Newgrounds Game Jam: On saving a sinking ship

The Newgrounds Game Jam is a competition that takes place either quarterly or twice yearly. In essence, we have programmers, authors, artists, musicians and voice actors getting into teams and working to come up with a fully-functional game in 48 hours. Yes, 48 hours.

Each Game Jam has a core theme which all participants must stick to. Game Jam 8 ended at midnight today, and the theme for this one was 'Cabin in the Woods'. The theme was inspired by the film 'The Cabin in the Woods', but the games should not be about the film in itself.

This is the second Game Jam I have ever taken part in. The first Game Jam for me was Game Jam 7, which took place over the end of June/early July this year. Back then, there were five of us: TharosTheDragon, a programmer; FlowersCheers and SirHenryStudios, both artists; Saminat, a writer and voice actor; and myself. As you can guess, I did the game's music. Now everyone can admit that the game itself wasn't much to write home about. Back then, each team was given a core mechanic with which to develop their game, and our team had "Lighten/Load". The game turned out to be a modification of the 8-bit Helicopter game, with added sandbags to throw off the balloon to keep it aloft. Still, we had the consolation of knowing that our game was known for being bug-free, a quality which many other Game Jam entries lacked. We had no regrets.

I had no regrets especially, since that was the first ever game I had directly contributed to. While there was this one user who mocked me for having a game with lower-quality-than-expected graphics, I retorted and said, the fact still remains that this is my first game, and I am proud of it.


Fast-forward to October this year and we now have Cabin Jam. I was eager to contribute to a dev team -- I wanted to be involved in music production once again. Now tracks for Game Jams aren't the longest, especially because they have to all be done within 48 hours, and you have issues with computer processors and time taken to render the files under a certain format (WAV, MP3, what have you). The Game Jam was about to begin, and I was looking for a programmer. Soon, I sought out Squidly, the man behind Second Wind, one of the most addictive games of the year. When I sought him out, it all started with these lines:

If you're able, and willing to get on a boat that might already be sinking, then I'll be happy to have you aboard!
Hey, if good music (among others) can help salvage a sinking ship, let's do stuff!

I chose not to leave; I wanted to have faith.

I thought I would seek out FlowersCheers again, but she had circumstances which made it such that she didn't have enough battery power to contribute to this Game Jam.

So up till 12 p.m. on Saturday we were searching for an artist. I posted on the Game Jam forum thread, I put the request for an artist on the front page, and I made a news post asking for an artist. We were so desperate that any artist who had knowledge in animation would've been enough. At that point, Squidly decided to make some pixel art in the same vein as Second Wind... some pixel art of the main character. He was literally preparing himself for the worst.

After a while, guess who stepped in.

Hyptosis, the artist behind the Alice is Dead series. Just the amount of trophies he'd received for his games speaks volumes. My jaw dropped wide open, to say the least. So in effect, the team had two award-winners and one neophyte. I worked on the soundtrack within a day, and the other two were working hard with artwork and programming. Hyptosis did quite a lot of reskinning, so that helped us.

When it was time to make the project file, I wanted Squidly to do it, but he insisted that someone else do it. After quite a bit of persuasion, I started the project file. There were some bugs which couldn't be resolved within such a short time; the deadline was Monday 15 October, 12:00 a.m. BST (or by Newgrounds time, Sunday 14 October, 7:00 p.m. EST). We were cutting it really close; we put the game in just one minute before time was up.

After 36 hours of hair tearing apart, stress, late hours and fun, excitement and anticipation, prayers for patience and Skype chats, this is the fruit of our efforts.

In all this, I have God to thank. Yes, I gathered the team together, but like Squidly, I was desperate. I wasn't even expecting to have a glitzy dev team. We weren't sure if we would finish it on time, what with all the finer details that were popping up at us during the last few hours.

And now, I leave this in the best of hands, that He may do as He wills.

Dropping Loads in a Cave (Soundtrack)
The Hut in Ayre Forest (Soundtrack)


Post a Comment