I went to this jam with a team made up of people I already knew, but with whom I never worked with. We had the idea of making a game about running a jam with a lot of gameplay elements from the old tycoon games, we also decided to roll with it, even if it meant doing all the stuff the very helpful jam presentation told us not to do.

What we wanted to do:

  • A 2D topdown game jam tycoon game.
  • With cute pixel art.
  • Where you would manage the jam space and group participants together in a team.
  • Each team had a random rooster of participants with stats that would level up over time. Those participants also had interests and needs, like eating, drinking, sleeping, going to the bathroom. Those needs had to be fulfilled by you, the player, if they weren’t met, the participants would have a breakdown.
  • You could drag and drop each character, set their skill path, give them commands and manage their jam space.
  • The final game each group made was going to be a mixture of their insterests. How well the game did was to be determined by how much percentage of the game was completed and how well the participants interests mixed together.
  • The stat level of each player determined how long it would take to complete a game area. The game areas were: Game Design, Sound, Art, and Programming.
  • If the games were above a certain level, you would unlock sponsors, which in turn gave you access to better jam sites.

What we got:

  • A 2D topdown unfinished first level.
  • With cute pixel art.
  • That had a jam site and participants that you could move and set to certain hotspots.
  • There were random participants with stats and a half finished, therefore scrapped, needs system. If you dragged the participants around, their legs would move as if they were trapped.
  • You could drag and drop each character, set their skill path and give them commands that wouldn’t do anything.
  • After 30 seconds (give or take) the player was taken to the games showcase screen and a star would pop up on the screen.
  • The group stats were in a huge json file, but none of those stats was applied to a system.
  • There was just one level.

Mistakes made and lessons learned:

  • Fun and small is the best thing to do in a jam.
  • Follow the advice of the people who did this more than you, they give that advice for a reason.
  • If you are going to go and make a huge game, use tools that you are already familiar with. We used tiled and phaser, both are awesome, but it was the first time we made anything with those tools ever.
  • When you do a prototype focus on making the backend first and making it pretty and sparkly once the backend is working. If we had a console prototype with commands, it would have made more sense to anyone playing an unfinished version of the game and it would have been easier to extend.
  • Prototype fast so you know how big your scope is and you know what you can trim early on.
  • When there is a sound guy for all the jam, someone on your team should pay attention to the sound and make sure to have a backup plan with open source sounds and music in case what the composer doesn’t make it or you don’t like what you got.

Another team from Rosario did a game with the same core concept as ours, but theirs was much simpler, so they got to make a playable game.

You can play the game at the GGJ site, this is the github repo for the game