Home-brewed game jam weekends


As you probably saw in my Pen&Papper article series, making a game nowadays is not as hard as it was back in the The Lost Vikings days. Although on this blog we made a simple board game, nowadays, we all have the hardware and software required to make a PC, mobile or console game. I frankly believe that we all have the ideas too. Something that we may lack is persistence.

Shoopy Games still makes prototypes and I know a lot of people in my country that do the same. Building prototypes is not a wrong thing but in time it could take productivity away. Many young game designers can’t keep working on one idea because they feel the next one that popped in their mind is a lot better. But jumping from one idea to the next actually makes you work less and less( I’ve experienced this multiple times on my team), so my advice would be to start with one really simple game and actually finish it in two weekends(yea…THAT SIMPLE). Then, add more features to the same game. This way you will never have an unfinished game.

Learn how to split your work and plan ahead.

Type the short game design document before the first weekend (during work on Friday :D).

Let’s say you want to make a simple game in which a ball needs to fall into a bucket. The bucket moves left and right and the ball stays in a static position on top. When the player taps the screen/pushes a button/clicks the mouse…the ball starts falling down. This is fun enough because the player will need to calculate both the speed of the moving bucket and the speed of gravity and actually tap the ball earlier so that it falls exactly inside a bucket that has just arrived (you get the picture).

Now, once you have the basic idea, split the work during weekends. If you’re unemployed doing this is really easy and you can try working on your game every day. Always work with a friend that keeps you motivated.

So let’s see how this would go in Shoopy Games (the way me and my coding pal Helion do it):

  • First your whole team needs to decide to WORK for 12 hours on Friday (after work if you can), Saturday & Sunday.
  • Saturday: The game designer(in our case also doing art) explains the whole game in detail to the coder. Then gives him instructions on how to make a prototype with props (the bucket will be a 2D square and the ball will be a 2D circle) and a losing condition(ball falls outside of bucket). Then game design guy starts working himself on important art such as in-game background, the bucket and the ball. If the team consists of beginners, this is enough work for one day, if they’re more experienced all of this can be done with the speed of light!
  • Sunday: The development team implements the art to the finished prototype and commits a lot of time playing the newly born game. 🙂 With the art added, even at this point the first prototype represents a simple finished game. So if you’ve come this far you’re awesome. Sunday is usually art day, and the art guy/girl does some animations for the bucket movement, the ball movement, background animations and does the splash screen, loose screen, button states etc (as much as possible). Making the splash screen and its buttons work is simple for coders SO THEY NEED TO DO MORE! A score counter might be great. Nothing too fancy. If the ball falls in the bucket, 1 point is awarded and that is visible on the screen ( I NEED ART FOR A SCORE COUNTER ASAP! – yell so the art guy drawing next to you can actually hear you).

After this weekend you will realize that you’ve actually made a game!

Art looks great (usually pixel art with us), the game rewards players and tells them when they’ve lost. Next weekend should be reserved for background music and sound effects. We have another friend in our team known as Bole which usually does the music after we have a complete game so that he could wrap his head around the whole experience. Your music engineer may want to work differently so go ahead and ask him what suits him best. Once you have the music & sound effects, your coder will easily implement them(it’s easy but it takes time) to your game and you’re good to go.

Many of you know all of this and could feel weird when reading this sentence. But for those of you who never made a game before I hope that now you realize that it’s all about the desire to make a game. If this is present and is followed by persistence your first prototype is not far away.

I hope I’ve inspired those who still hesitate on whether to make their first game or not. Use this article as a guide and believe me you’ll have the time of your life!


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