The Indiespring Team Takes On The Game Jam

Although spoken about infrequently, Indiespring was initially created as a video game company with our original 6 staff members, who I am pleased to say are all still working for Indiespring, all being avid gamers, a trend that has continued to this day.

 

It had always been a dream of ours to create our own game again, our last release being way back in 2010 and no longer on the app store to boot. The problem was always going to be finding the time in the studio. Therefore, joining the Global Game Jam 2017 seemed like the perfect solution.

 

The Global Game Jam is an annual event where teams of registered developers are given 48 hours to build and publish a working game from start to finished. All participants need to be on site and working together within this time period (I assume to stop teams outsourcing development).

Our team consisted of:

 

  • Jake Hill: Unity Game Development
  • Rob Traynor: Server development
  • Andy Bellass: Graphic Design
  • Danny Hill: Graphic Design
  • Steve Sandbach: Game Development
  • James Marshall: Audio and QA
  • Joe Westwood: Game Development

 

At 17:30 on Friday the 20th Jan, we hit the board room and were told the theme for game jam, Waves.

 

Looking back, our choice of a Pirate ship game wasn’t the most original compared to some of the beautiful concepts produced by some other jammers. But it was important that we didn’t get too bogged down in planning considering time was against us.

An hour into the game jam and we had a plan.

 

Our game would be a top down, scrolling 2D infinite run game where a team of players would all take on certain rolls on board a pirate ship, collecting treasure, sinking enemies and avoiding rocks and waves that would damage the ship.

 

To overcome the fact that we had only one Unity developer and a whole host of HTML dev’s we designed the game to play into everyone’s strengths as priority number one.

 

  • Jake set about creating the main screen all players would use,
  • Steve began development of an HTML interface that could be used to control the players on any connected devices.
  • Andy set about creating the ship
  • Danny began drawing the background and User Interface
  • Joe and Rob began work on the multiplayer server
  • James started sourcing sound files

 

Work continued through the evening and into the night, issues with the multiplayer server had meant that we currently had little to show for our efforts. But we were progressing well as the game was coming alive in single player and at about midnight the first iteration of the game manifested in the form of Andy’s beautifully drawn ship moving in a completely straight line on a white background.

 

It wasn’t quite a game yet but it was progress and we were all immensely proud.

 

Our server issues continued into the night so it was decided the best bet was to get some sleep and come back to it first thing in the morning. A few of the sofas were kitted out with sleeping bags and those in range went home for a well deserved kip.

 

To the annoyance of those staying in the office, it turned out that there was no way of turning off our automatic movement sensors. This mean the slightest movement would plunge those trying to get some sleep into an intense artificial daylight.

 

The following morning as the team began to trickle back into the studio we hit development with renewed vigour. By the following evening the minimum level of graphic design had been completed and the sounds files were all ready to go as well. The main obstacle still being the multiplayer server.

 

In the meantime, the single player version had come along nicely, we were now able to control the ship, fire the cannon and deploy a set of oars to increase speed and score. The tsunami and rocks had also just been added into the game. In a McDonalds inspired moment of madness, Andy had modelled them on chicken nuggets.

 

Believing this to be a good sign that we needed a break, the whole team turned off our screens and grabbed something more substantial to eat.

 

 

As the night drew in, the light sensor issue was resolved with the incredibly low tech solution of strategically applied post it notes. This allowed our bleary eyed developers the chance to actually get a good night’s sleep this time around. It seems silly but it’s the little things like this that get overlooked when creating a Jam space and a valuable lesson for next year.

 

 

 

However, the multiplayer server was still causing us trouble so both Steve and Rob worked through the night, finally producing a working, fully interactive multiplayer server the following morning.

 

Amazingly, the first playable version of the multiplayer game had next to nothing in the way of bugs. So much time had been spent fine tuning in the run up to the server being ready that potential niggles had been ironed out before they manifested as actual errors, meaning we finally had a playable version of the game that could be played via mobile and viewed on the big screen.

 

With only a few hours left to go, we set about adding more and polish to the game.

The ship and environmental graphics were overhauled and improved and the sound files updated which really helped capture the spirit and humour of the game.

 

As the deadline hit at 15:00 on Sunday the 22nd, the team were, tired, dealing with various stages of caffeine overdose but more importantly, very proud and very happy with the end result.

 

What had started out as a quick idea 46 hours earlier had become an actual game. More importantly it was fun to play and the following day in work we all queued up to try and beat each other’s top scores.

 

Luckily, you don’t have to just take our word for it, as the games are now all available to play on the Game Jam 2017 website. Our completed game “All Hands on Deck” can be found here.

 

The game requires an internet connected PC and two mobile phones to play properly, so grab a friend and give it go. All feedback is very much welcome and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.