Post Christmas Game Jam – Retrospective

In January the digital games course put a week aside from our main projects to let us work in new teams of 3 to 4 people on a 1 week game concept of our choice, based the word ‘Snow’.

In my group, consisting of a programmer, animator and two artists, we went for a two player, co-operative puzzle game where one player played as an ice creature, and the other a fire one. The core mechanic was based around each one being able to heat or cool objects respectively, and shrink, depending on their respective temperatures.

Chars

I was quite enthusiastic about this concept, because it showed some interesting, and intuitive room for expansion. Some of the secondary mechanics we considered for this prototype were:

-Having the fire creature turn to smoke when cooled, and allowing him to glide through the air.

– Giving the water creature the ability to connect electric circuits with puddles of water he could leave behind (achieved in jam).

– When the fire creature was cooled to smoke, or ice to water, they could use pipes and grates in the level as means of transport (achieved in jam).

– Experimenting with levels where players needed to directly effect the others temperature to get through.

Production

It was during this time I first started to look into modular level construction, and since we only had a week, it was the perfect opportunity to have a practical test using them. For this week I focused on making the environmental terrain and some of the animation based work.

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In the gallery above you can see the range of parts I made for this game. This was still early days for my experiments with modular parts, so for the terrain I simply made different shaped blocks to allow quick and easy creation of levels with varying landscapes. Alongside that you can see some of the test environments I did, an image of the final scene, and a collection of the other miscellaneous props I made in engine.

PlayerRIgs

Alongside modelling I also helped out a bit with the animation. I mainly did most of the small animations like the oven door, fans etc., but it was also left to me to rig the character models made by one of the other group members.

Above is a clip showing the water cube character and his rig, considering his cartoonish style, I wanted to give him quite an expressive rig with the capability for some extreme expressions. The only problem I faced was the models topology was a bit off, and had a lot of faces for their size, since I had to do some quite precise weight painting, this made things take a bit longer, but for what it was, it was manageable.

Animation Script

One of the mechanics we considered was allowing the player characters be able to go through pipes at certain states, e.g. when the ice melted to water or fire cooled to smoke. To give a visual representation for this, I made a script that could be attached to each of the pipes in a row, that would make them send a signal from one to the next to play a little animation to show where the player was.

We didn’t mange to get this implemented before the Jam was over but I still managed to get the script working, above is a video demonstrating it’s effect.

End Result

In the final level of the jam we set up a simple puzzle. The objective of this level was to get both players to the gate at the end, and to do this, the fire creature must burn through the fence to get to the boiler and heat it up. The water creature must then leave a puddle in the gap in the electric circuit, so he can turn off the heated plates that are stopping him getting to the gate.

Level1End

There’s a bit more in there as well, freezing water paths, pipes and such, but the basic thing is the puzzle showed off the collaborative element of our mechanic, and how we could expand it in the future.

All in all the game Jam was a very enjoyable experience and one of the most beneficial things i’ve done all year in this course. It was a good chance to develop a game concept, from beginning to end, with a team, and it informed my later group work in the main game project afterwards. I was also very fond of the game concept itself, so much so that I am considering taking another look at it later on during the summer.

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Post Christmas Game Jam – Retrospective

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