Game a Week Part 3: Weeks 7-11

In part 1, I explored the motivations behind and the beginnings of Game a Week. In part 2, I recapped the first 6 games that were born out of Game a Week. I’ll finish of my recap of the first 11 games by reviewing games 7 through 11.

Week 7

Idea: With the surge of local multiplayer games, I wanted to explore an idea I had related to that. When I play Samurai Gunn, I spend all of my time on the character select screen wall-jumping while waiting for the other players to choose their character. I love wall jumping and think it’s an interesting and fun interaction. My idea was to create a battle setup where each player had to constantly walljump while fighting each other. Obviously, the concept changed a lot throughout the week. The result was a one player wall jumping game where the point was to get as high as possible without hitting an obstacle.

What went right: I started this game early in the week and adapted my idea to my time constraints.

What went wrong: I didn’t think through the design of this game nearly enough. There’s no purpose to a lot of the interactions, and there’s no real feedback letting the player know how well they did or what the point of the game even is.

What I learned: Wall jumping is hard to program. I spent the majority of my week working on that and it left little time to explore other parts of the game. I need to not let myself get hung up on one problem for the whole week. If I’m stuck, I need to move on and revisit later.

Week 8

Idea: Another attempt at a local multiplayer game. Unlike Week 2, This one wouldn’t focus on the physical aspect of it, and just rely on the interaction between the two players. This idea was inspired a lot by Hokra. Hokra has such a simple mechanic that works very well. I wanted to create a game where you could play defensively and/or offensively and really think about the strategy behind each type of play style.

What went right: The finished product was close to what I had envisioned and the experience is generally what I wanted it to be.

What went wrong: It wasn’t actually that fun to play with two people. The gameplay was a bit too slow and the interactions were not as intuitive as I had hoped.

What I learned: Playtest. Playtest. Playtest. Playtest. I personally thought it was a fun game to play once it was finished. Not quite as action packed as a game like Hokra is, but I found enjoyment in it anyway.  However, I only ever played it with myself. I didn’t have many people around to playtest it for me, and I didn’t send it to friends soon enough to get any useful feedback. A game like this is impossible to develop without constant feedback.

Week 9

Idea: I tried something new this week. I had become increasingly annoyed at my ability to be easily distracted and also wanted to try a new tool. I combined those two things into creating my very first Twine game called Game Dev: The Game. I often joked about creating a game based on how hard it is to actually make a game, and this was my attempt at portraying that. I’m not much of a wordsmith, so creating a Twine game was an incredibly daunting task for me, but I figured that I might as well challenge myself at the things I’m not good at.

What went right: Twine is awesome. It’s a great way to organize your thoughts and simultaneously create a game. I’m proud that I successfully worked with a different tool and feel like I got the general feeling that I had intended across in the game.

What went wrong: I didn’t give myself enough time to explore this as much as I wanted to. With Steam Dev Days being the same week, I pushed this week’s game towards the end of the week after all the fun and excitement was over.

What I learned: Putting new challenges onto yourself is fun. I need to work more on my ability to create beautiful prose, and, again, I need to start earlier in the week if I really want to explore an idea fully (how many times have I “learned” this lesson by now?).

Week 10

Idea: By far my current favorite game to work on. Back at Game City in Nottingham, me and Joonas started talking about an “oculus text adventure” game. I loved the idea of using a technology that advanced to make such a primitive experience, and he loved the idea of creating an experience almost entirely based on sound design. I decided to use this week to explore how a first person text adventure would feel at all.

What went right: A lot. A first person text adventure is something that I found to be very fun and different. The environment that it creates feels amazing and forcing people to use their imagination is something that I really miss about text adventures/choose your own adventure novels. I feel like I was able to create an experience that was somewhat unique and entertaining, and even created a few puzzles that I was quite proud of.

What went wrong: With Global Game Jam approaching, I didn’t have the full week to explore this idea again. Because of that, the end was entirely rushed and didn’t feel like it fit into the rest of the game. Whereas the first few sections were interesting puzzles, the end utilized a cheap “gotcha” with a creature chasing you and felt very forced.

What I learned: Out of the box ideas are fun. Using a technology not quite as intended leads to things that are interesting and novel. Sound design is important and I’m getting a little better at words and puzzles!

Week 11

Another failure. This week was a weird one because I actually made multiple games/prototypes this week. None of them, however, fell into the Game a Week mantra and thus, I technically failed. I had Global Game Jam (you can see my team’s game here) at the beginning of the week and then had a former co-worker/current collaborator was out visiting me all week in Colorado to work on a new project. We got a lot accomplished on this new project and Global Game Jam was an amazing experience, but between that and the 3 feet of fresh powder we got in the mountains, I didn’t even start a Game a Week game this week.

What went right: I got a ton accomplished in a lot of other aspects in my game development life. The new project I’m working on is going amazingly well and I’m extremely excited about it. Also, I had the best snowboarding week of my life. I spent most of my days back in the back bowls of multiple great ski resorts in the rockies and managed to not hurt myself (while snowboarding).

What went wrong: I didn’t make a Game a Week game 🙁

What I learned: A failure is a failure. I let too many other things get in the way of the one thing I said I would accomplish every week. I need to prioritize my time and not waste the the spare time that I have.

In part 4, I discuss my thoughts on failure.

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