Global Game Jam 2015 – After Quest

Another day, another blog post. As I said I’d be yesterday, I’m here today to talk about my GGJ 2015 entry, After Quest. Please download it from the GGJ website.

After Quest Promo Image

After Quest is a 2D action game in the style of old-school Zelda games. The plot begins moments after our main character has defeated the game’s final boss. Instead of the game ending when this occurs though, the main character is left standing around waiting for something to happen. Eventually the main character is sent to the credits screen for the game they just completed, and somehow ends up back at the very beginning of the game. After walking around town and talking to some of the villagers he realizes something is not right, and the game world is falling apart at the seams. Now the main character must fight his way through the game itself, and hopefully find a way out of the game world before it collapses with him inside.

I developed After Quest with a team of four other people, and I acted as the Programmer, and Co-Designer for the project.

My Team, with me in the middle.

Conception

The theme of GGJ 2015 was “What do we do now?” This lead to a lot of obvious jokes from people in the crowd, and was overall a more challenging theme to work with. My team went through at least 10 different ideas before we settled on this one, and most of them revolved around the central conceit that the player would be forced into a situation where they didn’t know what they were doing, or where the player had to deal with the aftermath of some event. My favorite un-used idea was one where the player wakes up in a room with a dead body and has to try and hide the body before the police arrive.

After Quest started the same way as many of our other ideas and was originally going to be a text adventure about what the main character does after the final quest is finished. We eventually decided it would be more interesting if the game itself started collapsing because it hadn’t been programmed well enough to support the player after the final quest occurs. What would happen if the player was somehow forced back to the beginning area but none of the other characters realized he had already finished the quest?

Development

The dev process on the game was a pretty straight-forward one. We took a lot of time before pitching the game to the group to really flesh out the story-line, the characters, what the gameplay would be like, what assets we would need, etc. By the time we actually had our team our game design doc, which was really just two large pieces of poster paper, was basically finished and we had a strong vision of not only what the game would be, but also why it would be that way. This gave us a huge advantage when we sat down with our final team and allowed us to quickly make a paper prototype, and move on to computer development in almost no time at all.

We were also helped by the fact that our game was relatively simple from a gameplay perspective. Even by the time it was finished, the game was basically just a top-down action game where the player could do a basic attack. We even took advantage of our concept and the fact that the main character would theoretically already have the best weapons and be at “max level”. This allowed us to give all of the enemies simplistic AI, not have to worry about them doing the player any significant damage, and even make the player super powerful, because it all fit perfectly into the world we had designed. By the end of the first 12 hours, we already had 85% of the gameplay implemented in it’s final form, and by the end of the first day, almost all the work we were doing was purely level design and iteration.

The whole process went incredibly smoothly. Even with all the work we completed on the first day though, we were still working on the game up to the last minute trying to cram in just a few more features and ideas.

Final Thoughts

This was probably the most successful game I’ve ever worked on for a game jam. Not only did we complete 99% of our goals for the final product, we also created a game that achieved our original vision and conveyed everything or almost everything we set out to do without having to compromise due to time restraints. It’s very rare that you end a game jam thinking you made the best game you could, and it’s even rarer that the game you end up with accomplishes all of your goals, but I can honestly say I walked away feeling both of those things after this jam.

I also think that this was one of the best teams I’ve ever worked with on a game jam before. Everyone on the team was very realistic about what they could and couldn’t do, and no one really over-estimated their skill or what they could accomplish in 48 hours. On top of that, everyone I worked with was great at what they chose to do.

Overall I’m walking away from this jam with a true sense of accomplishment and I can only hope that my next game jam is even half as successful as this one was.