KrakJam 2017 – making game in 48hrs

In January 20-22 I decided to attend Global Game Jam 2017. Among few other cities I choosed Kraków. The local event was named KrakJam 2017.

7th edition but my first attendance. Looks like I know how to pick events because this was another great one. I’ll cover the project, theme and my feelings around me being there, people and organization.

KrakJam @ Kraków Technology Park

Kraków Technology Park is just an office building. More than 100 people attended this event. Security surely had a tougher time than usually.

The building at the night

What we got

  • Time to setup and team up
  • Place to code
  • Sweet food, coffee, water, juice, customized pizza, bread, “sandwich materials”, energy drinks, isotonic drinks
  • Quiet sleeping room
  • Unicorn
  • Pizza throne
  • Team photos
  • Lot’s of smiles
  • 2-3 minute window to show your game on projector
  • Lectures (lightning talks?) from pros from companies like CD Projekt and Gamedesire
  • Whiteboards to design a game
  • Gifts (comfy T-shirt, slippers, toothbrush, stickers)
  • Certificate of “surviving 48hrs at hardcore international game creation competition”

some gifts

Hardware and software

I brought my own PC case with 24″ screen. My favourite stuff. Most people had laptops but I felt it was worth to bring in the bigger hardware for almost 3 days. Also had two gamepads – just in case. It happened those were quite useful! I’ve seen few people having 2+ xbox game controllers.

On every table (desk?) we had few ethernet cables. Wifi was there too.

As for the software, most of people declared to work with Unity3D. I couldn’t find anyone working with libgdx so I could forget about artemis-odb (or anything covering Entity Component Systems architecture). I had to adapt. Now Unity is on my PC. If people like to work with Unity then it’s a dirty pleasure or huge festival of workarounds.

My PC setup + downloading Unity

Let’s have a team

There was a predefined moment to build a team but a little too soon before a start. I noticed several approaches happening:

  1. build a team adjusting to skills and techs
  2. wait for theme release and then try to build a team aligning with your ideas
  3. ignore all of that and work alone

Working alone is equal to being not constrained by ideas of other people and their skills. However, it’s in the same time a loss of increased potential, especially when you’re not a one-man-army who is able to produce beautifully every kind of asset.

As long as I don’t have to design ideas or even implement core mechanics, it’s easier to me to build any game that I feel skilled enough for (e.g. I would’t aim for RTS with AI in 48hrs). Also it’s pretty important to me to build bonds with new people than find workers who will build a game for/with me.

I can’t speak for others but I came there to basically have fun. Building a game that wouldn’t be fun for me would decrease the factor of fun a little but not trying to team up with cool people would be a disaster. Also it’s a possibility to fulfill a challenge for improving both social skills and management+tech skills at once. A geek’s win.

Angels

Setting of our game was about hell and demons so we called ourselves “Angels”.

“Waves” – scratching the concept

Multiple projects have implemented some game mechanics not even touching the idea of waves. Solution to that was adding a simple rule changer launched in intervals. For instance, wave of new enemies, some visual wave changing state of level, visual wave changing mechanics a bit and so on. But it’s not challenging due to theme cover.

We tried to make it more interesting. “Wave should introduce some mechanic. No, it should be a mechanic.”

We have designed our game within ~2 hours. It surely took time but thanks to that we had a simple core mechanic that we were sure about to give it a chance to be implemented.

And we gladly covered the theme having this rule set:

  1. a 2D platformer mechanics having only one platform
  2. two players fighting each other, having their bases to defend on each side of platform
  3. player’s goal: enemy base has to be destroyed
  4. and here comes the wave – if avatar falls down after jump it creates a wave
  5. additionally, you can speed up a moving wave by jumping on it
  6. you can also push wave back to enemy base by jumping through it’s curved edge

Not too fancy, right?

Well… “What the hell ?!?”

Have you ever had a problem with this neighbour flooding your home with lava? No?

The game is a competetive platformer working with 2 Xbox game controllers.

Source is available on GitHub, you can download the game from Global Game Jam site.

It was made by 4 programmers, actually 3 of them were making graphics. I have implemented the wave system + done lots of tweaking + debugging + fighting Unity + design together at the beginning.

Presentations

Every single team had a time to present their team and game. It was told to be 2-3 minutes but still it’s enough. There were too many games to see them all by myself so I think it’s a great opportunity to see all the results of that night.

Our game was rather small but still – it earned some points :)

(we are the pink bar, 7th from the bottom)

Summary

In the organizational aspect of event – it aimed for perfection. Network connection, food, whiteboards, kitchen full of bread and lots of things to drink. And probably more things I’m unable to see to cover.

The only drawbacks were a lack of shower and tiny details about sleeping room – not too enough mattresses + dry air.

The lectures were short, not too advanced stuff in my opinion but that’s good since attention couldn’t last long for those who were looking for a way to build a team.

More generally, people were very kind, most of them seemed to have fun. I could play some other games and some people played our game. It felt great to share experiences.

References