Craig Rowe

Techlead / Developer

15th September 2013

DevSouthCoast GameJam 2013

Making games over a weekend... competitively... and we chose a dead technology... why the hell not!

Although I'd heard of Game Jam's before I'd never had the opportunity to go along until John kindly organised one just up the road. - Essentially a hack day or days specifically concentrated on making a game in a small team, all rounded off with a demo session at the end and prizes for the winners.

The Event

The weekend started with about 15 of us huddled around two tables at the Cowherds nervously waiting to be split into teams before being assigned two random words that would be our theme for the weekend. Having shown up with a ready made team (Myself, Adam, Dave and Thomas) we only gained one member in the draft (the delightful Steven) leaving just the words to come. And then they did...

...mouse trap... (come on technically that's two words surely!)

...and...

...bubble...

To be honest these were actually pretty good and soon we were well away with brainstorming ideas - before starting code on the saturday morning.

The Game!

The game we made ended up being simple in gameplay but ideally quick to pick up, fun to play and open to extension if we decided to carry it on. The final result can be seen below:

Menu

Controls were xbox gamerpad only and we supported 1 to 4 simultaneous players. The artwork from Thomas really set us up well with all graphics being custom made over the weekend using Inkscape and ase sprite.

Level

The relatively simple concept allowed us to add some nice subtleties (for the time available!). In the above screenshot you can see articulated mice tails. There was also an array of custom sound effects including a bubble effect provided by Stevens daughter Lucy and a number of sprite animations for mice, bubbles, pins etc.

To play the game players use the left thumbstick to control a bubble wand that places bubbles when the left shoulder button is pressed down. Until it is released the bubble grows unless you let it get out of control and pop! when you release the bubble mice that have been captured are removed and gain you points (displayed inside your cursor). At the same time you can use the right thumbstick and right shoulder button to control a pin that can pop your opponents bubbles - especially useful when you notice them trying to build up a large combo catching bubble.

With four players this can get pretty fun and hectic!

End

Again, the strict set of capabilities we aimed for allowed for polish with full game menus and some end game stats on aspects of the players play - That's meant to be me second down on the right btw...

Gameplay

I quickly recorded myself playing (1 player only in this I'm afraid). This was mainly so you can hear the soundtrack:

Things we learned

  • Don't be too ambitious - stick to something fun but small enough in scope that you can finish and polish it
  • Have clear roles defined, if everyone in your team is programming rather than researching, doing artwork, creating/sourcing sounds you're going to step on each others toes A LOT.
  • Get sounds in... it immediately adds a great deal to the game even if you don't have time to make your own
  • Ideally work with tools everyone in the team understands you don't want to be teaching someone your preferred source control when you could be coding

Overall it was a great fun weekend and I'm really pleased with the result. I'd definitely do something similar again - hopefully it'll become an annual thing.

...Oh... and we were voted winners... SWEET

Links


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