Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Wilderness & Wildness of Sensory Deprivation

The goal seemed humble at the beginning of the Jam. Make a top-down sprite based game with a three way mechanic and one enemy for each style of sense. We had two programmers familiar with Unity, one programmer unfamiliar with Unity, and three artists. We could do this! Hopes were high and the idea stage had everyone jazzed up to make stuff.

Eighteen hours into the Jam I should have realized that things were not coming together on schedule. Communication was not clear between the artists and the programmers. Most of us had never met before and probably didn't want to step on anyone's toes. The character art had to be completely reworked to match the environment art and mechanics creating a huge setback. I ended up jumping off of the art team to try and help with other aspects of the game that needed attention.

I turned my focus to sound effects and level design. Creating a unique little 8-bit sound for each character in the game was fun and easy, too easy. I finished that job in an hour. I moved on to full time game design and level creation. I had the first four levels done by the half way point of the Jam, but no way to test them. Designing levels without being able to test them is like being asked to run a mile with a fever. Yeah, I can do it, but will I be any healthier or feel any better once I am finished? Probably not.

The panic set in way to late it seemed and prioritization seemed to be in the wrong places. Sound was completed first, but was not required for early game testing. Environment art and level design barely came in under the Jam dead-line. Q&A did not exist. All of this sounds like I am being negative towards how the group performed. If I am, I blame myself the most, because over the course of those 48 hours I was delegated our impromptu leader.

It being my first time leading a group towards game creation I was probably bound to make us fail. I had no idea what it took to organize six people into a unit and get the most out of the time they gave me. I know better now. Leaders must be chosen or step forward in such a large group. Hard decisions must be made and the lines of communication must be open at all times. I hope I get the chance to lead a team again soon. I will do so much better next time.

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