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Don't Kill Doctor Frankenstein

Posted May 1, 2016, 10:53 a.m.
tags: Game Jam , Unity

So this was a cool thing! Most of the game jams I do are just for fun - make a game to sharpen your skills and meet new people. Cartoon Network Game Jam was the first one I did that offered prize money, and with that also came catered food. Training Jam was my second - a hackathon for educational video games. It was along the same lines as Cartoon Network Game Jam in that it offered prize money and had the goal of producing new game ideas, but this one was specifically aimed at corporate training.

The event was run by OpenSesame, an online educational service that offers eTraining on everything from conservation to criminal justice. And wow, did they take care of us! They gave us 3 meals a day, plus snacks, chocolates, T-shirts, and participation prizes for all participants! Totally unprecedented.

Anyhow, we went into this jam better and worse off than the jam we did the week before. Unlike Ludum Dare 35 we had a wonderful artist, but as the only programmer on the team it was looking like my total lack of a computer was going to prevent us from participating - it had died mid-week and was in the shop. Fortunately our audio guy had a spare laptop, but it was old, Russian, and had memory problems that made me have to restart the thing about 5 times each day. We also found a guy looking for a team who - though he didn't have any programming, art, or audio skills he was willing to share - had a huge amount of experience with workplace training, and was even designing a tabletop game on the side. We were thrilled to have the help, and he ended up doing most of the writing for the game we made - Don't Kill Doctor Frankenstein.

At the beginning of the jam, teams needed to choose 1 of 5 workplace training topics to make a game about. We chose workplace safety, which was pretty broad but we narrowed it down to lab safety - convenient since I currently work in a lab! The idea is that Igor has to clean up the lab and make sure everything is safe for Dr. Frankenstein before he shows up because while the doctor is brilliant, he can't be bothered to handle his own safety. It's a point-and-click adventure where you inspect different things around the lab, moving them around and flicking switches to make sure everything is safe. The player is expected to miss a few things, at which point Igor shows up in the morning to find Dr. Frankenstein dead! You've got a time machine to go back to the night before and catch your mistakes, though, so the hints will lead you to the things you missed. Many of the hazards around the lab have clickable pictures that will take the player to external resources like OSHA's website. This is intended to show players where to find more information on the hazards they encounter.

Overall, I'm super happy with what we made. The theme is playful and makes sense. It can be expanded pretty easily to cover more hazard types, and given that it's mouse-only, people are able to pick it up right away. That's ideal for training, of course, since the target audience is super broad.

Diversion: we had a crazy fancy Airbnb place! It was an upstairs apartment filled with plushy cushions and it was really well decorated. They also had fruit, wine, and chocolate set out for us, which was amazing. I kind of wish we could have just hung out there all weekend :D

ANYWAY! As Sunday afternoon rolled around, judges came around to see the various games and score them. 15 minutes before we were supposed to stop working, my loaner computer crashed. I had to do a hard reboot, which only left me 3 minutes to put finishing touches on the project! I scrambled to add a few lines of code, but by some miracle finished what I'd intended.

After our presentation, our writer had to go, but we didn't realize that the only reason he'd left is because he didn't know that the judges were going to announce the winners only 30 minutes later! That made it slightly awkward when we accidentally won first prize!

We were all surprised, humbled, and elated to have won. We may do more with the project, but you can play what we have now! As a total first, we have a website for the game which was made at the jam itself. Check it out over here: http://mailpari.wix.com/frankenstein or download a PC version from the game's page.

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