I know this is a little late, but hey, I did finally get to writing it.
This year’s Global Game Jam was a lot of fun. I met my friends Bill and Patrick up in Cleveland, OH for the jam site hosted by the Cleveland Game Developers (CGD) meetup group. Jarryd, CGD’s main Organizer, who I previously met at the Ohio Game Developers Expo, was very friendly and super excited to see so many people that came. He announced that this year, over 60 people were signed to be a part of the jam, which is a new record for their hostings of the Global Game Jam.
Once everyone was settled and signed in they played the videos of the international keynotes, which were nice and motivating. Jarryd also arranged for a local keynote speaker to talk about game development. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember his name, but he is a professor at one of Cleveland’s college and he teaches game design. He just talked about time management, various game ideas to keep within an achievable goal, and the usual stuff to talk about for prepping for a game jam.
Then Jarryd played the announcement for the theme for this year, which was “ritual”. Now, the first two things that popped into my head were my daily ritual of waking up and getting ready for the day and then religious rituals. Those seemed really obvious to me, and many people did choose those for their themes. Bill and I wanted to do something a little different, so we took our time thinking of some ideas. At this point, Patrick had not arrived to the jam since he had to drive up to Cleveland from Dayton, which is like a 4 hours drive.
So, after a bit of tossing around some ideas, Bill and I decided on the mating rituals of birds. Now, we wanted this to be a fun and silly project, but birds can be a serious topic. So we watched a few videos of various birds dancing to attract a mate, and decided on a few that were kind of funny, or that we could modify to be humorous.
We narrowed it down to the “hero” bird being a pigeon, with 5 other birds. One of them, I can’t remember what the actual bird is called, but I called it the moonwalker because it’s dance was the moonwalk. Another bird we chose was a penguin, and a few others.
The game’s basic game mechanic was to keep your pigeon’s vitality up for as long as you could by mating with as many birds as possible. But you had better watch out for the hawks becuase they will peck you and steal your mate.
The Mating Game Description
“You’re a bird looking to further your lineage and in order to do so, you must perform well in the time honored tradition of the mating ritual. Shake your tail feathers to the button combinations to woo the bird of your dreams, but be careful, hawks are in the area and looking to put an end to your shenanigans.”
What Did I Accomplish?
Basically, I was in charge of the art. My goal for this game jam was to work on my animation skills, so the actual art itself is not my best work. I just created quick wacom tablet sketches to get the animations started. When I went to prep them to be imported to Flash to animate using their bones tool, I found that their bones were no longer there, and the tools I wanted to use had been removed from Flash. I was stuck, because there was no way in hell I’d have enough time to hand draw these animations.
So I did a bit of searching online for some animation software, downloaded a few of the free ones, but they were awful and didt not accomplish what I needed them to do. So I took a break and started to wander around the floor to see what everyone else was working on. A ran into Jarryd to see his game, and chatted with him real quick about my dilemma. He suggested some software named Spine.
The demo was free, but you couldn’t export anything. So, I said the hell with it, and paid for the minimum version for $70, which includes everything except for IK’s and 2D mesh animation. To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised and extremely satisfied with the software. I figured out how to use the majority of the tools within about 2 hours and was able to finish the animations of the hero bird, and 2 other birds by Saturday night (well really it was like Sunday at 5 am.. but who’s counting?). I will definitely continue to use this software for my animations for the projects I am working on.
All in All Game Jam Fun
We had a lot of fun, and a lot of laughs making the game. It’s buggy for sure, but for a 48 hour fun project, we had a blast and made a lot fun working together. If you have an XBox controller you can plug into your computer, you can download and play the game here.
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