Gotland Game Jam 2009


Gotland Game Jam is an event consisting of a 48 hour game-making competition for students and ex-students of the Game development education of Gotland University. As my participation was offsite and I spent most of the weekend on IRC I do not have that much to say about the actual event, though I did play the games created and there were some delightfully weird creations among them.

My own contribution is metroidvania based on the theme “Popecat” called Leim [download]. I am reasonably happy with how it came out.

To be completely honest, I had decided beforehand that I was going to make a metroidvania platformer and crowbar it into whatever theme selected for the Jam; there are sure to be people who consider this the wrong approach to take to a gamejam (and with good reason), but to paraphrase Jon Mak it is usually a better idea to make something you really want than to force innovation for innovation’s sake. There are some other drawbacks though.

For starters, exploration games tend to be sort of a tall order and maybe trying to make a worthwhile one in 48 hours is a lost cause. You need a lot of content to make it interesting, and if you are growing the avatar abilities there are lots of things that can break the level design, forcing you to play it very safe if you do not want to create a horribly broken game. Also, going against what John Harris said about interesting environments I tried to force small areas where each had some gameplay idea instead of doing what I should have done, attempt to create ideas for the world and then build levels around those ideas (although again, maybe not feasible in 48 hours). Adding to this is the central hub I placed in the game and the ever-decreasing energy – originally the idea was meant to allow for incrementally more exploration as getting more energy allowed you to move further in the gameworld instead of having obvious borders, but the concept didn’t really mesh with that idea and all it did was discourage exploration. The cohesiveness of the experience was sort of tacked-on as well as I had to remove a lot of the themes and presentation ideas I had in store, again due to lack of time.

Technologically, this wasn’t really a challenging game and although I did sort of fail design-wise I would say I learned enough from it to make the weekend a worthwhile experience. Anyhow, it was very much fun so perhaps it didn’t have to be in the first place.

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Posted on Nov 23/09 by Saint and filed under General game development, Homegrown, Meta-blog | No Comments »