After our successful completion of project OPO! that we submitted to Dragonjam, we thought now would be a good time to launch the website. A game jam was just the right amount of fuel to get us back up to full swing, getting our creativity flowing and taking us away from the monotony we all-too-often find ourselves getting stuck in. Every once in a while it’s important to take a step back from things you’ve been so focused on and to revitalize your system by shocking it with a tight deadline and creative passion that’s completely unrelated to what you’ve worked through for months over months.
It’s been a rough start to the past year or so kicking GGS into gear, finding the right number of people for the team and finding similar ratios of work-to-life styles to complete our projects, but we think we’re finally settling into our skins. Life is calming down, our minds are a bit more at ease, and we’re about to feel the cool touch of Fall here in New England; the perfect mixture to let ourselves relax into our game design and not worry about our next meeting, project, or outing. That’s not to say we haven’t been keeping ourselves busy with designs here-and-there.
A few things I’ve picked up on while working through all of my mini-projects this past couple of years is to properly analyze your scope. It takes a lot of trial and error to really understand how long something will take to complete; I think that’s especially true for video game design and development. Every small feature that likely – well, they tend to always – feels minimal takes multiple bouts of teamwork, critical analysis, design, and implementation to complete to a satisfactory degree. I think that in these early stages of still testing the waters and honing our skills requires us to take a different approach to our “dream project” and to welcome the idea of smaller projects, each one fulfilling a small gap we designers and makers have, while also confirming our aptitude and efforts for what it is that we do. This circles me back into the first paragraph and our involvement in Dragonjam.
Game jams are an excellent way to find your true strengths and weaknesses without feeling a damaging hit to your ego when something runs unsuccessfully. Sometimes we do have the strength to dust ourselves off and pick right back up again, but when we have a project we’re really passionate about and it fizzles for one reason or another, those can leave damaging pangs of dissatisfaction and even guilt. The comradery and support you find in most game jams is something like that of a team sport, and quite welcome in the often lonely abyss of indie game development. Even though you’re competing, you want everyone else to do well. You look forward to playing other people’s creations, to see how they approached their theme, their design, and narrative. You learn from one another, you encourage one another, and you challenge one another. And if you fail – who cares? You did your best, and you’re not expected to get much more done than a playable prototype.
With all that being said, I urge any game developer, artist, designer, audio designer, and all else to find a short one and jump in. Whether you’re fresh into game development or a senior AAA designer, there’s always something you can learn from the other creative minds in the world, and they’re often very eager to share. Whether you intrinsically re-evaluate your design off of a flaw you found in another project or find a unique piece of gameplay that helps adjust your own creations, you’re bound to find something in the others around you.
Thanks for reading, thanks for visiting, and thanks for supporting us at GGS. We hope to bring you excellent games for years to come!