Global Game Jam 2016

Hey Everyone!!

Last weekend I took part in my second Global Game Jam (My first was back in 2014 and I didn’t participate in last year’s one as my Surface hadn’t arrived at that time when I ordered it) and I figured I might as well make a little blog post talking about the game I made with my team Cracked Up as well as talk about my overall experiences during the jam.

ggj WIP 06

For those of you that don’t know, Global Game Jam is one of the biggest game jams in the world with hundreds of physical sites around the globe where like any other game jam, teams must create a game within 48 hours based on a secret theme that is not shown until the start of the jam (which for 2016 was “Ritual”).

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Waiting for the keynote and secret theme

This year, I decided to do the jam in SAE Institute London where I got together with six other people: Dave and James (whom I’ve previously met at various indie developer meetups around London), Sujan (a fellow indie developer), Sarah (an artist), Dicky (an audio engineer) and Lawrence (another audio engineer). All seven of us met during the pre-jam talks (although most of us knew each other at various other events) and we all got along together so well, we decided to form a team even before the jam actually started. We all unanimously decided to create our entry using Unity as most of us knew how to use it already. We also decided on what roles we would to do during the jam: Myself and James would serve as the gameplay programmers (responsible for the underlying game logic), Sujan would take care of UI and animation, Sarah would do the art, Dicky and Lawrence would do the sound and music whilst Dave would act as the lead/senior programmer who would put everything together as well as serve as the team leader.

Before we got round to actually making our game, during the first few hours of the jam (which was on a Friday evening), we had a little brainstorming session where we each gave our own interpretations on the theme and certain key words would be written on post-it notes that we stuck to the wall. We would then group common key words and phrases before picking some of our favourites to give us our game idea.

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Our wall of ideas

Eventually we all took inspiration from the common childhood “ritual”/superstition of not stepping on the pavement cracks whilst walking which eventually became the basis of an endless runner game where stepping on the pavement slabs would give me you more points but stepping on the cracks between the pavements would make the game more harder to play (as an interpretation of the bad luck that supposedly follows when you step on them in real life). As we had two audio people in our team, we also decided to add in some rhythm game based elements into our entry and made it so that the player would be moving in time with the music.

We also discussed how we wanted to present the game (i.e. whether it would be in 2D or 3D as well as whether the game would be played top down or like a side scroller) before deciding on a side scrolling 2.5D look with a rather unique slanted camera angle.

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Rough Concept Sketches

As the mechanics/gameplay programmers, me and James were responsible for making sure the underlying game logic works without any hitches (from the player character’s stepping to the game level’s scrolling). I would work on one feature and James would work on the other and sometimes we would team up to work on certain features. Dave would then merge these features and integrate them into the final product.

One of the features I worked on was the endless level scrolling, which James refined a lot during the course of the jam.

Another feature I worked on was making sure the player’s feet would stick to the pavement as it moves.

A third feature I worked on were the threshold checks to see how many cracks the player has stepped on and if they go over a certain amount, the game’s difficulty would increase.

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Team Banter

At the end of the jam, the people who took part at SAE Institute London all went to The Proud Archivist cafe nearby to present their finished games.

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Dave and Sujan on stage presenting our finished game

Below is some footage of our game in action as presented by our team leader Dave and assisted by Sujan, which I uploaded to YouTube a few days ago.

Overall, this was an absolutely incredible experience. I had an amazing time with my team and it was an absolute pleasure working with them over the weekend.

Jason/Xanjos

Crackedup

Footnotes:

Sujan and Sarah have also posted blogs on their experiences during Global Game Jam weekend so feel free to read about it by clicking here and here.

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