Energy Source - Retrospective (Go Godot Jam 2)
Music: Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube
Game jam: Entries
For my second Godot-specific game jam in a row, the Go Godot Jam is actually a month-long "festival" that has a game jam appended to it. Due to the fact that participants tend to join at the beginning of this, I found a team relatively early and there was over two weeks between grouping up and the game jam starting with a theme being announced. Overall, I feel this was a negative contributing factor to how everything panned out but I'll discuss that in an upcoming section.
Before the "Energy Source" theme was announced, we had a rather large team - six of us in total. Four programmers, one 2D artist and the musician being myself. Some great ideas were being thrown around at the beginning and we finally settled on the player being the actual energy source, travelling through wires and electrical equipment to keep the spirits at bay and protect those who reside in their houses. I thought it was a really interesting take on the theme as a whole and had a great deal of potential to be simple yet extremely effective. Plenty of scope for adding and subtracting functionality where necessary, while still maintain the essence of the game's premise.
This project was the first time that some fundamental planning had been put in place, namely a Trello workspace for tracking and commenting on ideas and progress and a structured GitHub workflow for the team. There were constant updates and discussions in the early periods giving way to some good progress and cementing certain mechanics to bring everyone onto the same page.
However, I think it was the classic case of high motivation at the beginning of a project that eventually declines over time, to flatten out as no progress at the end. A reverse "r" if you will, if you think in terms of a graph curve. I have nothing against things like this happening and it's done so in the past with other game jams so I have no regret or shame towards any other team members. It's a learning experience for everyone involved each time and a chance to hone in on what you want out of this and attempting to find future jam team members that share more of your values and mindset. It's almost like a group interview process to strike up some longer-term relationships and partnerships along the way for future endeavours.
I continued to make some progress on a menu theme and a single, extended main track for the game throughout and our artist was constantly shipping things through as well so progress artistically was very good. As I had some additional time because things were slowing down, I also took the opportunity to attempt to produce more homemade sound effect assets that could fit. This was a particularly enjoyable process as I went around the house and recorded some sounds that I thought could fit into the game, with some effects and modulation of course! Mainly, the bathroom fan and some light switches in fact!
Towards the end of the project, our artist attempted to find another programmer who could come in and help boost our chances of getting a minimum viable product submitted for the jam so we're not leaving empty handed but unfortunately, things just didn't go our way. That's fine and it's an incredible learning experience for myself again. I've learned that I should maybe take a small step back after contact is initiated with another game jammer who wants to collaborate on a project to see whether a brief conversation over ideas and styles piques both of our interests at all. I've been very willing to reserve the spot to collaborate together to the first person or group to get in touch with me out of pure courtesy but this could be something to review in the future into the next year and beyond.
As always, I parted ways amicably and with a few short words about the project as a whole to try and leave other members with a positive outlook for any future endeavours they might tackle. I thought I'd share those with you:
"It's unfortunate that nothing was submitted based on the work that we all did but at least it's a learning experience to keep moving forward from. Sometimes it comes together and sometimes it doesn't.
I'm going to bow out for now while I try to get some other things lined up but wanted to wish you all the best and thanks for bringing me along for the ride. Maybe we'll see each other again in the future, who knows if you continue entering game jams! I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities again in the future for all of us.
Take care and never give up."
I think it's always important to leave things on a high note, or at least as best as possible given any circumstances so people don't part ways feeling incredibly bad or discouraged at all. Someone or multiple people have to be that beacon of light for motivation for upcoming opportunities. Something that can be reflected upon during downtime between projects.
This was the first time that I've attempted to compose something that has an intentional spooky and unsettling vibe but after a few iterations on the main composition, I think it turned out pretty well. I have a tendency to make my first composition that I send over for feedback rather conservative in terms of the theme but that lends itself nicely to using said track as menu music or something more low-key. From there, I'm able to build upon that and create something that fits what the team are looking for with the feedback that's been provided and that first feedback loop is critical.
It seems to work for me, has a nice workflow and ensures some early feedback that doesn't take too much time out of everyone's day to review and resolve if it's relatively short. I'd say it's akin to drawing a single sprite, an object in a scene or a simple colour scheme and palette even. It doesn't take much to start eliciting emotion and feeling from any medium and this can do exactly that.
While it didn't quite turn out how we all wanted, it's another couple of tracks under my belt and a chance to tackle an entirely different theme. All is not lost - I managed to get my first repeat team member with the artist that I worked alongside. I get the feeling that we seem to share similar values and are both "complete-finishers" so I'm hopeful that with the help of another programmer (who happens to be their acquaintance already), we can get a minimum viable product together and finally get another submission under out belts! This next one is the Godot Wild Jam #40.
Additionally, I'm finalising some music for a Yogscast Game Jam 2021 entry, from which I'm hopeful that a submission will arise. More info on that soon and more retrospectives to come thereafter!Tagged as: retrospective
Published on: Thursday 09 December, 2021