The Tale of the Galactic Whale Postmortem
I wanted a place to write down my thoughts about this project and what I learned from it so here's my postmortem for my first real game jam. Overall, I was really pleased with everything and I learned a lot of valuable lessons. Firstly, I've learned that game jams can be an immensely powerful learning tool for aspiring game developers. Game jams provide great motivation to create a complete, playable game in a short amount of time while the themes encourages developers to create games that they wouldn't immediately come up with. Constraints make projects unique and when I first heard that the theme for this game was minimalism I started thinking big. Space whales are dope so naturally I thought it'd be cool to make a game about galactic whales that just eat everything else until they're left alone in the galaxy. The protagonist was made by Ellie Liota and it's a perfect fit. I decided to make everything else basic geometric shapes for contrast and to fit the theme. The music was done by Xander Walbert and this boy really impressed me. I just wanted some groovy space music but he provided a truly epic soundtrack and as soon as I added it I felt that the game, to me, represented the Tale of the Galactic Whale about as good as could be done in a week's time while working 40 hrs/wk. Here's what I learned tho:
-Procedurally generating the spawn points of objects, especially a large number of objects, can lead to some issues, obviously. Originally I tried to have the entire solar system aside from the Sun included, each with their own set of asteroids and enemies spawning around them. But this quickly became way too large and I had to remove a significant portion.
-Physics (especially when used in Update()) can also cause problems. I wanted to have enemies that were huge and would start coming after you right off the bat, but every time I tried to do this it'd cause the frame rate to drop too low to be playable. That's why in the game after a certain radius enemies stop spawning. I've heard state machines might be something to look into but I've yet to do anything with this scale of physics again.
-Working as a team is highly motivating. By involving one friend and one chump in the project I was more motivated to complete it and make it not shit. When I saw Ellie's art for the game and I actually put the whale in it started to feel more complete. Xander's music was added towards the very end but without it I definitely wouldn't enjoy the experience nearly as much. Knowing that my friends are involved meant that I had to finish it to put their fantastic work to use.
-Taking shortcuts can lead to interesting, sometimes better, results. I didn't have time to make a main menu screen so I just had the camera start zoomed way out, showing the arrangement of the solar system, and then zooming into the player's view. I thought it looked pretty damn cool and I liked showing off the procedural generation.
-Sharing your work is extremely important. I will say that I hate promoting myself. I prefer to let my work speak for itself but realistically if you aren't your own biggest hype wo/man then nobody is gonna play your game. Social media is really useful if you have something aesthetically pleasing or if you've already got some followers that care about what you're working on. At work a few people were playing my game and some were frustrated, some were amused, and some were having fun and laughing. Seeing people actually react to my game was an extremely motivating factor and helped me realize that making games for people is what I love. One person even remarked that after they swallowed the Earth they felt alone, which meant that I had succeeded in telling the Tale of the Galactic Whale.
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