Michele Mantovan

GGJ 2016 Post Mortem

I’m very pleased and honored to have taken part of this year Global Game Jam in Milan, one of the biggest jam site in the world. I’d like to thank all the participants for creating such an inspiring and creative environment and the organizers, as well, that made a really good job (especially Pier Luca Lanzi) handling almost 400 nerds. This was my very first time on this kind of events and I went pretty prepared, I’ve read lots of articles and tips to face a game jam, and besides all the obvious things, this research was very useful. I’m going to analyze the experience of the jam instead of focalizing on the game we produced, so this is a post mortem of my jam.

The jam experience

From my point of view, the team building was very random: I was searching a nice place to eat, (without luck), and I found three nice guys (Mauro, Simone, Emanuele) that were wearing the jam badge that knew a place to eat, a really good one 🙂 So I joined the group and we start knowing each other. Then it was time to form a team and we knew that we were making it together, then we started to search for some illustrators or 2D artists and we found Martina. That’s it, no big deal. 

The execution of the jam itself is one of the most exhausting and pleasant experience at the same time. Non stop working, creativity, joy and challenges are the usual ingredients of the day. 

The best moment for me was the theme revelation: the excitement of that moment is a very good feeling, thinking of all the thousands of people around the world that wait this very moment feeling the same emotions you feel, it’s awesome.

What went right

Great team: Everyone in the team was very professional and everyone knew what to do, once the game idea was fixed. From the organization point of view we found each other on the same page using the same tools for programming and producing art (by the way we used Unity engine).

Development Flow: During the development process we listed periodically what were the necessary things to progress and we automatically assigned different tasks to the right persons.

What went wrong

Hard Brainstorming: Among all the things I regret, maybe the most important one is the brainstorming phase. We had a lot of struggle brainstorming the first hours of the jam, we couldn’t find the right gameplay mechanics, and in next morning we didn’t have a clear idea yet, deciding very quickly a gameplay idea that could be made in the time we have left.

Repository handling: Another problem we had (especially me and Mauro) was a repository problem. Almost at the end (with all the pressure of the moment) I wasn’t able to push the modification on the shared repository, because there was permission matters and we had to integrate some modifications by hand. We also encountered some difficulties working on the same scene file, because the auto-merging done by the versioning tool messed up the file.

The time (obviously): And last but not least, the timing: lack if sleep and a lot of things to do in so short amount of time can drive you crazy, but we were able to handle it and the final results was satisfying.

Tips for the future

My personal tips for future jams are:

  • try to create auto esplicative game design (no tutorial needed)
  • avoid the temptation to create a game merely based on a certain technical requirements that can modify the game design and misinterpret the theme.
  • give meaningful choices to the player.
  • create a game “universe” to put the player into.
  • remember to stay comical and funny 😀

Final result

The final result of all the efforts is Temple Saboteur (lots of infos here). Don’t hesitate to test it and to share feedback or advice. We are currently working on it to resolve at least some clamorous bugs.