Simoroshka & games

Mar
15

Thesis progress

I found out that for me writing is easier in the wordpress. Has something to do with the blogging experience, I believe.
I have these drafts that are parts of my thesis. I am not going to publish them here, because, in my opinion, they are too formal and academic. I also don’t feel all that excited about my thesis anymore, as you may guess. And I have less than a month to hand it in for review. Writing cram mode is on.

thesis drafts

Mar
15

How I failed my first Global Game Jam

The most important thing about failures is that you learn from you mistakes. And you get a more accurate vision of reality and how things work. So it doesn’t make sense to put memories about failures aside without first reflecting on them.

Why I failed? Well, when there is no game that you can share and maybe even mention in your portfolio, and when you had no fun whatsoever, I consider a game jam failed. It was stressful and result sucks. What else there is to say? Let’s better go to the details and my learnings.

Clinching to an idea

When the theme was announced, I instantly knew what I have to do. “Ritual” was exactly what our autumn game idea was about, it fit perfectly, it already had the design document and all logic written down, and it was certainly, definitely going to be THE chance to make it happen. Because game jams are great and powerful. I didn’t change my mind when I haven’t got any artists on my team. “It is the game I want to make and if needed, I will make it alone”. Oh how wrong I was.

You need to be flexible. If there is not enough resources, maybe you should put your perfect idea aside and join another team and have fun doing something crazy. The point is not making the game, the point is making something, learning new things and having fun.

Making a content driven game

Let’s face it, point-and-click puzzle games are not good for game jams. It is not the sort of game where you can quickly make a prototype and then just improve it. Every logical connection has to be programmed separately, every object drawn in a certain way and placed carefully, every puzzle has to be programmed from scratch. It is also very easy to make a point-and-click unplayable if your visual clues are not refined enough. Graphics were paramount, and they don’t come quick.

Next time, if I am alone or in a small team, I’d rather focus on a mechanics-driven game. Or just something very small, but fun.

Not using an engine

I never made a point-and-click adventure before. But I thought: “okay, I’ve done Grow Christmas in javascript, it was easy, I can reuse code, it will be faster than trying to use Unity for this, or an entirely new tool”. As a result, I was trapped with trivialities of programming interface, scene changes, causalities and other things that would be much easier with a proper tool. There was no time left to improve interactions, puzzles, animations and graphics, and the game-feel in general. In other words, there was no time left to do things I actually enjoy.

From now on I am going to make use of engines, tools, and libraries. Using what you know might make life easier, but learning new things during a game jam is also the positive part of the experience. Tools should be appropriate for your goals.

Stressing too much

The world is not going to end if you don’t make a perfect game in time. But I felt like that and translated this message to my 1.5 team-mates. I also could not sleep properly and exhausted myself completely. Looking back I know that it was not worth it. I love making games, and there is no reason to make it feel like cramming before an exam. Takes the fun out and reduces creativity and productivity.

This is it. Live and learn, that’s gotta be my life motto.

The game can be actually tried to play here. Despite us cutting at least one-third of the original idea, the end can be reached. Although it can be quite impossible with the impressionistic graphics like that.