Saturday, May 10, 2014

TO Jam 9 - "After You"

Hurrah! Finals are not only, officially over, but I have done a game jam since my break commenced!

..well, sort of.

This was my first time participating in this year's TO Jam, a game jam local to Toronto that since its establishment in the mid 2000s, it's grown in immense popularity not only amongst local game developers, but has brought game devs from international borders to participate and showcase their game jam games.

Although I'm not the best idea generator (as well as the least convincing when it comes to conveying my ideas) there was a slight stand-still when it came to producing the type of game with this year's game, "After You".

We were excited about implementing a ewe in the game ('cause we're quite punny that way) and despite what felt like coming close to getting the mechanics down and ready to program, design and animate, the gameplay idea was shot down as either something done or something a player can easily break.

It felt a little frustrating going back to square one with our ideas, which in the end, kind of ended in a little split of going with the idea of making a Spore-inspired game (primarily focusing on the beginning of Spore) with the customization of joints and parts to form an evolution.

I myself have only heard and never played the game, so I'm probably not the best person to describe the gameplay except on what I've seen on YouTube,  but I was in charge of creating some characters and sprite sheets with detachable parts.

That day, the pen tool, the paint bucket tool, and layer styles became my best friends for 50-something hours. I went through various processes of character creation, mainly because I was starting with something I would convey as cartoonish creatures but transformed them into ones that represented the Spore style more as well as everyone else's art.

Original Concepts, inspired by characters from shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Updated characters, using various gradients and outer glow effects

In the end, our game wasn't entirely complete but had a basic gameplay where the creature moves around and swallows various NPCs to change its form. The game was developed and programmed using Unity 4.3 (2D)
Prototype of TO Jam Game

For myself, I realized how challenging it was when we all weren't "on board" on an idea unanimously especially when it's a team consisting mostly of artists. Although all of us could have worked on the programming of this ourselves, I felt our biggest setback was not thinking clearly of gameplay first, or having the planning and set-up that we had back in the 2014 Global Game Jam.

On the bright side, some lovely art was produced in the process, and everything looked quite pretty (and hey, great for portfolio work, am I right?)

Overall, it was great playing the various games that many people developed within a short period of time. My favourite games were Malisse by Renaud Betard , XYQ4 by Damian Sommer and Pride and Pistols

Check out all the games (sans this one) from TO Jam 9 here!

People who worked on this TO Jam game with me are: Saffron Aurora, Emma Burkeitt, Jord Farrell and Alanna Predko.

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