At the end of October, we organised a company-wide game jam. It was two days of very intense racing to get the ideas implemented and have a more or less working game to show.
What is a game jam?
A game jam is a contest where teams or individuals are trying to make a video game from scratch within a short time frame. The teams are usually programmers, game designers, artists writers and others from game development.
We had two days to create a game from scratch, but we limited the hours to 18 in total. We had to use Unity and only free assets from the store or assets created by the teams were allowed. All teams had 3 members.
Csaba announced the theme on the day before: ghosts and flowers. We had a day to think about the concept; however, we didn’t know the teams at that time.
I must admit, on Wednesday, the day before the game jam, everyone was very excited.
On the Thursday morning call, Csaba announced the teams. I got into the same team with Janos Szabo (game developer) and Rudolf Major (backend programmer). We wished good luck to the others and hopped on a private call.
The first thing I need to mention, all of us were way too enthusiastic about the game jam, and we were nervous as hell. We decided to do the planning first and move on to the tasks. Originally we wanted to spend half an hour for the first meeting to plan everything. After that our plan was to have one-hour working sessions and 30 mins meetings where we synchronise the tasks. However, the first meeting lasted somewhat longer than an hour as we really wanted to make sure no errors will be made.
After the first call, Janos started to implement game features, Rudolf got on with some backend tasks (scoreboard), and I researched all the available free assets, sounds and SFX.
Our idea was a Pacman style game. A cataclysm happens, and we had a big family in the game’s focus. The father realises he became a ghost and an unknown power pulling him down. He tries to find his family members (ghosts) and save them with the life-giving flower he can pick up.
We planned only one level where you are racing against time as your loved ones are drowning and your energy is depleting. You can use the flowers to save yourself or your family members. Making decisions who to save or let go would give tactical elements to the game.
We have decided to play to our strengths and create a game where we can show those. That means Janos did his magic in Unity, Rudolf implemented a scoreboard and classes and so on using his backend experience and I wrote the story and dialogues.
We had one-hour working sessions. After each hour, we jumped on a call, discussed how much we got done, re-distributed the tasks and got on the job again.
The whole day went like this.
We had very intense hours between the meetings.
By the end of the day, we had an animated game logo with sound, the whole story was written, the scoreboard and the ghost classes, names and all the dialogues had been created. We even recorded the intro ourselves, and our family members played the voices of the ghosts.
It was a super cool day, but incredibly exhausting.
We started to feel the pressure of the deadline so we tried to work out the leftover tasks. We had the feeling that we won’t be able to finish everything we wanted. Unfortunately, only one of us had usable Unity experience, and he was already overwhelmed by the tasks.
By midday, it was clear that we won’t be able to showcase anything, so we changed the plan.
We prioritised the tasks and all of us started to use Unity and figure out what we need to get down. I built the level, used the free assets and designed it to have a few gameplay elements. Rudolf finished the intro and the voiceover, while Janos has tried to finish those elements needed to showcase some basic gameplay.
The Last Hour
We all agreed that the last hour was the most intense. Twenty-five minutes before six, we put the ready scene to the game and literally in the last 5 minutes we uploaded the game to Bitbucket. It’s all ended up in a rush and, unfortunately, we couldn’t finish everything we wanted.
Showcasing the Games
House of Evolution
We had a call after 6 pm with the others, where we decided to talk about the games and showcase them. We were like kids, couldn’t wait to start to talk about the project which kept us awake for days, occupied our thoughts for 48 hours. Unfortunately, our game had a few bugs and we couldn’t show all the features.
However, we were so enthusiastic that we convinced everyone how good was our prototype. It had an intro, voiceover, story and gameplay like we’ve finished everything.
It’s a shame that we have those bugs and we couldn’t show all parts of the game.
We have tried to personalise the game a little, so every time Dad saves a ghost, that ghost says a unique ‘goodbye’ line. By the end of the game, a whole story can be revealed with funny and heartbreaking elements.
Tank Top Tigers
The team had Laszlo Nemeth, Attila Csizofszki and Gabor Szabo. Unfortunately, they were lacking Unity experience, but that didn’t stop them to come up with the best idea of the game jam.
Their idea was a Tetris type game. They’ve created a 3D environment with ghost flowers around a circle platform which were spinning clockwise. Parts of the flowers appeared in the air, and the player needed to rotate the platform to place the piece into the right flower.
Unfortunately, when they’ve tried to showcase the game, due to a bug it wasn’t working correctly. It looked cool, the whole idea and the implementation was amazing.
As they claimed, they’ve made a few mistakes during the two days. The first one was that they decided to create a 2D game, however, after several hours they’ve decided to do it in 3D. The second issue was that when they’ve tried to merge the different scenes, they encountered many errors.
They loved the game jam, they were very excited during the two days. They felt a bit let down because of the lack of Unity experience.
My personal note on this, despite the whole thing they’ve managed to create some excellent prototype. They had the best idea out of the three projects.
They also wanted to implement some extra features and physics, score system, growing flowers under rain etc.
This team had Miklos Hajma, Adam Kovacs and Anett Kindl. They’ve started the day with a meeting and discussed their ideas. In the end, they accepted Adam’s idea and extended it with their additional thoughts. Miki quickly sorted out the git repositories while the others were searching for free assets and sounds. As Adam wasn’t an expert in Unity, Miki showed him the basics.
They’ve decided that Miki would do all the Unity specific tasks, while Adam wrote the spawning, AI and other important mechanics. When Anett finished the menu buttons and other graphic elements, they taught her how to use Unity and she started to work on the level’s background.
The idea was an endless gameplay level in a graveyard. Some gravestones are ‘cursed’ and spawning ghosts which are trying to kill you. Your tasks are to collect flowers and bring them to the ‘cursed’ graves so the spirits can rest in peace. The game ends when you put flowers on all ‘cursed’ graves.
Their game was well implemented, every element was working, they didn’t even have a bug and they managed to showcase it properly. Unfortunately, they left out some extra features because of the short time frame.
It was mind-blowing! We all loved it. We learned about each other a lot, about communication and planning. It was intense, exciting and super exhausting. We were happy about the weekend after that.
It showed a team can pull off a mini game in a short period of time even if they have limited Unity experience also it was a great opportunity for people who normally don’t have daily interactions to work together and get to know each other a bit better.
The only complain we had that it was too short :-).
And we can’t wait to do it again next year!
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