Hug Marine: A Game Jam Diary - Week One.
"I don't really have enough time to sort out what I want to do before tomorrow's column goes up," said I, in an instant message to a friend. "The hugging mechanic stalled my progress ... I'm just frustrated with myself."
Without hesitation, he responded. "Like Edison says; 'I did not fail, I found 2000 ways not to make a lightbulb.'"
The first three days of this jam have been full of adventure, frustration, and utter obsession. I am a mad scientist without any knowledge of chemistry more advanced than making hot chocolate (powder and milk from the coffee machine at work). My pixel art looks weird, my music is non-existent, but I've got a god-damn box jumping around a room and respawning when he dies in crudely animated lava. He can't hug yet, but my god I'm proud of the little fellow.
If there's one thing the last three days have taught me, it's that being new to games design and trying something even vaguely ambitious means you're going to fail repeatedly. It's going to annoy you, it's going to upset you, and it's going to scare you when you know you're uploading a playable version on Friday for Goodjers, friends and loved ones to take a look at for themselves.
In these three days I've gotten the controls fixed, after a false start with the Linux version at work caused jumping to break. I've also got a basic room set up, a death mechanic, and I'm working towards making a little red box with a capital "H" on it huggable by another box with no arms. It's safe to say that at this point: The game looks like Super Tupperware Brothers.
But I'm proud.
I've worked out how to use code blocks to create custom events and behaviour. I've managed to come up with some basic concepts for my Hug Marine, and animate some lava, after hunting around for a new version of Pixen after a downloaded updated version caused endless crashing when opening vital files.
I've also gone into the glass-walled communications room at work and held my phone to my face so I could record myself humming a tune I'm using for the soundtrack, while pretending to be calling someone.
It's safe to say that I'm basically a kid with a science project, and I've found myself twice running to the bus stop because I know I want to get home and get to work. Stencyl has been an absolute godsend, because there is no other game-making software I'm aware of where I can make a tile and a Hug Marine test sprite and have a platforming level operational within five minutes.
After three days, or rather, three evenings, I have a test level for you to play, wherein you can move about using the left and right arrow keys, and jump with Z. I can't tell you how weird it feels to be telling a crowd of gamers how to control a character I made, in a game I made.
It's only a test room at present — the three-day weekend people in the UK have to look forward to this week means I'll be able to make him hug things, and, y'know, actually make him look like a marine (I've put a concept pic in the gallery).
The problem with this week was that the jam started on Tuesday, so I've only had three nights to actually get anything done. I've genuinely considered going without sleep tonight to present you with more, but really, like you guys, I'm a Goodjer, and that means sleep, cause I gotta make with the money-worky in the morning.
And thus I turn to you: Goodjers, gamers, thinkers. In the three weeks to come before my final concluding update, there will be more builds, and I will add a second file marked "current" for you to peruse as I upload a new build after doing any work. I want to hear your thoughts, your criticisms. Understandably, there's not a lot to criticise right now (or perhaps there is), but believe me, with this much spare time ahead of me and motivation levels somewhere near cloud level, there will be. I must still be insane, but by god, it's definitely the happy kind.
You can find the test-room build for this week at this link.