Full disclosure here: I wasn't going to participate this year...
Timing was horrible for me, both professionally and personally.
As a matter of fact, I was approached to take jury duty this time around, and even declined doing so based off my expectations of where I'd be by the time of the competition.
And then, sometimes, Murphy leaves you alone for a bit...
Long story short, I was curious this morning when I realized the competition had just started, and I found myself with a 'bit of time on my hands'.
Wasn't too sure exactly how I'd use that time just yet, so figured I'd give the themes a look and see whether they'd inspire me.
Now creativity is a fickle mistress, and I can distinctly remember the Week of Awesome III's theme didn't speak much to me and was hard to build around. I had forgotten the branching themes and was happily surprised to see options!
Shadows... Undeads... Evolution... Ruins...
If you know me at all, you know I'm afraid of the blank page syndrome. I'm also a firm believer in the 'more constraints leads to more creativity' motto.
Faced with many options, I ultimately chose to take this as a challenge: find one unifying game concept that would embody all four themes.
Yes, that's right, I'm running for Shadows+Undeads+Evolution+Ruins this year.
Unlike other years, I almost instantly found the concept I wanted to make. Truth be told, they're not all that far apart to begin with, but I like how each of them pulls my mind in a different direction.
While 'daydreaming' at work, I settled for my game concept and let it flow...
After taking care of family in the evening, I sat down for a bit and started to draw.
If you know me at all, or if you've seen either of my previous entries, you know I'm anything BUT an artist...
Luckily enough, it seems like this time around we may ask for help, so depending on where things stand, I might just ask for some help by mid-week to polish my prog-art visual!
After a bit, I started using what I had and created a new Unity project. The last couple of years using Unity sure started paying off. After a false start where I was really trying to over-engineer / do code that's much too clean to stand a chance in a gamejam environment, I went back to simple solutions and made some significant progress. What I have now is anything but playable, but looking at the missing components, I'm starting to feel like I'll be able to pull this off within the time allotted. I still have a few features that I'm unclear will fit the time I can contribute to this project, and at least one of them is an absolute must for this game to make any sense, but I'd say that the level of risk is still minimal.
Note to self: don't forget to keep a day for UI an flow... you can't half-ass this!
Without revealing too much about the game concept, here's what I ended up doing today:
- (1) Placeholder Player Character
- (1) Placeholder GPI (with 6 light variations)
- (1) Placeholder collectible
- (1) Very placeholder game background
- (1) Somewhat placeholder enemy
- Camera: very minimal changes to the default Unity camera. I had originally intended on going 3/4 with 2D sprites cast as textures in a 3D world, but though I'm getting a hang of this scheme, I didn't get around to implementing this as I felt I wouldn't have much time to contribute to this entry and wanted to focus on the core gameplay instead.
- Controls: simplistic player controls (movement, action) and basic interactions.
- Character: still 'static', but it responds to controls appropriately (still requires a lot of fine tuning / polish)
- GPI: Placeholder GPI that responds to input (by destroying itself...)
- Enemy: Placeholder Enemy with basic AI (which also destroys itself...)
- Collectible: Placeholder collectible with simple effect (which ultimately destroys itself as well... but it gives you something in return!)
Things I want to look into tomorrow:
- Evolution mechanic (tsk tsk tsk!) First Pass
- 'Combat' mechanic (oh oh oh!) First Pass
- Placeholder UI / Scene Flow (better now than 24h from completion)
- Basic sounds (just to make sure I have something in case I can't contribute more)
- Possibly make an asset request
Best of luck to all contestants, and hopefully everyone has fun and learns!
(I'll leave the 'why I chose to participate', etc. for the end of the competition)