After finishing at the disappointing, but not unexpected, sixth place at the narrative-driven jam #12, i thought it would be better to reflect on what i did right and what still needs improvement for next jam. That i hope it is going to be Adventure Jam 2023. Please….
What Went Right
First and foremost, i had a complete, if very short, game done by the deadline.
This sounds kind of duh!, but i was not so sure until the very last moment—literally the last five minutes before the end of the jam! Every day, as i was posting my devlog, i hoped i was not doing all that just to fail, not submit anything, and look a fool in front of everyone. Well, i kind of did, but in a very different way.
Another thing that is going in the right direction is that i seem to be improving my so-called art, if ever so little. I have already wrote about this in a previous entry, that even though i used the same comic-like style for this game’s graphics, they have a bit more detail and look better that they did in my first narrative-driven jam. This feels like a great achievement for someone that is not art inclined.
Finally, i was somewhat satisfied with the kind-of-but-not-really coroutine system i implemented for this game using Haxe’s macros. That has been always the most complex part, code-wise, in all the other adventure games i did for jams, because all the previous systems were cumbersome to script scenes and player actions. However, this time the script looks and feels like regular sequential code, but runs bit by bit each frame until everything is complete. I can be done without macros—in fact, my first attempt this jam did not use macros, mostly because I had never even looked at them before—but would be a lot harder and “noisier” to code.
What Went Wrong
It still takes me a lot of time to draw even simple art. According to the time tracker, i have spent around 76 hours in this game. I do not have a breakdown of the time for each part, but my feeling is like around 80–90 % of the time was just for art. That’s a lot of hours, especially for someone that does not particularly enjoy drawing….
By the way, if you do the math, 76 hours in 10 days amounts to almost 8 hours/day without weekends or days off, more than a full-time job. And that is on top of my actual full-time job. Of course, these hours were not spread evenly, which means that i spent 60 hours or so weekends, plus workers’ day. This is in the “What Went Wrong” section because it is certainly not healthy, even though it is the reason i could deliver the game in time.
Theme was definitively something that went wrong, and it shows in the results: I basically did a game that had nothing to to with asymmetry, the required theme, or any of the optional themes—flower language, infection, and dating sim. I actually somehow confused “opposites” with “asymmetry” and went for it. Wrong.
I did not—and still do not—have a framework for building graphic adventure games. When i saw the jam announced around Easter, i knew that i would be trying again with a point and click game, and i should have created some kind of library with the code from previous entries, maybe even looked at macros beforehand so i would not waste time learning about them during the jam. I knew i should have. But i did not.
Finally, i worked solo. I am not an artist; i am not a musician; i am not a writer. I am a mediocre coder, and only when giving my best. Accordingly, i should work with others that have the skills i lack, not only because then i would not spent an unhealthy amount of hours doing something i do not really enjoy—i only do it because i want the end result—, the game would be much, much better. I mean, look what the team behind Of Ashen Lands And Growing Flowers did! Unfortunately, when i browse through the looking-for-team posts on Adventure Jam 2023’s community, i can not see myself being of help to any of them, so in all likelihood i am going to keep doing it myself. And badly.
Be prepared, and work more efficiently on the correct thing to build.