My first 48 game jam experience!
A couple of weeks ago, myself and Daniel Scott-Wilson took part in a 48 hour game jam, called then Mix and Game Jam. The theme of which was "Mixing Genres". We decided to go with the genres first person and tower defence.
As my partner could handle all of the blueprinting for the project within the space of 48 hours, I took on the role as designer and artist for the game. This meant that I was responsible for designing the core mechanics and schemas for the game, as well as the level and so fourth. After that was done, I began modelling all of the models that you can see in the game. This also involved assigning material ids to all of the models so that they could be textured within Unreal Engine using the material editor. This hastened the modelling and texturing process heaps as there was no need to do a proper unwrap of the model, and there was no need to use Photoshop to create the texture maps for the models.
Personally, I believe that this jam has led to a solid foundation for a potential future project. It is *sorta* fun as is, but with another two days, and especially with a proper development cycle, this idea of a first person tower defense game could be something special. I had ideas for the player to have a lot more movement capabilities, and for the core gameplay loop to be about avoiding enemies whilst moving around elevated terrain to gather resources to make more turrets, but alas there wasn't enough time.
However! We still managed to secure 2nd place for gameplay, and 4th for creativity! As a designer, I have to say that these rankings really mean a lot, as it validates my efforts both in design and scope.
Playtesting, Feedback and Iteration
Funnily enough, based on feedback from this blog, I have decided to start creating video development blogs to go along with these written blogs.
2 Weeks Before Printing!!!
The video covers very briefly the two weeks of development before the game was sent off to printing. To make the game as perfect as possible, as well as fair and fun as possible, I playtested the ever loving hell out of this game with my friends, members of the Crab Studios community, and random people online.
Before these last two weeks, playtesting was all about finding the fun. I had the theme, I had the art, I had the mechanics, but was it fun? It took a long time to get to that point, months and months of "Is this actually fun?" Finally, we got there. Adding in some quality of life mechanics, changing the visual design of the cards, making the game longer so players could enjoy the engine-building mechanics for longer, all contributed to making the game more fun and more engaging.
Thankfully, after much feedback and iteration, I think I got there... hopefully.
The core difference between regular playtesting and blind playtesting is that blind playtesting involves players that have never played the game before, and in a covid world, this is really hard to find. Not only are playtesters difficult to find, because you can't just go to a board game cafe or a convention and get people to play your game, but once you do, you can't use them again, which makes things even more difficult.
Thankfully though, due to me starting a Discord server (join here), as well as posting on Reddit, I managed to run three different blind playtesting sessions. But why? Because I needed to test whether players could understand the game. This means I had to test the visual design of the game, as well as the rulebook.
So in a blind playtesting session, I would give the players a pdf of the rulebook, sit back, and just watch them figure it out as if they had just opened the box at home (like people will once they get the game for real). These sessions went really well, not only did they understand the game from the rulebook, but they really enjoyed the game as well, which is always good!
One major change from these sessions, as well as feedback from Reddit and from the Discord, was changing the rulebook from black to white, to white to black. This was due to finding out that black background with white text isn't very user friendly towards people with dyslexia. Another was adding in some visuals for which card decks were which at the start of the instruction manual.
There has been many more changes, and I'm sure there will be even more to come, but I'll leave this blog post here for now. Next month I should have the copies arriving from the manufacturer, so I will make sure to do a blog post talking about that then.
Niall from Crab Studios.
Hello, my name is Niall Crabtree, and this is my comprehensive blog showcasing all of my game development endeavors and successes, as well as essays on game design.
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