Week 3 – CRJ – Prototyping and jumping in my first Game Jam

I choose to participate in a Game Jam named Beginners Circle Jam (https://itch.io/jam/beginners-circle-jam-3) to learn what rapid ideation is. I think this kind of challenge works like a motivator. I might be choosing the time wrongly, but I needed to face some of my fears of failure and participate. 

As a downside, I completely missed my other assignments. It was a hard mistake, all the prototyping content would be beneficial, and I missed my practice. So I learned by error this time.

Game jam preparation

To prepare me, select some content about player control and 2d sprites management on Unity. I wanted to try out something straightforward that contains some basic commands. Since I don’t have much time and will do it all by myself, I also want to simplify my life as much as possible using only simple pixel art images and animations. 

I also did that was important was to read/see some content about gaming jams preparations. Luckily the first link on google was very amicable and kind of resonated with me (link).

And this was the first time I read this application to Game Development: “to reduce the scope”. Another nice article. And because of that, I overspent some time learning how to build levels on Mario Maker

Some progress

After a couple of nights working on it, I didn’t finish the game. Barely were able to publish my entry on the challenge. It was a valuable experience. In the end, I didn’t feel like I failed; on the opposite, I learned a lot from a lot of mistakes. Listing them the first was not read first the content of the week. Game prototyping would be fundamental to achieve my goal.

I also realized how much I have been using Sketching and Storyboard:

I later found it particularly interesting to do the reverse engineering of a game. It helped me to start thinking about different elements of play and interactions. I think I’m starting to see some structure in the game development in a very rudimentary way.

Struggles

The fear to start was something real; I was terrified to fail. It consumed me some time, but I just jumped in. I don’t know-how, but after some hours working, I forgot my fears and stopped caring about success or failure.

But without an easier/lighter way to build something fast to test, it consumed all my available time. And speaking about time management, this was a stringent constraint. I feel that will be my main challenge at the end of this course. I had to take care of my son for some part of the week because he got sick. I tried to be creative to balance all the responsibilities, but I just didn’t have any energy left to spare at the end of a few days. Hopefully, those days will be gone faster.

I tried to separate my time into blocks of two hours and break my simple list activities. But without much organization on this site. I’ll try to use a kanban or something else on my next attempt.

I didn’t expect to struggle with the art. I wanted to build something from scratch and even make the draws, however after spending my first days dealing only with the mechanics, I just abandoned the idea and added another remark for the future: I need to choose my focus. If I want to draw something, I’ll not produce the code or find someone to help me.

And ultimately, I didn’t calculate any time for publishing and divulgating, which was a grave mistake. I just forgot to click the publish button, and my entry page on itch.io stayed as a draft for some weeks.

And besides all that 

I’m happy with the result; I didn’t expect much more than what I did. And most important, I faced and overcame some of my fears. 

It was nice to prepare myself. Although all that I need to learn, have a vision of my goals and limitation helped a lot. And in the end, I missed knowing a better tool to prototype faster. I spent much time trying to code the controllers for the player and struggled a lot with the time-management. Participating in a Game Jam was a fantastic experience and, unexpectedly, gave me a deeper understanding of the importance of prototyping.

References

Blatt, R. (2019) Learning the Value of Scope During a Game Jam, Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@robblatt/learning-the-value-of-scope-during-a-game-jam-558e0da23ba0 (Accessed: 3 January 2021).

Ceave Gaming (2019) How to Design a Good Super Mario Maker Level! Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrFrT7-19JI&ab_channel=CeaveGaming (Accessed: 3 January 2021).

Concentric Design (no date) Unity Learn. Available at: https://learn.unity.com/tutorial/introduction-to-concentric-design (Accessed: 12 December 2020).

Feldbacher, C. (no date) 6 Simple Tips for Game Jams – Prepare yourself. Available at: https://blog.felgo.com/mobile-development-tips/6-tips-game-jams-felgo-global-game-jam-2015-promotion (Accessed: 3 January 2021).

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