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 got the recent Humble Android Bundle after having seen screenshots from Swords & Soldiers and Avadon: The Black Fortress; I already had the games in the main bundle, but the expansion games actually got me this time…
I’m really stoked to continue playing both S&S and Avadon. Avadon was actually more the reason why I picked up the bundle because I’ve been absolutely aaaachhiiiinnnnggg for an isometric tactics game. I played that for about 10 minutes to get a taste, and I’m pretty stoked for it. It’s a super old-school, slow, atmospheric RPG that really reminds me of Icewind Dale 2. It’s interesting how even the interface and mechanics of games like Avadon and Icewind Dale can influence how I feel about the lore of an RPG… Can’t really describe it… After I get further into Avadon, I might be able to grasp it. I’m curious as to whether or not other people have this feeling.
But man. Swords & Soldiers. At times, it can be so racist, cheesy, and obnoxious, but I dig it despite those shortcomings. I mean, it’s hard not to get a little embarrassed when you send out a Chinese swordsman and he says “I have’a da sword” or “Ooooo, chap chap!” (“Ooooo chop chop”) or when you send out a Chinese Rocketeer and he has horrible giant teeth, but you get over it. I get it, the game is exploring ancient cultures (the three races are Viking, Aztec, and Chinese), but Chinese people still exist, so… that makes it weird.
BUT, I’m a total sucker for 2D real time strategy games after having played Epic War 3 a few years ago, and Swords & Soldiers makes some pretty cool strides for the genre. There’s a little bit of a goofy story to it, the campaign is pretty extensive, the animation is smooth, the races are balanced, the units have some cool mechanics associated with them, and there’s MULTIPLAYER. I’ve been pumped full of ideas for an even more extensive real time strategy sidescroller that I’d love to make in the future, but in the meantime I’ve been learning the tricks that’ll get me with the top ten players on the leaderboards ;D For realziez, if you have this game (and you should since you should have gotten the Humble Bundle), add me so that we can play against each other. Comment on this post, add me via username “scartheatre,” e-mail me – anything. It’s fun!
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!
Man, PAX was a blast this year. I met so many great people, there were about 25 PIGSquad members present, I was actually super excited for some upcoming games thanks to the Megabooth, and I’m just all-around so encouraged by the international indie community and its patrons.
Now that I’m back in Portland, I’m having a hard time emulating that enthusiasm because this area has its work cut out for it. I don’t know what it’s like in Austin, Seattle, San Fran, New York, or other gamedev communities in the states or worldwide because I haven’t spent a worthy amount of time in those environments, but man, it’s been so weird to completely immerse myself in the thing I love most and then go back to a place where people couldn’t care less about game development, aren’t as enthusiastic about the medium but still name it their primary interest, or try to humor me without realizing the massive amounts of enthusiasm that keep people going in the scene. I felt so at home this past weekend, and I really want to create a similarly welcoming environment in Portland so that home isn’t impossible to achieve. And I feel that people with similar amounts of enthusiasm experience what I do upon returning to their more developed game communities even, which I guess is the long way of saying that moving is dumb and that I’m not going to do it.
ThAt BeInG sAiD/lOnG sToRy ShOrT, it’s weird to come home to worrisome things happening with regard to events like XOXO Arcade, the OMSI Mini Maker Faire (which you should go to), and a general PIGSquad meeting after having had a perfectly executed – and in some cases, serendipitous – weekend in the midst of so many awesome people and projects. That just sets a standard, though, and I’m in it for the long haul!
So dang, lots of cool stuff happened. The above is a group photo which a surprising amount of people made it to despite so many panels, tournaments, and dinner timez taking place then; you can see that a whole bunch of people wore the PIGSquad @ PAX 2012 shirt, which is awesome! I think everyone had a great time, and there were many reports of people asking about the group. I spoke with numerous developers and community organizers in Seattle who were interested in collaborating on “local” northwest events, which is great because I want to hop in at every turn! Also got to talk to some people about the details involved in volunteering/attending GDC and other conventions of a similar PAX-ilk, so I’ll be capitalizing on those opportunities when they arise, too!
Also finally got to meet Ashley Zeldin and John Nesky in person! I had been speaking with John for awhile regarding a Beep Box-related project and met Ashley through him, following their Game Jam games and IGDA endeavors since on Twitter and via other means. They’re so so great, and Ashley helped inspire me to look into the idea of hosting a panel on community organizing next year at PAX (which I believe the convention sorely needs)! Can’t wait until we can hang out next, and we’re already talking about ways to help each other promote projects like PIGSquad, Beep Box, games, and more..!
Had the pleasure of meeting developers from Octodad, Spry fox, Bootsnake, Mojang, and Vlambeer as well! Most everyone was super nice and wanted to talk about their games, which is great, because I had a lot to tell them! I’d have to say that I’m most excited for LUFTRAUSER and Leap Day; two beautiful (and totally different) games that are right up my alley. Look into them when you get the chance; they’re the first games that’ve gotten me excited to sit down and play something in awhile!
So yeah, that’s a sum up of my PAX. A super great time leaving me lusting for more upon returning home. But that’s good; I’m stoked to play the networking game (hate that word, though), am realizing lots about how to best help local devs and support our own community, have lots of people to call on for advice/help/collaboration, witnessed a huge boost in motivation to continue work on my own games, and gained a more positive outlook on the future of my personal interactions with game developers, game communities, and even non-game entities.
Here’s to friends, storytelling, and feeling at home!
I’m off to PAX Prime for the weekend! Super excited!
If you come here to scartheatre.com after having met me at Prime, thanks so much for visiting my site! I’ve got three fun upcoming projects, so please subscribe and/or check back to receive updates! They are:
- September 2012 – The Hallway Is Dark, And I Am Afraid; a Flash matching-esque game about a boy projecting monsters onto the silhouettes of common household furnishings on his way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- December 2012 – DanceNES; an application made for the purpose of live visuals at shows, including videogamey sprites/ references and other animations.
- January 2013 – Space Eulogy; the prequel to the strange JRPG “Space Funeral.”
Updates when I get back! See you at PAX!