Game Jam Review

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These two images were done solely by myself

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These three title screens were done in collaboration with Arun Fernando (drew the kid).

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Original drawings by Alex Mandzi

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These three images were drawn by Alex Mandzi and edited in photoshop by myself.

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Original drawing of monster by Alex Mandzi.

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This image was a collaboration between Arun Fernando (drew the kid), Alex Mandzi (drew the monster), and myself.

This post will be a reflection of the Game Jam at Alfred State, in which we had 48 hours to create a game from scratch and to fit the prompt of “urban legends.” Right from the start of the project, our group seemed to click and we would realize we could all work pretty well with each other. We first started by throwing out random ideas, writing them down, and going into some details about the ones we liked. Once we narrowed it down, we discussed between programmers and designers which one seemed like it would be the one we could complete in the next 48 hours. We finally agreed on an endless runner game, where a child was running up stairs from a monster in the dark, and he had to dodge obstacles like toys and the ghosts of urban legends as he was running up the stairs. The goal of the game was to get the highest score every time. Throughout the whole process the designers and programmers would continually talk back and forth to make sure things were doable and that we were all constantly on the same page. To divide up the work, we just had people start sketching ideas of whatever part they wanted to do, we then picked the works we liked best and fit the best, and continued with that process. Some of the things were assigned to certain individuals who we all believed had the best style or thoughts for certain parts. The way we chose our initial style was by agreeing on doing 2D work since that was most, if not all, of our strong suites for design. Our one member drew up an initial sketch while we were talking about ideas and we all loved the character design. So we based everything else off of the character design we had. For our group, everything seemed to just kind of fall into place with who should focus on what and everyone kept themselves busy with design work even if it was just more renditions of what was already drawn.

I, personally, was responsible for creating the title screens along with helping out with some fine tuning of other elements. The easiest way for me to go about designing these title screens was to look at the design of the character and go from there. We brainstormed what the background story of our game should be, and we came to the conclusion that it was a young child going to the refrigerator for a drink late at night, and when he turned the light off to head back upstairs that’s when he sees a monster in the dark and begins to run from it up the stairs. So i started my design with designing a refrigerator in the style of our character and adding children’s magnets to go along with the fact our character was a child. Each screen was hand drawn and then the group would take a look at each one to approve it, or add suggestions. For the initial title screens, I had help designing those from Arun Fernando who added his character design to the title screens and on the game over screen Alex Mandzi added his monster design. It was a collaborative effort for the whole group to design each asset and screen of the game. I also helped with a few other assets and designs by doing a little touching up to them. I took the drawings from Alex which were done in charcoal, and took the images into photoshop and cleaned up the edges and made his drawing fit our design, while keeping his overall design and look. I also took the animations from Arun, and added some filters over them to get the colors desaturated and to blend them into the style of our background and the darkness of the game.

The biggest hang up in our group was not having everyone there at all times. We all tried to be there as much as possible, but some of us had work, needed rest, food, whatever it was and had to leave. At those times, we sometimes were waiting on receiving assets or other pieces to continue a specific part, but we always had something else to do in the meantime while we waited. The only time this became an issue was when we had all our programmers out and the actual coding of the game came to a stop for a slight period of time. There’s no one to blame for this as people had other responsibilities to tend to and they happen to fall at the same time. Everyone came back to work when they could.

Our final game resembled our original idea quite well. Our game was incomplete from the coding side, but from what was working it was pretty close. We had everything functioning the way we envisioned it, we were just lacking the input of the animations and assets on each function in the game. I believe that if those were implemented, the game would have turned out exactly how all of us saw it. The major key to allowing this to happen was being flexible throughout the process. If a programmer spotted an issue and did not think he could not figure out, we would change the game slightly to fit that. If a designer came up with a great way to display something in game, we were willing to adapt those ideas into what we did.

The part that worked the best for our groups process during the whole 48 hours was just continually talking with each other. We were getting ideas, getting approval and tips from each other, keeping each other on task with what needed to be done. I think the biggest and easiest way to have success in a setting like this is communication. We were open to any and all ideas. Took work from everyone and found ways to adapt to things throughout the whole time. So for our group, adapting to everyone in the group and communication were the process that worked best for us. The process that we could’ve done different was the location of where we worked. We sat at a square table and half on one side and half on the other. The issue with this setup is we couldn’t see everyones work while they were doing it. I feel like if we were in a circle where we all sat in the middle, we could turn around and see everyones work at all times to make sure we are consistent in design from the very beginning.

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