GGJ 2010 : our detailed live report

Global Game Jam 2010 was a really great experience. We made new friends at the Paris location and created a very experimental game with an experimental title : Meet Me at the Banana Disco. If you’ve already suscribed to our twitter, you may have read some news from us live during the event. But we wanted to share a more detailed report of the event as we lived it. Here it is, led by our twitts :

> Thursday 29th January :

[18:10] Global Game Jam is on ! Theme revealed. Now brainstorming.
40 jammers in the entrance hall of Isart Digital, in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. We broke the ice throught two little exercises to learn how to not have too much préjudices eachothers, then it’s time to talk about the organisation of the week-end, watch the GGJ 2010’s video introduction and Ste Curran’s keynote.
[youtube][/youtube]Then, finally the worldwide theme was revealed : Deception. And we discovered that we had an extra theme for Paris location : Seduction. Every jammers walked around, brainstorming for 30 minutes, searching for game concepts, than we had 45 seconds to explain our ideas to all jammers.

[19:44] We think we have the concept, but need more discussions to be really interesting.
We presented two concepts :
– Paris by night : a seduction game the player plays with his ears and takes place in a night club. For each person he wants to seduce, the player has to find the right key on the keyboard to make the npc falls in love.
– AAA : amazing screenshots and catch phrases, an outsanding introduction…then the game becomes more and more ugly and full of bugs. The game always gives the player new achievements to complete to keep him playing even if he knows it is a really bad game.

The jammers were very enthusiastic after AAA’s presentation, but we chose to make the “night club” game cause it was technically and graphically easier to create in 48 hours.

The concept presentation to all jammers

[21:16] The team : 4 guys, one sound designer, one artist, and two programmers. Let’s make a meeting !
The final groups have been constituted quite naturally, by talking about the concepts around a pizza. Matthieu, a sound designer, came to us to offer his help, and we accepted it with great pleasure. Alexis, a programmer, joined us later cause he has no team to work with. And you’ll understand that it has been a real chance to have him with us !

[22:45] The project : a “Disco” game. Mmm, that sounds straaaange.
Now that we were a team, we discussed the project, cause we didn’t wanted to come with a game concept and say to Alexis and Matthieu “we’ll make it as we want it to be, and you’ve got nothing to say, you bitches !”. Making a game is a team work, so is the game design. We tried to find new ideas to add to the concept and to replace previous ones, but at the end of the meeting we simply decided to make it simple : core gameplay first, then we’ll see how to add things.

[23:24] svn server is on fire, let’s make some Flixel
Alexis and Guillaume, the programmers, decided to create a source control serveur so they could avoid a lot of problems by working together. But the SVN website didn’t seem to work. Great… Guillaume tried to use Perforce, but it wasn’t very effective too (maybe because of the free version limitations). Alexis followed a little Flixel tutorial made by Guillaume.

Negotiating groups

> Saturday 30th January :

[02:12] coding coding coding
The project began quite good. Alexis explored the code taking care of the “clubbers” and the characters’ layers. Guillaume started to work on collisions and tilemaps (so we can use Excel to create them), on the character controller and the sound system to fademusics between the night club’s rooms.

[03:28] our music man and additional coder are cool
Our DJ Hero, Matthieu, made sounds at the speed of light with his iMac he loves so much. Alexis didn’t know Flash and Flixel before GGJ, but he has already made a really good job.

[04:30] It’s snowing outdoor, and I’m drawing a pixeled banana in the middle of the night. That’s GGJ.
Through the window of the first floor, we saw snowflakes falling. William has taken a long time to find the art style he wanted to (or could) use, but at this moment he had great fun on photoshop, making the neon banana you can see in the first screen of the game.

[06:46] Want to sleep. What about you @terriblebear ?
Alexis was taking a rest, William slowly closed his eyes. Yes, we were tired. TerribleBear, our favorite twitter bot, made us laugh saying he liked eat living things : “hey ! a mouse !” he wrote.

