Global Game Jam 2011, a post mortem
Over the weekend I locked myself away at the Art Institute of Seattle with the hopes of creating a compelling game in 48 hours. Now that the Global Game Jam is over I’d like to share the fruit of my labor and some parting thoughts.
Eat, Prey, Love
The event’s theme was “Extinction” so we all had to come up with game ideas around that concept. My team settled on a puzzle game where you match different links in a food chain to balance your ecosystem. We call the game Eat, Prey, Love. Click on the screenshot below to try it out!
Rather than telling you all about Eat, Prey, Love I thought I’d take a step back and reflect on the process of making it. After all, you can always click the play the game and see it for yourself.
What Went Well
This year, I’m happy to say that I think a lot went well with this project:
- I found an excellent set of teammates. Justin, Luke, and Nicole were all very talented and contributed a ton. What’s even better is they were a blast to work with. Thanks guys!
- We picked an achievable idea. Instead of trying to create a more complex simulation or go for spiffy 3D graphics we settled on an idea that was pretty well understood and easy to execute. It helped that I have experience making match-3′s, too.
- The tools. We decided to use C# and XNA. Both Justin and I are experts in the language and have made several games with XNA, so we didn’t waste time learning about our tools.
Overall, my main goal for the game jam was to make a polished game I could take pride in. Thanks to everyone’s hard work I think I achieved that goal.
What Went Wrong
I really don’t think a lot went wrong during the weekend. Still, in the interest of balance here are a few bullet points:
- The gameplay didn’t turn out as fun as I had hoped. I thought that a bejeweled-like match-3 mechanic would mix well with our ecosystem idea. In the end, it proved too difficult to remember what things match and not clear enough how matches impact your ecosystem.
- Getting feedback. We didn’t ask other people to play our game often enough throughout the jam. I think if we had gathered more feedback — especially from non-jammers — our game would have been more fun.
- Not designed for web. This is a pretty small complaint, but as we wrote the game Justin and I did not think about porting it to Silverlight. As a result when it came time to do so a fair amount of code needed to be rewritten. We should have researched the constraints sooner and built our game with them in mind.
Overall I’m really happy with what our team was able to accomplish during Global Game Jam. I think our game is really well polished considering it was made in under 48 hours, and I believe that the underlying idea — a game where you have to balance different species in order to preserve the natural order — holds a lot of potential. In addition, I am really happy to have gotten a chance to work with such talented and friendly people!
So, what were your experiences like?