One hell of a weekend - A Global Game Jam experience

Tuesday, Feb 2, 2016

Categories: Games Tags: Games hackaton Video Games

A first Global Game Jam

So for me, this year started pretty well. I registered for the 2016 Global Game Jam.

Just to put things in perspective : I never made a video game and neither did my team mates.

We came in with a pretty heterogeneous team : Two graphic designers, a sys-admin, a biologist, a robotics engineer and a web-dev (me). None of us ever made game graphics, wrote game engines or even made music for a video game but we didn’t really care about that, we wanted to do this for the challenge. Our main goal was to create a game that works, not a game with the best gameplay our best graphics ever.

“Duel of Wizards”A screenshot of the menu

This year’s theme was “Ritual !” which is a really open theme. You can pretty much do whatever you want with this. Four of us started brainstorming while waiting for the rest of the team to show up and we came with a few possible ideas but we kept two: Either create a visual novel (using RenPy) or create some sort of card game that would be playable in the browser.

We went with the second option and started working in three groups.

The first evening (and early morning) went pretty good for our group, we went with the pair-programming approach and we implemented one feature at a time, one commit at a time. I was not convinced by the concept at first, but pair programming is a lot of fun and you really solve problems faster.

At 3:30 in the morning we pretty much had a fully functional skeleton of our application (which worked in the Javascript console) and decided to go to sleep. Round 1 over. We talked a little and decided to go home to sleep, take a shower and change clothes.

The second day and third day we integrated all the assets, started working on the GUI, two of my teammates created a physical version of the game and our graphics team created awesome characters and cards.

“In game”A screenshot of the menu

We all had a lot of fun and learned a lot, like a truckload of stuff.

We still made some mistakes and for next year (because I’m definitely going back next year) we’ll have some stuff to fix as pointed out by my teammate @antoinealb in his post:

  1. We need to have a playable graphical version faster even if it lacks some features so we can evaluate if the gameplay needs changes or adaptations.
  2. We should choose a type of games beforehand ans select the tools that suits the job. Or we could make a list of types we could explore with the selection of tools that goes with it, so once we decided what kind of game we want to make, we are already set to start working.
  3. Iterate more on the gameplay. We iterated a lot on the layout and the details but not on the gameplay… which is kind of stupid now that I think about it.
  4. Study more our tools beforehand.

One thing for sure, I’ll come back next year and maybe go to some other Game Jams and Hackatons in a near future.

I would like to thanks to the organisers of the Swiss Global Game Jam, my teammates : Chloé, Lionel, Antoine, Anthony and Maëlick and all the participants. I met and talked to a lot of people, discovered and learned many things, and laughed a lot.

If you would like to check out the game :

See you next time.