Defuse an infinite number of randomly generated bombs! Stay alive as long as you can in this stressful but challenging experience. Defusing these bombs requires advanced color coordination, quick thinking and a steady hand.
I attended my first Global Game Jam ever this past weekend and I had a great time with my friends. Actually, I was apprehensive about attending beforehand because I did not know how I would fare against Game Jam veterans. From my previous hackathon experiences, I always felt this pressure to create the “next big thing” or at least win some kind of recognition/award. That pressure to succeed always made me a little nervous. In the end though, the Global Game Jam was a new experience – one that I enjoyed, learned a lot from and would repeat again.
The theme this year was, “What Do We Do Now?”. This theme, like previous themes, are pretty open ended and left up to interpretation. To start off, we took the lessons we learned about brainstorming from Jesse Schell and applied them here. We thought about our theme and went through some mind maps,
Mind Map… and our team name!
dove into topics we liked with free association,
as well as come up with ideas through reversing assumptions of existing games.
Each page you see is 1-sided only. This was to reduce our risk of losing million dollar ideas. I learned that designers shouldn’t be stingy with paper/materials if it can lead to better designs. I mean why risk losing a million dollar idea if all you needed was more paper??
The result of our brainstorming led us to create an infinite runner except instead of running you’re defusing bombs. We also make heavy use of the stroop effect to make it especially challenging. We had to tackle the interesting challenge of how best to improve the flow of our game. The beginning is tough and confusing so a friend coded up 5 pseudo-random tutorial levels meant to teach our player the mechanics of the game. At the same time, we didn’t want to give too many instructions so even the tutorial itself can be challenging. The result is a game like Risk of Rain where our players must learn the basics through trial and error.
Personally, I felt the beginning was still a tad too frustrating for starting players. During the showing of our game, we got to see several people play. Without any guidance, they did learn how to make it past a few levels after losing a few times. That is okay. The main problem was when people lost, they would blame the game. A good game should make the player believe it’s their own fault for losing and that’s something we failed to do. This is probably a result of our vague instructions and the cluttered wires (we had 48 hours come on!). The cluttered wires I would say is part of the challenge because bombs are meant to be hard to defuse. On the other hand, our vague instructions I feel could be improved upon a little more. I felt like we were so close to that sweet spot of optimal flow!
I coded up the random level generation. This way our game could be played infinitely and the attraction would be trying to beat high scores, much like the design of many mobile games nowadays. Because I had to make sure each wiring layout only had one correct answer, I had to manipulate matrices such that each row and column had no repeat elements. It took me much longer than expected because I was approaching it the wrong way. After some help with a friend and debugging (<3 you unity visual studio tools), I finally got it to work! You can see some of my all night scramblings below... haha
To conclude, I learned a lot from this Global Game Jam and would definitely do it again given the chance. I got to solve interesting logic problems as well as apply Game Design principles and best of all, spend time with friends making games.