Gamedev.js Jam 2020 was a thirteen day long jam where the game needed to be in HTML5. Since I had been prototyping my Phaser Jam Template I thought this would be a good chance to try it out. With a theme of 'Future' I wanted to try get it into the mechanics rather than just the setting. The concept I came up with was you being in the future and having to steer a spaceship through an asteroid field with a delay. A thirteen day jam is a lot more time than the normal 48 hours, but only if you make use of it. I pottered around with the basic mechanics but between work and life the bulk of the development ended up happening in the last week. This showed compared to other games as the quality and polish was really high as they had used their time much more wisely.

Phaser has two different physics engines: Arcade and Matter. I had used the more comprehensive matter physics for a variety of games that had complex physics so started with that too. After a lot of time trying to get it to feel right and trying to get the asteroids to behave how I wanted, I finally realised that I was making an arcade game. This meant that the arcade physics fitted perfectly and after a rewrite it all felt better.

I tried a couple of iterations with the main mechanic. First I thought it would be good if you slowly increased your distance and delay until you got to the top of the screen. This didn't feel as good as I hoped so I changed it to a timer where you jumped by a step. I also tried a fail or health if you hit an asteroid but just jumping you back ended up feeling nicer and keeping you in the flow of the game. This time I had an instruction screen at the start to make sure it was clear to the player what they were trying to achieve. The typewriter style text is one of the first things I worked out how to code so it was fun to include it here.

I submitted the game as it was ... fine. Most of the feedback tried to be positive but highlighted that something was lacking. "Could be a cool idea with some more work." The game is very easy to beat and I think that I created the tutorial level for a more interesting game. With an out loop where you got to upgrade your ship and get some story then the core gameplay ramping up in difficulty it could have turned into something interesting. As it is it is more of a tech demo of a mechanic.

Lessons Learnt

Make sure the game is actually fun.
Having the basics ready to go lets you focus on the game.
Adding an outer loop can extend a concept.
Two weeks is a long game jam. Use the time wisely.