Mocha Cabin - Retrospective (Godot Wild Jam no.40)
Music: Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube
Gameplay: Game link
The last game jam that I participated in for the year that was 2021 and consequently, the best release and result to date which is a lovely little boost to round off the year - I'll save the details for the Submission section. I had the unpassable opportunity to work alongside Gabriel for a second time, an extremely talented pixel artist and another programmer they had teamed up with for this jam who had some previous jam experience already, Dmitriy.
This was also the first time that I had been asked upfront ahead of time to participate alongside other individuals who want to team up again and gives a real chance to start forming longer-term partnerships. That has always been my goal and can be incredibly powerful within the industry or life as a whole - being recommended by another individual for a project that would be a good fit. That motivated me even more to create music and sound effects that were far more unique and themic to do the best job I could for the team to give us the best opportunity at hitting one of those top spots.
While I'm predominantly entering these game jams for the experience as an individual and building my communication skills with new people every day, I wouldn't be entering these competitions if I didn't think there was an opportunity to place top in one of the categories or even overall in the #1 spot. It's very easy to get caught only chasing number one so there always have to be multiple reasons to avoid tunnel vision but I also want to try and realise my potential and satisfy the "healthy" competitiveness that resides inside of me.
Before I got started, I conveyed the fact that I'd need to take a couple of personal days out to recover from a bit of burnout that I was experiencing after my work on a previous game jam. I heavily underestimated how much that process took out of me and inevitably found its way into and affecting my output for this jam ever so slightly. Enough to throw you off your game, though.
Throughout the entire process, there was always some progress being made each day, with updates being shared constantly with advancements over the sprites, art and technical implementation which always helps to keep morale high throught any game jam. I had made some decent progress early, with cementing an overarching theme early on that would go on to shape the main theme and some shorter menu music. Things started off fairly active for a solid basis and then I built around that with some slower sections and a bit of negative space usage scattered throughout.
One thing that could have been better would have been the fact that I didn't really get any feedback regarding the compositions throughout the entire creative process and that's on me for not pushing any team members to give up their time for my gain. I knew how busy they were already so it was a little difficult to steer the theme as I only had my internal feeling to go on. Same goes for the sound effects that I created but sometimes things just happen that way and were meant to be. I did a few small recordings of foley around the kitchen and attempted to mix those against the compositions I'd created to balance everything out to the best of my ability, compressing where necessary to bring those life-like sounds closer to the original chiptune aesthetic.
While there were a few hiccups throughout our member's personal lives, my fellow team members never faultered at all. I commend them both for pushing through any troubles they had along the way and still pushing out a commendable interactive experience that others enjoyed. I could have done a lot more to support the testing phase of the project's progress but I was completely depleted by that stage.
All things considered, the team as a whole managed to put out something that was incredibly polished and feature-rich in such a short period of time. With it being the holiday season as well, work and personal commitments and everything else in-between, I'm completely over the moon with our third place submission. It's my best placement yet when contributing to another person's game so a real personal milestone for myself as well.
The submission process itself was rather smooth. We had a couple of issues surrounding the keybindings across different platforms and very small bugs but nothing game breaking. It was unfortunate that there wasn't time to implement the sound effects that I'd created but I don't think it detracts anything from the experience at all - it just could have added a few percentage points to the overall audio but things happen. We're human after all and I have nothing to complain about and everything to be thankful of.
It was an odd situation as I retrospectively looked at what I had composed for our entry. While I think the tracks really fit the design and aesthetic of the gameplay experience, they slightly missed the mark when it comes to the overall theme. I was attempting to strike a very fine balance between a somewhat upbeat and relaxing cafe atmosphere and something that had more of a Wintry feel and that was my mistake for this project. I assumed Winter == cozy ambience when in fact this isn't the case and my eyes were opened to that after this experience.
It's very easy to get caught up over making something feel a certain way without ever questioning the overarching theme at all. While the tracks weren't bad by any means, they were just a touch too "active" for the general scene and reflected somewhat in the ratings and comments. It's something that I've taken note of and will pay far more attention to in the future.
I believe that now is the right time to start thinking about commercial projects and expanding my skillset once again. Participating in game jams consistently is an incredibly draining experience due to how rapid the iteration is and requirement to get something crafted well enough in such a short period of time.
What a lot of people also forget (or prefer to avoid altogether) is the review and voting process after submitting. If I have the ability to, I feel it's my duty to go through and review any entries which I'm able to play on my Operating System to try and contribute to a fair vote overall. The amount of time it takes to play through the sheer volume of blood, sweat and tears that get poured into personal projects can be astronomical so you have to restrict your time per title to establish some form of fairness.
A lot of entries have far too much content for others to play through and around five minutes is probably the limit to get a feel for a game submission. While some may say that's unfair, few think about the quantity of entries to review period ratio and other constants like full-time workers, unavailability and personal life in general. Get a solid gameplay loop with some degree of polish and accessibility and you're well on your way to getting people to spend more time with your submissions, which happened in a few cases for me and hence got my highest ratings!
Anyway, I feel it's finally time to get my teeth stuck into a longer-term project. I've waited for far too long for the right time to "do my best work". The wait is over and I need to just go ahead and do said work, whether my body believes it's the right time to do so or not. More to come soon, I'm very sure of that.Tagged as: retrospective
Published on: Monday 27 December, 2021