Last weekend we participated in the Global Gamejam. New Zealand was the first place to kick off. Receiving the “What do we do now?” theme. We came up with a game where two players control a creature generated from random parts.
— pop-up arcade (@popup_arcade) May 5, 2015
Apart from the fact that we love local multiplayer games, we decided that “we” in the theme should belong to the players. The idea came up over dinner that players should be able to work together as well as against each other, where an encounter with something new gives them some figuring out to do.
Whalebus is about having a creature made up of two different entities that move in familiar ways, combined to create something unfamiliar.
As far as planning goes, I think game jams are a good lesson in scope and planning. We had design and art style decided on the first night, going to bed “on time”. Most of the core gameplay was done over Saturday, bleeding over to Sunday, when we implemented proper movement and animation for the pieces, fixing things as we went along.
We managed to get all the creatures we wanted (although replacing the excavator with a spaceship), though some design was cut down on.
Initially we wanted a physics based movement system to give players more figuring out to do and encourage cooperation and emergence. We opted for a system where forces would push/pull in different directions and different speeds.
We had three types (monsters, vehicles & sea types) and three colors, blue, red and yellow. We also had corresponding types and colors of pickups. When picked up it would randomize your half to any one of that type or color.
We ran out of time to create win states for when you manage to become whole, though exploratory aspects of play allow for the game to be played for as long as you’re interested trying out different combinations.
You can download Danny’s balancing doc here
I found an amazing voxel editor called MagicaVoxel. It provides a really clean interface, quick shortcuts and has very quick workflow perfect for game jams.
Every half of the creature has a respective sound, either two per action (left and right), or a velocity based engine rumbles (and crab). All sounds were created in BFXR which is great for when you have no time like at a jam. It can be very fiddly however, when you want something specific.
There is a short music loop that I somehow forgot to implement. You can dig it up among the sound assets in the source.
GGJ Auckland was held at Media Design school. It was very well organized, secure and was 24hr accessible. We had a great time and got to work alongside some great developers. The Auckland venue came up with 27 games.
Some of our favorites are Alpha Duck 5100: A Portrait of Perfection, Duck and Roll and Leg, check all the games out here.