Okay. A promise is a promise, so I'll tell you about the game jam I participated in in this one blog. It all started when a friend of a friend sent one of these things you wouldn't normally care about. One of those stupid craps no one cares about people pester you on tumblr. But I took a look and thought. "Meh. This might actually be interesting".
By the way, in the title of this blog I told you this was "my first game jam", but actually, that was also the title. I discovered the jam was called "my first game jam", and it is a jam aimed for young videogame developers to test the waters and do an excercise to finish a game with little to no experience, which is an important excercise for developers. All the while they would recieve help either by the organizers or the other participants. Also, for those who don't know what a game jam is, it's basically a sort of digital meet-up for game developers to make games in a short amount of time, as both a challenge and a prompt for ideas.
From the start this all sounded very interesting to me, since I'd been experimenting with game development for a while, but never quite met other developers or learn in an organized enviroment. So, early on I introduced myself in the forums and, even before the jam started, poked my head over the chatroom. There, I met two lovely people of indeterminate gender, one of which I would soon befriend and converse with throughout the jam. Let's call them Xian, for a lack of a better pronoun. I talked a lot about writing and a bit of everything on the place. So it was pretty weird because, after that, I turned pretty much into the preppy, over-enthusiastic, self-proclaimed promotor of the jam. You know those people at highschool who show up at every event and try to keep in touch with as many people as possible? Yeah. That guy. Which was surprising to me, since I've never thought of myself in that way. I'm not a very social person, and yet I found myself greeting each person I saw and talking with every person I saw had an interersting profile. The reason for this change though was clear to me. The reason was that I actually wanted to find a teammate as soon as possible to make my game, which I already took very seriously.
So, let's talk about game planning. Thanks to what I've learn from Extra Credits, I know a lot about production and the value of scheduling and building an accessible database. For that I used Google Drive, which is very good and easy to use. I figured early on I would make a visual novel, since writing is a strong point of mine and I already had experience making that type of game. Which is a story for another time. As for this one, I thought I would make a game about a group of collage students who get lost in the mountains in a slasher movie situation. It was supposed to have important choices and adventure game elements, I was also pretty satisfied by the story.
After that was figured out, all I had to do was find other people to help me. I was looking specifically for a coder who could, not do the entire code but at least help me with the coding which is what I'm the worst at; and an artist who could do the backgrounds, since I'm okay at drawing but I have zero experience at digital art. I used a pre-made tool to make 2d character puppets, in order to make sprites, so backgrounds were all I needed.
I found a person of indeterminate gender that could do the programming. They sounded very cheerful and eager to work with a team for the jam. Unfortunetly, I wouldn't hear much else from them until just before the jam started. Let's get to that later. The second person was the artist, Akeara. Akeara was very excited right after she arrived, she wanted to join a team, and I was there, so she immidietly decided she would work with me. Well, that was easy. It was also pretty funny, because she met a person at the same time who wanted a programmer, so she wanted the three of us to work on the same group, buuut, it was very clear the other person and I had very different ideas on what we wanted to do, so yeah... It took me a while to convince akeara that we wouldn't make the perfect team. After that, I told her I wanted someone to make backgrounds, and she told me that she was much better at character art and writing, both which were covered already. Nonetheless, she agreed to make the backgrounds and I said I would accept whatever help she would provide with the writing.
On the meanwhile, I was still awating for Peridot. I didn't hear a word from them in days, so I tried to contact them again. It was very unclear at that point whether or not they agreed to anything, or if they still intended to work with me, etc. When they finally appeared, we had the talk. I asked them exactly how much time they had for the jam and they told me because of their job they only had time on the weekends. God. Fucking. DAMN. I looked back at the jam schedule, I noticed 6 out of 14 days of the jam were weekends, so I thought "okay. We can work with this". I rearranged my schedule. On their defense, on a second look I noticed they wrote something along those lines in their forum application. On my defense, this person was not only very eager to say they wanted to work for my team, they were also looking for other ones to work at the same time! How crazy is that.
So the jam officially started. The outlook didn't look too promising. I lost my character puppets on my first day and spent the whole day looking for them, which I swear at the time it felt like THREE days. I yelled at my teammate, which was definetly uncool for me at the time despite the circumstances, then I found the puppets and I told 'em "okay... Let's try to work with this". The programmer typed a few pages of code. I learnt from them. A couple days were spent writing the story script, editing the puppets in order to make the actual sprites, writing code and figuring out how to organize the code, this went on for the first week. On the meanwhile, Peridot said they would try to spend a bit of work during the week, so I sent them updates in what I did so they would stay in touch with the project. I think they did not. Akeara was done making her first background, I gave a couple pointers on what I wanted so she could carry on. Things were doing alright.
Then... I pretty much gave up. I don't have the mental streght to carry on things I'm not good at, especially on a tight schedule. I didn't know how I would tie up the story in the time I had left and I honestly didn't care for it in that state. I got fed up of my incompetent teammate and told 'em to leave the team because they were more of a hindrance than a help. I told Akeara as well that her help was appreciated, but I quit the project and disbanded the team and she was mostly okay with that. Then we went on to spend 3 hours talking about Homestuck and fanfiction and it was the best time spent on that jam.
So that's how the jam went. I guess I certainly overshoot the scope of my project, but what was probably my downfall was relying on other people. I should have kept the story as simple as possible and only if by some miracle I found myself with extra time THEN, add the branching path. I also learnt that no matter what great scheduling you may have, you should know no amount of preparation will make you perfectly ready for game developing.
At least I made some friends, which I'm certainly very glad for. Xian is a great person and I'm very eager to see their future projects in visual novels. I have actually asked Akeara to work with me on a project, which I will talk about shortly. Plus, some folks I still exchange a few words with on Discord. Not bad overall. Plus, the experience. Always good, having that.
Alright, I'll see y'all next time. Thanks for bearing with me on this lenghty journal, and sorry about that. I tend to get carried away with my projects. Heh.