With my holiday coinciding with Kajam 5, And the theme matching perfectly with what i would love to make. i wish that i owned a laptop. So i find myself writing a text adventure on my phone and with a story idea and a plan to send it to my self once i get home i have all the parts of my entry setout. I just need to write a convincing story and make a large branching path story which can be a winner.
Good luck to all other entrants in the competition, i wish you all good luck.
There are probably even more, but wow, that's a lot. I don't need to do all of them, but then I had an idea: maybe I can combine some of them? Especially with this theme, I should be able to join the Kajam and the LowRezJam! Maybe I can even find a cover for the name?
In a couple of hours I have a prototype, which I think I will extend and submit for the Kajam and LowRezJam! It's pretty basic right now, but you can play it and win or just set things on fire: Wildfire
The idea is to extinguish fires with whatever tools you have at hand. I think if I make it turn-based it can become a nice little puzzler :)
Hey everyone, I've some time to spare lately so let's go with this kajam. I just have a question first: Can I use an entry that i'm developing for the LOWREZ JAM ? That's an oppurtunity for me to continue working on my LOWREZ JAM entry and I think that could fit the theme nicely with a bit of sup work. I've started the dev today so I don't have any overtime. I just want to be sure that I can enter. Good luck everyone and have fun !
Great jam everyone! I loved the level of discourse and the great feedback. I was impressed by how many great games there were. I'm working on a post-jam version of my game using the feedback received, so I'll post again when I get something I feel good about. Heres a Post Mortem about my game if anyone is interested.
Molecule Mash is a game created in 48 hours for "Alakajam 3" with the theme "Always Growing". The game is about snapping atoms together into a molecule. The game is separated into increasingly difficult levels based on different real-world molecules. Each level is constructed to fit the model by placing the correct atoms around the level, and laying out the geometry to create something unique to that level. The game was created with Unity, with level geometry created using ProBuilder, and a little bit of help from Audacity for audio. Molecular data is pulled from the Protein Data Bank.
Molecule Mash was not the game that I started making at the beginning of the jam. My original concept was a bullet hell game where you were an ever expanding bubble trying to dodge sharp objects. That concept got me through six hours of development time, most of it doing unimportant things like audio before actually figuring out if the concept was good or not. It was not. The expanding bubble size worked counter to the genre and just wasn't enjoyable at all. I had all of these bubble popping sounds, and the start of an original music loop, and six fewer hours. Starting over, I did some brainstorming with some friends, and the concept that I kept coming back to was Katamari. The concept fits the theme exactly, so I went right into making a clone. To my surprise, it took just half an hour to make a prototype of a ball rolling around attaching to anything it touches. I was very happy with it, but was starting to worry about what would my game unique. Throwing together an open plane with differing sized spheres and cubes, I noticed that the shape my Katamari ball was making looked a lot like a ball and stick model from a chemistry class, and with that I had my idea.
After having the concept, I realized that a molecule structure is not something that's sustainable to write by hand which is where the idea to pull from the Protein Data Bank came from. Being based on chemistry brought with it some baggage and additional constraints. First, was the idea of limited connections between each atoms. Second was the concept of a rigid structure to be building. Third was that what you build in a level has to be a real thing. All of these constraints led to searching and researching molecules from the PDB and finding ones that would work well in the game.
Once I got all of the mechanics working, I reached a state that I always aim for, the final 24 hours could be dedicated to content and polish. This has been my goal for the past few jams, and it has worked out great. From pretty much any point after the first 24 hours, I felt comfortable sharing builds for play testing, and shortly after that I got to a point where I wouldn't feel bad about turning in a final version. I've had plenty of jams where I was coding all the way up until the end, and would never be certain if it would work at the end. This process made the jam extremely fun, and removed almost all of the stress that can arise from these sorts of events. On top of that, the tools I created in the first 24 hours made content creation really fun and removed a lot of the tedium.
Speaking of stress, I managed to take care of myself during the whole jam. I didn't skip any meals, I exercised both days when I needed to give my brain a break, and I got a full night of sleep both nights.This is something I learned within my first few jams, and I can't recommend it enough. Every time I pull an all nighter, the game suffers for it.
