This Weekend Has 24 Hours (Or Less)
February 1, 2010
Well, pleasant dreamers, another Global Game Jam has come and gone, and just like last year I’ve come through it clean the other side. Cleaner, in fact, than I had twelve months ago, because this time I was able to commit myself fully to a single project that I can proudly stand by as one of my best, and one that I hope to revisit in the near future as a long-term work.
Over the past weekend I joined the designers who congregated to the NYU site of the Global Game Jam event and wound up teaming with Arthur Ward, with whom I made the game “Waffle”. It’s something that represents the best of all the work I’ve done in the past year– moody, minimalist platforming and conversation gameplay– but with Arthur, I was able to take it much further. For most of Friday and Saturday we mostly brainstormed ideas and experimented with his programming in Construct, where he built an initial prototype of a physics-based platformer, one that we mostly hoped would be as depressing as possible.
Over the course of that 24 period, however, we discovered that we were having a lot more fun with the simple imagery that was conjured up by the rain physics he’d developed (rain being one of the central constraints the GGJ designers in the Eastern Atlantic timezone had to work with, the main one being “deception) than we were with physics platforming itself. Following Arthur’s idea of a game that included invisible tiles made visible by rain in certain areas, we decided to make the game with rain as the only visible element, and all level and character elements rendered as silhouettes. Moving into Flash for our final draft, I spent the next 24 hours programming conditions, animating sprites, building levels and writing a quick script for the game, using the basics of my previous platforming and conversational works to provide gameplay to fit the minimalist aesthetic and conceptual design we’d fleshed out together. Justin Matthews provided us with a great loop of somber chiptunes, thus making this the first game I’ve made to feature any kind of musical accompaniment.
All in all, this was one of the most fruitful 48 hour periods I’ve had as a game designer, and though the finished product is certainly short, it should only be taken as the shape of things to come. I’ll continue to work on this, and report back as I do, to anyone who’s following this. But for the time being, I’ll just sign off and get some much needed sleep, which is something of a rare commodity in the GGJ experience. Until next time, pleasant dreamers, if you really want to know why the game is called “Waffle”, don’t ask– we still haven’t made up our minds yet…