It’s been almost exactly a year since the last one of these, so I thought I’d do another one and maintain some vague attempt at consistency in updates/writing (lol).

Game Jam Projects

I continued to do a lot of game jam projects this year. Here’s a full list with some thoughts in retrospect:

  • Wormy - Made for a very short timeframe jam (4 hours divided up over a weekend). I was really happy with how this came out and the amound I got done. Doesn’t seem to have made as much of a splash with anyone else.

  • Fossil Hunter - Another one that I’m pretty happy with. The graphics/sound and sense of an explorable world is something that stands out compared to a lot of other stuff I’ve done. I think because of that this is maybe the game I’d most like to draw on going forward.

  • Bear Necessities - Another relatively short jam, this is an arcadey game that has a little fun to it I think but not much depth.

  • Unititled Mini Micro RTS - This was one of two “failures”, i.e. game jam projects where I didn’t really end up with a product I was happy with. I entered this jam but ended up not liking Mini Micro for various reasons and didn’t end up with much. I might revisit the ideas here at some point with better tech.

  • Sliderz - The idea of making a game about a “fantasy interface” is something that’s been in my head for a while. It was good to get it out and explore some of the ideas, and I do like how this came out although it’s probably a bit short and simple.

  • Rolling Sands - This was another failure, with some commonalities like a month long jam and new tech. Should really have tried to push on and get it more-or-less finished but maybe lockdown and wfh was getting to me.

  • The Exploits of Jimothy Jones - Yet another short jam, this was also using some new-to-me tech, GB Studio, but went a lot better. Although I don’t have much desire to make anything more with GB Studio, it was fun to explore and have a somewhat unique output (i.e. an actual Gameboy game).

  • Pawprints and Platforms - Broke out of my comfort zone significantly by making the leap into 3D and Unity. The end product wasn’t amazing in terms of gameplay I think but I did get to explore some new ideas and tools, and did end up with a completed project.

  • Mobius Station - Warehouse management game inspired by Wilmott’s Warehouse with the added twist that you’re on a Mobius strip space station. Probably not quite living up to the full possibilities here, but at least I’m trying to do something unique.

  • Super Crate Smash - Breaking out again with an Unreal game. This was a weird decision motivated by wanting to learn some basic Unreal to help out with a job interview. Well, it worked and I got the job. The actual resultant game is probably a bit mediocre, but inspired fierce competition to speedrun the game by a few friends. The current world record is a ridiculous 1:27.952 by robjbeasley.

  • Chargin’ Chuck - Another quicker weekend jam. Had some slightly original gameplay ideas and was reasonably happy with the end product. More speedrunning happened with the current records at any% in 1:01 by robjbeasley and 100% in 1:29 by mobiusman.

  • MonsteRL - This year’s 7DRL, and back to a more traditional roguelike style. This owes a lot to the work I had been doing on Resident Rogue (see below) and I really hit the ground running. I was really happy with how things went, and a couple of features like the procedural names generation turned out really well.

Bigger Projects

My work on bigger/ongoing projects between jams was a bit less succesful. I’m still not that good at sticking to projects longer term. Here’s a quick summary of what I worked on this year:

  • Overgrown V2 had some improvements and got uploaded. The whole global pandemic situation put a pretty big damper on making a local multiplayer co-op game though, and V2 hasn’t really be played.

  • Untitled/Unfinished Pico-8 Multicart Zelda-style ARPG - had some fun with this but ended up going nowhere with it.

  • Castle Tyseley - Unfinished 3D first person dungeon crawler made in Unity. Had various issues, and could never get the visuals to look decent. Ended up going nowhere.

  • Resident Rogue - Traditional roguelike made in MonoGame. this is the exception, as I ended up releasing 2 versions already. The first was rough but the second was very playable. The work on this payed off double as I used it to make MonsteRL, a very solid 7DRL too. I’ve got another version coming out soon which I’m going to call the end of this project though.

Bonus Projects

Creating a seperate category for a few things that didn’t quite fit the above. These were short (a day or two at most) and fit in around other things I was doing. Doing these lightning fast projects and getting them out the door immediately works surprisingly well to clear my head. The trick is making sure they’re really just self-contained one day kind of things. They’re definitely worth mentioning here:

  • The Bradford Hotel Heist - A short IF puzzle game made in Twine based on a joke from an RP session with some friends. Silly but a little bit of fun hopefully.

  • Coming of Age - Another IF game, more narrative in style. Story idea just popped into my head one day and I had to get it down.

  • Pokemon: Real or Markov - Small quiz game spun off from MonsteRL that just serves to show off the name generator. A nice bonus that I put out really quickly after finishing up MonsteRL.

A Lesson Learned

One thing that’s become really apparent to me over this year is that, while game jams are fun, they are poison for working on an ongoing larger project (at least for me). Shifting to a novel new idea is fun, but then getting back onto whatever I’ve been working on is really hard, and I’ve ended up repeatedly fading out on projects because I did a game jam.

Having now recognised this, I’m going to cut back on my game jam output and probably not do any until 7DRL next year (I have a 7DRL streak to maintain so it gets to be the exception).

Where To Next

I have a plan for my next steps after finish up with Resident Rogue this week. Quite a while ago I read this article on a game design method, and the idea has really stuck with me. (A quick TL;DR is: you come up with 100 ideas, make 10 of them into prototypes, and then pick 1 of the prototypes to polish into a full game). I think this will solve some issues I’ve had with getting into a project and then realising I don’t like it or really know where I’m going with it. Making 10 prototypes kind of resembles doing 10 game jams (which I’ve gotten good at finishing), but with some consistency of scope and timing to make the products comparable. As mentioned above I’m going to stop doing other game jams and just focus on this project, and I’m hopeful it will go well.

Tech wise, if it wasn’t obvious from the lists above I’ve bounced all over the place on different engines and technology this year. I think the ultimate conclusion is that I want to get back into Godot, but use C# for scripting. I can also apply a lot of the lessons I’ve learned from different ways of doing things.

I’ll have to try and remember to write another one of these in March 2022. Dangerously close to consistent output.