So this is a summary of my feelings about my game "Little Jimmy", or like whatever. So read it and take my bad advice.
What Went Right?
The Idea Whether you think the idea is "fun" or not is up for debate, but the fact is that the idea was very simple and reasonable to make within one week. Right from the beginning I knew I had to come up with an idea that was almost painfully simple... otherwise I'd be subject to the usual feature creep situation that we're all too familiar with.
Unity I feel sorry for, yet envious of, all of the people that entirely coded their games. Unity allowed me to focus on the important parts and have a decent looking game (regardless of my less-than-mediocre art skills).
The Art Style (or lack thereof) I chose not to texture unimportant objects in the scenes. This worked in various ways:
No time wasted doing UV maps
No time wasted texturing in photoshop
Directs the players focus to what is important
It's not something I would want to repeat for every game I make, but it was a great idea at the time.
Reusing Assets I've really got to emphasise this. Not all models in this game were made specifically for this game. Quite a few models were taken from another project I made. I don't think this qualifies as cheating, but it is a huge time saver. It sort of makes me want to build up a big reservoir of models, textures, scripts, sounds, music, etc so then I can reuse everything to make whatever game I want with the least amount of effort and in the least amount of time. Also, I used MakeHuman to make Little Jimmy in 5 minutes. Let me repeat that: Five. Minutes. That includes modelling, texturing and rigging. Five minutes.
Working By Myself This is something that some may disagree with, but it depends on the project and who you are working with. I work very well by myself because I am a bit of a jack of all trades (master of nothing). Working in teams works best when you can properly communicate with others and when you can properly delegate tasks among each team member. I'm not suggesting that it would work for you, I'm just saying that it worked quite well for me.
Writing Crappy Code Who ever said writing crappy code was a bad thing? Obviously they've never made a game in 7 days. Some of my cutscenes were partially hard coded into core scripts. I would never even consider doing things like this in a large project, but it saved a bucket load of work for this situation.
What Went Wrong
Too Much Graphics Way too much time was spent on the graphical side. There were too many models that needed to be made, too much animation and too much texturing. This sort of goes against a few other things I have mentioned above, but if I were to make a game with more complex gameplay, I would have to sacrifice this way of dealing with graphics to make up for it. It wasn't a huge issue for this game (because it was a super simple idea), but if I were to do another one of these, I would probably want to make a game that's more fun to play.
Unity Free My graphics aren't fantastic, there's no denying it, and I'm not going to blame it on Unity. But I always thought that this style of graphics would've looked much greater with SSAO. But, alas, Unity free only allows access to a forward renderer, meaning that SSAO is out of the question. So why did I go with this art style anyways, you ask? Because I am, obviously, not as smart as you.
Testing I probably could've released a prototype earlier than I did which could've easily ironed out some of the design issues and bugs.
The Music I recorded the music straight off the piano, which included my awful sense of timing (even with a metronome). It was good in that it saved a lot of time putting each note into a program, but not so well in the final quality.
My Health You wouldn't believe it, but getting the flu in the last few days of development doesn't make game development any easier. The moral of the story? Allow time for unexpected interruptions. I was just lucky that I got ill towards the end of the project.
Not Enough Time Well duh. The main reason I mention this is because there were a few features I thought up that would've been really cool but just weren't plausible with the given time. So I'll mention some of them here just for the hell of it:
Little Jimmy has to get dressed. This would've made for a good level but it would've required more modelling.
Tiny Tammy. She was going to be another child that Little Jimmy would have to compete for the toys with. This would've complicated the AI code a lot more.
More dynamic music when Little Jimmy sees the toys moving. I had enough trouble with the music already.
So that's it. It's all over. Overall it was a quite fun and adrenaline-saturated experience. I'm looking forward to doing another whenever I can. I'd like to try doing a game jam in maybe a 48 hour time-span, which I would expect to be a completely different experience. I'd also like to try working with other people to see how things churn out in comparison.
