When we first heard of Global Game Jam 2017 , we were just so enthralled to use our latest gun in our arsenal, The HTC Vive. We went to the game jam with an intention of building a Virtual Reality game for sure.
I, Sharatchandra Aithal was the project manager and programmer. To join me on this jam, I had my good friend and programming counterpart, Raj Kumar M accompanying me. On the day of the event, we carried our huge CPU loaded with a GTX 1060 and waited for quite long while eagerly awaiting the reveal of the theme. Before the theme was disclosed, we attended a panel of discussion with a couple of folks from the industry which brought to light, their industry exposure into the world of Virtual Reality and the medium of storytelling within games. And then
the theme was finally announced.
We quickly huddled up and started pouring out all kinds of ideas, one by one. This was our 3 rd Global Game Jam, so by now we were quite familiar with the timeline distribution we need to build an idea and work with. We had 48h hours and the clock was ticking.
We quickly came up with 5 ideas and stopped ideating after that. We then selected 3 of the different feasible ideas to be done within 48 hours and at last settled with “Emergent” within the first 2 hours of the game jam. There was no going back after this.
Into the Aesthetics
We heard of the jam diversifiers at the event and one that struck with us was VRiends. This meant that we need to have 2 or more players in the game. We wanted to do something different with gameplay so we went with building 2 GAMES in 48 hours. One on the PC and the second one on a companion app on an ANDROID device.
Our interpretation of “Waves” was split into 3 parts. The first and obvious one which was Waves of enemies coming at Player 1 who has access to 3 guns for shooting. We selected zombies in a post-apocalyptic story line as the setting. The second interpretation had a Wave matching minigame for an android tablet/phone with the Player 2 that affects the VR world by giving Player 1 care packages. The third was both players being on the same Wavelength of thought as Player 2 has access to information of all health and ammo for each gun and must guide Player 1 with which gun to switch to.
Time Starts Now!
Start + 2 Hours :
We immediately started breaking it down into the multiplayer segment and started building the interface for the connection. We built 2 separate projects within the same PC and connected both to each other. We built a nice system which could intercommunicate between the 2 apps to send cubes of different colors through. We were just so amazed to see those colored cubes coming through by someone tapping on a button a tablet.
Parallelly, we built the Android base gameplay within an hour of starting our project.
Start + 10 Hours :
By this time our game designer Adishesh Iyengar had built the back story for our game. You can view it here http://emergentggj.ga/
Start + 12 Hours :
We got out hands on the basic blocking model for the first level from our artist Shaurya Shettigar. He was working out of home. This gave us some perspective into the game. By this time we had downloaded a bunch of free assets from Mixamo to use within the game. Zombies with a couple of animation cycles. We also got a couple of free gun assets from the Unity Asset Store. We now needed to start putting things together.
Start + 20 Hours :
Our artist was really fast and we got the second level blocking by this time. During this time we had stripped down the animations to what we need and put them together within the game engine. We put together the navigation paths and AI code for the zombies. Things were looking up.
Start + 26 Hours :
We got the first level fully textured and man, it looked good! We had built the inner system of the power ups that came through from the android game to the VR game. We also built a tool to accept JSON files which would be the level progression file. So all parameters were set and we were ready to put the finishing touches to the game.
Start + 32 Hours :
We got the second level fully textured. I would say pulling off environment assets in 32 hours is a really tough task and our artist pulled it off. He then started his hand into the smaller assets like pick up boxes and things like that within the game. Our designer had never used JSON but he picked up building the levels so easily by doing immediate play tests with small modifications within the JSON files. Finally, we could see some light. We started hunting for some particle effects on the asset store again.
Start + 36 Hours :
All assets were in place and we had our games running simultaneously. But we had a couple of glitches that we had to fix which we had foreseen in the game jam. Thankfully, we cleared all high-class bugs during our production stage which just left us with a few smaller bugs. We now had to start UI/UX as well. We had our particles also in place within the game with puddle effects which were decals. This was the first time at a game jam we were so calm as we had our goal set and only a few hours to go.
Start + 42 Hours :
Everything was in place and we had a game up and ready. Our designer took the rest of this time to make a cool microsite as well for the game. Code wrap up and Builds were being taking in the few hours to come. We opened our area for the first play test around this time with the GGJ Bangalore Organizers and it looked like they were immersed into the experience. We started uploading the Binaries and Source code into the Jam Website and started prepping for our demo.
Post 48 hours
What started as an idea seeded into a very beautiful experience for all of us. We were the only team from India to have had entered in the VRiends diversifiers of the Global Game Jam. We had a lot of people try out our game and they were really intrigued by the new kind of gameplay experience we aimed to give within a 48 hour jam. For many of them, this was their first ever VR experience.
We’re striving towards getting better content out next year. We also aim to build Emergent and hope to get a Steam Greenlight for it soon.