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TOJam Dev Journal

I have returned from TOJam VI. Later today I’ll actually post the game that resulted, but first: as promised, I kept a semi-active dev journal during the proceedings. I didn’t stick to it that rigourously though, so there isn’t much in the way of actual gameplay/design decisions, but it serves as a general indicator of mood, productivity, and Special Arcade Events over the weekend.

More on TOJam in the next post, but to put it succinctly: powerful awesome, 2 the max.

Friday 13

Renaud and Aliceffekt are here. Nathan Vella is here. I am here. Holy hamburgers, why don’t I have a game concept yet?

Ok whatever, I’ll stick to this line drawing thing. Fuck it. WE’LL DO IT LIVE.

Aliceffekt is probably right: I’m thinking too much. just bloody code.

MuchMusic’s Big Shiny Dubstep Game Jam Jams 2005

Mac & Cheese & Bacon & Happy

Pac-Man shaped cookies. Yes, I’m in it for the free food.

Progress is slow but steady, I guess. I’m pretty sure that’s how the tortoise and the birds and the bees had sex with the hare or something like that.

PRETTY COLOURS. Want more cookie. Morale: disingenuous.

Yeeeeeah, this game still looks pretty much not impressive. OH WELL ONWARDS I GUESS.

Depression due to graphical and mechanical simplicity of game: activate!

My Dubstep playlist has run out. EVERYBODY PANCAKE!!!

Jim McGinley gave us all the TOJam welcome speech in a parking lot. An active parking lot. Like we’d started a valet convention or something. Anyway, leave it to Jim to make me think my game might not be the worthless piece of go-se I’d feared.

Must stop comparing myself to others. Must stop comparing myself to others. Must stop comparing myself to others. Must stop comparing myself to others.

Refactor’d. Levels are their own thing now. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m going to deafen myself here with music to drown out the ambient chatter.

Red Bull, Rice Krispies squares, chips. Eating like a pro here.

Hey, I’ve almost got a single mechanic implemented. #winning

Yeah that’s stress eating, alright.

It strikes me that drawing these growing/shrinking lines should be a lot easier than I’ve got it now.

Saturday 14

So, for my own sake: a game design document/paragraph. I’ve been describing this as a puzzle game crossover of Bit Trip: Beat and Cursor10. There is a single track with many time “threads”; the player has a “cursor” active on a single thread at a time. Time increases from left to right; as the cursor moves along, it leaves a trail on the current thread. That trail comes to a stop whenever it meets a barrier. However, the player can move backwards in time on other threads, and on these other threads there may be triggers to disable these barriers. The puzzle of a level, then, is in activating the triggers in the right order, moving “back in time” (on the thread), then moving forwards again to pass through the now-open barrier.
And you know what? Come to think of it, this sounds like zero challenge. Past-midnight despairing game design do-over? Maybe.

Do over. Trying something extremely different. Probably should get some sleep.

Can’t sleep. Clown’ll eat me.

Hell with it. Sleep. See you in a bit.

Rise and shine, Mr. Freeman. Rise and… shine.
I’m making a completely different game now. Or, I’m about to. The previous one was about navigating a bundle of one-dimensional “time streams.” It ended up being simply a ball of frustration, and not very well coded, which added more frustration, &c.
I’m starting a new design. Sensing my Twitter despair, a friend suggested I needed more penises in my game. This, I realised, was probably a drunk friend. But, who am I to turn down a challenge? The new game will be a retelling of the tale of the Garden of Eden, in which our intrepid Adam and Eve, bound to a comet heading for a splashdown on Earth, must collect all those animals and people and stuff that they want on their new planet. It… it makes sense in my head. I hope.
Here goes nothing.

Slower progress than I’d hoped, but I still very much like this idea better than the first. Amazing what that sort of motivation can do. Well, not really motivation, just damn common sense. Just wish I’d thought my designs through a little earlier and a little more thoroughly before arriving.
My body and digestive system are doing things that were not in the operating manual.

I’m a bit more in the zone than before. Don’t see the time flying. Which it is doing alarmingly quickly.

It continues. Just, well, onwards. It’s pretty boring, this job. Still, I’ve got a modest goal, I think I can reach it, and it will be a paragon of ridiculousness.

Oh hey, and they cleaned the bathrooms too! That… that needed to happen.

Minor delays. I’m at the point where it may just be a mountain of content to create, and some extra fanfares for polish. Something about the last 10% taking three quarters of the remaining twelve hours or something?

The game is absolutely ridiculous, by design. Hey, Manster Mash was received well enough, I suppose.
Also, Jim & Em are fantabulous. I should buy them a drink.

Things are… going well. Yeah, this is pretty much the polish stage, but again, being this close to finished is almost counter-productive. Just a lot of cosmetic touches to round ‘er off (a few more important ones, but the main gameplay is there). Anyway. With great power comes great merchandise at warehouse costs.

Chinese food! And a presentation by GetSetGames, which showed their own games from past TOJams. Kinda nice to see their humble beginnings, now that they’re doing their own thing and making their own games, in their own studio. More optimism about my own game. I’m sensing a theme here.

Jim has passed by and seems to have appreciated the game. And he gave helpful suggestions. Goodness me.

Looking back at my initial design/inspiration for the “time threads” game. Seems like such a long time ago. Seems like such a shit idea. Glad I switched.

Sunday 15

Eyes winding down, but tonight seems to be crunch night for everyone. It’s still pretty much a full ship and everyone’s plugging away. I’d be further along myself, but I’ve had some silly OpenAL issues that keep crashing my audio system. Too many simultaneous sounds? Am I not managing them properly? Perhaps I should try it in Release mode. Blech.

The final sequence is complete, the timing works out pretty well. Some minor bugs, nothing too irksome. Could stand to put in some more content (in the form of floating dudes), but I could also stand to not have my eyes open. We’ll see. Could probably also do with a shower. And a beer. May be near the saturation point, programming-wise. But who knows.

Well, Jill said it. Gotta beat the others with hustle. Don’t hate the player, hate the game designer.

I apparently slept. And dreamt, so it was enough sleep, though I never would have guessed.
It’s amazing how comfortable I am leaving my laptop, audio player, cell phone, and camera out in full view of everyone whilst I sleep. Trust building exercise: 3 hours of sleep in 48 hours.

Ugh. Repeated naps. I think everyone around here is crashing, or doesn’t know it yet.
The tables and floors of this place serve as a good proof of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Right, I’m calling it. Newton64’s Revised King James Bible is feature-complete. I could add a ton more falling things, but that would be an exercise in silliness. And repetition. All’s well that ends eventually.

That last one wasn’t quite right… I realised the last remaining issue was trivially completed. I mean, not coded beautifully, but I’m not being graded here and I can issue patches downstream through Steam. Or something.
It’s gone. It’s done.
Will keep the journal going for completeness’ sake.

Game’s done, I’m just aimless at the moment. Perhaps naptime, yes, yes. Also I gorged on cookies and croissants again, like a gangsta.

Unexpected last-minute scramble to fix some cosmetic issues. Not a big deal. I’ll probably tweak a few things after the Jam is over of course, but I’m still rather happy with this. Most of the work was done in one day. Huzzah.