LD#34 Post-mortem – Super Meet Ball

During December 2015 occurred the Ludum Dare 34, an online and global game jam with the objective of realizing a game in 72h. People usually create teams, gather artists, developers and anyone that can actively contribute to game development in one place.

I gave it a try once again after doing the Ludum Dare 33 edition in August, this time with Thierry and a few people that were doing it for the first time. A cool team of 7 people with a lot of differences and similarities. We were going to add a few twists to the classic “make your game on this theme” jam.

And it actually went really great. You can check and play the game Here

The team

We are 7 people from different domains:

  • Théo Grimoud (Production) at the IIM as an MBA student
  • Sylvain Noblet (Production) at the IIM as an MBA student
  • Emily Lissot (Art) at the IIM as an MBA student
  • Amélie Bourianes (Art) at the IIM as an MBA student and previously Isart Digital
  • Simon Abitan (Game Design) at Isart Digital
  • Thierry Berger (Programming) at Ubisoft and Epitech graduate
  • Jeremy Dubuc (Programming) at the IIM as an MBA student and Epitech graduate

The beginning: adding extra twists

All living in France we started on Saturday at 10am (meaning we were 7 hours late for the launch, being during the night). After a quick welcoming on our new place for the next 72 hours, we went on a great keynode presenting the jam, the theme and most interestingly the extra challenges we would have to face.

The theme

Progressively voted by the users, with final results announced at the start of the jam, the theme is the main guideline of the games to be developed in 72 hours.

Something unusual occurred for this jam, 2 themes had the same result after the voting period:

  • 2 Buttons
  • Growth

The 5 constraints

Instead of going on classic game jam rules, we decided to add new constraints to boost creativity (and add a bit of fun). That idea come from a

The Cards of Destiny

The Cards of Destiny

previous game jam I did with Ubisoft (Montpellier Game Challenge 2015). The team had to select 5 out of 45 cards ordered in 3 categories and 3 difficulties:

  • Experience (Very Easy, Easy, Hard): constraints that mainly influence the game design in order to bring specific experiences to the player.
  • Gameplay (Very Easy, Easy, Hard): constraints that influence the game design in order to provide specific interactions for the player.
  • Technical (Very Easy, Easy, Hard): constraints that requires development and usage of technologies that might influence the global game design.

We ended up with those constraints – for a total cards score of 27/40 points:

  • It’s alive: The game must be different every session and must include a procedurally generated content
  • Pacifist: There must be no violence and agressive behavior depicted in the game
  • Left brain, right brain: The game must require the player to control a minimum of 2 entities simultaneously
  • Where are you going?: All entities directed movement must be using path-finding

    Premier niveau

    First level art

  • Stay awhile and listen: The game must feature a complete story from its beginning to its end based on the theme

The production constraint

Last but not least, and from a bit of experience over previous projects and game jams, I added an additional constraint with the producers of the team.

Every 7-10 hours, the team must provide a functional game and test it. Our 2 producers are in charge of managing the project progress and be sure of having a working game each time.

72 hours later: how it went

As we went trough the weekend, low sleep, illness (that was sadly expected) but hopefully continuous great fun, the game went from its concept phase to a functional game pretty quickly.

We ended up having a good part of the basic content done, with a correct a set of levels. 5 progressing levels was enough, and only a few bugs remained that were not blocking the player. But a few issues actually occurred that made the game development harder than expected.

“Environmental” issues

We were expecting it, but it still hurt a lot when the team starts getting ill during the weekend. One of our producers had to go from Sunday, which meant we were only 6 left when level design was becoming the key element of the project. Hopefully Théo (the remaining producer) helped us with it and we got our first set of levels working and ready for updates 24h before the end of the jam.

“Skills” issues

We were lacking SFX/Music Design skills. And we didn’t correctly prepare for the problem, as we only started thinking and working on sound during the last 10 hours of the jam. Sylvain searched and added the current game sounds, but we didn’t have time to create real quality about it.