Hello everyone! This is the post-mortem for our game “Tiny Journey”, made for the Jam.
Check it here!
But first the presentations:
Evil Sandwich Studios is a small games studio based in Portugal, composed by a a group of friends, mostly students, and we are working on out first game: Crystallia. The opportunity for participating in LD #23 arrived, so we grabbed our sleeping bags, cookies and laptops and moved to Diogo’s house, one of our programmers.
Our team was composed by 7 elements (4 programmers, 2 artists and 1 play-tester), and as you can imagine it was a full house. The greatest challenge wasn’t creating a awesome game in 72 hours. No, it was much harder to manage the opening/closing of the doors, since Diogo’s cat is completly mad (maybe thats why he calls it “Dog”). And some of us can tell, it’s *really* bad when you try to sleep with a possessed cat in the house…
Anyway, moving to the important stuff.
We gathered togeter at the table the clock was marking 23h, discussing the theme votation and deciding/discussing our tools. We decided to have a go with ActionScript and FlashPunk, for its easiness of getting something moving on the screen, and we also wanted to make our game web based to maximize the audience. Only one of our programmers had some prior experience with AS and FlashPunk, so it was a learning ride for three of us. At the end we can say it was a good choice, since we learned the basics quickly and got the game going on a steady pace. Of course our previous experiences with other object-oriented languages and frameworks also helped a lot.
At this point our artists, António and Sara, already had their drawing tablets ready, and of course, Photoshop and Illustrator. In no time our concept art started to take form.
Highly professional statistics of our choices in the final round of votes, credits to Zé:
2AM of saturday, the theme is “Tiny World”. Ideas start flying around, the whiteboard is not white anymore and everybody have great ideias. We thought of:
– making an ants game
– making a summary of some known video game (Super Mario Summary, anyone?)
– a game that involves jumping from planet to planet
– a game involving a gremlin living in a girl’s purse (this one is not dead yet!)
Some hours later (around 4AM) we finally decided to make a story-based game. So we started to create the main lines of the story, and the first concept-art appeared at the artists screens.
We spent some more time configuring IDEs, compilation scripts and a SVN repository before going to sleep, so that when we wake up can start working on the game with some fresh minds. Making it compile in diferent OSes (Linux, Mac and Windows) was not trivial.
We woke up at 14, the programmers started jamming the keys and soon enough we had a basic text box with animated scrolling text.
Not much after that, we had a room with a moving sprite colliding with the walls. Inês, one of the programmers was focused on making the menu system from the start, and the basics of our parser were already made at this point, by Diogo.
Looking at the board we already had a storyboard with the progression of the game, and our artists spent all the time creating rooms, objects and, of course, the main character.
And it was really late, so we went to sleep.
Sunday was a looong day. We implemented all the rooms the artists created, improved our mega parser for the text based input (including a dictionary of verbs in the biggest switch statement we’ve ever seen).
Bruno accepted the challenge of making a side scroller shooter in 30 minutes, and if you don’t mind about good collisions (and art), its a win.
Later, the shooter gave lots of work to make it right and fun, mostly to Zé, since Bruno was already creating some melancholic music to fit with the theme.
All of us spent lots of the time fighting with collision bugs and messing arround with the player/objects interaction. Also, the design of the puzzles gave us some extra work.
Needless to say, we didn’t sleep from Sunday to Monday.
The last day! Everyone is in zombie mode, working on the last touches. And bugs. Lots of bugs. The inventory system does some funny stuff to items, the collisions sometimes block the player, sometimes doesn’t allow the interactions with objects. The transitions between rooms is not smooth… And the list goes on.
The artists are also very busy, creating a ton of objects for the game (and the inventory version of each one) and giving the final touches to the rooms and cutscenes.
By the submission time we have the game with (almost) no problems. But the bug killing left us with no time to rethink the puzzles and balance the difficulty of the game.
That’s why we made a polished, post-competition version of “Tiny Journey”. The flow of the game was improved, and we also killed the most persistent bugs.
It was a nice weekend, and we hope the game is fun and entertaining to everyone out there!
Thanks to the community for the awesome games, keep them coming.