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GGJ16 - A Kid's post-mortem

A post-mortem about the game NAVIGATOR, completing a game jam and earning money in two days.

Chang Zhen Loh

February 3, 2016

3 Min Read

It's the annual Global Game Jam, and this is the first year that I participated in the event. Global Game Jam requires you to be at a jam site to participate, and this year Dwi Emas International School, the sister school of Sri Emas International School where I am studying for my IGCSE, is one of them, so why not join? As the GGJ is an international event, a simple search gives a lot of information on it, and you can easily find jam sites around your area. 

My entry is a real-time strategy game called NAVIGATOR (http://akirassasin.itch.io/navigator), where you had to manoeuvre multiple ships in a small area to where they want to go without crashing.


What went right:

 - Going to a jam site with people. After reaching the jam site, watching the keynotes and starting work, I soon realised that there is a big difference between jamming alone and jamming at a site with a group of people. I met both adults and young kids there, and they could help test, provide feedback and point out problems in my game. 

 - Using programmatic art. Programmatic art is easily scaled and dynamic. It was something I believed had helped the production of the game, as it allowed me to work on mechanics instead of drawing the art myself and scaling them. 

 - Sleeping. While I only had 48 hours to work on my game, the sleep I managed to squeeze in was much needed. Waking up after a good night's sleep is a very easy way to relax, rest your tired eyes and look at your game from a different angle. 

 - Using familiar tools. Using a game engine I was familiar with was a great help as I know the ins and outs of almost everything and I can worry more about the game itself.

 - Using itch.io to put the game up. For submitting the game, I used itch.io; a platform where you can submit games into a customisable page for free, and you can easily sell downloads. Within two days I got $10, and itch.io keeps all the revenue until I need the money. 


 - Making a trailer. The trailer was also a lot of fun to make. After recording around six minutes of gameplay without audio using Camtasia Studio, I fitted music and synced the recording with it. After uploading the video on Youtube, I used Imgur's Video to GIF to create short previews found in my game page.


What went wrong:

 - The 'suicide angle'. There was a particular glitch that went unfixed, where ships would turn a full 270 degrees just to get to an angle. It caused a lot of havoc in-game and confused a lot of the players, even after I spent two hours attempting to fix it. 

 - Weak relation to the theme. Only the story had some connection to rituals, so the theme feels forced onto the game.

 - A confusing GUI. I realised that not everyone had time to read the block of text at the main menu, and the ship's display did not have any help captions. 

 - Lifeless colours. I worked with full brightness, and thus everything looked okay. After the game jam, I re-watched the trailer and realised that the colours I chose were not the best ones after all.

 - Last-minute additions. I thought the hands were a really cool addition. Well, at least until I realised the angles and porportions were out of shape and I didn't have the time to edit it.


It's been a day since GGJ16 ended, and what's done is done. I will complete the prototype using everything I've learnt in this post-mortem, and perhaps even push it to Steam Greenlight. The Global Game Jam is a great time to have fun, socialise with others, and experiment with game ideas; I'll definitely come for another round!

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