave”, a concept ripe with gameplay ideas.

I had some fun conversations with local game devs and was able to chip in to a few different brainstorming sessions – I even got a 3D scan of my head with portable tablet-driven 3D scanner – worth it. At the end of the day though I decided to try my luck on a solo project.

Building something from scratch in a 48 hour period is tricky – while working solo saves you time on the deliberation side of things, you suddenly have three or four times the amount of work to do. I hit most of the important game benchmarks – the game functions, and seems to be almost completely glitch-free. It was hard to leave a lot of ideas on the cutting room floor, but I still ended up submitting about ten minutes before the deadline, as per usual.

What Worked:

I’m happy with a lot of the pre-made code that I brought with me this year. My template project made finishing the game a very quick process – including a start screen and end screen, even built-in pause logic (which I had forgotten about completely until accidentally hitting the escape key during a demo).

Probably the pre-written code that got the most play was the spawning system; it allowed me to quickly create pools of reused objects, useful for my endless stream of bullets. It also let me create my randomly-appearing obstacles in almost no time at all.

What to Work on Next Time:

I threw some illustrations together for the project last minute, but it is incredibly time-consuming, especially when going solo. Even with a dedicated artist on a team, having some solid stock background/character art on hand would probably go a long way and save a ton of time. It would also be beneficial to put even more work into the code templates.

I’m also thinking of finding a group again next year. It was fun to work on my own design, but it didn’t carry the same feeling of excitement and accomplishment as the group experience. Another issue I didn’t account for, and maybe this was partly caused by my game’s confusing mechanics, but being a solo dev didn’t give me much time to step away from demo-ing. Because of this I barely got to see any of the other team’s finished projects. That was probably my biggest disappointment this year, and something I don’t want to miss out on again.

I am going to post the links to the project as well as a brief description of the game soon, stay tuned!

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