We thought that we can create a demo which could amaze people with a clean code base and great technical abilities and hopefully a creative idea. Different things caused us to fail in our first gamejam. I just want to describe the experience in the hope of being helpful.
We previously did this. We've made demos in less than 10 hours to show them to people or to show our coding speed and technical abilities multiple times. We were good friends with the highly stressful nature of game development in short time slices but we've made them playful and joyful for ourselves. But GGJ was not successful. Why? The week before GGJ was a hard week for me and I was suffering from sleeping less than (well much less than) enough all days in the past week so I was tired in the second day. We treated the theme much serious, much more than needed and spent the whole first day in talking. Also we've never worked with the whole team in a project like this.
All of those demos which were built in short time spans were built either single handedly by Sina or me or in cooperation between us. Due to eight years of working together and being long time friends it's much easier to have a flat structure and creating a hierarchy for two developers is just stupid. This time the flat structure was not the answer at all. We did not choose a leader and worse did not choose a game designer. Getting into something that all four of us agree on it wasn't that easy and at the end the idea was complex enough that we could not manage to create it so uLink saved us and we've just turned our game into a multiplayer shooter with a little philosophy behind it.
The game is called personal trap and is about selfishness or other self related concepts. Every warrior sees himself/herself as a good personal but others are all daemons which should be destroyed. Wow! What a known concept to the history of human beings. At first the idea was about self sacrifice for the greater good. And yes we are highly engaged by Ninjas, Samurais and heroes and those ordinary heroes which are the best ones which no one knows but they are affecting the life around them in one way or another by bringing pain to themselves or sacrificing themselves for a greater goal or achievement.
To honor the unknown, an idea born! Mehdi and Hussein were the modelers at Proshot which we worked with before and we were creating the game with them. The problem of our flat structure was that we had different tastes and little time and also in all last projects either they were the owner or us and never we worked this much flat. We had a project which we all had equal shares which were the Ninja game which again had an idea when we started and the guys worked at it before we start together. So the main shape of the game was there when we started talking about it. We just adjusted the game play and in many ways it was a copycat. In contrast in gamejam we all wanted something original. The theme was not easy and we were limiting ourselves much by it. As a result we ended up in an idea in last minutes of the first day. A game which 3 protagonists want to grab their own diamonds from the other side of the world and should kill enemies to be able to go there and pick up the diamonds and come back and put themselves and their diamonds in a fire which then would cause the creation of a Phoenix which will kill a similar bird in antagonist side and then will die himself and again lots of those small creatures will appear (those small creatures which we started playing with). It was a game to show the infinite loop of the war between good and evil and the value of self sacrifice and a game with single player and multiplayer involved. Players all should go and pick their diamonds but could help others a little in war (however their paths were different in the map). At the end 3 could see each other when dropping themselves and diamonds in fire. Is this original? :)
We ended up not being able to do this cause we had few hours and thought we could not able to do this all in that small amount of time (4-5 hours). We wanted a good AI but even the navmesh couldn't be generated well due to design problems in the world. The game needed at least a hand scripted cut scene and two more models which could not become ready.
We also had technical problems due to unity servers being down and a subversion server which didn't work well. Guys told me that we should prepare everything before jam but I failed to listen to them. Actually most of the failures of the team are on my shoulders in many ways. I was the sleepy man unlike most days at work. At the end I found a good set of shurikens to fight with but it was late (No one but me can save myself but it's too late).
Well so we've ended with a multiplayer shooter which now can be downloaded at GGJ's website if you search for personal trap or MindHammerGames. We fixed it's bugs and it will be online there soon.
Back to the gamejam, at the second day I was too sleepy because I had a hard week and also was handling an important business deal during the jam. I was sleepy at the second day and because all of us were not using our own computers during the jam we needed an additional unity and as said before servers were not available so we ended up in a form of pair programming which was not bad but not suited for a gamejam. At the end of the night we went home to finish it all. We slept and woke up at 3AM and worked till 14:00 - 14:30 and then we understood that we could continue for a few more hours too. We gave up before it actually but after knowing it started working again. At 20:00-21:00 we ended it but we choose to don't upload cause the code was the worst which we wrote in our whole life due to mentioned factors and constant changes and low amount of energy even for thinking.
GGJ was a battle between me and myself and the whole week for me. For the team was a battle to learn how to manage stuff better. Actually I told fellows at first day to choose a leader when it was early yet but for the fear of being responsible or failing due to bad leadership from their side or something else which I don't know and cannot judge on the team did not agree on it and I agreed on being not agree with them. Due to talks with GGJ organizers and after knowing that we can fix it later, I uploaded the game on 3AM next morning. Yes I was awake and was doing my work. Actually after the gamejam and the failure I had much of my energy back (strange but true).
We could be much more successful if we had computers ready and working before jam days and if we would choose a leader and a game designer and if I could sleep enough before GGJ. Couldn't wait for the next gamejam. We might actually do an experimental gamejam again soon.