What an amazing jam! As always, I am humbled by and grateful to everyone who came out this weekend to help with an incredibly ambitious project. STORYTIME is a 3D interactive fiction horror game built in HTML5 and AFrame playable in your browser!
While putting together the postmortem feedback form I did a little calculating and we were able to create:
- 24 unique 3d scenes
- Branching storyline
- Over 60 unique 3d models
- Several dozen sound effects
- Dynamic music system!
- Full voice overs!
- VR Support
Holy cow folks, that's some amazing output!
What an incredible experience and impressive effort from everyone! Again, I want to thank you for contributing, whether it was assets, code, or playtesting - we couldn't have done it without everyone coming together and busting their humps this weekend.
60 Hour Game Jam - 10:00am December 2nd 2016 - 10:00pm December 4th 2016 Eastern Time
* Play in Browser *
* Native Win32 Client *
Key Feedback Takeaways
- 75% response rate within the first 24 hours (as of this writing) (will update as more data flows in)
- 100% overall satisfaction with the jam.
- 100% intended return rate.
- Even split between preferring a longer pre-planning phase and those that like mixing it up between this and more traditional ludum dare style theme selection on the day of the jam. (The format used in Jam #1)
- ~85% liked jamming at a cadence of every 2-3 weeks. 50% preferred 3 week intervals.
What We Did Well
The overwhelming #1 response was how impressed people were with how well the final product turned out. This is a credit to everyone on the team for really coming out this weekend with their A-Game, stepping up where things needed to get done, and growing and stretching their abilities in all areas. Whether it was learning new technology, skills, workflows, or just pitching in any area that needed it - the team was incredibly flexible and versatile!
We also retained the friendly, inclusive atmosphere which was a major factor for last jam's success and I'm glad to see it still ranks highly as one of the things people take away from the jam.
We tried a little harder to keep things more organized this jam by using our storyboard also as a place to track progress and share information (like what music stems should be playing, whether they were hooked up, completed, and who was working on it). I think this high level flexible organization was far more effective and used more frequently than a traditional task tracker or kanban board.
The downside were it's obvious unwieldy nature. It was easier to just add information to existing boxes than author or organize new content, but for a 2 day jam I think that is more than acceptable.
What We Can Improve
We also recieved more constructive feedback this jam than last, and it was really interesting to read. Here's my best effort at distilling some of the messages I received concerning this jam:
Need more people~
There was still a callout for more people, what's interesting is that even though we had a significant uptick in new signups between the jams, the size of the jam itself was about the same. Of especial note were desires for: writers, designers, animators, texture and 2d artists, and illustrators. If you or anyone you know is interested in practicing any of these skills we'd love to have you!
Solution: I am going to continue the recruiting efforts, but there is only so much we can really do to improve in this area. I think continually being able to produce such consistently high level content will definitely be helpful getting people motivated and feel more comfortable jumping in.
Slack is not great for tracking
While we did organize much better into the appropriate slack channels, for those jammers who can only contribute a few hours of the day it can be difficult to come back to your computer and see a few hundred missed messsages, then filtering that for useful content.
Solution: I will put together an official developer feed for the next jam, either here or in slack, that tracks progress of the project that is a place for jammers to quickly get up to speed with any changes, useful links (to builds for example), and other news.
Operating at Peak Performance
Despite being much more organized and the story board being available, a few developers still felt like they couldn't quite contribute where they would've otherwise liked. I believe this was due to several different factors:
HTML5 and web development has changed a lot in the past decade or so, and it has a completely different flavor, style, architecture, and patterns that might be completely foreign to developers coming from a native game development background. This additional hurdle can be especially challenging in a game jam setting where people don't want to feel like they are holding the group back through inexperience.
Similarly, unlike engines like RPGMaker, Unity, Unreal, and Godot where there is a built in designer tool, frameworks like HTML5, PyGame, MonoGame/XNA will be primarily engineer focused, so designers will still need to rely on coders to implement EVERYTHING. Despite using Unity3D in our last jam we had the same problem due to Git being a barrier to entry.
I think this is a risk we run by running different tech in our jams: there will be those engineers whose backgrounds or experience make it difficult for them to be 100% effective. Also, while all in one game dev tools have dedicated designer tools many frameworks will not - so we should keep our minds open about ways to bring designers and artists closer to the project.
Solution: While I do recognize that having an open tech policy makes some of this pain expected and may not be entirely avoidable, there are some things we can do to possibly help mitigate.
We should try and be more aware if there are developers who are feeling alienated and helping them get more involved. If we have done a pre-planning phase and know we are using a particular technology we could potentially do a tutorial session to help people become more comfortable with upcoming tech choices.
I personally really want to see designers and artists more directly involved in the game development pipeline. When I hear after the jam that the final build was the first time a team member had the opportunity to actually play the game a little bit of me dies inside. At the same time, I also need to recognize that people are going to jam however is comfortable and fun with them, this is just something to monitor and perhaps.
This feeds into the final point:
Keeping Everyone Engaged
This was some specific feedback to the organizers directly, and one I will try and keep in mind for the next jam. I know I think of myself as a jammer and not an organizer during the event, and try not to get in anybody's way - just let everyone jam however they like. However, I think there are people who may be struggling at various points in the jam, or have a genuine desire to contribute but aren't sure how. This is on me and the other organizers to keep in touch with all the jammers and make sure everyone is always feeling like their opinion is being heard, and are given help (publicly or privately) when they need it.
Solution: I want to continue keeping the structure loose, volunteer based, and as open and inclusive as possible. I also need to be a little more proactive during the jam instead of just focusing on the areas I am working on. Checking in on the jammers privately, making sure nobody feels stuck or lost, making sure there are ways for everyone to contribute, etc. Just announcing in general, and letting people know that if they need anything to come to me might help alleviate some of these problems, and possibly some of the problems outlined in
Operating At Peak Performance.
I have probably mentioned two or three times how pleased I am personally with the final product of this particular jam, and how we got there. I was grateful to have the opportunity to practice working inside the art pipeline (modelling, texturing, etc) as well as some of the frustration with non standard file formats and exporters haha.
I remain with a sense of real gratitude at the amazing group of jammers who have come together and who have let me work alongside them. I am definitely excited to kick off our next jam! I might schedule it a little faster this time to see how that cadence feels, so check back soon!
Thanks for reading, looking forward to jamming with you too!