Global Game Jam 2018 – Post Mortem

Woah! It’s been a while since I wrote one of these. I took a break for Christmas and then let the blog slip my mind. With my second semester already in full swing, writing weekly may be a challenge, but I’ll be trying my best.

As most of you know, the Global Game Jam took place on January 26th to the 28th. For those who aren’t aware of what a Game Jam is, and more specifically what the Global Game Jam is, here’s a quick rundown.

A “Game Jam” refers to a small period of time where game developers meet to have a “jam” session, similar to musicians. The major difference being that most game jams are organized by a group of people who pick the starting day and time, the ending day and time and the “theme” of the jam. In the Global Game Jam (GGJ), game developers from around the world take part in making games of the exact same theme, and they are given 48 hours to do so. This year the theme was “Transmission”, and this being my first GGJ, I was excited to get started.

As this is (another) post-mortem, I’ll be looking back on those 48 hours from a reflective stance. Though it’ll be hard to be super critical this time around because my team and our game worked beautifully at the end, if I do say so myself.

Speaking of our team, there were 7 plus 1 of us. The “Plus 1” was the guy who made some music for us, but mostly brought the team free food and it was much appreciated. Our team was broken down into 2 Programmers (The lead programmer and myself), 3 amazing artists, a writer and a sound guy who also functioned as our project manager. It was a good team, we worked well together and we were getting a lot of stuff done from the get-go.

I do wish I was more involved as a programmer, though my minimal programming involvement this time around was my fault – mostly due to my unfamiliarity with the Unity engine and its functions. Not that big of a deal, I got to help out in other ways regardless.

Despite some minor setbacks over the next few days – mostly extended breaks browsing reddit for memes – we had a working and finished product well before the submission time. And then, as it always does, disaster struck.

We had set up a Git repository on Friday and pushed to it on Saturday, but our most recent build which was on the lead programmer’s computer hadn’t been pushed yet. So when we went the manual route and transferred the scene I was working on (the main menu functionality) to the other computer, all the new assets and scripts were overwritten with older, buggier, broken versions. Within 2 minutes our masterpiece was reduced to a shell of its formal self …. 10 minutes before submission time. With just minutes to spare before 6pm hit, our team had to piece together recovery files, rewrite scripts and fix bugs all over again.

Needless to say, we didn’t submit within the 48 hours, but after some help from other jammers (seriously game developers are so supportive of each other, it’s awesome) we restored our game back to its former glory and submitted it to the GGJ 2018 website.

In the end, despite everyone on our team secretly having an internal breakdown due to the stress caused by our mistake, we stayed grounded. Nobody threw blame at anyone else – we fail and grow as a team, after all – and it all worked out well in the end, even if we didn’t submit exactly on time. And the best part is that I’m working with this same team to develop the game further into something amazing. It’s going to be a blast

So what lesson did we learn from this debacle? Other than me learning that I needed much more experience in Unity and that I still had a lot to learn about programming in general, my biggest takeaway is this

USE SOURCE CONTROL

Until next time.

Happy Developing,

Josh