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Postmortem of our Global Game Jam game, Kindle
by Matrix Bai on 01/30/13 09:18:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Definitely the Global Game Jam is big festival for people making game around the world. I don't have the honor to join this big event before, no organizer in the city I lived, it sucks. This year thing changed, the organizer in Shanghai ( The only one organizer in mainland China) decided hold it online. OK, my first GGJ, I'm coming.

This is my second time to go in game jam, the first time is Ludum Dare last year.This time I'm not fight alone, my girlfriend +Karen Lee is my partner, responsible for the graphic art stuff.

Preparation

We really take GGJ seriously, so we did some prep the night before the event open. Read the old themes and brainstorm under it, I list the ideas we got below.

  • 2009 - “As long as we have each other, we will never run out of problems” : Love makes trouble, a clone of Nuts of Milk is good idea under this theme.
  • 2010 - “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” and “Deception”: I don't get the meaning, really, I know it's lyric after searched Google. Fraud game happened in Spain?
  • 2011 - “Extinction”: This idea is my favourite. There's a group of creatures on the bottom of the screen, above them a shining star in the sky. They want to reach the star and no ladders can be used. The only way to get the star is using their own body to build ladders or something useful, surely it would decrease their number. The dilemma placed before player is how to reach the star before used up all creatures.
  • 2012 - An image of Ouroboros : Eternal life, can't remember the specific idea, my brain must be damaged in the jam :-)

Our toolbox is same as we used at working time, yes, Matrix and Karen are "professional" game developers, we have two person indie game studio Alpaca Studio, though haven't released any game, that's another story. OK, back to the toolbox.

 

Design

This year's theme is heartbeat, another Nuts of Milk clone, boring, it's game jam, I want making something new, something I never made before. So we drew a mindmap to list all factors about heart and compose them. Three game ideas pop up. 
Mindmap of design
  • Dare you play it? : Big bloody heart in the center of screen, need player click it as fast as he/she can. The heart became smaller after continued fast clicks. When the heart shrunk to a small point and player became exhaust, a terrified ghost/zombie fill the screen. Bang! Hope the player don't have heart disease. I like the theory below this idea, when people concentrate on something, it's easier to scare them. We don't want someone get heart attack playing our game, so we give up the idea.
  • Hide and seek : Another horrible game, not another mischief, more decent content. In some horrible film, the most tension moment is the fragile character hide somewhere easily to be found and a strong monster was searching outside. In this idea, player can see monster's actions through a little hole, in the meantime player should operate very carefully ex. holding breath, kick mouse away. The problem of this idea is it's too big for game jam, at least for us. 
  • Kindle : ECG (Electrocardiography) is also the shape of heart and exactly lead by heartbeat. However the oscilloscope seems boring, we translate it to a firefly in darkness, ecg curve is the flying trail. The mechanic? One thing we know before design the specific mechanic is the core feedback, correct input lead ecg and wrong input not. A firefly across grassland in darkness, what a poetic scene. So the core mechanic is typing character of poem. We choose Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe, the artistic conception like a Chinese old poem Chiang Chen Tzu by Su Shi. You may found it looks like the The Typing of the Dead, I don't deny it inspired me, though no violent content in our game.

Development

Not so much interesting things to say about the development process, coding, debug, test and coding again. Karen made beautiful night scene inspired by Limbo, I made background sound with Garageband, and compose small piece of melody. Ta-da, the game is out.
Kindle by Matrix and Karen

Schedule

Fri. 5:00 PM - Sat. 2:00 AM : Design, Developing
Sat. 2:00 AM - Sat. 8:00 AM : Sleeping
Sat. 8:00 AM - Sun. 4:00 AM : Developing

Conclusion

Kindle is not a typical video game, not many people would like it, however we very satisfied what we made. The grass in the wind, blink star and the meteor, all express what we designed, the feeling of night. It's a glory victory for us.
See the video on Youtube.
You can play it directly in your web browser here.

GGJ page of Kindle

Source on Github 

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