At the start of the event, a theme is announced that serves as a creative constraint for all participating teams. This theme can be quite abstract or open to interpretation, allowing for a wide range of game concepts. This years theme was REPAIR.
patiently waiting for the theme reveal
GGJ diversifiers are a voluntary set of game jam constraints. Our team believed that deciding on a 3 diversifiers would spark innovation during the brainstorm session, as well as, speeding up the design phase of the game jam. Here are the diversifiers we chose:
A kind of cooperation (sponsored by Sony Interactive Entertainment)
Create a co-operative multiplayer game that encourages collaboration and kindness.
Your game features a made-up language from another work of fiction. (Our team chose Katamari Damacy)
Your Game takes exactly 20 seconds to play.
Theme has been announced and the diversifers have been chosen, it was time to begin the design process. We quickly settled on a few core pillars for the game guided by our chosen diversifers. Firstly, The game needs to be a light hearted and funny experience that can appeal to all ages. Second, it needed to support multiplayer couch co-op inspired by classics like Mario Party and N64 / PS1 era arcarde games. Lastly, at 20 seconds, it was critical that the learning curve was small enough to pick up and play but big enough to encourage replayability.We landed on an exciting cooperative and competitve game design. Two teams with two players each would battle in quick 20 second sessions. Team Critters is tasked with harvesting and eating the crops on the farm. Their health bar is gradually depleting and the only way to gain health is to keep eating! Team Farmers is tasked with repairing the damage done to the farm by the critters. They neeed to dig holes and plant seeds on the farm plots to gain health for the farm. For good measure, each player has the ability to dash into other characters which interupts their action. The result is a frenzied 20 second tug of war!
It is tempting to begin developing as soon as possible on such a tight timeline. However, our team believed that it would be wiser to spend a couple hours on preproduction tasks ensuring we wouldn't overscope. With our design nailed down, we went into light scrum mode and started outlining tasks and estimated their time. The art team split off to explore art styles that would allow for speed and reusabilty while keeping a charming aesthetic. Once our 48 hour production was outlined we were off to the races!
Yu Jen(foreground) and Wilven(background) hard at work
Brock and I discussing the asset pipeline
Whiteboard design session
Wilven realizing why Yu-Jen wasn't responding to his questions..
Brock joined the club
Our Global Game Jam site was hosted by Indienomicon, an a Central Florida indie developer community. For this year’s GGJ, Indienomicon held their monthly meet up event at my alma mater, Full Sail University’s Armada Fortress, one of the largest college e-sports arenas, to share each Central Florida GGJ’s team post postmortems and perform a live demonstration of their games. ‘Team Harvest Rush’ was represented at the event and received great positive reactions to our team’s game.
Melinda(Right) and I(Left) in the heat of the game
Team Harvest Rush!
What Went Wrong
As the 48 hour deadline loomed, the asset pipeline became harder to keep up with. Additionally, hastily merged git branched caused unforseen errors that set us back a couple of hours.
Harvest Rush had a few gameplay balancing issues and minor bug that we didn't have time to address. While we did playtest the game in the final hours, we needed to playtest earlier and more frequently to catch any issues as they arise.
The last final hours of the game were made more difficult due to fatigue. Our entire team went full speed with little to no sleep for the majority of the game jam. Many simple mistakes could have been avoided with proper rest.
What Went Right
Our early and thorough planning enabled the team to be very effective with the short development time. The established roadmap and time estimation made it easier to prevent feature creep.
Harvest Rush's art direction saved the team precious time by focusing on simple shapes and animations. The look of the game was heavily driven by the textures, many of which were reused whenever possible. Resulting in polished visuals delivered on time.
"There is no I in team". My experience developing Harvest Rush has been an excellent example of that famous saying. The entire weekend was choke full of collabritive spirit and energy. Communation was a highlight, every decision was effectively communicated keeping everyone in lockstep the entire jam.