So I’m not a regular poster here, but I’ve decided to throw my hat in the game to give an insight as to how my process worked and the good things, and the things to learn from that happen throughout the weekend. I never did a post-mortem for my first Jam so I’ll probably reference the first game I worked on, Traffic Jam.
So here we go!
The Good Things/Retrospective Things to Learn From
1. Limiting the gear you bring:
I’m a musician outside of doing audio work with iiechapman and so I’ve collected alot of gear to make the music I do. In our first Jam, I pulled out all the stops thinking that I’d be able to make these huge masterpieces or at the very least use my guitar, my bass, all my effects pedals, my keyboard, my e-kit, my djembe, and so on and so forth. Turns out when you’re in a tiny office and only have 72 hours, you don’t get around to using it all, and it makes for a smaller place to work. With FSCK, I cut down my rig. I brought one bass and one guitar. Simple and effective, but by using the onboard amps and effects, Drummer, and other audio software, I was able to cut my production time down without the hassle of trying to use so much equipment.
2. Knowing your software:
This one sounds like it goes without saying, but with Traffic Jam I went above and beyond what my at the time knowledge of my software was (Logic) and had to revert back to a more basic application (Garageband). At the end of the day I pushed out a working audio track that fit the game, but I wasn’t proud of it. Going into working on FSCK I had worked with a very good friend of mine to learn more about Logic and how to navigate through the application, and I think the quality of my work shows.
3. Not going in with a plan/Going in with a plan:
I know what you’re thinking. “This doesn’t make any sense”, but the beauty lies within the counter-intuituveness. We were kinda blindsided by the LD 26 theme (Minimalism) and we had this whole plan going into the weekend of what the game and the music was going to be like. That left alot of scrambling to come up with fresh ideas and to figure out what to do with the music, if we were going to have any! LD 27 rolls up, and I go into the weekend with a clear and open head, and as soon as we sit down to figure out what our strategy was, I have so many ideas just pouring out of my head. Now whether this was to my planning method this time around or the theme, who knows. I’m just going to say it was all on purpose.
The Things to Learn From
1. Running out of things to do:
No I won’t say I just sat there and watched the rest of my team plug away hard at work at certain points in the weekend (Although, I did manage to find time to watch all 11 episodes of The Bravest Warriors and the first two of Bee and Puppy Cat).
That being said, this happens from time to time:
Being the audio guy and either calling dibs on making all the sound or being varied enough in your skills to help either with programming or art will cut down on your down time. Going into LD28, I plan on learning some more design software to allow me to help out with the art and not find myself trying to do impersonations of Catbug.
2. Make sure the gear you bring is good:
So I’m packing up my gear, getting ready to head to iiechapmans office for the weekend, I’m pumped! I have my bass, my guitar, my computer, my interface, what am I missing?
My patch cables are at my drummers house…..
So I head up to the loft and rifle through my old touring box of gear hoping to find a cable at least 3 feet long. As luck would have it I find one and all is well! But as many of us know, Luck is a bitch and no one really likes her for very long. I get to recording some quick tunes and I realize that the cable I have is old and the wiring is most likely starting to fray on the inside, and so I have to be very careful not to let my heart beat within 20 feet of it or it will cut out. Could I have asked iiechapman to borrow one? Could I have run to guitar center and bought a new one? Sure! Did I? Nah. “It’s not that bad” I said “I’ll make it through the weekend” I thought. And I did! It did mean being careful and having to re-record a few things though, and ultimately, I should have kicked aside my pride and done the more humble thing.
Things To Remember
This weekend is about having fun and being creative. So be goofy, laugh and have fun! With Traffic Jam, we brought a friend in to help with sound effects among other things, but for about an hour we were just yelling the most random lines into a microphone until iiechapman was in tears and had to stop coding because he couldn’t see the screen. With FSCK we spent the same amount of time just making random noises trying to figure out the walking sound for Bit, our main character, and again, proceeded to crack up at our own expense. And I’m sure anyone watching the feed thought we had gone mad.
Having the support of two of my greatest friends is the best I could ask for during a competition like this. You sit there and either look at your code all day, or listen to this song you wrote, or this character you’ve drawn up, and you start to miss little things that could be tweaked or fixed. Having someone there to be a fresh set of eyes and ears makes you see those flaws and ultimately makes everything so much better. And if you do something completely outside of the box, they can help reel you in and give you some perspective on why “We probably don’t need that harpsichord solo in a game about computers…”
Plus, you get to laugh and have fun with the people you enjoy spending time with.
After LD27 and all the hard work we put into FSCK, I’m excited for the next and can’t wait to see what we come up with.
Take a listen to the sounds from FSCK and other songs here:
Bit needs your help! Play FSCK: A Hard Drive Story here:
And check out iiechapmans Post-Mortem on his side of the game here: