The GetOnline2014 GameJam
We are a group of students who started studying game development at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences in autumn of 2014. None of us had made much with computer games before and we were really eager to get started.Local gaming community names Garde Party ry organizes a big LAN party every year and we were informed that there would also be a game jam competition as a part of the event. I (Tommi) quickly thought what do I know about my class mates and decided to ask Juho to program the game and Sami to make graphics. Both eagerly agreed and suggested that we might need additional help, so from Juho's suggestion I asked Tero to help with programming and from Sami's suggestion Antto to make animations. Our team was ready. Except that game needs sounds also. I decided, that I will make the sounds and find some easily loopaple music for the game. Of course I had no idea how to do that stuff, so I called my old friend in Helsinki and asked him. After short discussion Johannes suggested, that he would make the music and sounds for the game and I agreed.We entered the competition and first thing we understood is that we forgot to ask Tero is he familiar with GameMaker. He was not. So we were back down to one programmer. Gladly Tero was also quite good at making 2D graphics, so we had 3 artists on our team. After weekend of hard developing we managed to get our game ready just in time. There was couple of hours of anxiety when judges checked out the games and declared a winner. We won the competition!
After competition we proudly showed our game to more experienced students and even to some local professionals. Everyone said that it has potential, so we decided to develop a real game out of our jam game. Since our studies would push us towards using Unity in our first year, we decided to change the engine and start from the scratch.We worked on our game while studying and as a part of a school project. We were not tied down by the theme of the jam anymore, so artists made some concept art and we changed the whole style of the game also. Only thing that remained was the basic idea and characters, we all liked those.Since we are still studying and learning is the most important thing we can do at the moment, Antto and Sami decided to change their roles, so that Sami began to make animations and Antto all other graphics. Programmers duplicated the features in Unity adding game pad controls, new hazards and mini jump feature. Johannes made new higher quality music to fit the new graphic style.In the end of the semester we had to show what we had achieved in our project and of course it was not nearly in the state we would have wanted it to be. We had serious crunch for a week before the school deadline and managed to get most of the features in. When it was time to show the game, the controllers did not work and we were not able to make much of a show out of it. A disaster. In addition during the crunch we somehow noticed that we had at some point dropped our style concept and we were not happy how the game looked. We had some serious group talks about how to proceed. We came into a conclusion that we need to work harder, work smarter and we need more people if we want to get anything ready.
Changes in the crew
At this point Juho, our original programmer decided that he would like to do some other projects at school also and left the group. We needed a new programmer and one more artist for the group. Also I was swamped with the designing, testing, producing, marketing, publishing etc. things. I have never done this kind of thing before and decided, that also I need some help for this. Gladly we had a nice pool of possible recruits at hand in our school. We asked Aleksi to come to help Tero with the programming and Elisabet to help with art. Kasperi joined me for design and producing of the game. He will be also making the sound effects for the game, while music is still in the capable hands of Johannes.
We started the year by making (again) new concept for the art. In addition we made clear schedules this time and got some programs to help with time management. Perhaps biggest thing that we decided during the holidays was that we will be making network play in our game. This will take a lot of time from our programmers, since no one of us has any experience in this field. We decided to give this responsibility to Tero and leave Aleksi to do most of the code that is required for the gameplay. This way he will also familiarize himself with the code.We of course welcomed the new members to our team by having a gaming evening and playing our little game. This brought the team more together, familiarized them with the game, revealed few bugs and brought a whole lot of ideas for improvement. Most of the team will continue developing the game next week. I will be going to Amsterdam to participate in Casual Connect event in hopes that we will find advice and/or support from there.From now on posts will be coming more frequently describing our work, successes failures and learning.