Global Game Jam 2016

Last year I was really excited for going to Global Game Jam, but due to a conflict of commitments and my Surface deciding to reset to factory setting on its own accord: I was unable to go. This year however I did go and after spending forty-eight hours in the Nottingham Video Game Archive this is what we produced:

Super Smash Ritual Brothers

I got there slightly late and apparently all the participants had formed teams before the event, however I managed to find some people from a University I recognised and they found a team who were one person short.

Most the people there were students from Nottingham Trent University, so I worked with a team of four first and second years. They’d all used Unity a fair amount before and had already decided to use that engine, and although I’d only used Unity once briefly I was fine using it because I could ask the rest of my team for help. We worked really well as a team, they knew the engine and had good games design skills and I, working in the software industry for a few years, had lots of experience with team based projects, source control, good practices, etc – I feel that combination worked well. Also, I brought everyone Red Bull which was much appreciated.

Being behind everyone else on Unity knowledge however I decided to stay up as long as I could the first night, pushing to get as much done as I could and learning Unity along the way. I must’ve crashed out about 4AM on a nearby sofa, waking up around 9AM just after the cleaner had been through. At the point the full team got back together around midday we had the most of the game-play, which left us to create the maps and resource the assets.

At around midnight we stopped development and all gathered around a TV and just played the game for two or so hours. We fixed bugs, decided what was fun and what wasn’t and what was missing. It must’ve been shortly after that I crashed on the sofa again, briefly rising from my slumber to help solve a bug to do with high scores before being told my eyes were too bloodshot and needed to go sleep in the corner undisturbed.

The next day, after six hours of sleep, we did some more polishing and managed to persuade the other team in our room to play our game and get some feedback. Which lead to the quote “Better than Rocket League” – a bold statement, but perhaps they just don’t like Rocket League? That play-testing lead to more bug-fixing and polishing until the end of the jam.

The result can be found here.

After Thoughts

That was us after almost two days of development, two floors up in the National Video Game Archive. As far as venues go for a game jam I can’t think of any better place really. Other than being centrally located in Nottingham and having close access for food, having so many games consoles and boardgames in the building indirectly drove the atmosphere to be be fun and very game-centric.

I don’t think there’s much different I’d do next time, we worked really well as a team and we ended up with a finished prototype with very few bugs. This jam for me really highlights good practices for game jamming: such as spending half your time polishing if not more, play-testing early, getting others to play-test your game, dropping features to meet the end of the jam (something I hate but it has to be done to meet the deadline).

Thinking back something I would do different would be source control practices for Unity scenes. Using git to control the scenes was an absolute nightmare, everyone time someone needed to merge the scene it would break and we’d have to rollback changes and re-add them manually. There must be better practices for this, but none of us knew them or could find anything online. That’s something to research in the future as it was a nightmare.

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