Global Game Jam 2012

Posted on January 30, 2012

Hey, another Global Game Jam! Last year was my first go at it and, despite my relative uselessness, it made a big impact on the work I’ve done in the last year. I went into the jam this year with a lot more confidence in my own abilities and with relative assurance that I’d come out of the weekend with something to show for it!┬áIn every objective sense it was a success.

The original plan was to work with my capstone teammates to brush up on our rapid prototyping / design skills and build some team synergy. We worked together on conceptualization for a few hours before our 6-person, programmer-heavy group split to pursue two ideas. They ran off and built a really enjoyable multiplayer snake game that capitalizes on the oriental overtones of the theme. They called it Pangu and it was awarded second place at the Atlanta jam!

Our group’s original idea was called Human Tetris. After a failed prototype with Flixel and Box2D (both great, just not for this concept) we fell back on Unity. Fellow programmer Jonathan built a really great 2D ragdoll to plug into the game logic I arranged. That was at around noon on Saturday. I took a break from the jam at the 24 hour mark and came back the next day to find that the ragdoll had been adopted into a different, hilarious, and fun game concept. Jonathan came through again with a tactile control scheme that is heavily reminiscent of QWOP. Our poor astronaut flails, faceplants, backflips, and performs all manner of acrobatic ridiculousness as he avoids two kinds of space mold and uses force fields to reach the other end of his moon base. You can download FWOOM (PC/Mac) from the GGJ site right now, hopefully a web build will be up soon.

This weekend I learned a lot. About myself: I can hit the ground running in a situation like the GGJ but I get burnt out/frustrated quickly if I’m not pleased with the way things are going. I wasn’t very happy about the concept I was working on at about 2:00 AM on Saturday. Instead of letting it harm my productivity I should have put the designer cap on and taken up the challenge. About working in teams: if your idea isn’t easily communicable it needs to be rethought. I had an idea for a game that seemed to fit the theme perfectly, be within scope, and suit the platform we were considering. Unfortunately, it was a bit complex and I wasn’t able to communicate it to my group before the prototyping phase.

Summary: GGJ2012 was well worth the mild case of insanity I thought I had come down with. It’s stressful but it teaches many lessons and produces fun results. If you’re on the fence about it in the future, go! Do it!