[11:36] Need a first playable version with core gameplay feature at 2 o’clock.
Ok, here Guillaume was upset by himself : “I’ve got the feeling that I’m not doing anything, and I’am making no progress”. Of course, he’s wrong… We went outside to eat something, and Guillaume stayed in front of his computer to keep working. At this very moment, we already had some interaction with NPCs, but it’s still full of bugs and, if we believe what Guillaume said : “the code I write is more and more dirty”. Sweet.

[14:33] The deadline expired… and we are still working on it
Guillaume, who didn’t want to sleep at all this night, was sad. It’s 2 o’clock and we still didn’t have the core gameplay mechanic integrated. Well, he was learning that when someone is tired, it’s really difficult to be effective at work.

[21:07] I really don’t know if we wil succeed to finish the ggj game this year. Suspense…
Now it’s William’s turn to be pessimistic. We forced Guillaume to go to sleep even few hours. He went downstairs and chose to lie down on the air bed near the radiator cause it’s really cold in the basement.

Groups at work

> Sunday 31st January :

[01:55] After a little snap and fat eating, the team is workig better than ever.
Guillaume re-appeared at 1’oclock and started being awake 30 minutes later. Alexis made a great job on the integration of graphic elements made by William : it was really a hard work cause every sprite had to be placed manually, one by one. Guillaume intregated the “post-process” animation to simulate light effects.
Now that everybody was on the bridge, we were making progresses. The team’s power was back again ! Hope was gleaming in the middle of the night.

[04:56] I wrote “snap” but I mean “nap”… Anyway, the game is better hour after hour. We’ll probably have to make big choices but that’s ggj.
When you’re tired and french, you’re bad at english even more then usual. Anyway, the project was on the right way, but William was thinking we would have to take big decisions and cut parts of the game near the end. But making games is all making choices. Especially in 48 hours. So…
Matthieu figured out his iMac screen was burned by his wallpaper : a logo of World of Warcract – Cataclysm. We laughed a lot about his new screen tatoo. He decided to relax by playing Call of Duty.

Our fox puppet going worldwide !

[09:22] Few hours left until the end of #GGJ10. The difference between an interesting concept and an interesting game is a matter of time.
The last hours of the event ! Guillaume tried to fix some bugs he created during saturday afternoon when he was really tired. Alexis searched for the last bugs in the following system of NPCs, put a score screen ar the end and added a progressive difficulty to Guillaume’s pattern recognition of the dialogs.
Our DJ took a nap in the entrance hall of Isart, hidden under his coat. He has been wake few hours later by a journalist that wanted to take a picture of him cause “it’s exactly what GGJ is”.
At the end of the morning, Guillaume started to worki on the state machine (very lite) of the NPCs’ dance behaviors cause William suddenly saw that the night club ambiance was too boring. About bloody time!

Then, it’s over : we had no time to update Twitter anymore.

One hour before the end of the event, there were still a lot of bugs to fix and graphics to integrate. We had all the music we needed, Matthieu really worked fast and well since the beginning of the project, so he decided to make the intro and credits screens. Alexis quickly finished the score screen, Guillaume replaced the right collision map for the first screen, and William walked in the room, a list of things to do (that would never be done) in the hand.

At 3’oclock, we sped up and uploaded the game on the Global Game Jam website. The jammers removed the table and cleaned the room so we can make a little presentation of the finished projects to friends (and journalists). Each 7 projects created this year were playable, so Paris had a 100%succes rate for the second consecutive year. Well, there were still some bugs, sometimes it’s the sound, for another project the animations, but it’s part of GGJ experience.

At the end of the day, everyone expressed what he learned during this week-end : it’s all positive as you can imagine. But to really understand that, you had to be part of the jammers.

GGJ 2010 in Paris : the jammers

> Monday 1st February :

[00:21] and we are back to the submarine! thanks Olivier and Isart staff for the organization. Good night every #GGJ10 jamer
Back in Montpellier, Guillaume took the time to add a conclusion to our story in Twitter, before he went to his bed. William was already sleeping in his.

Swing Swing Submarine was not open this day.

Photos source : Olivier Lejade’s Flicker