Hat Jam is a game jam that runs at VFS (Vancouver Film School) once a term and is organized by fellow students Anna Prein and Michelangelo Pereira Huezo.
Teams of 3 had less than 48 hours to design and make a game from scratch, based on a painting that was randomly given to them.
You can read Anna’s write up of the jam on the VFS arcade and play games made by other teams here: http://community.vfs.com/arcade/2013/11/hat-jam-3-thirteen-games/#more-8907
I entered with two of my classmates, Danilo Reyes and Guerric Haché, winning best story.
Picture taken from here: Danilo, myself and Guerric, with a screenshot of our game.
This post is about the process behind the game we made, ‘The Temptation of Antonio the Vampire‘, which can be played by clicking on the name or following this link: http://projects.myvfs.com/games/HatJam3/SanAntonio/SanAntonio.html
The description of the game is as follows:
The Temptation of Antonio the Vampire is a third-person exploration game for PC, inspired by Salvator Rosa’s painting, The Temptation of Saint Anthony. You are Antonio. You are a vampire. Alas, your parents have disowned you due to your affinity for the bulbous plant garlic! You’re on your way to the North West Rehab Clinic for the garlic-breathed, avoiding sunrays and drinking the blood of humans along the way to stay strong. But oh no! What’s this? It’s a garlic forest! How will you avoid temptation on the way to salvation?
Danilo made the 3-D model of Antonio and attached animations, Guerric did the programming and integration of assets and I wrote the story, designed the GUI, did voice-acting, found supporting assets for the environment and acted as project manager.
Before we went to the jam, we had a team forming meeting where we discussed what we wanted to get out of it.
Guerric wanted to make something with procedural generation, Danilo was tossing up between practicing 2D pixel art and 3D modelling and I wanted to have a game with a story, dark humour, puzzles and a social message.
For the purposes of making a game that would fit all our wants, we decided we would make a 3-D, procedurally generated game with an isometric top-down camera with a story – and puzzles if time permitted. In Unity.
When we first saw the painting, we were stumped. How were we going to make the game we wanted out of this?
Since I had a Dungeons and Dragons class on the first night of the jam, we had a quick one-hour brainstorm session where we went with the idea of a vampire who loves to eat garlic and is on a journey to avoid temptation and go towards salvation. This is what we built our mechanics around.
The game has three endings. Which one you reach depends on how much garlic you eat, as well as a decision you make when you reach one of the two main endings.
I’m not going to say too much else about the game content – you can play it yourself to find out what happens!
Rather, this post will be a post-mortem of the process, which Danilo, Guerric and I did in person over dinner the night after the jam ended.
THINGS WE DID WELL
- Story: At the behest of boasting, I think it’s a real strength of our game. We started off wanting to make a serious, existential game about temptation and I told my team mates, “Sorry guys. It’s just too irresistible to write funny dialogue.” In the end it’s the thing that sticks out the most about a game.
- Teamwork: Danilo, Guerric and I are pretty good friends and we were all fairly open when it came to communication. We created a good team culture, which meant we all felt free to share our ideas and offer productive critique on the work of team mates.
- Planning: We created a list at the beginning of things that each person needed to do and when they needed to be done by (e.g. 3-D model done by 2pm Sunday for integration) and we updated these lists as we went. This resulted in us sticking to our goal of 9am-9pm days, instead of tiring ourselves out and creating undue stress. It also meant that by an hour before the deadline, we had a complete game with sufficient time for extra playtesting.
THINGS WE’D DO DIFFERENTLY
- Have a more solid design from the beginning: We started prototyping and creating assets before we had cemented mechanics. This impacted the overall look and finish of the game.
- Better scope: This could’ve been done by doing more research into what was possible. For example, animations were more difficult than we thought and they were integrated fairly last minute because of that.
- More communication: You can almost never have enough communication, except for project managers that excessively hound team members that work best with minimal interaction.
Overall the most valuable thing I got out of the experience was realising just how much you can accomplish in such a short period of time, and learning how to structure and implement a game development pipeline.
Here’s the game link again: http://projects.myvfs.com/games/HatJam3/SanAntonio/SanAntonio.html
If you play the game, we’d love to hear what you think about it! Feel free to comment below.