Dominate a friend in a frenetic sound-based twin stick competitive shooter/brawler.
The theme for 2017's Global Game Jam was "Waves". My team and I thought through a few concepts and eventually landed on a game where the goal is to shout at your friends.
I handled all game design, art, and UI in the game. With only 48 hours to conceive of, design, and develop a game like this, the team knew it would be a challenge. I love challenges, though, and I love games even more, so I launched straight into defining possible skills and obstacles to implement in the game.
While there were a lot of ideas, we had to choose a few to develop. The core of the game was to be movement and shouting, so we focused on that while I designed additional elements for after the jam.
I wrote up a brief game design doc in Google Docs - standard procedure now for any game jam I go to - and got everyone on the same page for what we were going to attempt to make.
A Lucky Break
Since we were using GameMaker Studio, we were able to use some existing camera code from one of our engineer's previous demo projects. This dynamic camera instantly gave the game a Smash Bros. feel, which we instantly loved. After adding movement and the other core mechanics, the core gameplay felt solid. We had a prototype!
I handled all the art for the game, including designing the characters. I wanted to keep it simple and readable, so I went with a bold, flat style with simple colors and lots of contrast.
We only planned for two players, so to keep things simple I made two different colored versions of the character for player one and player two.
I used Adobe Illustrator to create the character assets, then broke them up in Photoshop so I could animate them using After Effects. I didn't need anything fancy for the jam, just a walk cycle and shielding, so the process was fairly quick.
After the Jam, I went on to design a few more characters for fun. I tried a few styles an ultimately settled on a more flat style with bold neon colors, rather than the outlined style. I also played around with their shapes and got more personality out of their simple silhouettes.
Tile sets are a tricky affair sometimes, and I found out that it's best not to trust Illustrator to make tile sets. While it's great for illustration and vector creation, it's awful at properly rendering raster images.
I ended up importing my Illustrator layers into Photoshop and fixing up the tile set by hand.
Once the tiles were all set, I started testing out potential environment layouts and making sure the tiles was working correctly, adding tile pieces as needed.
In the end, the collision system was giving us issues, so we removed the obstacles and gave players an open arena to mess around in. As simple as it ended up being, it was the talk of the show!
What I Learned
Game jams are immense learning experiences and this was no different. I love taking something from an idea to a complete concept. I don't often get to do character design, and this was the perfect opportunity to flex my illustration muscles.
Even being left with just a prototype at the end, this game jam gave me and the team a lot of motivation to continue developing what turned out to be a simple, fun game.