In all the guides I’ve read and people I’ve talked to, the advice is the same. In order to get the most out of a game jam, you need two main things: some plan of what you want to get done and a good working knowledge of the systems you will use. If you blunder into a game jam with no idea, you probably won’t get much done. If you decide to start with a new game engine that weekend, you will spend most of your time learning the code instead of working on your game.
Those are both very good rules to follow and, of course, the exact two I chose to break for the mini-Ludum Dare this past weekend.
It went like this: Last Thursday night, I saw the announcement for the game jam on CompoHub, remembered I would have some free time on the weekend, wrote a note to myself, and then completely forgot about it a few hours later. Saturday morning, re-finding the note to myself (a situation that occurs more often than I’d care to admit), I sat down and tried to figure out what to make a game about.
Two things occurred to me: 1) I needed to practice drawing my own animations and 2) I’d been wanting to learn to use Jaws JS.
Hours into the game jam, I got out my ruler, some paper, and began to draw cells to the approximate size of 6.5 by 5 inches (roughly 640×480). I tried out some different models on one sheet, but settled on the two things I can actually draw: circles and squares. In one scene, I made a robot and in the other a person made of circles and lines. I named the first Totally-Evil Robot and the other Bob-Oh-Bob. Having scanned in those images, I turned my attention to the adventure game I wanted to make in JawsJS.
However, as you can imagine, I had problems trying to learn a new system. Spending a few hours trying to work out mouse collision and pathing code at the same time, I eventually gave up and settled on key-presses. I then tried my hand at making animations and, while I had much more success in that, I also had to spend time cleaning up my own drawings.
(If you are willing, he is looking for feedback on his game. Head over to Google+ thread he started to leave a comment. He’s especially interested in how it fairs in different browsers and on tablet hardware.)
Quickly recording some background music and adding it to the game, I cleaned up my code, uploaded it to my site, and then created my entry. After which, I crashed for several hours, fell into a laughing fit over word pairs, and finally went to sleep.
For those interested, the game can be found here. And my drawings, only lightly edited, can be found in their high resolution glory on my Flickr account.
2 thoughts on “MiniLD #40: Bob-Oh-Bob and the Fruit Adventure”
aww, cute. I should teach myself how to do this sometime too.
I think Jaws JS holds great potential to be a very powerful engine for HTML5 games. However, its documentation is kinda lacking at the moment. While it covers the functionality and attributes of the game objects, it isn’t always clear on how exactly things work. And the examples, which are great at demonstrating the engine, are also aimed at those who have a high proficiency at programming already.
That’s all my roundabout way of saying I have been thinking about jumping into teaching Jaws JS (or something similar) after Inform 7, but haven’t quite figured out all the details yet. I use a number of commercial tools in my own work. If I write anything on using HTML5 game engines though, I’d want to highlight tools that are free for everyone to use.
Some time later in March, then, if I can get all that worked out, I will definitely try to teach Jaws JS and other HTML5 game engines next. Although I haven’t declared it as such before now, the weekly videos are a year-long project of mine. Since the greatest barrier to making games is not ideas but the tools themselves, I see that as the best way to encourage others.
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