Unreal Spring Game Jam 2017 Post Mortem

Links

Itch.io – Free download!

Zach’s website (My dev buddy who helped with the game!)

Project Overview

Mr. Spring is a 3rd person platformer built in Unreal Engine for Epic’s 2017 Spring Game Jam. Zach and I had privately attempted the September and October Game Jam, but never achieved something that we felt was worth submitting. So, with more experience under our belts, we’ve gotten further than we ever have in a game jam! And I want to talk more about that. So bullet points, and then I’ll ramble some more below. Because I like to ramble. Who doesn’t?

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September Unreal Game

Okay, so one day we’ll finish a GameJam on time, but that today is not today. Here’s a walk through of what we did do!

So let’s go over some of the exciting bits.

Features:

  • Swap between any of your party members
  • Companion AIs will follow commands
  • Randomly generated dungeon (With a total of 4 rooms… Much flexibility, much wow)
  • Death lasts for the run until your entire party wipes
  • Unlootable textureless chests

And yeah. I don’t really know what else to say other than I’m proud and I wanted to share of what we pulled off in a weekend. We might end up working on the game more, but that’s a pretty base.

Welcome to Bluecrest - Main Menu

UE4 August GameJam Failure Post Mordem

I started learning how to use Unreal Engine in June. At first I ran through the C++ tutorials, and had enough fun with those, and then I did my first Blueprint tutorial and it’s been a deep and dark spiral. So here we are two months later, and my friend and I decided we’d give the 2016 UE4 August Game Jam a try. And well, we fell short of our goal.

While I do wish we could have finished the game, I am more than happy with the experience. The theme was “Things Are Not Always As They Appear” which seemed pretty ripe for “Look at how smart I can be” puzzle games, but we took it in a different direction. Thanks to the Multiplayer Blueprint tutorials on the Unreal Engine YouTube page, I had a strong desire to create a multiplayer game. Which lead to really the biggest struggle, but more on that later.

Our game concept was inspired by games like Town of Salem, and Murder in Garry’s Mod. There would be a murderer in the town, and would need to murder the other town members without detection.

So, let’s get onto how we did.

Welcome to Bluecrest - Main Menu
Shot of the main menu of the incomplete title “Welcome to Bluecrest”

I’m very proud of the work I did over the past weekend. To produce so much in such a short amount of time is just about one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had, and I very much want to do another Game Jam. That being said, we definitely had issues, and learned a lot from this game jam. For one, we spent far too much time not playing the game. It wasn’t until Friday that we got the attack animation sorted, Saturday that we got the game’s multiplayer functionality working, and Sunday for us to start on creating the game loop, how things will interact, etc, etc. What we did instead was focus on generating a few assets, and then working on a few meaningless features. I.e. I made a garage door with a button, and my friend made a swing set that had swingable swings. While they did put a smile on our faces to see them working, it didn’t help us create a game.

So, me reading this in the future, or really anyone doing game design, features over fluff. Get the game working as soon as humanly possible, and go from there. Continuous development!

Oh. And also, don’t try and make your first game jam game a networked game.

So, in the end we hit the deadline with a mostly built out game world, dynamic day/night cycle, two character skins and hats, attack mechanic, mostly functional menus with the exception of the options menu and host menu, but incomplete game loop that had issues online. Had the game even worked in some form we would have entered it in Epic’s contest. Oh well, it was a good learning experience. And to think I’ve only been using Unreal Engine for two months, and made this in four days with someone who’s been using Unreal for even shorter. Makes me wonder where I could be in a year if I stick with it.

That being said, it was pretty damned magic when the game actually let us connect via Steam. I ended up recording a few minutes into it, but my microphone wasn’t recording. Here’s that video if you want regardless. Sorry for loss of my voice 😛

That being said, we intend on putting more polish into the project. So, there might be more on that here at a later time.