Revisiting Global Game Jam Projects

Posted on June 12th, 2020 by

The future is ever so uncertain now more than ever. I hope to find some solace in building a certain future for myself.

We all know how 2020 is going. Australian fires, Political Crises, Global Pandemic wrecking havoc on the world infrastructure and way of life. Not everyone has the chance to better themselves during the downtime, but some have the opportunity to get out of bed and learn more or reevaluate on the work we’ve done.

I’ve been working on Shadow Over Isolation for the last 4+ years. Its been a roller coaster ride with much work left to do. Its been a learning process, from documenting to planning and eventually working with a publisher for the first time.

The road is long, but I’m back working on my portfolio to find a suitable stable job to push my career forward in the meantime. The future is ever so uncertain now more than ever. I hope to find some solace in building a certain future for myself.

On the chopping block is my first Global Game Jam game, “Unexpected Epic Awesome”!

Unexpected Epic Awesome

Being the first team based project i’ve ever worked on. This one held a special place. It allowed me to jump head first into the world of Adobe Flash. I’ve worked with it previously with the pilot animation, Boilboy. What can I say, Actionscript is easy to work with…but also annoying at times. With Flash on its way out, I felt this is a good starting point to revisit the project.

Screenshot from original Flash Global Game Jam Prototype

Since the original prototype scrapped quite a few key components I had in mind, I think it was time to finally bring them back into the fold.

First, I had to port the game over to a new engine. I may be skilled in Unreal Engine 4, but I felt it was feasible to work with an engine with less overhead since the game was primarily 2D. So I went back to my roots and decided to tighten up my grip on Unity.

Primary features needed to be integrated. A 2D animated character with hit detection, scene transitioning, platforming controls and comic book page layout. Everything except the comic book page was doable in the immediate. So I had to figure out how to build a page layout, with rendered scenes and open it up to be easy manipulation. So I figured I could build a grid based page system with the ability to create custom vector frames for any sort of scene.

One of the major aesthetic changes aside from new visuals is the characters are animated entirely in the application Spine for Unity. This allowed me to create art that can be rapidly animated with high quality visuals and bring them into Unity with ease on top of fine tuning animation.

This was done with success. Including the ability to combine/separate cells for any sized scene.

Rhea

This was the one Global Game Jam project that had a large team with the best peers I’ve worked with, including Sasha Palacio, who I adored as an artist. She was able to capture a wonderful cell shaded look for our protagonist.

The concept was simple. We wanted to have a the protagonist evolve over the course of the game. You start out old, but awaken to find yourself still alive. Finding a magical hourglass, you become young again. It becomes a fight against time to traverse platforms and find answers long enough to get answers. The story in itself is rather long in the tooth, drawing inspiration from Roman life and the plague, with bits of political intrigue without becoming too convoluted, because this time we just wanted to make a fun and simple game for people to play.

Krazy Kray

This game jam game came into existance because of mine and Oscar Lopez’s decisions to go balls to the wall. The original title was Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll. As development went on over the weekend of the competition, we decided to grab a drink on break…which led to a traumatic experience we both had in the past with a friend of mind who became his girlfriend….we drew inspiration from her reckless abandon and essentially “Krazy” nature and decided to bring that sort of thing to the game.

Although, funny enough, we didn’t go for a completely adult direction with the game. Censored behind bushes and bouncing cars. We wanted to imitate a fast paced environment and rhythm gameplay to an endless runner. We asked “How long can you survive a life of recklessness before you hit the wall”.

Sadly, not all of the features were implemented, mainly the ability to grab a partner to beat it with or the rhythm gameplay. I blame myself for the latter because I had no experience with that, and we neglected to think of not having someone to produce music, let alone procedural enough to work with rhythm gameplay.

Thats where this revision came in. It was already running in Unity, so it was a good chance to revise the whole product.

Aside from visual changes, since now I have the experience to pretty much do everything myself, I introduced a basic three key rhythm system for when the player decides to rock out.

I had to rework some of the mechanics for balance. Taking drugs increases your heart rate, decreases heart health, but allows for higher scores and multipliers when you complete actions. Not being careful can lead to a heart attack but not taking drugs…leads to a healthy and successful life (yeah, I wanted to go there. I love alternate endings)

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