Post Mortem - Moving Day (GGJ 2019)

Created: Friday, 01-Feb-19 11:15:06 UTC

What went well
Worked in a team
I've recently been saying how I wanted to do another game jam while working in a team, and so I’m extremely grateful that I finally got around to doing another game jam within a team. My first attempt to do a game jam, was also my first attempt at doing one within a team, and so it didn’t go too well. However, after having learnt so much since I completed my first ever game jam, it was great to actually get a game I’m slightly proud of, after working as a team.
Although there were issues with working as a team, like clashing when tired or frustrated, it was great to not make a game on my own for once, and prove that I am capable of working with other people.
Great work space
Having a high-end laptop and having other team members who either borrowed a high-end laptop, or had their own, meant it was easier to work together in the Foundry, a workspace available primarily to Masters Students.
As my team were physically closer together, with all of us being gathered around one desk, it was great to be so close to my team, with questions being asked by just asking across a table, as opposed to walking around a room or via an online communication service like Facebook, Discord or Slack.
Also, it was great being in a space that was very different to the classroom style layout of the other University computer rooms. It felt more like working for fun, and less like I was doing school work.
New Roles in team
Every game jam I’ve completed prior to this one involved programmer art, and online resources for art, music and sound. However, this game jam I was lucky in that my team had an amazing animator as well as a sound designer. On top of that, my friend Matt contributed to the sound design of the final product, and we had one of their connections produce music for the game.
This was amazing as it meant our games had a noticeably higher visual quality, and that I didn’t need to waste as much time on finding the right assets for the desired effect I needed.
Game I would enjoy playing with expandable concept
One of the things I liked about this game jam was that the final product was something I would enjoy playing. Although there are some issues with it, it’s also a great game concept that is expandable and is something I wouldn’t mind further extending/polishing if I had the time.
I also worked on an events system that effects gameplay, and I enjoyed seeing people's reactions to the earthquake and the house fires that I programmed into the system. During our live demonstration after the event, where we showed our games in a lecture theatre, the crowd reacted quite strongly to the earthquake event that occurred. This was also picked up by one of our lecturers in a post jam interview he conducted as part of his research project.
What went alright
Input System
Unity is a game engine known for how frustrating its input manager can be to use, especially if you make a local multiplayer game. They are working on a new system; however, this is in active development and is according to Unity, only 80% stable. I also don’t know how easy it is to include multiple controllers on this system, but from what I’ve seen of it, it seems similar to an alternative input manager that is extremely popular, so I’m hoping that it will have this ability.
The alternative option that my University uses, and quite a few groups used at the game jam, was ReWired. I did offer before the game jam to buy this, as I am currently using its trial version in my expansion of BoxedIn!, the game I made for Ludum Dare 42. However, they stated this was not necessary as they had created their own input system if we needed a local multiplayer input system, which was what we used in the end product.
The input system works great for separating the controllers and giving one to a player without major issues involving input, however the controller ID does not correspond to Player ID, with the controller assigned as ‘Player 2’ not necessarily given to the second player, for instance. It also doesn’t support Keyboard buttons, which is something I feel every game should have the option of.
I did raise this issue with the team, however I was the only person who had an issue with this, so nothing was done about it for the final build.
Scoring System
One of my teammates implemented the room-based scoring system, by which players with the most points in a certain room would claim that room, and the player with the most rooms claimed at the end would be declared the winner.
This system works well the majority of the time, however when a random event occurs such as an earthquake, where objects can be moved around randomly, if an object happen to traverse a room, or leave the house entirely, this is not accounted for by the scoring system. The scoring system will however take into account objects destroyed by fire, with these objects being removed from the score calculations.
What went poorly
Lost a filling
Yeah, at the end of Saturday, when I was tired and frustrated, I was chewing on a chewie sweet, when I suddenly felt something hard in my mouth that was attached to the chew. I took it and noticed it was a chunk of my tooth. After this, I was just so done, that I went into the corner of a random room, passed out and slept for an hour. I then walked back to my work space, and took another nap next to there, this one lasting 5 hours. After waking up, I felt better and had more to contribute to the final project.
Also, because I was busy on the Sunday with the game jam, and I had events that I felt should have taken priority on the Monday, I felt I didn’t have time to get a dentist appointment, especially with my dentist being on the other side of the country, I had a very heated argument with my team over my ability to go see a dentist regarding this pressing issue. It turns out though, that this counts as an ‘emergency’ which you can use for time off and access to a random NHS dental surgery (although I still have to pay for it).
Some great ideas struck me afterwards
So, as you do when you get a time to relax and reflect on these kinds of things, I thought of several ideas that could have made the game better, after the end of the 48-hour deadline. Things like a catastrophe/show build where the worst events were more likely to happen, which would have looked better when presenting the game, or a larger and clearer indication of who is winning, either by changing the colour of the room floor, or via a HUD element.
I also probably should have added an off-screen indicator, so that if a player walks to the edge of the screen, they can see where they are, as one particular player during the live demonstration couldn’t figure out where they were on the screen.
Lack of tutorial / No in game way of explaining the concept
This game had no tutorial, and so it was hard for players who weren’t in direct contact with us to figure out how to play and what their objective was. There probably should have been a clearer indication of this in game, both in the main menu scene and the game itself.
Although the main menu screen lists the controls on the right-hand side, which was something I personally added, there is no indication of what your objective is, and no indication in the main game scene, if you skipped over the details on the Website Page or on the Main Menu. This is definitely something I should have worked harder to fix.
Conclusion
And I think that’s just about everything!
It was a great game jam from a learning and a development point of view. A lot went well. A lot went wrong. It was a pretty good time overall.
Can’t wait to see what I produce for future game jam games.

Tags: Post Mortem, Game Jams

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