Time's up! I haven't actually done much in the past 24 hours because I'm currently being butchered by the flu. I was going to do a post-mortem for this post but I might do it tomorrow instead. I did fix a few minor problems and I now have (vaguely) written instructions on how to play. I also reduced some texture sizes, and lost litres of boogie in the process... but that last point is probably irrelevant.
So if you're game enough to give it a go, I have a web version and a windows version.
I'd also like to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. It seems there has been a lot of surprisingly high-quality games produced from this competition. After I rest a little bit, I hope I'll be alive enough to give them all a go.
Today's post is a bit late, but worth the wait. I spent the day mostly finishing levels, adding sounds, some animation, a better user interface to find which toys are selected and a whole lot of bug fixing. I've also got my prototype ready! I'm not sure how playable it is, but hopefully it is somewhat alright because I won't be doing much tomorrow (I woke up with the flu this morning). So tell me what you think! You can play the web version here.
And here's a pic of the last level in the game (because there will probably be a game-breaking bug before anyone can get to it):
Tomorrow I'll probably be bug fixing (because I know you will find something) and I will try to reduce some texture sizes to reduce the overall file size (some textures are much larger than they need to be). Other than that, this prototype is pretty close to the final thing. I know people are going to find it hard to figure out what to do... but we'll see how far you get without any instructions .
I was hoping to release some sort of playable prototype today but, yeah... life. I actually have all of my levels in and I think they all work properly (I haven't done much testing yet). I also got the music in though it's really crappy. I just recorded it from my piano so it goes off time (because I can't play with a metronome) and I think there's even some dud notes in there. That's a game jam for ya! I still need quite a lot of polish, but I'm not sure how much I can squeeze out of these last 2 days.
I haven't done quite as much today since I've been quite busy with classes, but the rest of the week I largely have off so it's crunch time! Things I've done today:
A mini cutscene type thing for the title screen
Finalized the levels, designs, story and models I want to add
I'm not an artist so I've decided to only texture objects that are of importance. This will save a lot of time but will also make it a bit more artistic and help the player distinguish what to play with. Here's a screenie of the title screen with the unofficial game title:
Progress has been quite good. I've got the core mechanics down. I'm beginning to feel that my idea is maybe a little too simple (or maybe I'm just really awesome). Most of the effort will be put into making the individual levels, so that's probably what the next few days will consist of. Some of the things I have implemented are animation (they aren't proper baby animations though), a few models and a start of the GUI. I've also found some baby/child sounds which I might use. I've been working on a song but haven't decided if I want to do it in FL Studio or just record it straight from my digital piano (I'm not a great performer unfortunately). I've also got a very simple and very possible story arc that I can add in.
The Toys Are Alive. The Toys Are Alive? The Toys Are Alive!!!
At first I thought "I can't pull a game out of this theme!!" but it turns out that just 5 minutes of brainpower is enough to churn out a decent idea. This is the first game jam I've ever done, so I'm keen to have a really simple idea that I can implement in much less than a week so that I can focus on things like more levels and polish. And apparently "midnight" is 3pm where I live (Australia) which makes this all the more foreign for me. Anyways, these are the tool I'll be using:
Language: C# Engine: Unity Graphics: 3DS Max, Photoshop, MakeHuman, MS Paint Music: FL Studio Sound: Any free websites I suppose File Hosting: Not sure yet, maybe dropbox or google drive
So what is my idea? When the theme popped up, I obviously thought of Toy Story (like everyone else I think). I like the idea that the toys are alive but they try to hide it from the humans. So I my idea is to have a bunch of toys that play dead while a child (toddler-aged) plays with them. When the child is looking the other way, the toys will move around and try to lure the kid into doing things, like getting dressed, going to bed, etc. I imagine it being somewhat similar to the game Sheep, Dog 'n Wolf, but much simpler at the same time. It's hard to explain in words but hopefully I'll have a prototype up really soon.
I'm not sure how much of this I am going to be able to get done, because I am juggling this, uni, an assignment, a test and job searching all this week.
What have I done so far? Quite a bit. I spent a few minutes in MakeHuman and made my toddler. Meet Little Jimmy:
I've also got about half of the core mechanics down, but not enough to play with yet. But all is going well!