Michele Mantovan

GGJ 2018 Post Mortem

Game jams are events in which the participants have to create a game in a certain amount of time. In the Global Game Jam (GGJ) this span of time is 48 hours and few weeks ago (the last weekend of January) there was the annual GGJ.  Once again I decided to participate to it in Milan location, even if I live in Trento and even if Trento was a jam location for the first time this year. I learned too late that I could have gone in Trento for the jam and I’ve already bought train tickets, so…too bad, see you next year. After the jam is done, I tend to write a “post mortem” of the experience so, here it is. If you haven’t red the previous ones, go check them out HERE.

In terms of number of participants, the Milan location was at the third place in the world, and like I always do, I’d like to thanks the organizers (Pier Luca Lanzi and Daniele Loiacono) for all the patience and the competency on handling such a big number of people.

The jam experience

Like last year, I went to the location in the afternoon. Sadly, my train had forty minutes of delay 🙁 so I arrived pretty late. During the trip, Emanuele (a guy from the team of 2016 GGJ team) contacted me, proposing me to form a team together. I said it was a great idea, but since my train was delayed, I told him to form a team without me and I would have joined the team once I got there. Next year I think I will go on the venue in the late morning, because in case there will be train delays I will still be able to arrive in a decent time, and have all the time to join or form a team.

During the jam I felt like I had the grasping of everything because I thought that was my third time, I have became a pro just for that reason, but I have to admit that I was totally wrong. I faced the jam with a wrong mood, without focusing on the fun part of creating a game and interacting with people that have my same passion. I faced like it was a normal task I have to face every day in my daily work. Next year I will try my best to find the right mood, great lesson learned though.

What went right

The theme: I really liked the theme of this year which was “transmission”. It can be interpreted in a lot of ways, really. It was very enjoying to cover all the aspects of a transmission in a game,especially in the initial brainstorming session. We ended up using the transmission theme as an alien transmission of a signal that the player has to understand and respond in the correct way.

Good team skills: My teammates this year were very talented and experienced. All of them had already done a game jam or they develop and collaborate in the creation of video games in general. So great level of preparation, the roles were very defined and the skill coverage was great with one game designer and programmer (Andrea), two programmers (me and Luca), three visual artists (Irene, Curzio and Emanuele).

What went wrong

Development coordination: Even if the team was skilled, the overall coordination (of the development side) seems to lack in synergy. From my side, I realized that I’m becoming used in writing code that no one reads, so the final result was not the most readable code for other members. I hope this will not become a bad habit. In addition, some of the guys had a little framework to facilitate things, but we ended up not using it as the main framework, and it was used only by them, creating maybe some confusion.

Lack of concentration: I don’t know why, but this year I had a lot of troubles concentrating during the development process, and I hadn’t the grasping of the big picture all the time. Maybe this lack was due to the size of the team, but right now I can’t tell exactly why.

Tips for the future

My personal tips for future jams are:

    • Grasp the big picture.
    • Don’t focus on complexity but focus on depth (game design tip).
    • Try to have, right from the start, a vision of what are the game goals.
  • Think more about inclusion.

Final result

The final result of all our efforts is Space Diplomacy (lots of infos here). We are considering to resolve some bugs and maybe publish it on Google Play and/or Amazon Appstore.

If you are interested on game development and game design I have a series of posts in which I show my progress of the development of a mobile game Steady Drop. HERE!