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July 18th - 4 Days Before Jam

I went to bed at 3 AM last night. Today, I had toast for breakfast. I haven't charged my phone in days, even though I've been sending out job applications. It doesn't matter. It isn't the jam.

I'm not sure if this pace is sustainable. I'm going to be spending weeks of my time on something that won't make me a cent. I keep telling myself I'm getting job skills, I'm becoming computer literate, I'm working my ass off and that's enough, but...well, why? Why am I here? Do I really expect a sustainable career in an industry where prices are plummeting and studios can't sustain themselves? Do I want to get a job at a triple-A publisher where the culture is toxic at best? (disclaimer: I am a straight white man, though if your industry is that masculine-centric, ten 99% chance the workplace is vain chest-pounding and passive-aggression)

     

I have made a horrible mistake.

I thought it would be cool to share, ya know? I mean, I couldn't use the song. But maybe someone else could? I don't know. Look, it was a good idea at the time, okay!

And that's how Bad And They Know It (Combat Loop Preview) ended up on Soundcloud.

But then...


People liked it? How? That's impossible. I made it! The jammers (jamers? jammi?) are being polite. They must be. After all, I wouldn't want someone trashing my work. Let me share it with my friends, they know what's up.


You bastards. Here I am, making a game about how hard it is for musicians, and you compliment me? You think I deserve to be creative? Oh, I'll show you. I'll show all of you.

     

Enough procrastinating. Let's finish the GameMaker tutorials.


This took twelve hours. I did everything; sprites, coding, sounds. There was a loading screen, level and score system, a mute button, multiple control configurations. There's even an ambient loop I added in, mixed within LMMS. It was mine. I made it.

With the game finished, I figured I would share it around. Get some feedback, maybe get a new technical challenge before the jam starts. Something to help develop my skills, you know? All I needed to do was package the game into an executable and publish. And then this happened.


It's grayed out. Why is it grayed out? WHY IS IT GRAYED OUT?!?

It seems there's been a miscommunication.


This is the download page for GameMaker 2.0. I want to personally choke whatever advertising agency made this spreadsheet. Ignore the condescending yet vague checkboxes ("Expert Features?" What features, and how are the "expert"? Is everything else not expert?). The Trial version of GameMaker exports to "Windows TEST only" (bonus points for use of "only"). What does that mean? Well, apparently it doesn't t mean you can only export to Windows, because you can't even do that. That's right, Windows TEST means you can only test your game within GameMaker. Nevermind I've already spent days learning your scripting language, writing code, creating custom images and sprite, and pretty much everything on my own. Fuck that, fork over the cash!

And then I saw this.


That's low. That's real low. You're telling me, if I don't want to hand over me and my player's data to an idiotic marketing department so some middle-manager can cherry-pick the useless data to justify their own idiocy, then I have to pay? Fuck you. What the fuck even is "anonymous game statistics?" What information are you collecting? Where is it stored? Is it safe? All good questions that I shouldn't need to research because you should be giving your customers accurate information, fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

I wouldn't mind if this was made clear. But from how deceptive all this is trying to be, I have to wonder if this was designed to happen. Trap the customer into investing far too much time, then hold their creation hostage. Crackpot theory? Probably. More likely, whoever implimented these wasn't paid to be clear. Their one goal was and still is to sell you shit; everything else is pointless. Regardless, joke's on them. I don't have 100$. So HA.

I currently have the time for this jam because my college placed a hold on my account, freezing my access to courses. It was a 37$ fee misapplied without my financial aid was factored in. I'm currently in a job search, but I doubt I'll have a paycheck in time for the jam. In theory, I could make the game anyways and pray I can upgrade GameMaker before the jam ends. Or I could switch to Unity, though the steep learning curve will certainly lower my game's quality. Hell, if it comes to it, I could probably distribute am uncompiled GameMaker file and beg someone to create the executable for me.

Fuck it. I'll find a way. This isn't gonna end me. I'm signed up for the jam, so I'm making a goddamn game.

     

July 19th - 3 Days Before Jam

There's more limitations to GameMaker's trial version. According to this blog post (https://help.yoyogames.com/hc/en-us/articles/230407528-GameMaker-Studio-2-Trial-Limitations):

"...you are also constrained as to the resources that are available, with the following limits in place:

  • Objects - 15
  • Sprites - 20 (no dynamic loading permitted, no SWF or Spine sprites permitted)
  • Sounds - 10 (no audio buffers permitted)
  • Tilesets - 2
  • Scripts - 10
  • Paths - 5 (no dynamic path creation permitted)
  • Timelines - 2 (no dynamic timeline creation permitted)
  • Fonts - 5 (no dynamic font creation permitted)
  • Rooms - 5 (no dynamic room creation permitted)
  • Shaders - 0
  • Included files - 0
  • Extensions - 0
  • Configurations - 0"

For reference, my asteroids game used the following:

  • Objects - 9
  • Sprites - 7
  • Sounds - 7
  • Tilesets - 0
  • Scripts - 0
  • Paths - 0
  • Timelines - 0
  • Fonts - 2
  • Rooms - 2

Except not really. You see, when I made the sprites, I accidentally cheated GameMaker. The asteroids in my game have six different variations, yet there's only two asteroid "sprites" (one big, one small). Each asteroid sprite has three frames of animation moving at 0 frames per second; when an asteroid is spawned, it picks one of the frames at random. There asteroids also spin for extra variance.

My point: I can beat these limits. This isn't the end of the world. Worst case scenario, I call out for help building the executable. I'm surrounded by sympathetic developers looking to play people's games. Surely, someone could help. Else...where, there is no "else".

     

Meet Sketchy Jeff.


Sketchy Jeff's a fantastic guitarist, but he has a slight anger issue. Actually, he has a slight alcohol issue; the anger's just a symptom, you see. Let's say there's a lot of red cups on stage, and leave it at that.

Sketchy Jeff isn't the most artistically impressive specimen, but he's a grade above stick figures, he's easy enough to make, and his detached hands and feet are simple to animate.

At some point, I started making a mid-2000s flash game. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

    

I'm starting to get scared of feature creep.

I have two weeks to make a game. I have three days to learn how to make a game. I'm not Miyamoto, here. I'm a pseudo-indie dev working without a team. Everywhere I go, my fellow jammis tell me "keep it simple, don't bite off more than you can chew". And I don't need to make the next Skyrim anyways. For god sakes, I spent six hours drawing stick figures. What do you want from me in two weeks? A game?

Maybe my original concept is too vast. Following a band from the bottom to the bottom takes time; time I don't have. So let's scale it back. Instead of a full career, let's just follow one gig from start to finish. I won't need to create different venues, which will save time on art. And this gives the game a fixed end point. Make enough money from the gig to pay rent, or spend the night on the street.

A lot can happen during one gig. For instance, Sketchy Jeff can get really wasted and try coping a feel of the bassist. And then Suit Jeff can come in and kick Sketchy Jeff's ass. Yes, there's a Suit Jeff. Of course there's a Suit Jeff. Sketchy Jeff ain't complete without a Suit Jeff on drums.

     

In the next update: Asteroids becomes a horror game! Also, I look at pictures of cups!

"It's grayed out. Why is it grayed out? WHY IS IT GRAYED OUT?!?"

God, I feel your pain. I didn't know that GMS2 couldn't export games until the day before the jam, so I had to make a last minute switch to Construct 2, an engine I haven't touched in months.

Good luck with your game, man.