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Game Jam Gameplay Videos and Retrospective

Some videos we recorded of our game jam game. Check em out on Youtube:

 

Retrospective

So, some things I learned after we finished up the last submission on sunday night:
  • Don't expect the most recent versions of Unity (especially alphas) to work properly on 10 year old windows operating systems (windows 7)
    • As a result of this I wasn't able to do any actual editor work. The newest version we were using (2019.3.0a10 Alpha) would not launch without crashing on my win 7 system.
    • This was resolved post-jam once I updated to windows 10 (this topic will be addressed in a future blog post grr...)
  • Probably don't use an alpha version of Unity for a weekend game jam, just to avoid small compatibility problems or crashes.
  • For more unique concepts involving things like VR, get all the framework and business ends set up a day before actual development, in order to avoid having to do any of that the following day and eat into your production time
  • Get your damn scope narrowed out... we started out with a good theme (area 51), then split our 6 devs into 2 teams of 3. At that point we just started exploding with sub-ideas for our VR concept. It got bloated with unrealistic expectations fast and took too long to narrow down later on.
    • I'm no game jam veteran, but I know well enough that as a small team, you only have 72 hours (less than that realistically, with bathroom breaks and sleep) to finish and polish a working game! It makes no sense to even fathom delving into the realm of stats, RPG-like mechanics, scoreboards, long-winded narratives, big character rosters, etc. during the idea stage.
    • No matter the theme, pick a basic, bare-bones skeleton of an idea, and give it some small bits of flare/pizzazz (wow). It just has to be fun and playable!
    • Since we went with a VR shoot-em-up wave-based game type, the meat and potatoes were essentially already on the table. We just went in and made it a bit flashier with some alien dudes, UFOs, and a couple guns that shoot lasers.
    • That being said, some of our team members were living in a high-level fantasy land during the pre-development stage (and some time during actual development too)- and those overly spicy ideas were still being thrown around
      • "It'd be cool if we added a bunch of enemy types with unique behaviors"
      • "We should add a big list of different weapons with different ammo types"
      • "Let's throw in a boss battle at the end of the last wave"
      • How about "Let's get the core game done first?"
    • Those first 3 ideas ^ were very hard to dissuade the team from sticking with, as it would've taken away from precious development time. Yes, they would've been very cool to implement! But unfortunately, going back to that strict, unforgiving ~72 hour time limit, every developer has their limits (both physical and mental).
    • Especially being the team's only artist (typical for game jams), any idea that came about which introduced more enemy types, more weapons, bosses, additional level layouts/designs, etc. added more onto my plate and less of a chance I'd actually be able to get any of the real stuff done.
    • Stretch goals! Two fun words that every dev team should come to know and love. Learn to shoot down a team member's unrealistic idea in the friendliest way possible: "Dude- it'd be awesome if you could add in a character customization screen!" Response: "Cool idea! Maybe after the core stuff gets done, we can check it out. Let's mark that as one of our stretch goals!"
  • Overall, I think the jam was a general mid-level success. Was there more I think we could've added in the given time frame? Definitely. Maybe had we been a bit more focused, I had been more prepared with being able to actually run the editor properly, and we had our base game framework set up beforehand. But, other than that, fun experience, would go again. B-

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