lundi 20 avril 2015

[A Grim End] Media School, or Global Game Jam as a Game Designer/Project Manager

Hello there ! Here's my post mortem from the 2015's Global Game Jam (done ine Media School in Auckland).
I won't talk about the game itself (I'll wite an article about it when the game will be playable), but more about the organisation and team leading, as it has been one of my roles in this adventure.

About choices

A new year, a new Global Game Jam! For the 2015's edition, I was in Auckland - New Zealand.
A great occasion to test my professionnal english level, and meet some videogame guys from Auckland. So I went to Media Design School, standing firm on my feet, and ready to "fight"...without any computer and any team mate, haha!

I made my way to the building, took the elevator to the 5th floor...The gates opened. I was there, facing two closed doors. A dude was there, waiting. It was my future mate.
That's how I met Jethro, a 2D animator from Media Design School. We talked for about an hour, and he decided to introduce me to the other members of his team : Yen-Ju Lee (concept artist) / Hypnic Jerk (Lead Artist/Chara-designer), and Min Tien (Dev).
They were all there for their first Game Jam, so we talked quickly about my few other experiences in this exercise.
I also had to describe what was the role of a Game Designer (actually, it was the first time I had to do this kind of stuff in english!), and we finally decided to team up for the Global Game Jam. We were starting a story-driven game, based on choices!

Let Start a Game 

Our team was a bit unexpected, as we were 3 artists for 1 game designer and 1 developper. As the dev-guy was a beginner (2 months since he started to learn code), I submitted the idea that we should focus on simple mechanics, great art and a nice story.
It's kind of a challenge when you're in a Jam to make a story-driven game, but anyway, we had enough art-guys to make a great bunch of assets, and the mechanics were simple enough to create the engine quickly.

So we discussed a bit with Hypnic about the characters of the game, and I started to design the game.
At first, all was going well. We had beautiful landscapes, the game was profiling good and I had made a few prototype to help our dev in his work.
Let's take a break, a coffee and look what will happen next...!

Art is going well, but...

At the beginning of the second day, we had a working prototype (powered with Fusion 2.5), and artists were polishing their art, adding some animations.
Actually, the problem was more on the Dev side, but as a Team Leader, I failed at discovering our issues early enough. Indeed, our developper was alone, facing some troubles with the Unity version of the game. 

We were enjoying our beautiful art pieces, working with Hypnic on the Art Direction of the game, as the concept was finally locked and described in the GDD's final version...But the game itself was far from be ready for any presentation.
What happened is, at the end of the first day we still didn't had any playable version of our game.

On my side, I was in a deep state of tireness, and talking and leading in english, which isn't my mothertongue, was harder and harder. I remember moments where I wasn't even aware of what I was saying...



Doing this Jam was an unforgettable experience. I met there some awesome people (you guys were perfect!), but also difficulties I had to out do.
It was the first time I actually led a team alone, and I partially failed at it.
Our only dev was staying aside, saying that all was going well, certainly because he didn't want to bother us at the moment, but I should have been more available to help him with his tasks (even if I couldn't help so much, thanks to my pitiful code level...).

On the Game Design side, working on a story-driven game for a Jam was really exciting, but also a bit ambitious. The idea was to create a story repeating itself indefinitely, but each time in a different way, depending on the player's choices.

Hopefully, the game will be done at the end of the year, as we have all the assets and specs in the box! 

Here is the Game Design Document :

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