Our contributor Nathan continues his journey into games design.
So we left off on Saturday morning where I am tired, grouchy and a little hungry. I was the last of the team to wake up and I had heard that everyone had had an awful last night too, especially our developer. He had close to 1 hours sleep whilst the rest of us were nearer 3. We collected our thoughts and went to breakfast or “breakfast”. I then loaded up my bag with a few cans of Monster and had a strong black coffee as this day would be hell.
It started off great though, we had the sound implemented, the artwork uploaded and the basic coding completed by lunch. We were very close to a basic game which was amazing, spirits were high and we went for “lunch”. After lunch, we carried on and decided to add a newer and harder level when the first level is completed. I began designing and the artist was creating more artwork for the next level, the developer was fine tuning the code for the game and the captain started watching the football results. Needless to say I was a little annoyed by this, even though I too wanted to see the results, so I downed a can of Monster and asked him to prepare some animation for beating the level.
So the afternoon rolled on, the game was looking good, however we started having problems with the code. We couldn’t get the transition from the first level to second level working correctly. We could get the level to reset and start again, but this would restart the music and looked more of an animation than a game. It was starting to look bleak, but we persevered regardless.
As the late afternoon/early evening started, I knew Arsenal, my favourite football team, were playing in an FA Cup semi-final. This also happened to be the captain’s favourite team too. I thought excellent, a chance to bond over something as I didn’t like him so far. I asked the other guys if they didn’t mind us every now and again heading off for a few minutes to check the score. They were fine, however after a while I stopped and started working on some artwork to help the artist. I asked the captain for help too as this was his specialty, but after he submitted his work, I was actually appalled. We’d spent an hour coming up with some good artwork, using the appropriate tools and effects and he submitted uncropped pictures in a word document. I was speechless, but what could I do. I couldn’t tell the guy his artwork was terrible so I added to it. And by added I mean changed it a little bit. And by changed it a little bit I mean discarded it completely because a toddler could have done a better drawing. And it turned out he’d been watching the entire football match where most of us had been working.
But I stopped and decided that the group needed “dinner” so we headed down to the cafe. Actually I’ll take the quotation marks out of dinner as it wasn’t so bad this evening. We came back and started working on the code again. I was a little bit useless at this point as I couldn’t help with the coding, so tried to research it and see if we could get anywhere with it. The captain decided to go to bed at around 10 but the rest of us carried on.
After the research failed, I started working on our presentation which had to be done on the Sunday afternoon in front of a panel of representatives from the gaming industry. Needless to say I was shitting myself, not literally, but that could have happened, I had a lot of caffeine. So I started working on the presentation and delirium was definitely settling in, a lot later than I anticipated. I started off by trying to summarise what everyone had done as part of the group, the developer did all the coding, the artist did some amazing artwork and animation, I contributed to the sound, some artwork, designed the levels and organised the team. I then started writing about what the captain had contributed. And it came to me, he had contributed nothing in a 24 hour period. I didn’t know what to do, it was awful, we struggled through the day with the art and the code and he didn’t even help. This was a mess, we had been struggling to get things working and he had done nothing apart from watch football and submit some poor box art.
The captain emerged at around 2 whilst we were all working. I took him outside and asked him what he contributed to the game, he tried to come up with an excuse for box art, idea and some artwork. I asked him if he could do the presentation as he was team captain and to make him realise what he had contributed.
At 4 in the morning, the captain had passed out and we decided to call it a night as the game had a few levels and we could transition from to the other with ease. The game only needed polishing the next morning. We managed to find a lounge where we could sleep. I gave the developer the couch as he had all the weight on his shoulders. I managed to make a bed out of 8 cushioned office chairs and actually had a decent nights sleep. We set an alarm for 7 so we could carry on in the morning.
We woke up at 7 and returned to our workstations where the captain had said he had written the presentation. We were thrilled and decided to head down for “breakfast”. After a few coffees and one can of Monster I checked the presentation and it was terrible. I couldn’t be bothered to argue with him so I asked if I could make some adjustments and asked the other guys if they liked to contribute. They said they didn’t want to contribute, however the captain had other ideas.
I’m not sure if he realised how terrible the presentation was or whether he was going power crazy, but he turned round to the other guys and said you need to contribute, I am the captain and you should do what I say. I had to step in at this time and say if they don’t want to contribute then they shouldn’t be forced to. He didn’t like that and he hated it even more when the other guys said I should do the presentation. He was angry so I said he could do it, just be prepared.
Presentation time and we were first out of all the teams to do it. I was nervous, however the captain was confident and said he was prepared. The judges consisted of members of the industry so we had to shine. The presentation started with the captain introducing the team and then the game. They were intrigued and started asking questions and the captain was struggling to answer. His cop-out was to introduce me to talk about it and I wasn’t happy but I went on to wing it. It went pretty well and they enjoyed the game and I got a pat on the back from the members and the mentors for taking the responsibility.
The captain decided to leave the event right after the presentation. He asked to add us on Facebook, but we decided against it. We explained to the other teams that he had contributed nothing and that we had to sort out everything he did submit. They were shocked at his performance as a captain but they admired that we carried on regardless to make a working game.
After the presentation of best game and best team (neither of which we won) we left the University of Bedfordshire knowing we could be proud of our achievement. The artist and the developer were brilliant hard-working individuals and I would love to work with them again. The captain can go die in a hole somewhere. He contributed no work, ballsed up the presentation and left early. He wasn’t going to be invited back into the team.
Now I bet you’re all wondering if the entire GameJam was worth it. Well in a 48 hour period I had about 6 hours sleep, ate some very questionable meals, hurt my back, became delirious, argued with co-workers and hadn’t showered and washed in 2 days and felt terrible. However it was all completely worth it, we developed a working game in a 48 period with a team of 3 people and somehow managed to wing a presentation together. We had some fun together and got to meet some interesting people and I will probably go next year, but as a captain and try and win the damn thing.