The Lost Game Jam: Black Death

 

BlackDeath

 

It has been some time since my last post. Short story is I have been working my industry job and been consumed with the current project I am working on. Right now I wanted to focus on a Game Jam from the end of last year, that was extremely productive but in the end turned out to be more destructive to moral.

 

The Start

 

The goal was to make a game for the Walking Dead Jam, an event put on by Skybound Entertainment the people behind the comic book and not the t.v. show. One of the most enticing elements of the event was creating a game inspired by some of the elements of the Walking Dead universe. It is an amazing universe and spun off other great titles like the Tell Tale Adventure game. We needed to make something over the weekend and we had our sights high on the production quality. So my friend Brenton Sewell and I enlisted some of our friends to help. Our goal was to make a First Person Arena Survival game, set in a medieval world where the black plague turned people into zombies. Ben Braman and Nicklaus West helped us with music tracks and sound fx, something we would barely tackle in a normal Game Jam but wanted to have a complete experience. Dan Williams created the excellent zombie model and rig for the game, to give us a fresh take on zombies inspired by the comic series. They were all a huge help for the game and pushed the quality of the experience much further than a normal weekend project. We were very happy with what we were able to contribute to the event.

 

 

The Verdict

 

We did not place in the competition. We did not place because of the design of the game, controls, art, and anything included in the game. We did not place because the game could barely run on their test machines… what were they using … Macintosh laptops. We were aiming to create an awesome game that was on par with high quality PC game specs, so it was a huge shock to hear the people that were running the event and including rewards like Steam green light access, were using computers that could not run 90% of the games that are currently on Steam. Contacting the event organizer, I tried to see if there was any other way they could test our game and the only response was to “magically” optimize the game to run on this much lower spec, something that would take as long as the creation of the game. I was pissed and even more in outrage with amateur at best games they chose for the finalists.

 

–Post Mortem-

 

The Good

For 48 hours I am incredibly happy with how the mood was captured in the game. It has bits of creepy horror, spooky, and ominous. It was a great practice for fast level creation and one of the first tries with fps controls. The art that was contributed was fantastic, and couldn’t ask for better music.

 

The Bad

The A.I. of the enemies needed to be more interesting and versatile. For an action game, the game is only as good as the challenges you put forth and if it is something you are battling every couple of seconds, it needs to be interesting. For this game I only had the time for a simple follow A.I. behavior that didn’t even do a great job. The enemies don’t have to be super clever, but adding attacks, jumps, or other interesting behaviors would go a long way. If I would ever do a game like this again, I would look for an A.I. package to have as a building block.

 

Final Word

I would like to thank Brenton Sewell, Ben Braman, Dan Williams, and Nicklaus West to contributing this project. Lessons learned, be aware of what the motives of the judges are and build accordingly. Also look for a jam that has a large contribution and feedback community like the Ludum Dare Jams. They are a much more constructive environment and a huge boost to your skills even if they don’t have physical prizes.
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