Another month, another jam - only this time I was helping to organize the event too! Corvallis Game Developers just had our first jam on the Oregon State University campus, and it was a blast. We had a fairly small group - about 15 people - who split into 3 teams to make games using the theme "Heat." Ours ended up being a semi-turn-based exploration thingy about cold-blooded creatures trying to survive an ice age. Our team was pretty big, with a lot of artists helping here and there. I also got to show Stencyl to some people who had never used it ...(Read more)
Global Game Jam was last weekend, and it was amazing! I got to meet so many interesting people, and even helped organize the event in Eugene. We had just under 30 participants, quite a few of whom were right where I was a year ago - had never been to a game jam and didn’t quite know what to expect. I’m super happy to have given back a little and helped people through the process as best I could.
As for the game my team made - it’s sort of an existential platformer. Check it out here! It was ...(Read more)
Pickup Styx, my team’s submission for LD31, was certainly the least buggy jam game I’ve been able to crank out and had great music and art to go with it - it’s okay for me to brag since I didn’t touch the music or art. I’m happy with the result overall, but I find myself questioning whether I over-explained the game or under-explained it.
Communication with you - the player - has always been a challenge for me. This time around, we decided to have a manager feeding you the goal and the rules of the game ...(Read more)
A week ago I was just finishing up the most ambitious game jam project I’ve done to date. Compared to projects I’ve worked on in the past, Voyage of the Magpie is less immediately rewarding - there’s no jumping, no shooting, and no skill points to spend. There are, on the other hand, coins to pick up, mazes to run, tickets to manage, and click-heavy mini-games. The goal of the project was to create a set of three smaller games that were somehow connected to meet the theme requirement for “connected worlds.” As a secondary (but more obvious ...(Read more)
Just finished a week-long solo jam on GameJolt. The game had to have the same resolution and color limitations as the original Game Boy. This was my first time doing pixel art, and I learned a lot about color depth despite only having access to 4 of them. I spent a huge amount of time on procedural level generation, but as the deadline approached I decided to rough out one big level that demonstrated most of what I could do with the current game elements. Those ended up being pretty limited - 1 enemy type, and a bunch of items to ...(Read more)
Cliff Hanger is an incredibly generic and copyright-infringing working title for the game I'm making to play around with procedural generation. The goal of this project is to incorporate strategic elements like equipment and resource management into a turn-based game without it becoming a dungeon crawl. To get away from the feel of roaming a dungeon, I thought it would be interesting to flip the typical turn-based strategy perspective by making it vertical. Rock climbing seemed like a theme dramatic and concrete enough to inspire some game mechanics I haven't worked with before while providing that verticality.
While ...(Read more)
After playing a bit more with tile swapping, I realized that the logic used to match up lines like roads and fences is very similar to the logic used for matching up filled shapes like terrain in an RPG or solid shapes in a platformer. The only real difference is that filled shapes need to look at surrounding tiles that touch on diagonals rather than just adjacently. Anyhow, I was able to extend the logic in the Stencyl behavior to fill shapes as well as detail the edges. The tile sheets I've been able to find online are often ...(Read more)
After cranking out six games in as many months, it seems like a good time to review what kinds of games I ended up making, how they could have been better, and focus on what kinds of games I'd like to make in the months to come. It feels like way longer than 6 months since I started doing game jams, probably because ever since I got a little more involved in game development it's what I end up thinking about most.
This month I decided to take part in Lowrez Jam, a challenge to make a game using only 32x32 pixels. Extreme art constraints can be exciting, and this one immediately got me thinking about how to set up a grid of sprites. I originally planned to make a 6x6 grid with 6x6 px sprites, but then realized that I can't do math. I had been wanting to try making a turn-based strategy game on a really small grid, but procrastination got the better of me. What I ended up with instead is a crappy version of Triple Town.
I ...(Read more)
I was excited and nervous heading into this Ludum Dare, as usual. I was excited to see my jam group again, and to work with Britt as my graphic artist since he's been cranking out game projects like crazy for the last 4 months. He did an amazing job on our Mini LD submission Terrarium, too. I always go into jams feeling nervous, too - nervous that as a programmer I won't be able to deliver on the designs we come up with. Time pressure forces tough decisions, and some of my toughest calls during jams so far came ...(Read more)
Another month, another jam! Crashdown was a Titanfall de-make intended for Mini Ludum Dare #50 (theme: de-make), but was delayed due to plague. I got sick just before the jam was scheduled to officially start, so I couldn't finish the thing. It sucked watching the art and sound assets just sit in a Dropbox folder while the deadline passed. Oh, well.
The project was surprisingly challenging despite being a simple one-stage run and gun. The toughest parts were figuring out how to make the various types of wall jumping work reliably and figuring out what to do when the ...(Read more)
As fun as it was to play with alpha layers on Terrarium, constantly changing the alpha values of those layers was killing performance. I've updated the game by removing those layers, and added more environmental clues. Most of the people who played the game reported only being able to find 2 or 3 of the 4 secrets. I'm not sure how to use that information. Some of it was because of poor conveyance of cause and effect, I'm sure, but letting people take the time to discover how things work is part of the magic of this ...(Read more)
Though I had no plans going into the weekend, one of the guys I met at Fertilab was looking for someone to help him program a concept he had for a game jam. The jam was a Mini Ludum Dare - a more relaxed version that allowed for rehashing of existing content, and one that didn't have peer rating systems. I would have liked peer rating again, just to know how I was doing.
This was the first game I've collaborated on remotely, and since it was a team of two we were able to manage communicating pretty easily ...(Read more)
It seems like practically every developer I see is working in Unity, a 3D development tool that just recently added better support for 2D games. I wanted to learn Unity partly to allow me to work with other Unity devs, but also because it opens the possibility of using 3D at some point. The UI isn't something you can just pick up and use since 3D games are generally more complex than 2D games, but their video tutorials help a lot.
Unity does a good job with modular code reuse, which is the thing I like most about Stencyl ...(Read more)
I thought it would be good to give this post-jam wrap-up a permanent home here. You know, for posterity.
It's not surprising that the first jam game I was able ...(Read more)