Jam Distraction

Jam Distraction

I was taking my benchmark prototype to the market, when I was waylaid by a strange old man selling magical beans. After stealing his beans I accidentally took part in a couple of gamejams that ate most of my free development time over the last fortnight.

Drone control

I am definitely not a member of a clandestine secret society known as the Illudumati, and we definitely did not have a small 48 hour jam. I spent this weekend working on a little quadcopter espionage game, but did not finish.

'First person view' quadcopter flying is something I have wanted to try for a while, but I have not had the budget to buy expensive equipment for a hobby. Simulating it in a game might be the next best thing. Previously I made a tiny 'NES' themed FPV quadcopter flying prototype and the two people that tested it found it very difficult to fly, partially due to me emulating the 'ACRO' flight model used by quadcopters pilots for advanced control. Real quads often have other flight modes for easier flight, such as 'LEVEL', where the quad tries to keep itself oriented to the horizon allowing the controller only a limited range self-correcting pitch and roll. This is what I emulated for this jam, in the hope that players would be able to enjoy the game without having to invest hours in learning basic control of their drone.

Once in the air, the player would receive a series of informational retrieval tasks to eventually identify a target person within the office building. These tasks would have involved locating a vehicle from a description and flying underneath it to interface with the onboard computer, browsing the procedurally executive officer portrait gallery for a target matching a visual description etc.

Ludum Dare 40

The next weekend was Ludum Dare, a somewhat larger gamejam where participants spend 48 hours making a game to a surprise theme announced at the beginning of the jam. The theme for LD 40 was 'The more you have, the worse it gets'. I had commitment issues.

Flight of the birbs
I spent Saturday working on a 3D bird flock game. Guide your unruly flock past idle birds to have them take flight and join your flock. Larger flocks fly faster and are less manouevreable, increasing the difficultly of avoiding the various obstacles that are deadly to individual birds in your flock. Late Saturday I decided this was a terrible idea and abandoned it.

Gameboy Ninja Game
Sunday morning, a fresh start. To make things 'interesting' I decided to try a gameboy game, using Zal0's ZGB engine. Turns out that either it is a little buggy or (more probably) I was using it incorrectly because my game very quickly became corrupt. I did not have the knowledge or tools to debug a gameboy rom. Feeling sad, I resigned from the competition.

Helirescue Mans
However! Monday morning (Ludum Dare runs from noon on Saturday to noon on Monday in my timezone) my sleepy two year old son decided to have a snooze on my shoulder for a couple of hours. So we did some pair programming and made a game in two hours. I made the game and he napped. I have some experience with making games in very short timeframes from One Hour Game Jam, and in some ways the tight timelimit was quite liberating. I had no expectation of producing decent graphics or gameplay and so was free to just bash out a game as quickly as possible. I had fun, produced something that is not completely terrible, and got to submit an entry on time to Ludum Dare, which is a result I am happy with. You can play the game here if you would like to crash some helicopters.