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Global Game Jam – January 2017

BunnyGun was excited to participate in our first ever 48-hour game jam! The Global Game Jam is a world-wide event taking place every year in physical places around the globe. Everyone is welcome to participate and it promotes community by coming together to make a game! We knew the trick of doing something in such a sort amount of time was going to be “keep it simple.”

Our team was already formed and we blocked out the entire weekend for it! Nate, Rob and I successfully found the UMSL campus and arrived Friday evening to kick off the event! Before it started, we were encouraged to meet others in the game community through a few “getting to know you” questions. Everyone then gathered in the auditorium for the keynote and to hear and the long-awaited “theme” of the jam! It was revealed to be “WAVES!”

Everyone set to work right away, and we brainstormed ideas for the duration of Friday night. Ideas such as sound waves, puzzle games, and ocean waves were discussed, but we eventually settled on the idea of picking up shells during waves since we wanted to make use of the new Oculus Touch hand controllers.

Saturday rolled in (no pun intended) and we were right on schedule. With a basic game planned out, each of us set to work on our individual pieces. I started digging through the Unity Asset store for models and environments to use. We couldn’t find a very good option for the crab claws except an already-created monster on the store. Nate gave the sage advice that “one does not simply use Blender” so I decided to try my hand at sculpting then with the software Sculptris.

I guess my Fine Arts degree finally paid off because after gathering some references and making some sketches, I think they turned out pretty darn good. It was just like sculpting in clay in a virtual space: it gives you a nice round sphere to work with, and then you can pinch and pull the clay how you need it to go. (screenshots)

We couldn’t get a texture on it, but decided changing the color of them was at least good enough for the jam timeframe. Whew! The entire story was hinging on those claws so lucky we pulled them off! Nate was able to replace the default hands with the claws in Unity.

Rob was working away on the sounds for the game: he created a nice, breezy track to match the island setting and found or put together several other sounds for objects and environment. He worked with Nate on the best way to get the sound of the waves increase in volume as they come towards the player.

Nate got really far on the general programming of the level, and everything was going smoothly until Oculus decided to throw a cryptic error that we were stuck on. We even considered not finishing the jam! But after some Johnny Walker whiskey and a Netflix break, Nate was back at and figured it out in the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday rolled around and we were pretty behind at that point. I had brainstormed some ideas for the graphic design and logo of the game and probably spent a little too much time making Pinterest inspiration boards and researching island design on Saturday. But I was able to throw together a decent logo in an hour or so that the Graphic Designer in me was happy with.

Rob’s sounds were complete and we were working on implementing those. Nate was able to get the point system in the game working and the virtual crab was successfully picking up shells and bringing them back to the island. We spent every last second getting the game finished, and done in time for me to make a video.

“Throw together” a video might be the more apt description. With only an hour left or so before we had to leave to get to the presentations, I booted up Adobe Premiere for the first time in years and cobbled together some nice graphics, video, and audio from Rob. The video recorded from the headset was extremely choppy (probably because it was recorded on a 4K screen) but it was all we had before I had to render it out.

It was so exciting to see the other games the teams made, and I got a little emotional as they announced that St Louis had the largest amount participants in the United States, second only to New York! We watched 2-minute demos of every single one (there were about 50) and we were proud as we showed our YouTube video of the game.

We hung out and celebrated after that: a somewhat-stressfull 48 hours turned into an experience we’ll never forget. It proves we can make a decent game in a very short time frame if we work as a team. Here’s to many more game jams and many more games!

Author Info

Allison Schuman

Allison Schuman, Art Director of BunnyGun Games.