Game jams are fun now. Looks like we’re cancelling a few things! #gamedev

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..!


FiercePeg Shootout Rulebook

I finally have the full version one of FiercePeg Shootout up on the Fuck This Jam site!

FiercePeg Shootout

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)!

Hoo hah!

We didn’t finish our Fear game on time, but we’re workin’ on it! #GJContest8

Turns out we weren’t able to finish our “Fear” prompted game in time for Game Jolt’s week-long game jam, but ah well! We got pretty far through and we’ll be finishing up, and this’ll give me the opportunity to give the game more monsters and stuff!

Not sure I’ve explained the entire premise yet, so hereitis: You’re a little boy who leaves his room in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. You take a flashlight with you because it’s all scary in the dark and your hallway is like a maze. You begin your turn by picking which hallway you wish to go through. After that, you walk through the hallway until approaching a household object’s silhouette. You have three seconds to decide whether it’s actually a household object (a potted plant in the above example) or if there’s enough of a variant to the silhouette to warrant your imagination running wild, causing the object to become a monster! If you decide that the silhouette looks warped enough to become a monster, you can flash your flashlight and reveal that it’s simply a household furnishing (using a bit of battery life). If you decide that the silhouette looks nonthreatening, you can choose to walk past it without revealing it. Depending on how the silhouette’s graphic varies from the silhouette of the plain, unmodified object, you have a greater or lesser chance of becoming scared and projecting a monster onto the object. If you don’t see a monster in the silhouette, you pass by unharmed; if you do imagine a monster from the silhouette, you must button-mash your way out of it or else lose more battery life and get sent back to your room. If you run out of battery life, you pee your pants and lose. If you make it to the bathroom, you win!

And thas that!

I’m happy that extending our project deadline (hopefully having it done by PAX) will give Yori the chance to really refine the code and myself the chance to really focus on music and add more monsters/silhouette variants for fun content variety and replay value. I’ve learned a lot about workflow having had the week-long deadline, though, and I really appreciate having had the opportunity to experience that. A few days ago, I worked on sprites all day, the day after I worked about half a day and then really felt like working on anything but the project, and then the day after that, we figured we wouldn’t be done in time for the contest deadline (yesterday at 9pm) and I took a step back in the middle of the above title screen. I don’t know if I need to pace myself by working day on/day off, or if it was Skyping with Yori that really helped me focus and get a lot done on that first all-day work day, but I have some ideas on how to better spend my time that I can explore as we finish up!

Hooray for smallish projects!

Moving along with our “Fear” videogame #GJContest8

As I mentioned earlier, a friend and I are working on a game for a gamedev competition.

I’ve been working all day on monsters, animations, and other important things (like the above superdope floral wallpaper that I’m so proud of). I’m excited because this will be the first videogame I will have actually finished – I’ve started a bunch and even have complete sprite sheets for some, but they’ve unfortunately never come to fruition. The above screenshot is especially cool because it looks so different from what each of these sprite elements look like on their own. Looking at a game in its entirety is so cool – the visual/auditory coordination seems impossible to pull off when you’re first starting to work.

Of course everything seems so doable when you’re conceptualizing and coming up with all of these great ideas. And said great ideas are totally doable if they’re worth pursuing, but once I draw a sprite with no shading in the midst of no background and without animation/audio context, everything looks dull and doodley (which is cool if that’s what you’re going for, but we’re going for “fear!”). I’m glad this week-long deadline is forcing me to work really hard and long at some of these things, because putting them all together in a tiny little sprite assembly like the one above is so worth it. When I’m animating the boy, I can get a great sense of who he is via how he moves, how he holds his flashlight, what he’s wearing (those lil floppy socks), etc. But when I see a screenshot like the one above, I get the big-picture interactive sensory overload that games are all about. And look at that; all of a sudden, we’re telling a story!

Here’re some little update screenshots I took periodically before completing what was necessary for the above picture. You see what I mean when I say that you’re just getting a one-sided story without much wholesome immersion.

…back to work! I might update one more time before we finish on Sunday evening!

Mayhem PIGJam weekend ‘n MOAR

Pfwhew, lotsa stuff has been going down of late. In addition to hosting PIGSquad’s Mayhem PIGJam this past weekend, I was interviewed for my friend’s show “Frope, it’s NOT Saturday,” I recently had a meeting about a music jam a friend and I are planning, I made a bunch of music, and I’m getting way too into the thought of animating things to throw on Newgrounds again! Gawdaym. And my car has to get a new fuel pump. Gawdaym.

Other than finding out my car felt all schloopy at the end of the weekend, the Mayhem PIGJam went well! There were around 43 of us there, I believe there were 9 teams, and everyone either got a good amount done, got a game engine up and running, or finished something! I was working on a non-Jam game with Chris and Matt, and I got a few tracks (project and non-project related) done. Click on this lil link right here to see some of what others ended up pumping out, stay posted for the official Postmortem (which’ll take place a liiiiittle ways down the road…), and here’s a bit of what I worked on that weekend in the meantime!

I’ve also been super inspired by watching some old and new things by popular Newgrounds artists, and I miss the prospect of making something out of nothing for all to see (and maybe even admire..!), regardless of how crappy it looks. Idk. Newgrounds just gives me that feeling – I’m a huge fan of goofy/stupid and more intelligent humor alike, and I feel that Newgrounds creators explore so many different realms of humor and skill to create a very whole and appealing experience. And of course there are all walks of life errwhere ya go, but it seems to all accumulate on Newgrounds, so it’s so easy to find great or not-so-great stuff (both of which I need). IDK. I’ve been uploading Bullet William tracks up in dat bitch lately, so, even though they’re the same thing on my Soundcloud, you should ship your shit over there to give my tracks a listen with the neat little “loop” feature and give ’em a mighty rating! I also started a new Facebook page that I’ll start actively pursuing once there’s a bit of content on it.

Scorecery and Frope stuff is/was cool, too. I met with Nick to discuss the Scorecery music jam and go over site layout and such, and we’re thinking that we’ll have something ready for September/October. So that’s cool. And my interview on Frope was cool, too, but the rest of the show and the musical guest were definitely the highlights in my opinion – show was funny, musical guest was unique and awesome! You can watch and/or download it here 😀

So yeah. Anyways, yeah. I think that’s all that’s happened in the past week.