After writing my post about "New Years Revitalization" goals, I made a spur of the moment decision; I decided I'd spend 2015 completing the One Game a Month Challenge where participants are tasked with creating and releasing a game every single month. The point of the challenge isn't necessarily to create something you'd end up selling with a full set of features and polish, but rather to go through the motions of creating a game from scratch through to release. It's about practicing finishing something, no matter whether the result is good or bad, so long as it's playable by others in some format, you've accomplished the goal.
Personally, my goal with this isn't necessarily to build everything from scratch every month. For example, I've got a bunch of half-finished projects that I could move forward and release in some playable format, or I could work with others to create something interesting, or even use a pre-made template and adapt it to fit my needs. For me, it's more about releasing something playable, interesting and practicing the thought process behind game development & designing those mechanics.
January's Release! Download "Jet-Pack Slaughter Dome" for PC (Requires 4x XBox 360 controllers)
Created as a team project during Global Game Jam 2015 here in Vancouver, BC (sorry, we forgot to upload it to the website, so it's not officially available). You play as Bill Suitor or one of his clones from rival nations as they battle for the right to be the jet-pack-man in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics!
We went into the jam knowing we wanted to make a 4-player, controller, couch-style game you'd play with friends in the same room. We drew inspiration from popular titles like Mario Party and TowerFall while designing the game. Having gone through a few concepts, we eventually settles on this bizarre arena style battle mostly because it was making the whole team laugh. When you're at a jam making a game for 48 hours, it's pretty important to make sure you have fun with the idea.
We had a few challenges while designing the game, a few features didn't get finished and overall it could use another weekend of polish to really feel proper, however overall for a game that took one weekend plus about a day's worth of fixing on my part... it turned out pretty damn good! Check out the video below as well or scroll up to the download link & play it for yourself if you'd like...
- Screen Shake is super important to a good feel. Check out this video on the subject if you'd like to learn more about "game feel"
- Keep it Simple = You'll actually finish on time, well... not really, but close?
- The State Machine I've been tinkering with over the years is absolutely key to having an easy to use game architecture. There's still room for improvement, but it works adequately for now.
- Managing controllers across multiple platforms (PC & Mac) is difficult, drivers don't exist on Mac for Xbox 360 controllers
- Post Processing Effects are key to improving the overall visual style. In this game, I used a cheap (hardware-wise) plugin that allowed me to create my own LUT. That, on top of a bloom effect, really helped sell the visual experience.
- Having dedicated artists really helps me focus on core game-play and overall presentation. At ComboMash I've given myself the title of "Creative Director" and I think for future projects I'll need to focus more in this area.
- Humor is key to team cohesion. We had a blast just coming up with random shit, laughing at our game jokes and when things got tough we took breaks and told jokes to lighten the mood.
- Not finishing is okay. If we put another couple of months into the game, we'd probably have something we could go stick on GOG or some other Unity enabled website... but that's fine. We learned and gained experience, and that's a worth goal in itself.