Global Game Jam ’12

February 3rd, 2012 by

So, it’s been a week since we participated in the Global Game Jam, The Netherlands. We love making games, so why not give up our weekend working  doing what we love. We had found ourselves a willing fifth Beatle: Heinze Havinga, although we just called him our Tim Schafer, an endless pit of weird (and sometimes also very fine) ideas. Perfect addition for our team!

Friday: Off we go!
When we installed our workstations Friday afternoon it became clear to us that we, apparently, are old fashioned. Everybody had a laptop! We took our precious monster machines, some cases being  held together with duct tape. We had everything up and running before the introduction ceremony started.

The theme for this years Global Game Jam was an image of…

Ouboros:
The Ouroboros (or Uroborus) is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. The name originates from within Greek language; οuρά (oura) meaning “tail” and βόρος (boros) meaning “eating”, thus “he who eats the tail”.

Quite an abstract theme. After all the speeches and videos, we sat down at our desk. First thing to do – read about Ouboros and start brainstorming!

We took our ordinary brainstorming tools. A long scroll of paper and writing and drawing markers.

We had a hard time thinking of an original concept that was obviously related to the theme. We didn’t want to end up with a game like (although it’s awesome) Everyday the Same Dream. We wanted to create a game that was quick, fun and if possible even hysterical. After meters and meters and meters of paper we had thought of something. That our concept didn’t shout Ouborus! in your face didn’t matter to us. It was an idea that we liked. Something we were motivated to create in less than 48 hours. We had a rough idea before we took a break for half an hour to let our overheated brains rest by watching some cats on the internet. After the break we refined our concept and we made our own set deadline: Have a concept ready on Fridaynight!

We did some preparing research that night and went back home at 12:30AM for a good night rest. We felt good about the start.

Saturday: Production Day!
Our artists actually started out with some concept art, although with such a short time span concept art quickly becomes the final art. So they fixated on the environment and the colour schemes first. Which had a little bit too much purple in it. The programmers just well… started programming in FlashPunk. Willem was focused on the random generating of the world, Heinze on the visual effects like particles and such and Roy on the core game itself. Note that none of them ever worked with the framework FlashPunk before.

We started the day at 09:00AM with absolutely nothing, except the concept that is, and we ended the day with most of the graphic components and the base of the game itself! Looking back, we were pretty amazed. In the beginning the artists made quick placeholders for the programmers to work with and then they just started polishing and refining those graphics.

Al the sudden we had to come up with a name for our game. We weren’t prepared for that! We did have a little document in which we had some potential names. Without giving it much thought, we picked the most awesome name in the list: You Keep Dropping These Things and You Don’t Seem To Notice. That covered our game quite well. The rest of the day consisted of producing trees, walls and other environmental things, animating the characters and of course: coding.

By the end of Saturday night  we had finished the prototype of the game. We decided to call it a day at 12:30AM (again, yes, we need our beauty sleep).

Sunday: Oh, dear, only a few hours left?!
It was clear that a lot of groups worked late that night. We almost felt guilty darting  into the room being relatively energetic and well rested. Things we still needed to care of were the intro and the credits of the game, Roy had to finish the actual game and combine the code of Willem and Heinze with his own. And some other little things. The artists still had some things they wanted to polished and the hero of the game still needed a run animation. That was ‘simply’ solved by hiding his legs in a cloud of awesome. He runs that quickly you can’t even see his legs moving, so awesome.

To get back to the other little things that had to be done… the audio. Well, that’s quite a bummer without anybody in your team with any skills. During breakfast we spoke to Nikola Pilipovic, he had finished the audio for their game and was kind of ‘out of work’. Their team was in dire need of another programmer and we were in dire need of somebody that knows more about audio than we do. So we made a deal. They got Heinze for a few hours and we got Nikola. Nikola provided our game with music and we recorded the famous  quotes like “Sir! Sir! You’ve dropped something!” of the player’s character. So we will say it again: Thank you Nikola for helping us out!

Just few more hours till 03:00PM. Time was ticking, but the artists were kind of … done. Only the programmers were frantically typing and shaking their fists at their screen. The last hour it was all up to poor Roy. He had to combine everything and make sure everything still worked and all of the audio still had to be implemented.  While providing him with nice food and energy drinks, Roy stayed relatively positive. We had to cut some things like the online highscores and Flash screwed up the looping of the music in our game. Alas, details. The game itself worked. At 03:00PM we uploaded our game to GlobalGameJam.org. We were done. After a group hug and some cheers we started looking around, some fine games were made this weekend.

While the jury did their round at 03:30PM we also tried out all the different games of our fellow Game Jammers.
We were called downstairs to the same room were we heard that Ouroboros was this years theme.  The jury was going to announce the winners! They started out with the jury prize. They were only going the announce the first and second place. The moment we saw the person frowning and concentrating on saying the name of the game: we knew we were it. We were chosen as second place by the jury. Tailhunter was the winner of the Global Game Jam in Enschede. We were happy. But there was another prize… the audience award! And the audience picked our game as the best game, closely followed with five votes less by Unnatural Friends.

We could care less that we didn’t win the Xbox. How can a group of five people divide one Xbox anyway? ;-) We love the fact that the audience liked our game, to us that is a confirmation that we’re doing something right. We had a lovely and intense weekend and you will be hearing more of You Keep Dropping These Things and You Don’t Seem To Notice.

Play the game over here or watch the trailer of the game: 

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