Hug Marine: A Game Jam Diary - Week Two.
Oh, man, this has been a week of progress. Last week I had nothing to show but a basic test room, after three nights' work. Now, I have a fully-working (bar an audio bug) first level, proper graphics, and music. It's safe to say I'm pretty happy with how things are going.
I will say this, however: This morning I linked the game file to my team at work, and it's an incredible experience to see people laugh and give eachother hints and celebrate when they reach the first alien. Personally, I think the game isn't really up to scratch, but people seem to really enjoy it.
So in the week before I got to stand over someone's shoulder and watch them finish level one, what happened? Well, lots, if you count a complete graphical overhaul and some very funny bugs.
Last night, I encountered a weird bug in which you'd die, respawn, and the music would go up in volume. This could stack, which meant that after you'd died ten times, it's likely the game would destroy your eardrums. Why this is the case, I've still no clue, but it's been part of the crazy mess that has made this week so much fun.
As for the graphics — you'll remember last week that I had drawn up a rather large, tall, detailed Hug Marine. Trying to animate him was a nightmare, and the same went for his successor, who was my attempt at trying to replicate the running sprites from a Megaman title. So I loaded up a 16x16 pixel grid and created the little fellow you see now, and I think he's great. Cute, expressive and seems curious about his environment. Totally happy — and that's the theme, I think, both for him and the players.
It's weird. Had I made a game about shooting the faces off of terrorists, most people would've reacted differently while playing. But everyone from huge gamers to casuals have responded to this with nothing but enthusiasm and genuine enjoyment, simply because they're racing through a level to try and find the alien hug sequence.
I've also really enjoyed playing around with PixiTracker, and any of you who own an iPad and enjoy making music (I'm looking at you, Conference Call crew) really need to get in on this. It's allowed me to draft and re-draft entire level songs in minutes, although I think the current music needs a re-do. I'm also looking forward to crafting the title screen music, and working on a logo for the indie studio I'll set up to present this.
Yep, that's correct. If there's one thing I'll definitely be doing after this finishes, it's making more games. I got to make a game, and although it's an ongoing project, I've found that I've never been this engaged with anything before. There's a lot of pressure involved, and I can finally see the value in bugfixing and how it begins to grind you down after a while — last night's audio issue had me at my computer for at least an hour later than I'd intended to be.
This weekend, I'll be working on more levels, and messing around a little with gravity. Fellow writer Sayem Ahmed suggested a VVVVVV tribute level, which fits in with my high-gravity idea. Now that I'm more comfortable with code blocks and crafting my own events, the logic behind the hit indie game has opened itself up to me, so I'll play around with that a little, too.
Standing just before the halfway point, I've got to say, the support from people has been absolutely phenomenal. Friends, loved ones, co-workers, Twitter people — not a single person has criticised my crude attempts at game-making. I've had a swarm of people cheering me on, telling me they're proud of me, and wishing me luck. It does a lot to balance out all the negativty in the gaming community, and for that, I thank them.
So, for the second week, Z jumps, arrows move. Enjoy the first level and title screen, and I'll update you next week, when I can show you a whole host of different aliens and their environments, more music, and introduce you to the wonderful world of save points, scrolling backgrounds and rotating fireballs. Enjoy your weekend; go hug an alien.