I'm going to try to do daily entries on my progress here! I'm going to write things in a lot of detail because I'm trying to both improve my own process, and record my pipeline so that, should I one day teach game development, I'll be more prepared to do so.
If you enjoyed the read or want to see more of my work, please follow me on twitter @joehasdiedgames.
Whenever I do jams, I prepare by writing out ideas about games I want to make. I don't... think that's cheating? Often I don't use the ideas I come up with before the jam, but its a really nice brainstorming exercise that I recommend everyone try. For instance, whenever I do Ludum Dare, during the hours before they announce the theme I come up with at least 1 idea for each of the possible 15 themes. That way I'll be prepared (and hopefully excited) for each possible theme, and I'll have 15 new game ideas to think about and draw from (both for Ludum Dare and just in general).
So before the jam I started brainstorming a game called Paladin.
It started with a desire to just make a straight forward hack n slash game with a chunkly, low-bit aesthetic. Inspired by top down zelda's and the music of Kobold. The general idea was that you played as a chunky, tanky paladin with a hammer and a shield. Enemies would swarm you, and you'd have to vanquish them. You would have a shield that would deflect projectiles, and the action of raising your shield would temporarily stun enemies. Your hammer would vanquish them, but if they were stunned, it would also turn them into bullets, which would bounce around and hit other enemies. You'd have a RGHTSNS gauge, which would fill up as you vanquished enemies, but would be spent using certain special moves. You'd move through simple rooms in a Zelda 1 or Binding of Isaac style. Here are my initial notes for it:
Satisfied with my work, I went to sleep.
I had a root canal in the morning, then took a nap, so that ate up a good portion of the day. I took a look at my notes for Paladin, and realized that my scope was unreasonably big, so I decided to make a much more simplified version. Paladins moveset was going to be the same, with the stunning and vanquishing, but I decided it would be a 1 room game. A demon of some kind would be at the top of the screen and the player would move around the bottom. There would be a pit blocking the Paladin from the Demon, and from the pit would crawl monsters. The goal would be to hit the back wall behind the demon while protecting your own back wall. There would be at least 1 bullet that continuously bounced, but the Demon would occasionally shoot additional bullets, and Paladin would still be able to create new ones from stunned enemies. Here are my notes for this version:
Now, I like both ideas for Paladin a lot, and I'm probably going to try making it someday, but I took a look at my smaller version and realized it was still too much, so it was time to think of something tiny.
I'm only going at such length here because I think its really important to keep your projects at a reasonable scope. I'm notoriously terrible at this, and I'm trying to get better.
My final design is called Fireball. It's pong, but the players and the ball have gravity, and the players can jump (kind of more like volley ball). When the ball touches the ground, it creates a shockwave that the players will need to jump over or be stunned. Much, much simpler. Here are my notes for Fireball:
Once I had my design figured out, I started working on a GMS2 tutorial to reacquaint myself with it. I've gotten most of the way through this tutorial https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/appstore/post/d5832ec5-fd9b-4bcb-bcc1-27decfb.... I'm taking my time with it and doing everything in it, even if I know it doesn't pertain to Fireball. I feel like I personally have some learned helplessness when it comes to programming, so I'm trying to really understand everything as well as I can.
I'm an artist by trade, so one of my restrictions is to do as much as possible to make the game playable and enjoyable without making art (aside from placeholder programmer art). Art is going to be the LAST bit of polish I put on fireball, if I even get to that point.
Hopefully by the end of the day I'll actually have a playable prototype!
Thanks for reading!