For the past year, I’ve been participating in the Ludum Dare game jam every few months. I started by joining up with some friends, A Flat Miner Studios, for the first two jams. A successful jam means that I’ve made a game and learned something along the way.
With A Flat Miner Studios, we built INtire and Renfield Hearts. Both were fun to play and had good mechanics. I learned how to use GameMaker and made my first two games ever. In August, my limited available time for the jam weekend prevented me from re-joining A Flat Miner. This was my decision, they had invited me back but I didn’t feel I could contribute much. Instead I organized another team with two of my friends/co-workers. They built Meownster. I provided guidance, design and some interface work. It turned out pretty good for our first attempt as a group.
Last month, we joined forces again and brought in two other friends/co-workers. This time most of assembled in Gainesville to work in the same physical location. This jam was a success but there is room for improvement.
LDJAM 34’s theme voting ended in a tie, Two Button Controls and Growing. Friday night we whittled away ideas and while we sort of settled on one. We were divided and didn’t come away with a clear concept by the time we retired. I think a lot of this was due to the two themes. One theme would have provided us more focus. But the two themes let us generate too many ideas.
When we reassembled on Saturday we still didn’t have a clear design and so we muddled through the day. We got a bunch done but we spent the first part of the day clearing up the design. In the aftermath, one of the team members has suggested storyboarding. Storyboarding promotes a clearer picture of the design to everyone.
Next time we’ll also focus on getting to a minimum viable product much sooner. The game we delivered only used one of the available buttons. The second button allowed the character to block incoming attacks. But it proved to be an ineffective strategy. So another team member suggested we allow more time for bug fixes and improvements.
I was disappointed with a few of my goals for this jam. It was my intention to livestream this jam. I still haven’t gotten comfortable with streaming yet. I hope that by the next jam I will be. I’d also like to be able to contribute more on the art side.
The art, sound effects, music, and level designs were great. Just the gameplay execution was lacking. It’s got the seed of a good to great game. It just needs a good amount of refinement that wasn’t possible in the space of a weekend. So, LDJAM 34 was a success but definitely felt like a sophomore slump. When we return in April, we’re hoping for a better end result but I’m still proud of what we produced this time.
And so, here’s Shemeowbi.