Tuesday afternoon, I noticed quite a few game developers I follow on Twitter mentioning the #360iDevGameJam that’s happening that night, a game jam session for the 360 iDev Conference. I have never done a Game Jam before, and the idea of only having 13 hours to come up with an idea and create a working prototype was very appealing to me. “It’ll be a good break from the multi-month project I’ve been working on” I thought.
So a few hours later, I got started. The theme of the Game Jam was “Change the World”. I knew I didn’t have all night to come up with an idea, so I quickly started sketching out different ideas that came to mind. A few criteria that I had when developing ideas:
- Small in scope: The scope of the game needs to be small enough for a solo team to finish within the short amount of time.
- iOS control: It needs to fit the iOS interface (touch/click, drag, pinch, or swipe).
- Minimum art required: I am VERY slow with art.
So I eventually decided to go with a simple idea that has players grow trees while juggling three different elements of life – water, air, and the sun. Since the earth is constantly shaped by these three elements, I thought it would fit the theme as well.
A few things I used to work on the prototype.
Making of the Prototype
Once the idea is finalized, I wanted to first get the basic controls down. But after spending almost two hours on trying to make a “swipe” control, I realized to make it work smoothly and exactly the way I wanted it to work, it could take all night. So I decided to change my focus to other areas of the game – creating the three elements, and the basic gameplay of balancing them. Instead of working on the player interface, I went with creating the mechanism that controls the game behind the scenes. This went on to take another 4-5 hours, during this time ideas were added, removed, and re-adjusted.
After the mechanism of the game is done, I went back to dealing with controls. I decided to use a click-and-switch control rather than the originally planned swipe control to make sure I can finish in time and still have a control that works with the game. Not the perfect solution, but good enough for a prototype. The control took another few hours to finish.
After the basic mechanism and control is done, it’s time to make some art. I had less than 10 art assets to make with the simple design, and quickly after the simple images were made, a few more scripts were created to handle simple animation of the images.
(work in progress screenshot)
The final step was testing. This took much longer than I wanted, as bugs were found and gameplay problems were discovered. I had to go back to changing some of the basic mechanisms as a result, and had to “hack” together solutions to a few problems that I knew I wouldn’t be able to solve quickly if I want to code it properly. This lasted for a few hours until 4:30 am in the morning, at which time I decided it’s time to wrap up.
Here it is. “Water, Air, Sun”
– The prototype I created. It took 11 hours and I was very pleased to know that I participated in a game jam and successfully made a prototype within the time allowed. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on it and I might eventually turn it into a fun side project. But for the mean time, here’s the prototype you can play in your browser. Let me know what you think! :)
Posted via email from Next Level with Brandon