The last time I participated in a game jam was a couple of decades ago. Yes, literally 20 years ago in 1995. When I saw the announcement of the MeatlyJam I was interested and I decided almost immediately that I was going to be part of it. It then took me 2 more days to commit to that decision and send in my registration. 🙂
The file of art assets was released before the game jam started, but I didn’t have any time to play around with it. I looked at it and tried to get an idea for a game, but nothing was coming to me. When the jam started on Friday morning I was at work, so I couldn’t start on it until later that night. Then when I did start, I knew I wasn’t going to have the full weekend to work on it, so I truly needed to keep it simple. I didn’t want this to happen:
I settled on a simple racing game. I had never made a “Pole Position” style racing game, and it would have been neat to do the perspective of the obstacles getting larger as they get closer, but that would complicate things. So I stuck with a flat design. I got most of the mechanics working on Friday night with placeholder images and then went to sleep.
Saturday could have been a much more productive day in terms of game development, but I needed to take time and do some bathroom tiling while my family was away:
That’s a picture of as far as I got before they came back home. Around 10pm Saturday I got back to the game and started slicing the image assets and generating the various sprite images I would need. I tweaked things as much as I dare with the time I had left. At 2am I called it done and I submitted this screenshot and a link to a YouTube movie:
At that point I realised that my iMovie settings were incorrect and I had accidentally cropped the video. Oops. No time to fix it, sleep was needed.
The next morning I fixed the video and re-uploaded it to YouTube; here is the fixed version:
I then packaged the game up for release to the Google Play store (Android users can play it here).
Here are my thoughts after participating in the MeatlyJam:
- Getting a minimum viable product completed in a short time is possible with discipline. The very short deadline forced me to stop fussing over small details.
- Having the art given to me helped a lot, I usually spend a large amount of time on either creating the art or finding someone and paying for the art.
- In order to get done I didn’t do collision detection, I just used math. It was surprisingly close enough for playing.
- Sound is very important: the sound effects were crucial to the game being remotely interesting, and the lack of a background track was very noticeable.
- The community of other developers working on their game at the same time kept me motivated to continue and to get done.
The MeatlyJam game jam was interesting and well worth participating in. It’s true that it took a few hours away from my current mobile game project, but I would do it again. It’s a great feeling to start AND FINISH a software project in a weekend – that doesn’t happen often for me.
It’s surprising what a little help and motivation can do. Also, if you’re a game developer, go check out The Meatly – you will probably find it quite funny!