It’s my second year running, Woohoo! By the way, I have participated only in the online version since I started Jamming after CoVid hit (and I would like to participate in the offline version sometime soon), but I am really glad that I found Global Game Jam (specifically the all-NL section). It’s a great, supportive community; interesting background twitch stream; and overall, a well-done discord jam where you can just… vibe. The first game I worked on in this jam was Remnants. You play as a little bio-luminescent skull slime traversing through a dark underground maze, leaving its clones…copies…excretions(?) as markers so you don’t get lost. The concept was kind of based on Hansel and Gretel’s travel through the forest, however the final game was unable to bring the starting idea to fruition, as game jams usually go.
Good thing about this Jam, game was in the top 20 in terms of art and technical beauty, and that was freaking awesome! As a student creator (who quite honestly is not as experienced in pixel art) this was an amazing feeling! It gave me a sense of confidence that I haven't had about my art in a while. But I realized quite quickly that that wasn't enough for me. Not that I was ungrateful about the rank, that was great work and everything but I realized I wanted more of me in the game story, I wanted to be a part of the game concepting, I wanted to see myself as a DESIGNER. I had confined myself to the role of an artist because I was skilled at it, but I wanted to take a step in a different direction. Realizing that it’s harder for me to come up with concepts without having visuals, but not wanting to be dependent on art anymore, I started on a journey to find my workflow, my prototyping tool, my…calling, if you will.
I spent the next year battling my animosity and incompetence with game engines, landing on the engine I would use on 2022. RPG maker MZ. Yes. That program. I love it and deserves way more respect than it gets. Yeah, it does lock you into certain limitations however it's not impossible to create something new. It actually make you a lot more creative when you are trying to fit the game within these framework and rules without making it seem like it's a game from this engine. I say that, but I still have more than 60 bought plugins and multiple free plugins for this software for some leeway, but it’s a great set up to help me concentrate on beginner narrative designer. Quirks and all, RPG Maker MZ was our engine of choice in GGJ NL 2022 where, a screenwriter, my awesome artist friend and I worked on a game called [REDACTED].
[REDACTED] is a horror-ish mystery where you follow two scientists (who research SCP like creatures called Unknown Anomalous Creatures), as they try to figure out how their lab gets destroyed with the help of a time-travelling watch UAC. And for my third game jam game, [REDACTED] is awesome. No it's not like winner of the Jam (it was like top 30/85 which is still an achievement for us) but it's still pretty good. [REDACTED] wasn’t a true measure of quality, (thanks to insecurities, no project ever is) but [REDACTED] was symbolic.
[REDACTED] was the first time that I was more of a collaborator than just the artist. Inexperienced as I was, with RPG Maker MZ I was able to experiment, create gameplay mechanics and concept levels, trying to fix the technical difficulties of getting the art into the game (which was also pretty fun). I was truly the experimenter I didn’t know I wanted to be.
[REDACTED] was a soup of insecurities for me. You can see it in my blogs, that I don’t seem to talk much about what I create. As much as I love the concepts I come up with, I don’t like presenting them because the feel empty, incomplete, as if they are missing something vital. Throughout the years I have tried to post everywhere, from DeviantArt, to Artstation to Instagram, but I am still as terrified of the comment section as I was with my first post at 12. [REDACTED] was no different, heck we were debating whether we wanted to post this game until the last hour, so the fact that I was able to go through with it and post it anyway, knowing that no matter what happens, we did this. We Did This with within that 48 hour mark, and no matter the result it would still be impressive. Being able to tell myself even that much was a big battle for me. I fought it and I'm glad it really wasn't that bad. The community was really encouraging, we actually loved the concept we ended up with, and even the ranking wasn’t that bad.
[REDACTED] is also my first complete…published…story(?). All the modifiers aside, [REDACTED] has a proper beginning, middle, end, and a twist. I never thought I would say this is like the most complete story that I've put out there and it may even be the best one, because it was short, it got my idea across and it allowed me to experiment with narrative techniques Yeah, it's not perfect. Even our comment section could see something was missing. Funny thing is, we didn’t know what was missing either. We had to change our workflow, never touching on the lore just because we wanted to aim for a complete experience. And I enjoyed that experience, it gave me confidence in my storytelling ability, especially since a lot of details where improvised as I developed it.
But above all, [REDACTED] was a sign that I had improved. That I had freed myself from some of the chains that had held me before. I spent the whole year trying to find myself and the kind of designer I want to be. And I got lost a hundred times, but game jams are like the starry night, they show me where I am and where I want to go, a beautiful constellation that leads me to my next adventure, maybe. Game jams aren’t just a fun ritual I want to continue, it's a short letter to me, a reason for me to sail on, motivation when I feel lost, something to look up to in the darkness to remind me of what I am searching for. So thank you to me for participating in this game jam and good luck to me, it's gonna be fun next year. I hope you also join us next year.
It’s a fun experience, whether you want to be a game creator or not.