Dev General ramblings

Jammy dodger

Over a two-week period in November, I decided to down tools on Lucy Dreaming for a while and have a go at my first “game jam”.

A game jam is a type of challenge where game developers and designers are tasked with building a new game from scratch within a set time period, and within a given theme.

It’s a great way for developers to meet, collaborate, inspire fresh game ideas, have fun and lose sleep.

If you don’t want to have to scroll past the waffle below about the game-making process, you can download and play my game Hair of the Dog for free here.

The game jam that I chose to participate in was set up by AdventureX, an annual adventure game convention held in London. It was cancelled in 2020 for obvious reasons, so after an initial “AdvXJam” in May the organisers set up a second jam in November.

I missed out on the first one because I had only recently started developing games, so was delighted to try my hand at creating a short game in just a fortnight.

Just a few of the 47 awesome entries in the November AdvXJam.

The theme was “A Good Time”

I sat down with my wife on Saturday 14th when the game theme was announced and worked on an initial concept and a basic puzzle tree for the game. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to get done in the time (bearing in mind that I’m still pretending to hold down a full time job) but I was fairly confident that I could put a game together that had approximately 1 hour of point & click goodness.

My super-advanced puzzle-planning workflow.

After that, I spent a 2-3 days getting the game fully set up and programmed in Visionaire with black and grey placeholder graphics for each scene, writing the responses and character dialogue as I went along.

It also included working out how to to the programming for a new feature in the game which is the fact that it can work in “real time”, so if you play it after 8pm some of the scenes, characters and objects differ to those found during the day. (This can be disabled and manually controlled though, and was only put in as a bit of a novelty).

I was then able to hand over the dialogue to a friend of mine who recorded all of the male voices for the game (8 in total), and to my wife who recorded the single female voice (yes, I am aware and ashamed of the glaring gender inequalities!).

While these were being recorded, I got cracking on the artwork for the scenes and characters as quickly as I could. The videos below are timelapsed, but accurately portray how quickly I felt like I was working at the time.

Timelapse of me building up one of the scenes in Photoshop.
…and another one.

Then it was just a job of putting it all together, adding some finishing touches like a “How to play” guide (see below) and other necessary bits and bobs like a main menu, settings and a save/load system.

I managed to get the game finished and submitted in just 12.5 days, which meant that I wasn’t scrabbling around and panicking when the deadline hit. I am immensely proud of it and just hope that everyone enjoys playing it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

The fully narrated “How to play” guide voiced by the amazing David Howlett.

So here it is. The final game. “Hair of the Dog” which has now pipped Lucy Dreaming to the post and become my first proper published game. It’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux at the moment.

So far it seems to be going down well and I haven’t completely embarrassed myself, which is all I was hoping for really.

I hope you enjoy playing it, and do let me know what you think!

Tom x

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