Just a few weeks ago we hosted a jam site for Global Game Jam, where 30+ people of all skill levels and backgrounds came together to create a dozen games all based around the theme "What Home Means to You". Matt Christensen, one of our participants, wrote a post-mortem about his experience creating the game "Mimi Wants Food!" with his daughter at the event, and we'd like to share it with you.
I was happy with what we ultimately produced, though it really ended up being more of a toy than a game.
My daughter fixated on the "people insulting each other at family dinner" idea generated in the brainstorming -- but with cats instead of people. This fit the home theme well, as we have four cats! She showed me some insult game a streamer was playing that I think gave her the idea. I didn't spend any time digging into it, but did notice it had you pick phrases to build the insult. I sketched up a quick design on paper. We left the space with a solid plan.
She orginally wanted to use pictures of the cats and photoshop them but getting four solid pictures of our cats proved difficult, so we quickly found some asset store pixel art when we got to the space the next morning. I had simplified the concept at this point to be single player, and with only the player hurling insults. The only real "trick" to the game was stitching together the audio clips on the fly, and that worked better than expected. The day went smoothly and we had the core in place before it was time to leave. I fiddled with a GGJ/BGS splash screen before bed.
The final day was pretty relaxed -- we recorded some more audio, worked on credits page, and did some general tweaking and cleanup. Getting the build working by 5pm was a bit more rushed than I liked due to figuring out the correct build settings for the player.
The primary flaw in the game is that I could never figure out a way to make it sense of what insults "hit" and which "missed". My daughter picked a list but it had no internal logic. The dropdown menu UI was also clumsy, especially its scrolling. I had wanted to control the game with a dpad for one of the diversifiers, but never got around to implementing it, and the insult selection was too core to mess around with.
This jam I was much more comfortable with 2D Unity as compared to BGSJamXIII. I had been working with it for a side project and also worked through a tutorial. This made things much less stressful.
The big blocker for this jam was time. Obviously time is always a concern for a jam, but I had family engagements on both Saturday and Sunday, and some work had bled into the weekend despite my best efforts. It ends up being about an hour drive each way (given we always stop at burger king or dunkin' donuts), so I'd estimate that we only ended up having 14 total hours to work with. We would have loved to collaborate with other people, but I didn't want to go that road knowing I'd be pulled away every day.
The big positive for this jam was mastering coroutines and learning the basics of the animation system. Understanding these tools opens a lot of windows!
I'm probably going to take a couple more passes on Mimi wants Food to change the controls, add a visual health indicator, add a few more enemies, and other small things.
Thanks to all the organizers and participants! We had a great time.
Find "Mimi Wants Food!" and all the other games created at BGS for Global Game Jam 2019 at our online jam site. If you'd like to create something yourself in a weekend, be sure to join us at our next game jam - we can't wait to see you there!