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My First Game Jam: Walk and Talk

jeansberg

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Computer gaming has been my main hobby ever since I got a used Odyssey 2 when I was six, and even though I'm now a programmer by trade, I've yet to finish a game project of my own. I've definitely done game programming - I've followed Unity tutorials, started a couple of roguelike prototypes and messed around a bit with a shooter using Google Cardboard at a company hackathon. I even joined an on location game jam, but I encountered some technical problems with my idea and quickly realized 48 hours wouldn't be enough. I had also decided to sign up as a one man team, which meant I had no one else to motivate me to keep going.

I have been thinking about applying for some game programming jobs at some point in the future, which has me motivated to work on my skills again. A friend recommended getting into Lua and Love2D, so I decided to try them out. You can get started with Love2D and have something on your screen very quickly, which made it attractive to me after having worked on a C++ project for the last few months. Since Lua is often used as a scripting language for other game engines, it seemed like a good road for me to go down. I started developing a simple shooting game with Love2D as I was learning the language and the framework. This turned into a series of blog posts that I plan to post on this site as well.

While writing my tutorial series, I had also registered on itch.io and noticed their massive game jam calendar. I decided to join a jam called My First Game Jam: Summer 2017. I logged onto their Discord server and found a very active community discussing ideas and assembling teams. I talked to a few people and ended up agreeing to work on a project with another person. They would design and write and actually already had a pretty fleshed out idea. I would do the programming. We talked some more about the idea, and we both started getting excited. We decided this would be our first game under the name Micro Brood Games (we are both craft beer enthusiasts). 

The basic idea of Walk and Talk is that the player is walking with a friend while carrying on a conversation at the same time. If you pick too many incorrect answers, you lose. If you bump into too many obstacles or walk out into the street, you lose. The walking part of the game is controlled with the WASD keys and the answers to questions are picked with the arrow keys, forcing you to keep track of two parts of the screen at once. Since I was still on the Lua/Love2D kick, that's what I decided to use for development.

The features I managed to implement before the deadline are:

  • Movement and collisions between you and your friend / environment
  • Randomly generated sequence of screens that scroll vertically
  • Reasonably realistic movement for the friend AI
  • Fail conditions for touching the top of the screen, answering questions incorrectly or not at all and for not using the sidewalk when crossing the street
  • Win condition for reaching the end of the last screen
  • Meters for friend annoyance level and time left for the current question

The features I plan to implement before announcing the "Release" version of the game:

  • Moving pedestrians to collide with
  • Obstacles on the ground to avoid
  • More variety in environments
  • Gamepad support
  • Configurable controls
  • Splash screen and menus
  • Better sprites and UI

I will be writing a few more posts about Walk and Talk as I develop these features. After we are satisfied with this game, we will move on to the design phase for the next one!

Here are some screens of the game jam version, which you can download here.

BSvNqB.pngMb9i0Y.png2w76cJ.png



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