In the spirit of better-late-than-never, let me show you a game I built this past January during the Global Game Jam.
To keep the scope manageable while flying solo I self-imposed limitations:
- Graphics no fancier than primitive shapes.
- Use tech I’m already familiar with. Hold the Haskell.
- Core mechanics complete by Friday night. Sunday reserved for polish and additional levels.
- No skimping on nutrition and sleep. Game jams should be fun.
At the same time I wanted an end result that I could demo without embarrassment or a “this was made in a weekend, be gentle, I’m a tiny speck of dust in a vast universe” disclaimer. To that end I established four goals before starting.
At a previous jam I built a game that you can only play using Xbox 360 controllers connected to a PC or a Mac with third-party drivers installed. I’m not even sure how to play it any more. This time I was determined to release something playable on any device, from the junkiest smartphone to the latest quad-SLI-magma-powered-quintillion-MHz beast of a machine. Web tech was a natural fit – if you have a browser, you can play Hexahedral.
I restricted myself to cubes, but those cubes had to look nice. Liberal use of CSS transitions and a pretty theme plucked from Adobe Color was just the ticket. Nothing is more disheartening than players dismissing a genuinely fun game because it looks like a spreadsheet.
Hours (or at least ten minutes) of Fun
Quick demos are often the most one can expect from a weekend hackathon, but I wanted a game that a player could spend a half hour on. This meant lots of levels. I kept the level format simple, with ASCII characters representing the state of each square. Adding levels was as easy as chucking a new object into the
levels array. In the end I had 30 levels with difficulty ramping up from stupid easy to moderately puzzling.
It turned out well. It’s fun, a decent challenge, and it loads lickety-split on iPhones and desktops alike. As a bonus it got picked up by Red Bull Mind Gamers where you can play it along with other solid noodle-scratchers. The source code is also available on GitHub for perusing / critiquing / stealing and claiming as your own.