“Going Home” : A Global Game Jam 2019 Postmortem

Published by Jon on

Earlier this month I took part in the Global Game Jam. It was a great experience and I was lucky enough to work with people who either had a lot of experience with game jams or none at all. We ended up making a rather interesting experimental horror game.

Yellow text "Going Home"

The thumbnail for the game

Going Home

The theme of the jam was “What home means to you“. After some discussion the team came up with three different concepts. We eventually settled on the idea of home being a safe environment and the game itself being about getting back home. The aim was to create a sprawling, maze-like city that would be punctuated by streetlights that the player would turn on by walking past them. Taking inspiration from one of the jam’s diversifiers we intended for the player to re-spawn at different points on the map and to navigate using the lights they had already illuminated. The player would also be chased by ghosts. This led to the unintentional side-effect of everyone we explained the concept to dubbing the game as “Horror Pac-Man” or similar.

Our team composition was fairly straightforward; 1 programmer (me), 1 artist (Justin) and 2 designers (Michael and Gnanajegannath). We used the ever-popular Unity engine.

Screenshot with the flashlight

What Went Right

1. Simple design

The game’s mechanics were largely straightforward to implement and weren’t particularly complicated. This simplicity allowed us to have basic implementations of most of the mechanics done.

2. Asset creation

Assets were created rapidly and most of what we required either came as standard with Unity or could be created with little to no issues. Keeping things simple definitely helped with this.

3. Sleep

No person on the team was awake for the entirety of the jam. Everyone got a good amount of sleep. This meant we were far more productive during the hours we were at the jam site.

One of the lights in the city

What Went Wrong

1. Constructing the city

This took a lot longer than expected. There’s no sole factor that prevented this from being completed quicker. It was mixture of lack of familiarity with the engine, trying to get everything looking reasonably correct and general placement problems.

2. No audio designer (on-site)

This would’ve been less of an issue had we not decided to do a genre that requires good audio. We did manage to get hold of an audio designer off-site who produced some music and sound effects.

3. Putting it all together

This is a result of the two issues listed above. By the time we actually finished constructing the city it was rather far into the jam, and combining the remaining assets and scripts proved to be more of a challenge than we initially considered. This led to certain ideas being scrapped (such as the respawning in different locations mechanic) and also the removal of certain assets.

Conclusion

Overall I had a great experience taking part in this year’s jam. I am definitely doing it again next year. If you want to play our game you can download it here.