Craig’s game with a really long title #GGJ2020

It’s January which means it must be time for Global Game Jam!
This year I completed another solo project with the name; Craig’s game made for GLOBAL GAME JAM 2020 which is different, but not entirely dissimilar to FTL: Faster Than Light by subset Games: This Ship Has A Nasty Habit Of Catching Fire, or CgmfGGJ2020widbnedtFTL:FTLbSG:TSHANHOCF for short.

This years theme was “Repair” and my mind (as well as many others) immediately went to FTL and the process your crew goes through when your spaceship becomes damaged. Putting out fires, plugging up any holes in the hull and ultimately repairing whatever sub-system might’ve been hit by enemy weapons seemed like an interesting set of tasks for a single person to complete and could be scaled up quite easily with more hazards and things which could potentially go wrong.

It might surprise you, dear reader, that I settled on Pico 8 as my engine of choice after a long (4 seconds) deliberation process. Since my current laptop is rather dated and under-powered to say the least, developing a Unity or Unreal game was out of the question. There was an option available to use one of the many machines provided by UWE, but that would involve potentially using something which isn’t Pico 8 (eww).

Ultimately, my game fell a little short of my own expectations (something anyone familiar with GGJ has likely come to expect by this point) by only featuring fires as potential hazards. However I am proud to say that not only was my entry fully functional and playable, I was also able to maintain a healthy amount of sleep and level of sociability throughout the weekend.

Certain participants and organisers seem to be adopting this nasty idea of promoting crunch and other unhealthy habits for this and other jams. In my experience, this almost always works to the detriment of participants and their games. I certainly felt my cognition becoming noticeably slower and more dysfunctional as I pushed past the 8 hour development streak on the Saturday and found new motivation upon returning Sunday after a good nights sleep and time away from my laptop.

Tangents aside, I’m very pleased with the final product, here’s some lovely gifs!

Rather than focus on what I didn’t have time to squeeze in, I think it’s important to instead think about what I did manage to accomplish within a pretty limited time window. So here’s a list of all the cool things that I was able to polish off over the weekend;

  • Interactive fire propagation system which scales up even with Pico 8’s limited technical resources
  • Adapted version of the Marching Squares algorithm to feature a more tilted top down perspective
  • Automated process to place automatic doors (that make those sweet swoosh sounds like in Star Trek)
  • Dynamics minimap
  • Mechanics and systems which could easily be parameterised for difficulty options post-jam
  • Fully animated player avatar
  • A pretty tasty video glitch effect on the AI portrait when terminals become damaged
  • A full spaceship tile set
  • A definitive and reachable ending

Granted some of these accomplishments are worth celebrating more than others, but they’re successes nonetheless!

You can view my entry on the Global Game Jam site here and play it here!

Here’s to GGJ 2021!

UPDATE: I’ve made a couple of improvements to the original jam build and have uploaded the new and improved version to itch.io!

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