Commit. Pull. Test. Push.
Obus, Tanner, Jake and myself wanted to try doing a Game Jam with the new Unity 4.6 Beta 20. Obus is literate in C and Lua. I am literate in Actionscript. Jake does mathematical algorithms in Python. Tanner knows Unity/C#. We were excited about the prospect of a game jam; not only were we eager to learn how jams were, but most of us couldn’t get off of work to attend Unite.
So, it was agreed that typical game jams, while great for ideas under pressure, are prone to be a cluster f*ck since there isn’t any processes that can be replicated and we wanted to make clean code and good practices for the first time around as practice. It is not traditional, but we found that process, focus on scope creep and cross training knowledge.
How we pulled off a complete game in rough pass in under 10 hours was simple; we did our ‘pre production’, aka agreed on a design and stuck to it. No changing our minds, lots of talking and debating and sketching what our thoughts were.
Phase 1: The Paper Sketch
We agreed we wanted to make something that people would enjoy so much that they might break their tablet over it. Swiping bored us, but clicking games were interesting options that are low commitment while simultaneously addictive. So we sat down individually and drew up our idea what the game should be. We limited ourselves to 15 minutes of throwing out our most crazy ideas, kept it humorous but simplistic as possible.
After an hour of brain storming; I took point on compiling the data, sending out a .pdf and then planning that we all meet Saturday.
Phase 1.5: The Prep
Our SVN: Source Tree
Our Depository: Bitbucket
Our Conflict Management: WinMerge
Our Task Manager: Trello
Our IDE: Visual Studio (We weren’t fans of Monodevelop )
Our storage: Dropbox
Phase 2: The Jam
We started at 1 pm today and divided jobs. Since I was used to making vector art and UI, that was my task. Jake did fist art and animation, Tanner did both coding and instruction and Obus was his counterpart.
We broke down ever task down to the bare basics and made a massive list on Trello similar to that of Atlassian’s Grasshopper/Kanban mix. From there, the rest for instinctual; Grab a task, finish a task, let your team know when you were pushing or pulling the code base and test your work. Do not submit anything unless you tested to the best of your ability. Fortunately, we started our careers as QA first, so it was habitual.
I admit I had issues with the flow of SVN, but after a few shots, I understood the flow as I stated at the beginning of the post. Obus had issue with text and the lack of anti aliasing which we found a work around. Tanner kept running into race conditions and deciding to use either switch statements or getters/setters. Jake was completely new and had to climb the hill of learning animation through Unity’s IDE.
After the initial learning curve of the tech and getting used to each others styles, we broke for lunch and then everything just flew. We were well oiled machine and we were uber vigialnt against SCOPE CREEP…because we all know that everyone once to something really cool and wants to change the plan. We were kind, but dead serious. by 8:30 we were done. Our only issue is that we didn’t stop at 8 on the dot as we promised ourselves.
Phase 3: The Learninz
We all walked away with pride. Even though our project was rough, it was finished. We finished something and it was playable. The code was OOP perfection where we could expand the framework any way we wished and the last thing it needed was something many indie devs/ game jammers can’t say they get a shot at: polish.
I walked away from the experience not only proud, but refocused on what I love and how to go about it. It reinvigorated me to care about fun and gameplay…not marketing/ads or whatever. As long as the fun is there, what else do you need?
I promised that Sol Del Ray would be finished this week now that my rig is up and I can continuously work on it for a finite amount of time, let it go and then work on something new. I remember an article by James Clear stating that repetition leads to perfection.
After today, I finally see truth in his words.
I’m not above asking for tips!