Tetrash Postmortem

Full itch.io page here

Duration

48hrs for the Ludum Dare Discord Jam #4 game jam 2020

The Game

Tetrash is a tower defense game where players place towers to heal (not destroy) the pieces as they move along a path. There are enemy towers already placed that are trying to destroy the pieces. The whole premise is that your Tetris game is corrupted and you are trying to salvage the pieces of Tetris
blocks before malware destroys them. Before the pieces start moving to their desired location, players must choose which powerups to give themselves to help boost their chances of winning. They have to beware, however, because while they’re helping themselves out, they are also determining which powerups the enemy malware has as well.

What I Did

Working solo again, so I did all the art, music, design, and programming. I took a stab at making actual 3D models by using the MagicaVoxel maker. The only thing I didn’t create myself, besides the fonts, was the space background/skybox.

What I Learned

Having felt displeased with the lack of knowledge gained from the previous solo game jam, I used this one to learn new skills and incorporate it into making a new game. I decided to follow a tutorial series on how to make a tower defense game, where I learned about pathfinding through Breadth First Search
algorithms, instantiating objects, and having towers focus on the moving objects. It was nice to see how the algorithms I learned in my Data Sets and Algorithms course could be implemented into an actual
game, and it also made me curious about all the different ways Unity offered pathfinding. I also learned productivity tools where things would update within the editor, like the different location of the blocks and the blocks snapping on a grid. I also learned more about art and 3D modeling by making my own models for the game.

One of the things I wish I focused on more was the design of the game. I was so focused on getting all the pieces working together, including the powerups, towers, and path of the pieces, that I didn’t have a clear plan on what the most effective level layout was, and I wasn’t even sure if the game could be
beaten by the end (which it can). I think for future game jams I want to start creating design documents for each one. Even if it’s just a one page document, I think having a solid plan can keep me on track for what I want for the jam.

Tinker Postmortem

Full itch.io page here

(Note: WebGL games are formatted strange and may run slow in WordPress. If you have technical difficulties, check out the standalone version on itch.io)

Duration

48Hrs for Game Maker’s Toolkit Game Jam 2020

The Game

In Tinker, players have to place blocks onto pegs to help a ball reach the destination. The style resembles that of old marble mazes or Rube Goldbergs. The goal of the game isn’t really meant to complete every level, but to figure out the different ways you can complete it, and to experiment. I wanted a game that
wasn’t as intense and more of a relaxing experience.

What I Did

Well… everything. The only thing I didn’t do as much of was the art. I used just simple shapes and changed their color so it was a nice color scheme. I did all the parts of the game myself, including the design of the puzzles, programming, and audio.

What I Learned

Surprisingly, I didn’t push myself to learn new things as much as I would if I was on a team. What’s nice about working with a team is that there’s always something new to learn from other people, and there’s something that you can teach others as well. Working by myself I didn’t learn all too much, but this may
be because I was nervous of going it alone and only stuck with things I mostly knew. It was kind of interesting in the end, however, when I realized that I ultimately made a level editor, where players could place and move objects how they wanted.

Problems I had with not having a team continued into the design. When I released the game, I got a lot of mixed feedback on the difficulty of the levels; some said they were too easy, while others said they were frustrated and had to quit. The game was also missing a lot of player feedback: The holes on the
blocks didn’t show any indication that they were touching a possible peg, which could have easily been implemented by changing its color or adding an audio cue. The pegs also had problems where there was some “looseness” to them, where the block could be shifted more in another direction but still be
touching the peg. If I knew how to model some actual blocks, I would have put actual holes in them, which would have made my time dealing with the pegs a whole lot easier. Looking back, I should have made the holes lock into the center of the pegs, and made a simple tool to help figure out the layout of
the blocks to easily add pegs in the correct spot. I thought adding extra random pegs would make the game more interesting and confusing, but it seemed to frustrate players because they though they could connect to it. There was also bugs that allowed the player to move around blocks while the balls were
actually moving, and some players thought all the balls had to reach the goal to win, so while I was more focused on the presentation, it was the gameplay I should have analyzed more.

