Post Mortem - Duty of Care

Created: Friday, 02-Feb-18 12:52:58 UTC

So this weekend (January 26th-29th) I took part in my second global game jam (and I think my sixth overall), attending the Jam Site held at my University Campus.
The theme of the Jam was Transmission and I used the theme as a backing story to my game, and also to explain one game mechanic.
My game involved you being on baby duty when you get a transmission that your country is at war, so you must look after your baby and defend your country simultaneously. As a result of you controlling a remote control turret as well, you lose the “transmission” with the turret if you go out of bounds.
I ended up making a game with the two gameplay tasks at once, based off the game What remains of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow, and a level where one of the characters (you play as multiple characters in the game) imagines themselves in a fantasy world to help them with their day job, so you must control themselves in the fantasy world as well as doing their day job.

Things that went well
Preferred this game to my last GGJ Submission
So I didn’t submit anything for Global Game Jam 2017 because I was ill, but I took part in the 2016 GGJ, also at my University Campus. However, the game I submitted for that Jam I didn’t like very much for a variety of reasons.
However, I much preferred this game as it plays better than my previous submission, and I’d definitely say it’s a lot more enjoyable.
Other people liked it
I had numerous people tell me online and in person how much they enjoyed my game. They enjoyed the humorous concept and how the game played well, as well as the fact I was the only solo participant to actually present a finished game at the end of Jam presentation that my site had.
I had Josh Cottam, who was working at the game jam site, make music for me because he liked the concept and also someone told me that this would be their game of the year contender. So getting a lot of praise was definitely a lot of fun.

Things that went alright
Being on my own, Playtesting was not as common as with groups with multiple participants, so I was worried about how this would affect the end result of the game. This didn’t end up being much of a problem. People were naturally curious about my game concept and also about learning what other people at the jam site were making. This ended up helping me a lot. I added new features and took a few out based on feedback people had given me, and adjusting things like drop speed based on player feedback.
I could also playtest the game myself to make sure there were no major game breaking bugs, and fixing them when I could.

Things that went poorly
Lack of variety
One of the issues I have with this project is the fact its lack of variety makes it very dull to play after the first few attempts. Nothing really changes. There’s only one enemy, and 2 obstacles and so once you’ve played it for a few minutes, there’s nothing unique there apart from trying to achieve a new high score. Then again, you could argue the same with copter and flappy bird. Although I did feel like it was easier to get into a successful rhythm in this game than the other two were.
Basic Concept
Being on my own, and thus not having the available man hours as every other group, I ended up producing a really basic concept, however I also used this to my advantage as I produced a finished game and added humour to my basic concept so that people would enjoy it.
Obviously looking back there were things I should have added or changed, but I guess that’s only visible now that I’ve not been looking at it non-stop for 2 days.

Things that need improving
Game breaking bugs
A game jam game naturally has bugs. Producing a game in 2 days is not going to be without issues, but I noticed a few major ones in Duty of Care that I couldn’t fix in time.
One was how to make objects spawn in game space in relation to their position in game space. So the objects only spawn in a set range, and this meant that if your camera didn’t render that range, you could get objects outside of the screen that would cause a game over. The most basic fix I had for this was destroy if not rendering, but this meant objects could spawn on the edge of the screen and be barely visible but count as rendered so you have to destroy them to avoid a game over.
Failing to transfer camera space to world space also resulted in objects spawning too far off camera that although they dropped at a speed I was comfortable with, this resulted in the objects feeling unresponsive because they would take a while to arrive onscreen.

Duty of Care can be downloaded from here.

Tags: Post-Mortem, Game-Jams