Welcome dear reader!
As a game company that gets its name and origin from participating in
Game Jams, it comes as no surprise we participated in the 2017 edition of the Global Game Jam. During this crazy weekend, our team created S.U.B. a very cool and promising game we want to share with the world very soon!
S.U.B. is a Secret Agent ,Cooperative multiplayer game where you team up to take control of a submarine and infiltrate the evil villains’s lair! Many dangers lie in the dark waters, most notably sharks equipped with lasers…
While we are ironing out a few small problems with the game to make it ready for our inevitable steam greenlight campaign…
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we decided to publish this post-mortem in the meantime!
A post mortem is a small evaluation of the project showing the things we did, what went wrong and what went right. Most interesting to other game development enthousiasts but nonetheless fun for anyone interested in our team and the games we make.
We hope you enjoy reading about our approach to game Jams.
This year, like last year, we joined the Amsterdam Amstel Campus Jam site. A nice location with big team specific Jam rooms and all meals provided, as well as access to showers which is very nice to keep the jam fresh.
After arriving, watching the keynote and socializing we settled into our game room. We arranged the tables into a big island where we could all sit around. On friday we first focus on brainstorming and setting up our environment and version control.
For brainstorming we use a Scope Model which was suggested by Micah Hrehovcsik, teacher at the Utrecht School of the Arts. We adapted this model to suit our own needs and have used it many times already.
The basic idea is to brainstorm as many game concepts/mechanics /ideas as possible(no wrong answers yet!) and to put them in a spreadsheet with a working title. We then pick the categories on which the game has to shine, for game jams this is stuff like technical/graphical complexity, relevance to the theme and personal preference(we want everyone to have fun!). Everyone then rates all the concepts from 1 to 5 and we eliminate all the concepts that scored very low. The remaining top three concepts then get evaluated and we pick the one we deem best.
This year we did not exactly stick to this format because we fell in love with a concept before we even got to rate all the other ones: The co-op submarine game we ended up making!
The rest of the evening we spent eating pizza and getting started with the framework of our game and setting up our Gitlab.
Saturday was the day where we picked the core features we were going to implement and got started working through the ambitiously long list.
Being an experienced team we knew what we could handle and optimistically started programming and Drawing.
The team management was done much more dynamically this year: we had not really assigned a designated producer or project manager. Instead we just had a rather chaotic list on the whiteboard with all our open issues and later the inevitable bugs.
One by one every one of the issues got wiped from the board until we were left with only some bugs to squash. We did not run into any large problems, only minor things like empty batteries and thirsty programmers.
Next up is Sunday: Bug squashing and stress day!
The final day seems to be the most stressful day and also the most rewarding day at the same time. We got up early and prioritized the bugs that needed fixing the most. We got rid of most, if not all of the bugs before the deadline.
The big playtesting and showcasing area was a ton of fun. We got a lot of great feedback from enthousiastic players which ultimately made us decide to focus on bringing a full version of this game into the world.
As a cherry on the cake, the amsterjam site judges rewarded our work with a second place.
The smiles on the faces of the people playing our game and the players that just kept on playing were the most rewarding thing of all though 🙂
Too Long Didn’t Read!
To summarize our adventure in a true post-mortem style, here is what went right, what went wrong and what we learned from it all.
What went right
We did not bite of more than we could chew and avoided techical challenges we knew could cause issues.
We found a concept every single member of our team of 6 loved.
What went wrong
We did not really get to playtest before the deadline. Although we had more to show other teams which dropped by compared to last year.
We often had Unity issues due to everyone working in the same scene file.
The issue tracking was very chaotic using an unorganized list on a whiteboard. It did the job in the end though. Maybe less is more during a Jam.
What we learned
Really plan for playtesting. Set a deadline for setting up a single pc where the game can be played and let people play it there.
Set clear rules and conventions on the use of version control to avoid merging grief.
Thank you for reading our short game jam story. We will be displaying our game at the Global game jam meetup event on February 28 which means the Steam greenlight campaign will also be started around that date.
for more updates!