Celebration at Theo’s (C.a.T.) Postmortem

Full itch.io page here

Duration

48hrs for IGDA’s eJam Game Jam 2020

The Game

With the theme being “celebration,” our game has the player playing as a cat trying to gather supplies to have a cat party when their humans are away. The player has to sneak around the house with different household items marked as “party” items (e.g. “streamers” are actually blinds). If the player gets caught
with an item, they are sent back to their bed and the item is replaced. Depending on how many items the player got by the end of the day, different win states would happen.

What I Did

I worked on player movement, which included moving between different rooms and picking up the different objects. I also designed the layout of the house and what all the items were and where they were placed. I also lead the team in the art direction, implemented the static art (not animations), and kept us in scope. All the music and sounds were also made by me. I also made the interactive start screen, end screen, and worked on some of the UI.

What I Learned

First off, it’s SO NICE to have an actual artist doing the art, and the larger team of four was great. We all worked smoothly with no problems, and it was nice to not be stressed out on time or be overloaded by a whole bunch of tasks. With the help of an outside instructor volunteering their time for this jam, we learned how easy it was to collaborate on a project through Unity’s collab. I also learned how to manage merge conflicts through the Turtle merge handler, which made things a lot easier when dealing with conflicts. GitHub was really slowing the team down with having to recreate whole scenes, so we switched to Unity collab and our production speed almost doubled.

It was nice to be able to focus on more of the design of the game, and I think taking the extra time in the beginning to fully flesh out what we wanted helped the team set specific tasks that they needed. I learned how to make objects a child of the parent, so I could easily pick up an object and have it follow the character around. I also learned about Unity’s nice feature of being able to have a scene overlayed onto another. This was helpful in determining where the items would be placed while also having another programmer work on them. What I also started to work on while programming is making my code readable and be able to be easily changed. What I mean is, while I was implementing the movement, I also knew another programmer was working on the powerups for the cat, so I left some variables and methods public so the programmer had an easy time implementing the powerups to affect the movement. This made the programming process relatively simple and I like to think it helped speed things along.

WetJet Postmortem

Full itch.io page here

(Note: WebGL games don’t format well in WordPress, reload the page to play again)

Duration

48Hr Game Jam for Athens Game Jam 2020

The Game

In WetJet, your goal is to see how far you can get without crashing your jetpack. You do this by tilting left and right with the Q and P keys, and boosting with B. Your boosting power runs out after a while, so you have to stop above a sewer geyser to refuel. You lose a life when hitting the ground, a seagull, or a bench. Once you lose all three lives, the game is over.

What I Did

I worked mainly on the player’s controls and movement. I also made a simple UI that kept track of lives and the amount of boost left. I also designed all the menus and buttons that included the art for it. I also did all the music and sounds in the game. The other programmer that I worked with did the continuous screen, obstacles, and all the art for that.

What I Learned

Being my first game jam where I was actually helping with the programming (all others I’ve done I mostly worked on the music and sounds), I was a little nervous going into it. Luckily the programming friend that I worked with was really cool and helpful. With his experience we were able to get a cohesive
game together. I learned how to manage scope during the jam, and I think we got everything done that we wanted to do within the limited. There comes a point where we must accept that not all the cool ideas we had for the game will be implemented. It think focusing just on the making the one mechanic
of flying fun helped streamline our goals. When first came up with the game, I was kind of thinking of making the controls ridiculous like the game QWOP, but reading reviews it became clear that it’s best to keep the controls to what people are used to.

There were a lot of “firsts” that I experienced in the game jam besides being the first time to program a game. I’m not used to adding different packages into my games that I didn’t create for myself, so I had to get used to what my teammate added, as well as some of Unity’s new input features. My teammate
also suggested to use Unity’s built-in rigidbody system rather than planning out all the movement through code. Being a little hesitant about it, I went ahead and implemented it and learned how to work with it to get it to do what I’d like. Figuring out the turning of the player was probably the most difficult part because I wanted the angle of where the jetpack was pushing off from to match the body angle, not just firing straight up and down. This lead to me learning about turning Quaternion angles to Euler angles that had to be applied in world space and back to Quaternion to be applied to the player’s transform.

We also had a lot of trouble with source control collisions between Unity and GitHub, even though there weren’t suppose to be any. I had to make completely new scenes to try avoid the collision. Dealing with this problem took up a lot of the time, which isn’t good when the jam is only 48hrs. I’ll talk about more of the problems we faced and our solution in the next jam postmortem Celebration at Theo’s.