Philly Game Jam 2011 was my first game jam and it was a blast! If you search around here, you may find me. :-) Anyway, the game we made was NestKins and our theme was “Mothers”. Considering the game jam took place May 6th-8th which was Mother’s Day 2011 weekend, I was expecting theme to be a little less predictable. Oh well.
For the first two hours of development, I made sure everyone’s computer was ready to work with our Bazaar version control setup I made. We then went out to have a combo dinner/brainstorming session.
A few ideas were floating around our dinner table, but we didn’t nail anything down. I noticed this and tried to resolve it by setting some ground rules such as tone words, or the tone our game evoked. Even though some may not technically be labeled as tone words, we settled (quickly) on “nature”, “nurture”, and “cartoony.” We only had 43 hours of development time left!
My job on this particular team was Team Lead/Producer: I made sure everyone was on-task and had everything they needed to continue working. When they had issues with the Bazaar server, getting Internet access to work, needed critiques on audio/SFX, or a task list, I was there.
We ultimately needed to scope the project down to something more manageable. By the time audio and art were done, programming was only about 40% complete. We ended up not using a lot of art and audio assets that we had created. After the project was over, we all joked that it would be “DLC.”
What went Right:
The Bazaar server:
I normally don’t like to toot my own horn, but our team was thankful for the fact that I had setup a Bazaar file server for version control during our game jam. A member on our team early on had suggested Dropbox as our file management solution. However, since this was my first game jam, the state of the Internet was an unknown to me. I didn’t know how fast it would be nor how many people were using it. This ended up being a smart move as the Internet did go down every once in awhile during development.
A dedicated team:
I was proud of the amount of effort our team put into staying awake. One person on our team got as little as 4 hours of sleep. I had to order people to sleep. If you don’t sleep, you’ll start making mistakes.
What went Wrong:
Most of the people on our team had never been to a game jam before. We had no idea what could or could not be accomplished in a 45-hour period. We ended up wasting a lot of time on assets that were never used.
Nothing on-screen early:
During my time at FIEA, we were taught to get something up on the screen as quickly as possible. I hope my professors can forgive me for letting this slide this one time. :-) To be quite honest, I didn’t get to personally play the game until I got home at my own computer. This was bad.
Choosing Unity3D Free:
Unity3D isn’t a bad platform to develop on, it’s just that we had not anticipated issues with file management/version control software such as Bazaar. It seems the free version of Unity organizes things in such a way that it makes sharing projects with team members nigh impossible. Two people can’t work on the same scene at the same time. If we could go back in time, I would have gone with Flash.
Live and learn, right?
Anyway, I had a memorable time with my team and I’m glad we all made it through in one piece. There were 10 teams total and only 4 awards were given. At least our game didn’t win the “WTF?” Award.
To play NestKins, simply download the zip file below, unzip it, and double-click the “NestKins” file within.
Team members: (Team “Running with Scizor”) Me, John Benge, Matt Findlater, Mike Hahn, Dan Jung, Stefan Lopuszanski, Du-Marc Mills
If you would like to read Matt’s opinion on our time at Philly Game Jam 2011, go here.