Global Game Jam was this past weekend. Mason and I wanted to work on something a bit bigger, so we conscripted the help of a few of our friends: Alex Rice, Dan Cotting, and John Goldhamer. Together, we used the jam’s theme of “Ritual” to create Morning.

MorningBanner_WardSite

Morning is a game about you completing your morning ritual, from brushing your teeth and taking a shower to making coffee and putting on your shoes. All of the components of your morning routine are portrayed through a timing-based minigame where you have to activate a moving indicator on a gauge correctly. If you do, then you successfully complete that part of your ritual, if not, well, then you get a different result.

Mason and I have done about four game jams now, all with various amounts of completion, so we had some goals going into this game jam:

  • First, we wanted to complete the game within the span of the game jam.
  • Second, we wanted to prevent scope creep at any cost, since it was the major cause of incomplete game jam games in the past.
  • Lastly, and this was mostly for the purposes of programming, we wanted all of the game mechanics fleshed out before starting on development. In game jams past, we’d frequently agree on the rough concept of the game, only to have to spend time nailing down the specifics of the mechanics later.

So how’d we do in accomplishing these goals? I’ll address them last to first.

On the front of planning ahead, I believe we did fairly well. Most of the first night of the jam was spent agree on an idea to run with and then fleshing it out. I was very stubborn about making sure everyone was on the same page about what the mechanics looked like, how the house was laid out, and how everything interacted with each other. Otherwise, not only may some things be a bit hazy when you have to convert ideas to code and JPEG, but everyone may also default to their own interpretation of the game if no consensus is reached. This is why I made sure to hijack a whiteboard or two for the evening.

GGJ2016 Whiteboard

You can see a lot of different things covered on this board, from the visual layout of the house to act as a schematic for everyone to my proposed Game Object hierarchy in Unity to help understand how gameplay agents would interact with one another to an outline to how the minigame gauge would work in terms of variables and components. When I say everything should be thought of beforehand, I mean everything. It may not have to be fully realized, but the developers should have to know what needs to be considered before splitting off into their individual tasks.

In terms of scope creep, I feel like we also hit our mark. Since everyone was experienced in some form of design, software development, or web development, we knew what could be accomplished within the span of a weekend. Very few suggestions for added features came in after the first night. When they did, we had to collectively weigh the cost of implementing it.

So, since we were so good at preventing scope creep and planning ahead, we obviously reached our goal of finishing within the time limit, right? Well, not so much. The game was ostensibly complete by the time show and tell came around Sunday night. There was enough to demo to the good people at the jam, but some parts just needed to be hooked together. We took care of this last piece of development the past week, so now the game is available to your playing pleasure. Enjoy!

It was a great jam with great people. We’d like to thank RVA Game Jams for always putting on a great event and for the VCUarts Departments of Communication Arts, Kinetic Imaging, and Art Education for hosting it at the Depot and letting so many great art and other VCU students participate. Most importantly, we’d like to again thank Alex, Dan, and John for charging through with us over one long weekend. We hope to see you guys again next game jam!

GGJ2016 Whiteboard