In the last couple of years, we never took part in game jams, as we always preferred spending our time on actual projects rather than throwing away 2 days of development in an experimental idea we might not take any forward. A lot of things have changed in the past though, as in 2020 I started focusing my efforts on a new project with a new team, so when I was asked by two of my colleagues if I wanted to participate in an upcoming jam I was a bit hesitant. For those who don’t know what a game jam is, it’s typically a 48-72 hours game-making marathon, where each team needs to create a game from scratch based on the theme that was given to them by the organizers. For the new game I’m working on, Unity is being used, and I figured it could be a good idea to dig a bit deeper into the engine and potentially learn new aspects of it. I also figured it could help to get the team together a bit more, as I’m working with a narrative designer and a new artist on the game, so getting them involved in the jam with quick design decisions and project turnaround could also be a good idea. So I figured the team I would join the jam with my colleagues tentatively; we’ll wait for the announcement of the theme on Friday evening at 21:00 local time, then if we can come up with a good idea in the next 2-3 hours we’ll make the game, otherwise, we’ll continue working on our own project over the weekend, as we normally do.
The jam we took part in was organized by Mark Brown, who runs the Game Maker’s Toolkit youtube channel. It’s a really good source for game design, so I’d recommend it to anyone to check out. This jam was the biggest online-only jam ever held, so without further ado, here’s the theme announcement video.
Since the theme was Out of control, and I always loved simulation and tycoon games, we ended up creating a game (which was actually a bit similar to an idea I was prototyping way back in 2015) where the main character is driven by a basic AI, and the only influence the player has over the character is to place powerups in specific points of the map. When a powerup is placed, the character will move towards it, so this gives indirect control over the character, otherwise, it always tries to move away from the enemies and will cut through them when cornered. Powerups stack up over time, but the monsters get tougher too.
If you are interested in how we created the game and what stages we went trough during development, you can check out the developer diary I recorded. Our youtube channel has also just been launched, so hit Subscribe if you want to get notified of new videos.
After the 48 hours period has ended we were left with 7 days to play and rate each other’s games. We got lots of feedback and rating and people seemed to love the idea. We got quite a few coverages by streamers playing games created during the jam too. Once the 7 days period ended we concluded with 92 ratings and made it into the top 100 most popular games of the jam. Mark then played the top 100 community-rated games and picked the top 20 he liked the most. You can watch his recap below.
We finished at an overall ranking at 973. out of the 5416 participants, which puts us in the top 20%, which is nice. The originality of our game was ranked 473, which is in the top 10%. Considering how unprepared we were to the jam and how much time we wasted on things we could’ve finished in a matter of minutes if we were more adept in using the engine, we were more than happy with the results.
If you want to check out the game you can give it a go here: https://overheadgames.itch.io/waste-waster
All the feedback and the final ratings can be found here: https://itch.io/jam/gmtk-2020/rate/695723