We entered Game Jam Aotearoa as a team of three. With a theme of 'Proximity' we brain stormed various ideas on Friday night and landed on doing something with boids. I had been fascinated with them for awhile so it was great to have a chance to play with them. The game concept was that you would be a dolphin trying to herd fish together so you could eat them in 'one chomp'. This represents how dolphins hunt by creating bait balls. We divided it up between Veronica creating the art, John making the fish swamping and me writing the glue.

On Saturday I got the basics of the movement working and Veronica drew the preliminary pictures. John got the boids working, his only struggles were working around the quirks of Phaser. Once this was in with some fish images the game was in a playable state. The organicness of the fish made it really fun to play with. The way they reacted to you meant that the game had a very analogue feel. A bit more work to get the chomping in and we had met our main goal for the jam.

Since there was still a whole day left the game had time to breathe and we tried out different goals. Eating every last fish ended up being a bit painful as it wasn't that fun to chase down the last few fish. This meant that the game needed to end with about half the fish eaten. Rather than having a counter, I made it vaguer by describing in words how full the dolphin was. The two stats that we show at the end are how many chomps it took to fill up and what was the most fish you got in one bite. This gives two separate but related goals to compare to others against.

The other polish was on the artwork. Veronica watched videos of dolphins swimming and created six frames of the movement. It looks great with the light moving down it. Using an animated rope I was able to bend the image. It took a while of hard coding array values to get a nice curve until I realised I was approximating a parabola. Just using a parabola equation made it much easier and I was able to find a value that minimised the distortion. Now when you turned the dolphin nicely curved in that direction which helped the organic feel of the game. For the sound effects I found a cabbage crunch sound but this ended up being a bit too creepy sounding and John replaced it with a much calmer ding.

The feel of the game was the stand out in this one where the movement, fish and art all came together nicely. "LOVE this game! The animation of the Dolphin and the fish schooling are so lifelike!". It was great making another game with Veronica and seeing John flex his maths skills. The feedback was all pretty consistent on the art standing out.

Lessons Learnt

Having a simple concept and polishing it.
Organic motion feels really good.