GBJAM-5 Postmortem

December 1, 2016

It’s been a while since GBJAM-5 ended, but I still wanted to put together a little postmortem. Just as a little reminder for myself. And maybe someone out there might find this slightly interesting.

And bear with me. This is my first Postmortem. And I have no idea what I’m doing.

It all started when I noticed a flood of #GBJAM tweets in my feed one day. I had never heard of it before, but it seemed popular. I checked it out, and since I’m a huge fan of the classic GameBoy, I decided to participate. It’s a 10 day Game Jam, so I figured it wouldn’t be as stressful as Ludum Dare, but still a nice challenge.

The rules and restrictions seemed simple enough:

  • The aim of GBJam is to create a GameBoy themed game
  • All assets must be created during the duration of the Jam
  • Keep in the original GameBoy screen resolution of 160px x 144px
  • Use only 4 colors in your game

At that time, I didn’t even think I was going to finish a game. I have “participated” in a few Game Jams before, but only turned in some half-assed attempts at something. If I turned in anything at all. It wasn’t until I told the other members of the Icelandic GameDev community about it that things got interesting.

4 other members said that they would also take part in the game jam. I was very excited to be part of a “group” that were all making games for the same thing.

The Process

When the Game Jam started, I had no idea what I was going to make. My first decision was to make a platformer. Since most of my favorites from that time are platformers. It just felt right.

My next move was to start sketching out some characters and finding the right color palette. It was hard drawing anything I liked, but I ended up with some basic concepts I liked that I shared with the Icelandic game devs on Slack. I got a greater response than I expected. It was just a few people that told me which one I should go with and what color palette, but just the fact that anyone was interested was fantastic! And The little guy I ended up using in my game is this one:

Character

It’s just a simple character with no name, but I like him.

Everyone participating started sharing screenshots and speculations about the game they were making. Which took this Game Jam to a whole new level for me. I really wanted to make something decent.

I worked hard on my game, I made a simple auto-tiling mechanism that would make it easy for me to make new levels and I made sure that my characters movement and animations felt just right.

Just Right

And I kept on sharing gifs and screenshots along the way. I made sure not to share too much, mostly because I still had no idea what I was going to make. I had some ideas, but they were too ambitious. If I remember correctly, it wasn’t until the second to last day of the Game Jam that I got the idea for the final version of the game. Since I didn’t have anything, the players wouldn’t get anything. I would just send them out on a “Wild Goose Chase.” Sounds kind of horrible, I know.

That’s when I drew this little goose:

Goose

Making the player technically chasing something.

After that, I just started putting together the levels. I tried making them hard, but not unbeatable. I’m happy with the difficulty progression of the game, although I’ll admit that some parts can be really tough. All in all, the GBJAM5 was a great experience, and my dedication to making games has never been stronger.

Boy Meets Goose Spikes Hurt This is going to hurt

You can play the game here On Itch.Io

What Went Right

Well, the first thing that went right was the fact that I actually finished a game! It was amazing to turn it in and just be done with my creation. That’s when I started getting afraid of people hating the game, but I’m guessing that’s standard for any creative work when people are starting out.

I also wanted to get some exposure for the Icelandic game developer community, so I contacted one of the largest newspapers in the country. Although I didn’t expect to get anything, they wrote an article for both their paper and website.

But the best thing about it all were the results. Out of 402 entries, my game “Wild Goose Chase” got the following:

GBJAM 5 Results

This was amazing to me, far better than I could have allowed myself to hope for.

What Went Wrong

The only thing I feel like went wrong is the music. I kept in on hold for far too long, and it was the last thing I did before turning it in. It was really horrible. I had to add a mute button to the game so that people wouldn’t rage quit because of it.

Lessons Learned

I learned a lot of things from this game jam. But the most important lesson I learned from this was to be more open about what I’m doing. I have always feared that if I share my stuff they will either hate me or steal my ideas. I started to understand that it’s ok to share a little bit without giving the entire story away. And that it’s very unlikely that anyone would like to steal my shitty game idea anyway. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to share everything from now on. But I feel that I can be a more open game developer now.

Some Cool Things

You can find the article here: The Article(In Icelandic)
Here is another article featuring the game: The Article(In English)
A Youtuber that goes by the name DevinCrystie did a lets play of the game: The Video
And the Youtuber Jupiter_Hadley featured the game in her 28th video, where she plays all the GBJAM-5 games: The Video

That’s all I have to share for this game, I’d love to hear your thoughts about my Postmortem, and especially on how I could improve my writing.