Participating in the Guts for Glory Game Jam taught me a lot about small team game development, especially with regard to dedicating a lot of time to planning (though it saves time to multitask via simultaneously planning and working) as well as sticking to one development role if you can. These two things finally taught me why I haven’t had a lot of fun attending game jams in the past – I not only used to spend insufficient amounts of time being clear about communication and plans with team members, but also overloaded myself as an event planner responsible for the 15-45 jammers present, as an artist/musician/designer on a team, and as a project manager for a team. And when I did that, I had an experience worse than an uninspired 48 hours: I would constantly worry about finishing the project post-jam, expecting my teammates and I to bring something with a bad base to fruition.
I’ve lately been working on being a bit more realistic about projects and how to manage my time in their midst, including the task of officially dropping stagnant projects that were always on the back of my mind. “The Hallway Is Dark, And I Am Afraid” and “Crooked Missile” are two such projects.
The Hallway Is Dark, And I Am Afraid was fun and I’m proud of how much work I put towards it in such a small amount of time, but the project was super discouraging. There were so many things that Yori and I assumed were apparent when we first began to make it, but attempting to explain and show the project became so difficult; it was so hard to help people understand what was going on and why each thing happened the way it did. In addition to the straight up learning curve, there were so many fine-tuning issues with regard to gameplay and art knickknacks that would have taken so much work (and even more work after having implemented fixes for our communication flaws).
After Guts for Glory, I was inspired and came up with some fundamental gameplay fixes that would have allowed easier fixes to follow suit. I made two little slideshows to solve our “in between hallways” interface problem as well as the “this game is really hard because my memory isn’t THAT good” problem. Hard to explain, but click those links and know that the zoomy map in the first and the scrolling pseudo-item-collection mechanic in the second did not exist in our original build of the game. I knew that these fixes were big and that both Yori and I had kinda run out of steam just before our first falling out with the project, but I was also inspired by having come up with what I thought would fix the game. I was fine with either continuing or scrapping the project, and we ended up with the latter.
Then, there’s Crooked Missile, which goes off of a game idea that I’ve had for a little while. It’s a straight up shoot ’em up with one little twist – you are controlling a missile with a knocked-out targeting system, so you must play an ascending “ship” always traveling at a ≈15˚angle. Your movement controls are just right and left, as you’re forced to switch from a right-bearing course to a left-bearing course if the missile drifts too far and becomes threatened with collision.
There was a lot that I wanted to do with weird angular thinking and super thought-out enemies/bosses, but that was the problem: before approaching the team with the project, it wasn’t thought-out enough. To accent that disparity, we started in the midst of a game jam (which I was also busy hosting), which added a rushed “don’t plan, just make it in time!” feel even though we had no time limit. My lack of planning got us a few bare prototypes in, the project stagnated, and it’s been on the back of my mind until now, which marks its move to a cozy, out-of-the-way shelf space. I made some music and learned a lot from the experience at least, so I’m glad it happened.
Since learning a good amount about jams from Guts for Glory, I’ve been pursuing FiercePeg Shootout as a solo project via Fuck This Jam and have been actually making some progress, so I’m on another track to discovering myself as a game jam enthusiast. We’ll see where that ends up..!
I finally have the full version one of FiercePeg Shootout up on the Fuck This Jam site!
After a few weeks of getting caught up on some other stuff and even getting a chance to playtest FiercePeg Shootout, version one is online in its entirety, cards and all! The last night of the jam, I only had time to type the rulebook and slap it up real quick, but I was able to get a good formatted version of a cards document done and attached today, so now people playing elsewhere have access to the full game minus an immediate board!
I hosted a playtest amongst PIGSquad members at The Side Door on the third Monday of last month, learning a lot about some balance issues including how difficult it is to kill your opponent and how hard it can be to get a flag to spawn. I’ll have version two ready to playtest (as well as online) next week! I feel that the upcoming fixes will be the only huge fundamental backpedaling I’ll be doing for awhile; additional versions of the nearer future will have a lot more to do with adding more of a variety of cards, different types of cards, and maybe implementing a bit of art and story. I’m going to make sure there’s lots of polish before crafting new gameplay modes or adding additional players!
Check to see if there’s a newer version here! Otherwise, if you want to download the rulebook and read a bit of it over, you may do so by clicking here; I’d really appreciate it! I feel that it’s a pretty unique game and that the cards can give you an even more unique way to play turn by turn. Let me know what you think, as well – I’m anxious for feedback!
——The above is an update from 11/30/12. The below is the original blog post from 11/17/12——
Heyo! Just finishing up the rulebook for my Fuck This Jam game “FiercePeg Shootout,” and I need something to link to after I’m able to typeset all of the game’s cards!
The rulebook and game cards will be available via this blog post in the future, but, for now, I’m madly trying to upload the rulebook before the game jam’s 6pm deadline (it’s 5:45pm)!
“Fuck This Jam is a jam centered around the theme of making a game in a genre you hate. Through utter ignorance for conventions and hate for the established rules of a genre, beautiful things will happen.” Been thinking about doing this for awhile. I was super busy organizing things for the Guts for Glory Game Jam and Orycon and thought I might not be able to do it, but that prompt is bitchin’ and I’m more down than ever.
Currently working on mechanics for a first person shooter boardgame. I don’t hate the FPS genre, but I can never get good because of the people that dump so much time into it (knowing everything about the map, about the guns, about a n00b’s typical behavior, etc.). It’s also not a genre that’s especially interesting to me, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get good. I’m realizing now that I’m actually kinda sad that it’s the predominant multiplayer genre.
SO, let’s eradicate that! The premise of this boardgame will be that one must use pure reaction and more widespread reflexes to shoot enemies. Widespread as in using their body’s reactionary abilities from their fingertips to their shoulders.
Working on a peg board (kind of like Battleship) with different colored pegs – colors for enemies, different types of supplies, random special supplies, “nothing,” etc. Player 1 arranges these pegs on the board in any fashion they please while Player 2 is not allowed to look (perhaps working on their own peg board). When Player 1 is done, they place the peg board in front of Player 2, whose eyes are still closed. When Player 2 hears “go,” they have four seconds (arbitrary number so far) to place caps on all of the enemy pegs and remove as many supply pegs as they can. At the end of the four seconds, it’s hands off; any remaining enemies deal damage to them, and any leftover supply pegs are unavailable. That’s the very general premise, at least. I still have to work out a goal/map system, I have some card ideas for random draws as the “special supplies,” and there are some numbers that need to be set.
But damn, I’m excited. This all began last night and ends on the 17th, so I have time to make a nice pegboard (and show it off at an upcoming PIGSquad boardgame night), document my process with video, and get a bit of playtesting in. If this sounds stupid, comment telling me why – otherwise, follow my immediate progress on Twitter, keep coming back to this site for more expanded documentation, and keep watch for my “making of” and “learn to play” videos on YouTube!