There is something special about game jams. Gathering together with random strangers and getting to know one another through a shared interest, games!
There is too much I can say about this years GGJ. We did fine considering we didn’t know each other or see each others faces.
This blog post is only an analysis piece on the game design and production of this game. This isn’t to criticize anyone on my team.
We did the GGJ completely online over discord and communication has been interesting. Not that people didn’t try, but rather the communication about what we were doing was a bit iffy.
So they were making a 3D game, but got a 2D artist too.
My art wasn’t implemented as much as I had hoped. I kept sending pngs through, just to be answered with radio silence.
The game was very ambitious. Way too ambitious, and I did try to speak up.
With puzzles, 6 voice actors to implement and ‘world switching’ mechanic, it is a bit much to do well in a game jam, personally. But I didn’t protest, I just wanted a art challenge and to learn about game design through observing everyone else skills.
Oh and the theme was ‘duality’.
The fucky blue orb took forever. I started in Tvpaint and finished in pootoshop like fucky fuck..
Imagine if an employer saw this art and said, wow I wanna hire her! :”) Dream on. Doing all this art exhausted me anyways, I probably couldn’t keep up.
If I did the jam myself, which would be stressful, I would have done something much simpler and different. If had all the team members we had however, I would implement the voice actors by making a game based around sound guiding the player. I would have contrasted CG against 2D to implement the duality theme. I would have not made it confusing by not even getting the main mechanic/hook sorted early. A game isn’t 7 NPCs, enemy soldiers, a grieving family and a guardian of the spirit realm, really?
I’ve been using GGJ as an excuse to stream the process on my Twitch, which I have seldom used before this. I went from 2 to 13 subscribers so that’s special and surprising.
Would be nice to keep streaming and share my process making (finishing) Rubble and Rust and TassieTravels. Maybe I can start to hype up my visual novel by showing people the story as you actually read it. Basically, lets playing AS I make it.
It’s been nice to feel like I’m working professionally as an artist again, even if I feel like I’m dreaming. My art must be slowly creeping back, but who knows how long it’ll take.
So anyways back to Emissary, I did all this 2D art, which ended up being completely pointless. I thought they were doing a flat dimensional CG game, so that my drawings could be foreground and background elements. Nope. They chose an above angle, completely disregarding the fact a participant in their team was capable of working hard to make 2D assets. I was treated as a concept artist which honestly, is not something I want to be.
No production manager was there to assess my role, to give me tasks that would suit me. It’s Adelaide my dudes, but there were Americans on the team somehow.
At the end of the day, I was feeble and didn’t voice my opinions.
When you aren’t implemented fully in a game jam, you feel a bit pointless. I should have piped up more about narrative, but it seemed like 4 people input all their ideas at once, and it just kept snowballing bigger and bigger in scope. Scope creep, they said.
I’m a game designer. I know how to keep things simple to start with and usually am aware of what it looks like to bite off more than they can chew. Production management means saying, ‘does this mechanic matter?’ or ‘do we need 7 NPCs and convoluted plot moments just to make the voice actors feel like they have done something?’
Maybe what I’m taking away from this is that I spied an obliviousness about sensing each individuals capabilities and assessing how much they could handle and what would and could actually be implemented.
Instead I wasted Saturday morning drawing rocks, trees and cottages nobody used. I could have made a beautiful 2D game in half a day, if I knew Unity dang nabit, but I can’t learn everything.
This was the miscommunication, or even maybe just what I’d call an assumption that everything could fall together smoothly without needing a Google Doc. We all need Google Docs.
Oh yes. How silly is it to not share production documents with the whole team? To just do a screengrab once a day isn’t enough, people need to be able to edit in what they have flippin’ finished-–but I digress.
A game needs to have a solid focus. With my visual novel, it’s the storytelling. That is a hook. With my GameMaker game, shooting up enemies and dodging bullets is the focus.
I had thought the main world was a ‘hellish’ world. There was severe issues with these decisions. Going to Pinterest for concept art doesn’t fix things.
Then again, I’ve only programmed two, or three, of my own games. Maybe I don’t have a right to act superior with game development right, but I was asking for what to do, and asking for a list of things to be drawn. I was actively working from the list above, a list that of course I could have finished, but they didn’t implement it. I realized by Saturday night I probably was just chilling in Discord with randoms, enjoying it for the social aspect.
Why draw 5 animated faces when we don’t even have the core gameplay loop sorted?
Whos fault is that? Discord communication, the designers, the absence of a producer, the lack of initiative shown by people like me? Or is it all of the above at once. Eh. It’s nobodies ‘fault’ per say, but good games take something special. Especially good game jams, which I’ve known. I’ve known jams where I’m creating the whole time and everything I draw is used. That’s how it should be.
Anyways, I was daydreaming about what I would’ve done, but I didn’t do it. Instead I was a sheep and gathered around whomever showed interest in my art. I need to have more faith in my art, but it’s a painful area for me. As I’ve said, its exhausting.
I wanted to feel like people were excited by my art. Some of them did say ‘awesome’ and made it worthwhile. That they had seen it when I posted I wanted a team, and thought I would suit their vision. Instead I just drew some stupid cartoon faces and sat around making a game I was sure wasn’t going to take form.
Because I am insecure about my art. I wanted to show, to myself and others, I am capable. Anyways, I hope the pictures I posted above are enjoyable. Maybe someday an employer will say, hey she can sure art. And my true self will shine through.
This post probably makes me sound ungrateful and rude, well I just want to clarify that everyone worked hard. I just am a critic and know what a comparably more satisfying game jam feels like, just in how I felt like a part of it. Once again, I was the one passively letting others make decisions. That is kind of what I wanted, to do my thing, there are only so many decisions one can make.
I wanna vent some more, I’m really tired. I think I need to get out into nature and interact with real humans a few hours. Maybe I’ll have more to say on it these next few days.
They probably are reading this and think I’m a massive bitch. I‘m not trying to be, I just wasn’t used much this weekend. Plain and simple. So of course I’m tired and salty.