Devlog 1 - Game Jam, 1bit & humming
Today, I'm writing my first devlog. Contraction of development and blog, a devlog is an article that talks about the progress of a project, and that is rather oriented on everything related to technical design. In my case, this kind of article will deal with various subjects such as development, design or marketing: roughly everything that is current on my side.
How's the game going?
No. Well, no and yes. To be more specific, I have been getting my ideas in order, as I told you in my previous post, but I still had this feeling of moving too slowly with fuzzy ideas. So, no, it's not going the way I want it to.
And this is where it gets interesting: I participated in a Game Jam that was a bit of an eye-opener. I had the opportunity to create a game, and I've never had as much motivation and ideas as I did in that short period of time. In fact, the concept of the Jam fits very well with my personality: it requires to think fast and work on a new idea with many constraints, and I love that. I'll tell you about this experience right below and I'll explain how it allowed me to move forward and make my projects evolve in a direction that I think will suit me better.
Participation in the Mini Jam 118
So I participated during 3 days to the Game Jam "Mini Jam 118" and I came out of it very enthusiastic for the continuation. A Game Jam is a limited time event during which you have to create a game (often video) on an imposed theme with a mandatory limitation to take into account. The Mini Jam 118 had for theme "Vampires", for limiter "Blood is lethal" and a duration of 72H max to finalize the game. Now that you know that, here is Erratic Bloody:
Impressive, isn't it? The synopsis of the game is as follows: you are the new master of a pet vampire and your goal is to keep him alive. The gameplay is a mix of cookie clicker and management game, you can improve your servant with the help of a store, or simply feed him by hand.
The Game Jam process
Pixel art 1bit and minimalist inspiration
As you know, I'm a pixel art lover and in order to save time (I only had 72 hours to do everything), I decided to go for an extremely minimalist style. My assets have a very low resolution, the main character is only made of a few hundred pixels, and I only used 2 colors for the designer. On this side, I knew exactly what I wanted and from which artists I could draw inspiration, it allowed me to save precious time for other parts I was less familiar with, like the sound design or the publication of the game on the itch.io platform.
The problem of minimalist pixel art
One of the difficulties with this type of design is to create shapes that are easily recognizable so that the player understands what is happening on the screen. With a character that is 10 pixels high, it can quickly become unreadable. And I think I succeeded! I didn't get any negative feedback about the style or the readability. On the contrary, I even got many positive feedbacks:
Reminder to myself when developing: do not divide by 0
So I spent 72 hours developing this little game where you have to feed a vampire. As usual, I used my favorite tool: Game Maker Studio, which allowed me to code on MacOS and to quickly release a web version of the game.
Besides some bugs like :
- A black screen at the beginning of the project that scared me
- Totally blurred pixel art
- Pnj that disappear from the screen (I tried to divide a number by 0)
- A character whose speed is multiplied by 120
- A life bar that fills up in reverse
- Visual and sound effects removed 1 hour before publishing the game
The development was rather calm. I was able to develop my story line, develop my ideas and test different mechanics throughout the Jam. And if you're wondering what a video game looks like when I'm working on it, well, it looks like this:
Sound design between bug and hum
One thing I didn't have much chance to do, in my very young career as a video game designer, is the implementation of sound design and music. Unfortunately, here everything didn't go as planned, I had found a royalty free sound that gave a gloomy atmosphere and went well with the landscape, but I had to delete it just before publishing because it didn't work. To give you an idea, this is the music I had chosen for the atmosphere:
Fortunately for me, the other sounds used in the game work great! I found them on freesound.org quite easily and modified them with the famous Audacity. If I thought that a software I discovered in college would be useful so many years later. So I implemented a few finely chosen sounds, including a cat purr that seduced the players. I leave you the pleasure to discover it in game.
The result of the votes
No reward in a Game Jam, the most important thing is to learn, exchange and meet other creators whether they are developers, designers, musicians, game designers ...
Is there a prize for the winners? The prize is the friends we've made along the way.Mini Jam
There is still a voting system that I find well done and that allows you to gauge the popularity of your game. It is not without enthusiasm that I discovered my notes:
Out of more than 151 games, I finished in third place behind Vampire and Hypochondriac vampire which are beautifully made and I invite you to try them. I also got the best score in the "concept" category, and it's great to know that your game is appreciated by so many people.
If you have 10 minutes to spare, the game is available for free here Erratic Bloody on my itch.io. Of course, I'd really appreciate to read your impressions about the game!
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Suzon, who gave me a hand with the game's logo and who took care of me during these 3 days of non-stop development. Without her, who knows if I wouldn't be parched at the bottom of the apartment by now. And a special thanks to Yatch, for his support and the constructive exchanges around the game.
And what about the rest?
Less tutorials, more games
As I told you at the beginning of this article, I've reviewed my goals. No more question of releasing a big game in a few years, I will focus on shorter experiences. This will allow me to build a community around my games, to have more visibility on my finances and to test different formats. It also fits my personality better, and it's a less ambitious project for the beginner that I am.
I also put aside the Game Dev tutorials I had in mind. These are things I love to do, but they really take up too much time at the moment. I will continue to write tutorials for Game Maker, but with less emphasis than I had originally planned.
Sokpop & Punkcake delicious
Also, just like the principle of Sokpop and PUNKCAKE Délicieux, two collectives I love, my patreon will be open to people who want to support me financially. In the long term, I would also like to open a discord to gather beta-testers and centralize exchanges with players, if this is something that interests you I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter!
Erratic Bloody 2, the return
So, considering the feedback I got on this mini game (more than 20 positive comments in addition to the exchanges with some players), I decided that Erratic Bloody would be my first commercialized game. So I will be able to implement the many improvements I had in mind, as well as those suggested by the players to make the game even better.
The rest in a few days.
See you later!