iPhone Game Jam, a night to remember
Tuesday night, Brian Robbins teamed up with Jonathan Hartstein of Pyromonkey Productions and Eric Lannan of Crucial Games to participate in the iPhone Game Jam at 360iDev. We got started around 7pm, and stopped working on our game Gravity Sling around 7am. It was a fun night, where we met some really cool people, saw some great things being built, and learned a lot about how to get something done incredibly fast.
I used to pride myself on being able to develop games very quickly and just focus on getting things done. In fact at my first job at CleverMedia we would release a game every Thursday, and occasionally spend just a single day getting the game done. The focus there was to build a game, get it up and move on to the next one. However it's been several years since I've tried to do something that fast, and it was definitely a challenge to get back into the mindset.
What went right?
Team comfort Eric, Jonathan and I have all worked together at our previous job, and know what each other brings to the table, and we know how each other works. We certainly weren't like Team Phobic with their full team of 7 there, but we didn't have to spend any time getting to know one another or anything like that, and this made a big difference.
Subversion A few hours before this started I setup a local SVN server on my laptop that we could use that night. The Internet connection was a bit flaky and I wanted to have an easy way to share our code with each other. This worked out brilliantly as the 3 of us were working. We only had a couple minor conflicts through the night, and those were very quickly resolved. Without SVN setup we probably would have wasted a couple hours through the night trying to integrate code, and keep everyone on the same page.
Having an idea We started off the night with 3 ideas we thought about building but almost immediately decided on Gravity Sling and never looked back. We just focused on that, and tried to see how far we could take it.
Splitting up Responsibilities Almost immediately we determined who would be working on what parts of the project, and we generally stuck to that as we went. Eric did the art, Jonathan did the core physics and I wrote all the framework and interface stuff. This kept us each focused on our specific areas, and we could see how everything was coming along, even when we couldn't integrate everything together. I was a bit worried at 3am when everything was still very separate pieces, but once things started to come together around 4am they came together very quickly.
What didn't go right?
Honestly, not much given the timeframe, and goals. We had hoped to have a game complete enough to submit to Apple at the end of the night, and we didn't quite get there so I guess that's what didn't go right. We did get to a point of having a very solid initial prototype of gameplay, and just need to finish it up before we can submit to Apple.
We've talked about it and we all want to finish this up, so we're going to tweak Gravity Sling a bit, build out some more levels, and put some additional polish into the overall experience, and then we'll get it submitted to Apple so the whole world can see the final result.
The feedback and response on Twitter has been great. Dan Grigsby at Mobile Orchard covered the event as we were getting started (and took 3 hours to get it posted thanks to the poor hotel Internet). Peter Bakhirev at Byteclub posted about how to survive a Game Jam event and it looks like Mac Most and Touch Arcade will be covering the results in some way too.
You can check out all of the Projects on the iPhone Game Jam site too.
Overall it was a lot of fun, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next one!