I spent 1/8th of the time on a boring, unoriginal concept. It should never have gotten that far, and those 6 extra hours could have been spent more productively doing pretty much anything else. I came into the jam with the mindset that I should just get something up and working quickly. My new addendum to that is that the concept is essential. I have done plenty of games without a strong idea, and it never feels as rewarding as making something genuinely different which I feel is an important part of a successful jam project.
The controls, and the frustration surrounding them, became the primary criticism for the game. While developing the game, I saw no problems with them as I basically got used to them. I also discovered after the jam was already over that I wasn't handling input and physics forces correctly causing inconsistency between different hardware. All the balancing to the magnitude of forces and controls and everything was done on my machine. It wasn't a quick fix either, because upon fixing the inconsistency problems post-jam it even felt different on my PC, and all of the levels were designed and tested with the old behaviors in mind. This problem, I believe, was the main issue with the game and the first priority of everything I worked on Post-Jam.
Even without the inconsistency, the controls ended up just not feeling too good for larger and more planar molecules. I didn't do a very good job at establishing a good character controller before making the rest of the game, and by the time I realized it, it was too late. In the future I need to make sure that the actions you perform the most often also feel good, and rocking back and forth to get onto an edge just didn't feel that good.
I made exactly one texture, one set of sound effects, and no custom models. While this isn't exactly a problem, it does irk me a bit. The game does not at all pass the made with Unity test, as it quite obviously uses stock Unity UI, the stock Unity physics, and the stock Unity standard shader. I was never able to get around to modifying those and giving the game a unique look and feel which is a real shame.
Going with a a strong idea is essential. Until switching the idea after the first six hours, I was having a lot more fun and ended with something I am much more proud of. The purpose of the theme and the time restraints, in my opinion, is to allow for interesting and unique games. If you aren't feeling the idea, keep brainstorming!
When going solo especially, get a playable prototype quickly. Figure out what makes your idea good, and focus on those aspects.
The 3rd Alakajam! is over and that means my duties as its host are over.
I wanted to just quickly go over what is required for running a jam, and why you might consider volunteering!
In terms of duties, it's pretty simple, and there is a document with all the steps written down so you can easily prepare for what is needed when. There is an event admin menu on the website itself where you can control which post is pinned, what the current countdown is for, and what the status of the ongoing jam is. It's all rather nicely setup - you don't need to ssh into a box somewhere and run scripts or mess with databases.
The important thing is that Alakajam was set up to be a nice gamedev/gamejam community, with emphasis on that last word. In order to be exactly that, we need to not have a dependency on a single person, and we need to make it easy for other people to get involved. You may not care who makes the site tick as long as it does, but I think it's crucial that we run the site and its jams as a community - which is why I'm writing this post! So if you think it would be fun to spend some of your time running an Alakajam or a Kajam - get involved! Talking to the regulars on #alakajam on irc is a good starting point!
Additionally - if it wasn't already obvious, anyone can get involved with the development of the site itself - just check out the site repo and start committing - there are a bunch of issues that specify missing features and bugs (look for the "good first issue" flag if you're new!).
I'm a bit disappointed with the results for Whirling Blades, but I guess that's what I get for doing something I'm not good at (isometric). xD
The goal was to make a well rounded game while also stepping out of my comfort zone, which I did. I've never done anything isometric before and knew almost nothing about it when I started. I didn't look up anything and did everything by just figuring it out. It was a great learning experience.
Here's the single paper I used for the idea beforehand. I'm definitely not an artist outside of pixel art.
The big mistake that resulted in a lot of these issues was that I was somewhat blinded be the desire to make a fast-paced isometric fighting game. I had some cool ideas in my head, but forgot to think about potential issues in design before getting to work. Normally I spend 60-90 minutes on the game's concept, wheras for this one, I only spent about 10. Next game jam I'll try to dedicate more time to design (>= 3 hours) and less to content since it seems to be the major issue with a lot of my games. I wasted so much time on Lollipop Ninja making levels nobody would play and I wasted a lot of time making items and enemy traits that people would just find a nuisance when making Whirling Blades. On The Crushed Sky (one of my LD games), I also spent way too much time making levels that nobody would play. I even made a boss battle with its own set of tiles that almost nobody ever played.
The boss fight from The Crushed Sky:
I'm slowly figuring out game design and hopefully I'll make something great when I enter the next Ludum Dare!
EDIT: I also need to stop going so low-rez with my artwork. >.>