My very first entry to a game jam and it was ranked an incredible 6th place out of a total of 17 games. I'm chuffed with that result, considering it was very buggy and didn't come any where near to finishing it as I would of liked. This was very much due to the fact that I decided to make a game far bigger then I originally thought about and let my over ambitious brain get the better of me again.
The actual game 'Never a Doll day' didn't even exist for the first 3 days of the jam starting. The game I was going to do for the jam was 'Rat Labrynth'. A small arcade coin up game featuring the assets from Dannorder and my Arcade GUI asset. This I did quite quickly, so I thought I'd do another one very similar using different assets. This thought though was most likely my undoing in this game jam. Searching through the cave of wonders that is Opengameart, you can't help but see many assets from very talented individuals and be inspired to make a game using their work. Game ideas just kept popping into my head, but I wanted to find a way to incorporate them altogether somehow, so I'm not making multiple submissions to the jam, although this would of been fine to do. I came up with the idea of a carnival type theme with a scene of like being at the amusements with lots of little games to play. Now this is where my brain went into overdrive and I got very ambitious. Not only did I think about the arcade games, I started thinking about the things I remember from being at the amusements when I was a kid. There was 'Grabber' machines, Candy floss, Hot dog & Burger stands, Crazy Golf, Boat rides and yeah, there was a lot!, but the one thing that sticks in my mind the most was the countless time I spent in the arcades trying to win 'Tickets'. You see there was a Prize stand with all these cool prizes to be won and you could only collect the prizes if you had enough tickets. You could only get the tickets from winning on the arcade machines!. (I'm sure I spent a fortune, well me Mum did).
So now my collection of small games has now turned out to be a massive parade of different games with an objective of collecting tickets to win prizes. But it didn't stop there. With a prize stall now in the mix I decided to put a man who you would talk to and interact with and have someone to give the tickets to and collect the prize. This gave me the idea to have other characters in the game, and gave me a chance to create a game I always wanted to do. A Point n Click style game.
This then led me on to having a playable character, and pushed me to give it a narrative, which was unclear to begin with, but seem as though the object of the game was to collect prizes, It made sense to make one prize the reason for playing. This prize was the Doll, which was the OpenGameArt mascot called 'Sara', and as this was game jam was based on the OGA assets it seemed very fitting. I still needed a reason for winning the Doll though, and I got to thinking that most dolls are owned by girls, so the little girl character became a feature to the narrative, along with the mother. The narrative was very basic, the doll has been lost, you lost it, you need to get another, or else there would be trouble!, trouble being a screaming and sobbing little girl. The story was pretty easy to write considering the setting of the game being an amusement park, but I changed it to a Pier because it forced the game to a place where you couldn't just go back and look for something you have lost somewhere. A beach where the tide was in seemed 'reasonable' logic to not go back to look, and the pier has a reason to turn back. Had it been a street it could of gone on for ages with having to put something like 'Oh, there's a road block because of a massive plane crash or something silly and over the top.
Now with a story, Setting and playable character, I had to think about the characters I would have in the game itself to interact with, and how that interaction would work out. I know I needed one for the Prize stall which was fine, but I wanted to incorporate other characters in the game that would be fun and perhaps aid in the gameplay somehow. So I decided that using some of the prizes to 'Help' other characters would be a good thing, and in turn help you to achieve your goal as well. Each character you could interact with would have some sort of dilemma for you to solve. I had a few little scenerios written up which would of be cool, and one of the coolest ideas I thought I had was to include my Patreons as characters too. It was great to include them in this way and to thank them for their genorosity and support.
Once I had the first scene set up, characters dialog and movement it was onto the one thing that pretty much killed all of these ideas I had wanted to do. The 'Inventory'. My decision to resurrect my clunky not so good inventory system was probably not the best idea I've ever had, but with a game like this it was needed and it was the only experiance of working with an inventory I had worked on. And because I was starting it from scratch I believed I could get it right this time. Sadly the time it took me to get it working it left me no time to put in all the things I wanted to and I ended up rushing to get what I could done in game which in the end was not that much. But I did get enough done to have it playable for the jam and I recon there was enough in there to show what I was trying to achieve with this game.
Although I blame the inventory costing me the most time and letting me down with the end result, what really was my downfall was my over ambition. Time and time again I think to much and over think things when I should try to keep it simple. But when your ideas are flowing and your inspired and want to challenge yourself then you just got to go with it!
The original game idea would of had 20 prizes to win, Collectable prizes to collect from 'Gumball' and 'Grabber' machines, 10 'dilemma challenges with the characters in game, 20 'Hidden' assets to find, and an alternative ending.
The result of 6th place in the jam was a fantastic achievement for me, and from what I have Learnt from doing this project has set me up well for future projects like this on the same genre. I may even come back to this I make it the full game I wanted it to be.